Yep, I’ve “detoxed my box”, as the campaigners who are too scared of the word VAGINA would say. And the crazy part is I didn’t even mean to.
I’d used the same brand of sanitary towel for years – I won’t name names, but you might say I always used them, month after month, without fail.
I used to have to use two night pads stacked front to back on the first night of my period to avoid leaks while I slept, sometimes blobbing in bed anyway.
I didn’t always have this problem, but of course you think to yourself “This is just the way I am”, right?
Then over a year ago, I was perusing the aisles in the supermarket when I noticed their own-brand sanitary pads sitting on the shelf.
“Why not?” the cheapskate inside me asked.
WELL. Two things happened.
First, my periods instantly became significantly lighter.
HOWever, using the pads over the course of the week caused my skin to gradually feel more and more sore, to the point of burning.
So you can imagine how batshit bananas I went when I started reading into the chemicals that go into our sanitary products – both pads and tampons.
I won’t go into it too much here as I don’t know for sure what’s in conventional products or how they affect us – somethingsomething chlorine and bleach, somethingsomething endocrine disruptors making our hormones go haywire.
Anyway, as always I am not an expert, I do not pretend to be one, and this is all purely my own anecdotal experience and something to just get you thinking about the products you’re putting on and in your body. So, let’s continue.
So I had noticed these two bizarre, incredible changes, so naturally I did a little research into alternatives and quickly came across Natracare, an organic pad and tampon brand.
Chlorine-free, plastic-free, perfume-free, natural materials – all good for your health and great reasons to give them a whirl, IMHO.
Besides keeping my periods lighter and clearing up that burning feeling from the supermarket’s own brand, my periods also got a day, sometimes two, shorter.
I mean what.
Another change I noticed – and this may be a little bit TMO but hey, we’re all friends here – that smell disappeared.
Perhaps I’m one of few who would experience this, but about 4 or 5 days into my cycle there would just be this fucking smell of warm, stale blood, you know?
Gone. All gone.
Plus, now that I’m free of the hormone-disrupting crap in sanitary products and oral contraceptives, my period has synced almost perfectly with the moon’s cycle – I know you don’t care, but whatever, I find it really cool.
You can find Natracare in Waitrose/Ocado, lots of online retailers stock them and you can probably even find them in your local health food store.
I’m not sure about availability outside the UK but honestly, any brand that is transparent about using natural materials in its sanitary products is probably just as good.
There are also even subscription box services you can get for organic sanitary products – because there’s a sub box for everything these days, right?
We’ve got Time Of The Month here in the UK, and if you can’t find one in your location there’s a nice little business idea for you right there 😉
So I used Natracare for a good 6 months or so with no problems at all.
But me, I’m always looking for ways to ditch disposable products for extra eco points, so I inevitably came across reusable menstrual cups and sanitary towels.
And before y’all think I’m a complete freak, I’ll have you know that “moon cups” are getting so damn popular that even supermarkets and Boots are beginning to stock them. So, there.
Reusable Menstrual Cups
Menstrual cups are basically just soft silicone cups that you pop inside your vagina and then take out to empty after 8-12 hours.
It sounds mental at first, I know. Like you actually have to touch your own vaj blood WHAAAT?
But, honestly, once you get past that it’s really not that big a deal, promise.
You just get the cup wet, pop it in, make sure it’s securely in place and then leave it until you’re ready to take it out.
There’s no smell and providing you get the right size you won’t be aware of it at all throughout the day.
Taking it out can be a little uncomfortable, but just fold it back into the same shape as when you insert it and you should be alright.
Also, if your sink’s out of reach, maybe keep a cup of water by the toilet to drop the emptied cup into and rinse your fingers so you’re not waddling across the bathroom with your drawers down to wash up.
Personally I’ve got a Mooncup and a Diva Cup, which are both absolutely fine, and there are a ton of other cup brands out there like the OrganiCup and the Ruby Cup who, for every cup bought, donate a cup to a girl in East Africa.
The downsides are pretty minimal. I get a little leakage on my heavier days – this could be that the cups I have aren’t exactly the right shape for me, or it could be the size or placement that are off – I’ve been told that a half twist should create a more airtight seal, so I’ll be trying that.
Also, the clear cups, like the ones I have, can stain over time. But as cups become more popular, the range of colours available is growing so getting a nice dark colour should keep it looking new and shiny – I’ve linked to a couple of retailers below who stock a wide range.
Edit: My friend Hazel is a proper feminine health guru and she’s let me know that because coloured cups contain dyes, they can seep out into your body (err yuk).
Seeing as letting chemicals loose in the body are what we’re trying to avoid, she says that the best way to get rid of cup staining is to soak it in Milton then boil or leave it on a sunny windowsill to let it bleach naturally 🙂
Reusable sanitary pads
I also have a stash of reusable sanitary towels to use at night, as backups on my heavier days due to the cups leaking, and instead of cups once I get to day four as I’m so light:
Reusable menstrual pads sound like the dirtiest thing ever to our hygiene-obsessed Western minds but honestly, it’s just a bit of your own bodily fluid and washes right out, especially after a little pre-soak.
Those two mahoosive ones are night pads which I use for the first two nights – they’re like a hug for your butt – and that cute little pink one is more like a pantyliner for the last day of my cycle.
Reusable sanitary towels are so much more comfortable than plastic pads – no more feeling like you’re walking around wearing a nappy and no more crunchy ripping sound alerting everyone in the immediate vicinity to your menstruation.
Plus, you massively cut out plastics and waste by going reusable. Something something women use a bajillion disposable sanitary products during their lifetime that go to landfill and never decompose blah blah First World guilt.
But srsly, having a period is surprisingly a lot more fun now – besides a potentially lighter, shorter period, you get to choose from super pretty designs and they come in all shapes and sizes to suit your body, with little poppers to fasten them.
I got mine from Honour Your Flow and Feminine Wear – they both stock huge ranges of pads, different-coloured cups and period accessories, so go have a browse or have a search online for brands and stockists near you.
I hope you found this useful and go onto research the icky chemicals that may be lurking in your knickers and messing with your hormones!
And seriously there are so, so many reusable brands breaking out into the mainstream now, don’t be that guy saying that I’m the freak 😉
• This website is mostly a journal of my n=1 experiences of seeking good health, after a lifetime of chronic illness.
• I am not medically trained. What you eat, think and do are your own responsibility.