Natural Selection (of Femcare Products)

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We Think About Toxins in Our Food, But Not Our Feminine Products. Most of us are aware that processed foods laden with chemicals, preservatives, dyes, texturizers and flavor enhancers are harmful to us. Many of us have even made the switch to more natural grocery items and cleaning products to the best extent we can, as they don’t contain harmful chemicals known to derail hormones, disrupt brain functioning, and cause cancer.

But a vast majority of us don’t even consider the body care products we use, especially the feminine products that come into intimate contact with our feminine body parts (I’ll save the “lotions and potions” topic for another newsletter, but just know that our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs everything we put on it).

Most girls and women I know use the big-name brand tampons or pads. I’m writing today to drop some truth bombs about why most of these products are No Bueno.

First of all, these products are not easy to research, mostly because their producers are not required by law to disclose the materials used. They are a mix of synthetic petrochemicals and absorbents, fragrances, phthalates and other funky ingredients that have no business being down in your netherparts… for hours on end, days at a time, month after month and year after year.

Let this quote just blow your mind for a minute:

“The vagina is like a sieve. Whatever is in there goes right into the blood circulation.” – Philip Tiemo, Jr., M.D., director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at New York University’s Medical Center

Synthetic products are a very recent invention since the whole span of homoerectus ever came about. Synthetic chemicals, while they certainly can have some benefits, don’t bring a whole lot of preventative wellness to the human body – our bodies don’t know how to break down synthetic chemicals, so they wreak havoc on organs, endocrine systems and brains.

And when you think about all the pads and tampons you’ve used in your lifetime – thousands of them – I’d like you to consider their disposal. These synthetic materials are not biodegrading into the earth anytime soon.

PLUS, consider your cost each and every month. That adds up because those jawns aren’t cheap.

Reusable feminine products, if that doesn’t totally wig you out, are a great way to save money and our planet. If you absolutely don’t want to try reusable products (I mention a few below), then at least be sure to buy organic cotton pads and tampons. Because cotton is not a food crop, people don’t consider the number of pesticides that are sprayed on it. Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop and it is in the top 4 of genetically modified crops. The Rodale Institute states on its website that up to 98% of cotton is now genetically modified. And where are all those by-products of its manufacturing going? Back into our food and water supply.

Here are my favorite reusable femcare products:

Diva Cup: Medical grade silicone cup to catch your flow! I love these because they hold a lot and I don’t have to tend to it as often as other products – up to 12 hours! To insert, squeeze in half, then halve it again, Insert and then give it a tug to enable suction, which keeps it leak-proof and in place. To empty, grab hold of the stem and gently tug until you feel the base of the cup, then pinch it to release the suction-seal. Obviously, if you are going to be away from a personal bathroom (not a big bathroom with a bunch of stalls, where the sinks are away from the toilets), this is not the optimal option.

Sea Sponges: The first time I heard about these, I was pretty grossed out. I mean, sponges are a bacterial hotel, aren’t they? But once I gave ’em a whirl, I was in love. They are so comfortable (as long as you are comfortable reaching way up there to insert or remove), way more comfortable than a tampon. Again, just like the Diva Cup, you wanna make sure you are able to remove and rinse periodically, so they are not the optimal choice for a day at Six Flags. But, I just rinse every few hours depending on how heavy things are going, and then at the end of my cycle, I clean thoroughly with Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Castille Soap and let air dry.

Organic Cotton Pads and Pantyliners: Gladrags have been around forever, and now there are lots of other companies making these. You can buy some super cute ones on Etsy or even make your own. Sure, they may stain, but you’re the only one seeing them, and breathable, organic cotton is way nicer than synthetic funkiness. Totally worth it. They have everything from panty liners to postpartum pads.

These types of products are not generally talked about, so I wanted to do you a favor and bring up this conversation. If this was enlightening for you, please take a moment to share it!

Here’s to healthy periods and reproductive organs, Jaclyn Downs

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