The Problem With Pads and Tampons

The problem with pads and tampons- and natural alternatives

It is always frustrating when something that is really convenient and time saving ends up being really unhealthy… like plastic water bottles or antibacterial hand sanitizer.

One glaring example of this I’ve been researching lately is conventional tampons and pads. I know, I know… everything is toxic these days and it sometimes seems like we have to be afraid of everything, but there are some really compelling reasons to avoid conventional feminine hygiene products and luckily there are some great time saving and money saving alternatives.

The Problem with Pads

Modern sanitary napkins or “pads” and tampons have definitely made feminine hygiene easier and more convenient, but everything comes with a price.

Environmental Concerns

From an environmental perspective, a tremendous amount of these products end up in landfills and water treatment facilities. An average woman will use over 16,000 tampons or pads (up to 300 pounds!) in the course of her lifetime, sometimes more.

Most of these products contain plastics, which are problematic in their own right and take a long time to break down. They also contain special chemicals and ingredients that make them able to absorb 10x their weight in liquid, but the effect of these chemicals have not been comprehensively studied for their affect on the environment.

Plastic Problems

I’ve written before about the dangers of plastic exposure, and we often don’t think about how things like pads can be a major source of plastic exposure.

The labia and vaginal area is highly vascular, meaning that a lot of small blood vessels run to this area. The skin is also especially thin down there, making it easier for plastic chemicals to enter the body that way. Many pads and some tampons contain plastic chemicals and can even contain BPA and other plastic chemicals. From this article:

For example, plasticizing chemicals like BPA and BPS disrupt embryonic development and are linked to heart disease and cancer. Phthalates — which give paper tampon applicators that smooth feel and finish — are known to dysregulate gene expression, and DEHP may lead to multiple organ damage. Besides crude oil plastics, conventional sanitary pads can also contain a myriad of other potentially hazardous ingredients, such as odor neutralizers and fragrances. Synthetics and plastic also restrict the free flow of air and can trap heat and dampness, potentially promoting the growth of yeast and bacteria in your vaginal area.

Cotton or Not: Both can be a Problem

From watching commercials, you’d think that all tampons and pads are made up of entirely soft pillowy cotton from pristine white fields. Unfortunately, this is not usually the case.

Some tampons and pads do contain cotton, but most contain rayon, a synthetic material. There is some evidence that synthetic fibers can pull too much moisture from the vaginal walls and stick to the soft skin there, leaving tiny synthetic fibers that may increase the risk of TSS, Toxic Shock Syndrome.

The tampons and pads that are actually made of cotton are usually bleached with chlorine (problematic on its own) or other chemicals.

Additionally, cotton is one of the world’s dirtiest crops and is often sprayed with a variety of pesticides. The Rodale Institute reports:

  • Cotton is considered the world’s dirtiest crop due to its heavy use of pesticides. Aldicarb, cotton’s second best-selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans and wildlife, is still used in 25 countries, including the U.S., where 16 states reported it in their groundwater. Worldwide, cotton covers 2.5% of the cultivated land and cotton growers use 16% of the world’s pesticides.
  • Eight of the top 10 pesticides most commonly used on U.S. conventionally produced cotton were classified as moderately to highly hazardous by the World Health Organization. The Environmental Justice Foundation elaborates more on the world wide negative effects of pesticide use in cotton.
  • Cotton (83%) is one of the top four GMO crops produced in the world which includes soy (89%), canola (75%) and corn (61%). GMO cotton production ranks ninth in global crop production.
  • On an average, 90 percent of U.S. cotton in 2010 was genetically engineered, according to a USDA survey. However 95 to 98% of all cotton is now genetically engineered in nine of the eleven cotton producing states surveyed.

On top of that, a recent study found that 85% of tampons were contaminated with glyphosate (an herbicide linked to cancer) and that number was 100% when cotton gauze products were tested!

Not really what you want being absorbed into your blood stream from one of your body’s most sensitive areas (that also happens to be part of your reproductive system!).

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

When I was a teenager, I read the warning labels in my tampon box one time and was scared to use tampons for months. Though rare, Toxic Shock Syndrome (or TSS) is a life threatening infection that can occur, especially with tampon use.

Current theories suggest that the Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria cause the TSS infection and that wearing a tampon (with its rough surface) in the dark, warm and moist environment of the vagina can increase the chances of this infection.

Of course, this isn’t a risk with sanitary napkins, but they have their own risks and problems (plastics, chemicals, synthetic fibers, etc).

If you do use tampons of any type, make sure that you are aware of the symptoms of TSS and act quickly if you ever suspect you may have it.

Natural Solutions

I suspect we will continue to find out more and more about the importance of avoiding chemicals in feminine hygiene products, but there are some great options already available.

These options are a win:win. They are made with natural materials so they are safer for use, and they reduce or eliminate waste and environmental chemicals as well.

Organic/Natural Pads and Tampons:

If you want to stick with the convenience of traditional tampons and pads, at least opt for natural and/or organic ones. These have become much more widely available lately and are about the same price as regular options in many cases.

I’ve used:

The Best Options

Menstrual Cups

I’ll admit, it took me a long time to work up to these options and now I feel silly for taking so long to make the switch. To be fair, I was so busy having babies in the last few years that I didn’t have many opportunities to try them, but now that I have- I’m a convert.

A menstrual cup is exactly what it sounds like- a reusable soft sided cup that fits inside the vagina to collect menstrual flow. It is reusable, leak proof (in my experience) and much more comfortable than regular tampons.

Yes, it takes some experimenting to get used to using a menstrual cup, but once you get used to it, it is so much easier.

I only have to change it once a day with my cycle (some with heavier cycles may need to change more often) and it really is comfortable to wear!

TIP: If it seems uncomfortable at first or leaks, try turning it inside out. This is a tip I got from a midwife friend and it makes a world of difference!

Bonus: There is nothing to throw away, the cup can simply be emptied, washed and re-used.

Where to get them:

I personally use the Diva Cup after trying several different options. It is medical grade silicon and considered completely safe. It doesn’t carry the risk of TSS that tampons do and it can be safely worn for up to 24 hours. There are two options: Size 1 for pre-childbirth and Size 2 for post-childbirth (vaginal or c-section) or for women over 30.

There is also a natural rubber menstrual cup called the Keeper available if you want a silicon-free option.

Cloth Pads

If you’re unsure about the menstrual cup idea, reusable pads are another great option. They are more comfortable than plastic based pads and have a waterproof liner so they don’t leak through onto clothing.

Many work even better than disposable options. The only downside is that you do have to wash them, but I’ve found that this is a minimal inconvenience to avoid chemicals and keep plastics out of the landfill.

Where to get them:

My favorites are these handmade cloth menstrual pads from a local family owned business (they can ship them worldwide!)

Sea Sponges

I usually just use the Diva cup, but another great option is a sea sponge. I don’t think I’ve totally gotten the hang of them, but they do work well and are easy to use like the Diva Cup. .  If the menstrual cup is uncomfortable for you, they might be worth a shot. I got mine from here.

Do They Work?

I knew I felt better and loved the convenience of the natural options (especially the diva cup and cloth pads) but I was amazed by some of the things people said on facebook when I posted this:

  • “I have poly cystic ovarian syndrome and my periods have always been unpredictable. I decided to make the switch to cloth pads and I’m so happy that I did. Within just a few months I began to have regular cycles. I used to have heavy bleeding and severe cramps/horrible stabbing pains. I’ve been pain free and regular for 8 months now. I’ll never go back to chemical ridden disposable products again.”
  • “I switched to natural care products and also use glad rags as liners. Made the switch 2 yrs ago when I was diagnosed with reproductive issues and have never looked back. I feel better too. Firm believer that this affects women more than we realize.”
  • “I use the Diva cup, and I suffer from ovarian cysts that rupture every month. Before switching to Diva, I could be using the worlds largest diaper pad and STILL feel the “gush” while sitting in the middle of the restaurant and have to figure out how to save my dignity. The Diva cup has been a lifesaver!! I can go out in public without worry, AND I can sleep through the night without worry.”
  • “I don’t have an extremely heavy flow like it sounds you do but my first starting day is my worst day. I’ve been using the diva cup going on two years and I will never go back to pads or tampons. I do have a history or extremely bad cramps (puking, cold sweats, pass out from exhaustion) and ovarian cysts but since using the diva cup my period has cut down from 7-8 days to 3-5 days and my cramps are half of what they used to be. I still get the cramps but I use a heating pad and I can at least function that day. I wish you the best trying out the diva cup or any alternative you choose! I agree with Julia there is definitely a learning curve so make sure you try it out when you have some time at home to practice. It took me about 3-4 times using it to feel 100% confident that when I put it in it wasn’t going to leak. I’m sure I’m not the only one that was constantly running to the bathroom to check!”
  • “Love, love, love my diva cup! Switched about 3 years ago & only wish I’d known sooner. Went from bleeding through a super plus tampon in 20 mins on my heavy day to just having to empty my diva cup morning and night and only once a day the rest of my cycle.”
  • “Flow went from heavy down to probably less than normal? (define normal) Cycle went from a full 7 days to 3 or 4 days with only 2 being at all heavy. And all but stopped at night. (don’t even need the cup at night) Much less cramps and discomfort in general. I had done a LOT of hormone work the year or so prior to starting to use it, so I’m sure that was part of things, but deff saw some big changes after using it for several months. It takes some getting used to and some trial and error.”
  • “Menstrual cups have Changed my period! My horrible cramps are a thing of the past!!”

What do you think? Do you use natural alternatives to tampons and pads? What has worked best for you? Please share with a friend to help spread this important info!

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Reader Comments

  1. YES! And anyone curious about the cup, give it 3 cycles before you make up your mind! The first one is weird, the 2nd a bit better and by the 3rd month, I’ll bet you’ll never go back to tampons. I personally use Lunette and have never had any leaks and you only have to change it once a day! MAYBE twice in the beginning of your first day is heavy. I can’t praise these things enough!

    • If you are worried about any leaks with the diva cup, this is the perfect solution. I have been using these cloth pads for years now. They have adorable seasonal designs and even allow you to try the first one for free. (You just pay shipping cost.)

      http://www.partypantspads.com

    • How do you clean the diva cup? What products do you use?

      • There’s a soap that you can buy if you want, otherwise regular unscented soap (not antibacterial). In the information packet on how to use it gives out all of the information on how to use, how not to use, how to clean, etc. I just got my first one a few weeks ago and have been practicing with it before my flow starts and I don’t panic trying to get used to everything.

      • I wash mine with dish soap and water at the end of my cycle, and then store it in a small jar with a hydrogen peroxide and water solution (about 1:3). I found that just washing it with soap and water left a residual funky smell, and I started to get yeast infections during my period. Once I started storing it in the hydrogen peroxide solution, it’s like a brand new cup every month and I haven’t had any more yeast infections during my period.

        • Thanks Makena for that tip! I’ve been using one for the last 6 months and have been looking for a good way to store it that will get rid of the smell. I’ve been nervous about yeast infections too but haven’t had one yet. Thanks again!

        • Won’t the hydrogen peroxide break down the materials of the cup?

          • Is hydrogen peroxide safe for the vagina? I don’t know much about it so I want to be sure!

          • Idk for long term storage but for letting it soak in hydrogen peroxide for a short period of time or just rinsing it in hydrogen peroxide shouldn’t harm it. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down blood (dried or fresh) and makes it easier to get it off of stuff. I use it regularly for my reusable pads when the washer doesn’t do the trick and it doesn’t take out any color. I’ve also used it on underwear, pants, white shorts and other articles of clothing that I’ve leaked upon and it’s come out completely (my white shorts look as good as new!). However, be careful using it on jeans as it will take some of the color out. If you have light jeans, use sparingly and rinse after pouring some on the affected area after letting it soak for not more than a few minutes. As for dark jeans, attack with soap and water until you can’t really notice the stain (and if anyone does, ask them why they are looking in that area!).

            I have never tried a menstrual cup (being quite petite) but I recently bought the Diva Cup and am excited to try. I used Party in My Pants reusable pads and am very satisfied with how they work. My only issue is that they have to be positioned just right and a major change in seating (horseback riding, biking, etc) can move them and cause a leak so you really need to pay attention to how they feel and if you feel a change, go and check in the bathroom. They have really changed my period and eliminated almost all of my cramps!

            However, be careful if you switch back to disposables as my body had a rather violent reaction when I ran out of reusables and had to use disposables. I had killer cramps (on a day when cramps are rare) and extreme nausea. I have had these symptoms before (throwing up at 2am and then getting my period that day like an odd alarm clock) and it seems the disposables magnified my usual symptoms when I switched back. So beware! If you switch back your body may have an allergic reaction and magnify whatever symptoms you usually have on your period.

          • Hydrogen peroxide is completely safe and should not damage the cup. H2O2 is a weak acid (very weak, and even so, the drug store stuff is only 3%, then you are diluting even further by adding water) and it breaks down into O2 and H2O (oxygen and water). It’s a BRILLIANT natural disinfectant, and people have been using it for centuries for everything from water purification to topical disinfection. Honestly, I can’t say enough good about the stuff. If you are curious, read Dr. Douglas’s book ‘Medical Miracle’. All about how great H2O2 is. It’s an easy read aimed at the layperson, so don’t be daunted if you don’t have a science background!

    • Completely agree! I have been using a Diva cup for 1.5 years now, and would never go back. The $$ savings alone are enough reason, if environmental concerns aren’t sway enough!

      Giving it 3 cycles is what I needed, too. Was frustratingly difficult the first couple tries, but then I got it and it’s so easy now.

  2. I use Puristics, available on Amazon

    • The Sea Clouds sea sponge tampons in this link Linda shared are Mediterranean Silk, whereas the ones linked to in this post are Atlantic Silk. Mediterranean Silk are much softer and denser than the Atlantic Silk, so for someone who’s tried them and thought they were scratchy, they should definitely give Sea Clouds a try!

  3. It took me a while to work up the nerve to try alternative options, but I would never go back! I generally alternate between a menstrual cup and a sea sponge.

    • Sea sponge??

  4. Katie,

    I’m so glad you decided to post this! After making the switch to cloth diapers for my two little ones, I started thinking more and more about all the other unnecessary waste in my life. After some research, I found the Diva Cup and wish that I had switched sooner! The few people I have told about it think that I’m crazy, but I will never go back to the yuckiness that I dealt with before!

    I’ve also quit using napkins and paper towels and I love knowing that I’m not contributing more waste to the world!

    Love your blog and all the tips you give me!

    • I was wondering. .. isn’t there a danger with keeping all the blood inside of you for hours? Isn’t the blood meant to leave your body and not stay in it ? I’m pretty sure there must be consequences to this. What do you think?

      • I’d like to see an answer to this myself. I’d read in a book written by a doctor (Sex, Time and Power by Leonard Shlain, for those who are curious) that human menstrual blood, upon being shed, almost immediately begins degrading, becoming toxic to our bodies, which have no means of breaking down and re-absorbing any of the nutrients which are lost along with the blood. This, I understood, was part of the cause of Toxic Shock Syndrome, whether in partnership with or independent of the chemicals present in the products we use.

        • Interesting. I’d love information on this too. I wonder if the degrading starts upon contact with oxygen? Or maybe it can’t be reabsorbed because it’s held in the silicon? Can you tell I really want this to be a safe option??

          • Urine is sterile whilst in the bladder and doesn’t smell till passed. So it may well be that menstrual blood is the same and only changes with access to air. Just a thought from an ex nurse!

      • Let’s think about this…when you use a tampon, the blood is still in contact with your body while in the tampon. When you use a cup,, the blood is now in a cup and no longer in contact with your body. I think there is no concern here. It’s much healthier using a sterilized cup than putting processed chemicals into contact with parts of your body where things are so easily and readily absorbed!

  5. I wonder if there is any link to the use of pads and tampons to PCOS? There’s thousands of women suffering from it, myself included, and there’s still no known cause of PCOS. Pads and tampons are the one thing I know all of us use, from the very beginning of our menstrual. Girls as young as 15 and 16 are already being diagnosed with PCOS. I’d love to see a study on that.

    • I way diagnosed with PCOS a little over 5 years ago but I believe I’ve had it since I was 16. I switched to cloth pads about 9 months ago and it has changed my life. I used to have severe pain, horrible cramps, many blood clots, and a very heavy flow. I also went months without a period and when I finally started it would last for weeks. Since I made the switch to cloth pads I have been almost completely pain free and I’ve had a regular period for 8 months. As you probably know PCOS and fertility don’t always go hand and hand. Just 2 months after I switched to cloth I ovulated for the first time with no medical or other intervention. I’ve since ovulated 4 additional times. I believe, 100%, that cloth pads are the reason my body was able to self regulate and to heal.

      • That’s amazing, thanks for sharing this, Tabitha! Your testimony is very encouraging.

      • Thank you so much for your comments and suggestions. I have never known or thought about alternatives to pads and tampons and after hearing your examples, i am for sure willing to give them a try. I too have been diagnosed with PCOS this past summer and I have issues with ovulation. Hoping the gradual change of lifestyle and natural processes will help with that.

    • I don’t know if pads are tampons are linked to PCOS but hair dyes are, I was thinking of dying my hair but my physician told me not to because of PCOS. There is a family history with PCOS, almost every woman in my family has PCOS, some of they have lost they ovaries because of this desease.

    • The dioxins found in disposable menstrual pads are linked to the development of hormonally related imbalances in women (such as Endometriosis). I would feel pretty certain that would be the case for PCOS as well.

    • Read “Iodine, Why You Need It and Why You Can’t Live Without It”, by Dr. David Brownstein. The ovaries react similarly to the thyroid (develop cysts) when deprived of iodine. Our whole bodies need iodine; the reproductive organs, including the breasts, the thyroid, the prostate store iodine and are pretty much entirely deficient. We’ve been lied to and told nonsense regarding our bodies and what they need.

  6. Do you have any pointers on inserting the diva cup? I used it once before having kids and the suction was so strong that on removal it caused a vaginal laceration that was extremely painful. I have been afraid to try it since. I have had a baby now but still curious how to use it and not have the same thing happen.

    • One way to insert is to press the sides together, fold it in half lengthwise, and then insert. When ready to remove, you have to hook a finger beneath the lip to break the suction.

    • If you search on youtube you can find a lot of videos that show different folding and insertion techniques. I had to try a couple until I found the one that worked best and was most comfortable for me.

    • If you search on youtube you can find a lot of videos with folding and insertion techniques. It took me a couple different tries until I found the way that worked best and was most comfortable for me.

    • I always fold mine in half before I take it out. Just push one side of it in and you can usually hear the seal break, then pull.

    • For anyone trying menstrual cups for the first time, I highly recommend the livejournal menstrual cups community! Those folks know their stuff, and can help you figure out how to choose a cup (hint: cervix height, mostly), insert it, get it out again, and troubleshoot leakage. Good stuff!

      http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/

      • Yes, Scooter! That’s where I did my research and learned to use it. It took me 3 cycles to get it right and now I love it! I forget I’m on my period! I bought the one called Lunette. I think it was recommended for women who have had a few kids (or maybe it was a tilted cervix).

  7. I agree. I have been using the Diva cup along with cloth pads/pantiliners since I had my last baby. The Diva cup did take some getting used to and it can be messy when changing/emptying it but it is much more comfortable and clean feeling. Another thing I might add is that it’s very important to make absolutely sure that all the soap Getz rinsed off after cleaning it. I learned the hard way and got a yeast infection. As far as the cloth pads, those are great too because I have plenty of time to wash them and put them back in my drawer before I’ll need them again the next month. Also much more comfortable and they don’t bunch up like disposable pads.

  8. Katie, have you tried jade and pearl sea sponges? I’ve heard they are a natural alternative, but I’ve been waiting for a reputable review of them. Thanks

  9. Last time I used the natural tampons they hurt me a lot, but the first time they were totally fine. I’m going to try the smaller or regular ones instead next time.

  10. I LOVE the diva cup! I thought it would be kind of gross but I feel so much cleaner.

    • I totally agree! I barely notice that time of the month any more. I had never been comfortable with tampons, my body just did not like them. Pads are almost suffocating I hated them too but I thought it was my only option until I heard of menstual cups. I took the plunge a few months ago and bought a Mooncup and it’s fantastic 🙂
      Getting used to it was weird and I had a trouble removing it the first few times. Then I learnt the muscle technique and to just relax, it’s second nature now. So easy.
      I was scared about needing to empty it in a public bathroom though but it’s not so bad although I’ve only done it once.

      • I agree and if you don’t have an extremely heavy period you won’t ever have to empty in public.

    • It just sounds SOOOOO gross to me! How do you get over that to clean it? The thing I love about tampons and pads is I don’t really have to look at them when I throw them away so I can pretend the whole disgusting period thing isn’t happening. I’d love to use a natural alternative but I am just so grossed out by the thought of cleaning/reusing something used down there. 🙁

      • I feel the exact same way!! I would like to hear how people deal with it.

        • When I first heard about natural alternatives to pads, I thought the same thing that you two (Kelsey and Taelor) expressed. Thing is, the disposable options make me feel like my period is a lot more disgusting than it is. Disposable pads make me feel gross, possibly because of how they’re made, or possibly because they go with the idea of “I shouldn’t touch this–the things that come from my body are dirty”. It’s weird to say, but taking care of re-usable products makes me feel a lot better about my period, like it’s just a thing my body does. (Oh wait–it is! 🙂 ) I kind of enjoy taking care of it. I’d say at least try it, and if you can’t handle hand-washing (which is my preferred method), then you can always try a kind that you can just toss in the laundry; or you can try one (like I did) and if you don’t like it, stop. Even if you find you don’t like using other options, it might be a really positive experience for you overall. 🙂 Hope this helps 🙂

        • I think that by using disposables, we acquire the belief that our bodies are somehow “dirty” and what comes out of them is “gross” and unsanitary. As Krys said, using a menstrual cup or reusable pads actually kind of makes you stop and think about your body and period — it kind of makes you appreciate it and look at it in a new light. I know it sounds gross, but honestly, it’s just blood. When you cut your finger, are you absolutely disgusted and think of yourself as dirty? When a child comes up to you with a cut knee, are you repulsed and grossed out? Maybe, but mostly likely not. All that is coming out of you is blood (which is sterile…). It’s not the same as poop or vomit…
          And it’s actually kind of cool in a way because you get a lot more intimate with yourself. We tend to think we lose a lot of blood during our periods, but if you use a cup, you can physically see that you only lose about 3-4 teaspoons a day (well, for me… my period is pretty light). For me, using a menstrual cup has changed my perspective about my period. I now respect my body and myself more because I realize my body isn’t gross or dirty and I shouldn’t feel ashamed of my period… It’s natural. Also… you do get used to it. Just like with tampons, there is a learning curve for cups. It seems like it is more involved (which yes, I guess it is), but after awhile it becomes second-nature. I’ve tried the applicator-less tampons before, yikes! My cup is actually easier and more comfortable to use than those OB tampons, for sure.
          *Plus I’m saving the Earth by drastically decreasing the amount of waste I’m sending to the landfill. This is actually the main reason I switched to reusable products in the first place 🙂 And finally, reusable pads are extremely cute. Kind of brightens my day when I go to the bathroom and see my pad printed with smiling pigs wearing sunglasses all over it!

        • I was also very “grossed out” at the thought of “reusable” hygiene products. I tried the Diva Cup first, after hearing my friend rave about it & how she could do yoga with it and had no leaking (which impressed me). The Diva Cup (size 2– I’ve had two children and I turn 39 this year) is my “go to” alternative to tampons, which I rarely used in the first place (I kept them in case of wanting to swim, etc).
          Then I tried the Charlie Banana brand of reusable pads after a different friend raved about it (and her husband even nodded in agreement!). The CB isn’t long enough for me, however. 🙁 Also, even though it washed with no staining, I didn’t like messing up the white. To get the longer size that I needed, I gave a bamboo charcoal reusable pads by seller “Hibaby” on Amazon a try. LOVE THEM!!!! Let me repeat that. . . I LOVE THEM! I won’t be buying disposable pads for feminine hygiene any longer, and I probably won’t even need them as sterile bandages (yes, they work great as a sterile bandage, say, for a chainsaw injury across a knee–not me, but someone else). I love “Hibaby”‘s reusable pads for a few reasons: 1) the portion that “catches” the blood is dark grey, so I don’t feel that I’m making something mess {which also helped me get over the “ick” factor}; 2) they hold a lot– I was quite surprised when I rinsed one in my sink. . . and like has been mentioned, I wasn’t as grossed out as I thought I would be, because in rinsing it, it’s “just blood,” like from any wound or whatever– “ick” factor mostly gone! 3) they are SO comfortable! I actually forget I’m wearing it, because it feels like just panties!; 4) fun and cute and pretty fabric patterns that actually make me smile.; 5) cost effective & I love that I’m not contributing more to a landfill; I’m on a septic tank, so that also helps me feel better about caring for our environment; 6) I, too, was diagnosed with PCOS over a decade ago & I have other major health problems I am slowly overcoming– being chronically ill and extremely low energy, I didn’t think I’d be able to “handle” reusable pads, but they’re actually not that much more by way of energy expenditure; 7) I am so thrilled, and my teen daughter tried the CB one I hadn’t used (I knew after trying one of the 3 pack that they were far too short for me) & she wants to stick with the reusable pads– though she was initially concerned about the “ick” factor, she deeply cares about the environment a great deal, and she understands how environmentally friendly the reusable pads are, so she, too, got over the “ick” factor!
          Something that didn’t occur to me until I looked up “mama cloth” and did some reading is that this present cycle I’m finishing, having used my charcoal bamboo pads by Hibaby, is I had ZERO cramping! Usually, the first day for me is a “non-functional” day– like, I pretty much just sit with a hot water bottle (if I remember) against my abdomen, or I go back to bed from the exhaustion (I have anemia, to boot!); I’ll have to check w/ my daughter, because she normally cramps really bad on the first day (she will only use a hot water bottle and refuses to take any pain medicine!!!) or two, also. I do know that she mentioned this last cycle of hers that she was “surprised” when it started because there were no PMS symptoms! I will be keeping this information in mind since both her & I have suffered PMS, and “female problems” run in my family line.
          I hope that answers your question AND encourages you to give natural alternatives a try. Oh, “Hibaby” does have a pack–which is what I’m getting my daughter– which includes a Luna cup, along with two pad sizes AND a mini wet bag (all for only $30!). My written exchanges with “Hibaby” have been friendly, professional, and pleasant. Yes, the product comes from China, but it is well made!
          Good fortune to you if you choose to try alternatives to disposables!
          Once more. . . even my OCD tendencies (diagnosed!) was able to get over the “ick” factor and using the reusable pad is actually “less icky” than using toilet paper for “erm, clean up,” so, I mean, think about that difference!

      • I thought it might be gross too but it’s so much grosser to see a pad full of blood and some sticking to me. The menstrual cup actually seems much cleaner to me now that I own one. I feel cleaner using my Lunette menstrual cup. I never used tampons though.

  11. I have never heard about these before and I am glad you shared this I just ordered one and am excited to see how it works

  12. First I want to give you a bug thank you for writing this! :)there are way too many people unaware of the dangers of the products they use all the time like pads and tampons. So I’m really glad you wrote this to help bring awareness to the subject 🙂 but I also wanted to mention there is also another alternative feminine product. Its called the sea sponge. And its the alternative to a regulsr tampon. But since they’re just sponges, that are humanely and carefully harvested, there is absolutely no risk of TSS. How awesome is that? 🙂 and they’re reusable of course 🙂 and once they’ve had their run they’re biodegradable 🙂 you can find them at jadeandpearl.com that’s where I got mine. I never did end up using it (got pregnant 🙂 but I love the product 🙂 they also have sea sponges to help with pelvic prolapse. But I think hey got removed from the site. You have to call jadeandpearl.com to ask about I think. Anyways just wanted to mention sea sponges are another option for alternative tampons 🙂

    • Good point. I tried those too and they didn’t work as well for me, but I added them in case they work well for others. Thanks for the reminder.

      • How do you get the diva cup out if you put it in inside out? I’m scared I won’t be able to remove it.

  13. I love the cloth pads. They are soooo much more comfortable and pretty too.

  14. I use the lunette menstrual cup and I have also tried the Meluna they are both great cups the lunette is my favorite though because of ease of opening once inserted. But I will never switch. My only regret is I did not find menstrual cups sooner. I used to have debilitating cramps with tampons and napkins gave me a rash it’s so nice to have another alternative.

  15. Love my DivaCup! I agree that it took about 3 cycles for me to feel like I had it right. I also have a super heavy flow so I have to clean it every 3 hours but with tampons I was at about every 45 mins. I have saved so much money and waste by switching! Not to mention I have much less cramping now. My next venture will be cloth pads.

    • Wow thanks for sharing this, Capri! My flow is extremely heavy the first day, sounds similar to yours. I just may have to try this after reading these reviews. Now to talk my soon to be 13 year old into it 😉

  16. It’s funny that you posted this today… I was just reading the e-book “Quit PMS” by Lauren Geertsen and she talks about natural alternatives for menstrual flow. I jumped over to your site to check out your recommendation, and viola! There it was! I’m going to try the Diva Cup… Katie, I love your blog, especially the beauty products and natural remedies. I made a batch of your vapor shower melts tonight and am excited to see how it helps my 3 year old with her lingering nasal congestion from a recent cold. Thanks for all you do!

  17. I found this article very intriguing and it led me to do more research to find out if menstrual cups are right for me. It turns out I need to consult with my doctor about whether I can use a menstrual cup with my IUD, I suppose it depends on the type of menstrual cup. Most cups are designed to sit in the lower portion of the vaginal canal but there is a brand that is designed to rest directly under the cervix, which is beneficial if your sex life is active during menstruation or dislike having an object protruding from your vagina. If I can make this work I am excited… about contributing less to the landfills! Thank you Katie for another enlightening article, I love reading this blog.

    • Hi Elizabeth, Of course you should still check with your doctor, but I wanted to tell you that a friend of mine uses a menstrual cup with her IUD. She has a copper IUD and uses the DivaCup, and she said it’s just like using her menstrual cup before she got the IUD. I also use the DivaCup, though I don’t have an IUD, and after more than five years, I will never ever go back to tampons or pads. Anyway, best of luck finding a solution that works for you!

  18. When we think of natural solutions to stay healthy, we often don’t even think of such little (er, maybe not so little after all) practical issues… but hygiene is definitely one area to watch if we want to stay healthy the natural way!

  19. Ignorance prevented me from switching over sooner…. I’d been using organic sanitary products for years and had never considered looking into reusable options. In our household, adopting a ‘wholefood’ and natural lifestyle we’ve eliminated as many synthetic elements from our lives as possible. I’m ever proud of us for doing so and am constantly looking at ways we can change for the better. I came off the pill, and started using a Lady Comp and then finally, after some research I ordered my ‘Juju’ cup and honestly haven’t looked back. My body responded immediately. I personally cut of the cup ‘tail’, after trying it a few times and also inside out. I have eliminated the monthly ‘odour’ i previously experienced and the dryness and itchiness tampons caused. I share the word to every woman who asks and am a huge advocate for all to make the switch, if they haven’t already.

  20. I’ve been using cloth pads for years and would try the cup but no longer have my period! My challenge is my 13 yr old daughter. She just started menstruating and wants nothing to do with my alternative ways:) i was thinking about sharing your post, Katie, but it’s more than she’ll be willing to take in. I’ve found as teens they realize there are many points of view out there and generally side with the mainstream. This goes for deoderant, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. She’s willing to use what I do for washing her face, so I’ve made some headway, but wish I could find a way for her to come to her own conclusion of replacing toxic products with healthy alternatives. Any suggestions?

    • My daughter was against trying an alternative like cloth pads despite me telling her it would help her. She gets very bad cramps. One month she started early and was out of her disposable pads and so used one of my cloth until I could get the store. She is now a huge believer that the cloth ones are better. She also likes how comfortable they are versus the plastic ones and likes that they in lots of colors and styles. So maybe you could be sneaky and forget to stock up for her. 😉

  21. Thank you for this great article.
    I reduced the use of tampons to an absolute minimum and since then the cramps and pain I normally have during the first day of my menses are not that bad any more.

    I wonder if there is a connection between using tampons and getting cramps.

    In a book I once read that the flow of blood is not constant, but comes in waves, So if you find out about that cycle in yourself you do not need any hygiene product at all, but just need to go to the bathroom. Well, not that easy, I can tell (and a mess 🙂 ).

    • I think there is a definite connection between cramps and tampons. I believe I got really bad cramps because tampons block the blood flow so your body has to work harder to rid itself of the waste. And menstrual cups don’t do that they just collect the flow thus reducing cramps.

    • I heard about the “natural” (no tools needed) body flow technique, but I’m a bit scared to try it… plus I don’t really want to waste pads during the learning process. Did it work for you?

  22. Thank you for sharing! I am new to using my Lunette cup and I just want to shout from the rooftops, “ladies, there is a better option!!!” Some woman think it sounds gross, but it is actually way cleaner and easier once you have the hang of it. Also, I am one of the women whose cramps disappeared! I also started taking Maca on Katie’s recommendation for balancing hormones. Since my second baby my pms is out of control and my flow was much heavier. I was miserable 2 weeks a month. With maca and a cup my period is now comfortable and easy. So thankful for wonderful blogs like this one!!

  23. I love my diva cup, but the part on the bottom always rubs and can get uncomfortable. Can’t wait to try it inside out! Thanks!

  24. How do you handle changing the diva cup when you are out of the house? I work full time…can’t imagine having to wash it in the ladies bathroom at work with other people seeing me do it.

    • There are a few options. You could dampen a paper towel to take into the stall with you and use it to wipe out your cup. Or you could use toilet paper to wipe it (trying not to get little shreds of tp on it). Or you could simply dump and reinsert without wiping the cup, since your own blood on/in the cup will not hurt you in the least.

      Some people with light to regular flow can insert a cup in the morning and then not bother with it all day until they get home. A cup can be worn safely for up to 12 hours.

    • Whenever I have to empty it in a public bathroom, I just use the toilet paper in the stall to wipe it out. It doesn’t get it perfectly clean, but it’s fine until I get home to to a more private bathroom where I can rinse it. I’ve also heard of women just taking a damp paper towel into the stall with them.

    • Claire, I have emptied mine in public restrooms before. You can just use some toilet paper to wipe it out and reinsert it and then when you change it after you are home you can wash it. If your flow is not heavy you will likely be able to go the entire day without emptying it. It will take a few months to get used to everything but you will know your body so much better.

    • I work full time also I don’t have any problems dumping the contents at work I just wipe the cup clean with tissue re-insert and wash the cup clean with soap at night then at the end of my cycle I just boil my cup to steralize.

      • I am really, genuinely amazed that so many women can do this without being grossed out. I just can’t imagine cleaning something that is used for my period! I’m literally gagging at the thought. Has anyone been able to overcome similar concerns about the gross-ness factor??

        • I wipe mine out with toilet paper getting it pretty clean & then wipe it clean inside & out with an alcohol free wet wipe from a pack that I keep in my purse for just this purpose. No one at works the wiser : ‘ )

        • Well, I thought the same, but let’s just say when I used tampons, it was like a crime scene. With the menstrual cup, the blood’s pretty much relegated to the cup and rinsing it out. Plus, if you were comfortable with blood on your hands with tampons or pads, it’s not any worse (I felt it was lessened) with the cup. Just dump and rinse and reinsert. Much cleaner, and for once, I actually forgot I was on my period. But also, reading about how people treat it so naturally here and in the forum that another reader suggested helped, plus there’s daggone teenagers on youtube showing you how to hse them and which ones they liked, I figured if they were so casual about it I shouldnt have trouble with it. And I was right 🙂

    • I hate to gross anybody out, but in public stalls (if I remember in time) I hold the cup under my stream of urine to rinse and dump. Otherwise I just dump and replace. I don’t like the bits of toilet paper left on the cup.

    • I hate to gross anybody out, but in public stalls (if I remember in time), I hold the cup under my stream of urine to rinse and dump. Otherwise, I just dump and replace. I don’t like the bits of toilet paper on the cup.

      • That’s totally what I do too!

  25. I also use the Lunette. It’s amazing and my favorite of all the cup options.

    I started out using the Diva cup seven years ago and always had problems getting it open and sealed once inserted.

    I switched to the Lunette and it’s so much easier to use. It always opens and seals immediately after inserted. Also…it comes in pretty colors. Which shouldn’t matter but i like the pretty colors.

  26. You really nailed this story! I recently made the journey to the Diva Cup after 2 babies and I’m super happy with it. I do experience leaking sometimes on my super heavy days where it doesn’t make a tight fit – sometimes removing it and putting it back in helps. I will try turning it inside out as well. I will sometimes where an organic day pad on days I think it COULD leak or over night. Either way I know I’m reducing the waste and protecting my VAGINA! Which – ladies- let’s admit it- our vaginas are kind of important, right?!!!

  27. what do you wash your cup with? It seems like any kind of soap could irritate your lady parts!

    • I wash mine every night that I use it with unscented Dr. Bronner’s. I have the tiniest bottle and only use a drop or two. It hasn’t bothered me at all. Also, if any stains show up, after my period is over I will soak the cup overnight in 1/2 water, 1/2 hydrogen peroxide. Voila! Stains gone.

    • Depending on the material it is made of you could use mild soap, sterilize by boiling it a few minutes, ozone sterilizer, sodium bicarbonate.

    • When I bought my Diva cup it came with a bottle of Diva wash. It’s pH-balanced and has worked well for me. You only have to use a drop. One 6 oz bottle has lasted me 18 months so far and I think I’ll be able to get 2 more months out of what is left in the bottle. There is no added fragrance but it has a slight citrusy scent that is pleasant. It is concentrated though and I have to make sure that I rinse my cup REALLY well before reinserting.

  28. Switched to The Keeper last year, and I absolutely love it. People say it’s gross and dirty, but that could not be farther from the truth. You feel like you’re not even on your period. You can step out of the shower without hurrying to stop the red drips. It even STOPS my menstrual cramps as soon as I insert it.
    The only thing that sucks is that I can’t use it when I have a yeast infection (which I’m prone to because of PCOS). Then I use the organic cotton pantiliners.

  29. What would you recommend for mild urinary incontinence? I notice some slight rash and itching occasionally from using Poise pads. I like the thought of reusable products. Thank you.

    • I also get rashes from disposable pads. But there are many cloth alternative options for incontinence look on etsy, amazon or ebay. I like the Charlie banana brand but I not sure if they make incontinence pads.

    • I know this is old but please look into Icon undies. They’re similar to Thinx period panties (which I use and LOVE) but the Icon undies are specifically used for incontinence.

      SOME OTHER NATURAL, REUSABLE options for periods: Sea Sponges and Period Panties.
      I hardly know I’m on my period anymore, and don’t dread it when I know it’s coming. For heavier days I use Sea Pearls from The Sea Sponge Company and Thinx sport panties as backup. There are absolutely no leaks. Sponges are soft and silky and can be doubled up for heavier days, and the panties are the softest, most comfortable, and most effective of all the period panties I’ve tried. They feel like swim bottoms. They are lined with soft cotton, and have colloidal silver embedded in the absorptive layer to prevent microbial growth. On my lighter days I use the panties by themselves. I’ve made it for the past six months with two pairs of Thinx and a set of three sea sponges. I also highly recommend a handheld bidet. When I’m home I rinse myself off and rinse sponges right into the toilet, then squeeze them out with eco-friendly, chemical-free toilet paper. When I’m away from home, I take my peri-bottle (squeeze bottle for rinsing stitches post-baby) and fill it up at the sink before I use a public toilet, so that I can rinse out the sponges and rinse my hand within the stall. This might be helpful for those who use cups too. I was never able to use a menstrual cup as I’m too sensitive (also wish I hadn’t wasted so much money trying different brands. If you’re small, and sensitive, consider trying sponges first). I used organic cloth pads for a while but found that they kept falling out, or leaking, so I’m thrilled with my current routine and eager to share the information. Thanks!

  30. I have a Moon Cup, and I can’t say enough good things about it. I was ridiculously nervous to try it for the first time (similar to when I tried tampons for the first time, really), but I was a convert after one cycle. I have rather heavy periods, and I used to spend SO MUCH money on disposable supplies because of them. The cup is more pricey up front, but definitely more budget-friendly in the long run. I would also like to recommend http://menstrual-cups.livejournal.com/ to anyone curious about trying menstrual cups. I think the women posting there cover every possible question and then some! Researching all my questions there calmed my nerves before trying them for the first time. (On a side note, I’m intrigued by the sea sponge idea, but I can’t seem to get past the fact that it’s a dead animal. Morbid, I know.)

    • Thanks for this great article. I have used a diva cup and had problems with it both times I tried it. Then I found the website listed above and it was great. I tried a different kind of cup called the skoon cup. It is wonderful. It comes in different colors and two different sizes. As with all menstrual cups it does take some getting used to. There also a lot of different ways to fold the cup so that it will “pop” open inside. There are you tube videos. If one doesn’t work try another till you find one that works.
      I have way less cramps than I used to have when I used tampons. I will never go back.
      As for cloth menstrual pads. There are a lot of choices. Check out etsy there are a ton of different options, colors and patterns. I switched to cloth reusable panty liners. Love them!

  31. I’ve used the diva cup for years and love it. I recently had a baby and for postpartum bleeding I couldn’t use anything internally so I ended up ripping up an old cotton flannel sheet and it worked amazing! I could rip and fold it to custom meet my needs, and just washed with the cloth diapers. I’m NEVER buying conventional products again.

  32. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been using the Diva Cup for the past 4 years and I LOVE it. I’ve always suffered from very heavy periods and even if I wanted to use tampons, they simply don’t work for me. In truth, the switch to the Diva cup was the more practical choice because dealing with tampon failures just got old. It was a lifesaver, I could wear it longer without incident. Also, it saves so much money every month. For those of us who use twice as many tampons or pads as the normal woman, stuff starts to get pricey. The Diva cup was a practical, economical and green choice. Win, win, win.

    I have been trying to convince all of my friends and family of the effectiveness since I switched but so many of them are scared to try it out. Women seem put off by the “mess” but I can say that it’s really not that bad. After a little maneuvering you work out a system and it’s easy peezy. I wouldn’t go back to Tampons if someone paid me.

    • What about the gross factor of cleaning it every time? That totally turns me off, as much as if like to get away from tampons. I don’t want to make my periods any more revolting than they already are!

  33. switched to cloth pads two months ago and am loving it! where has this option been all my life 😉 tried the cup too a few times but never got the hang of it and wasn’t comfortable for me at all. but lovin’ clothpad life!!

  34. I use homestead emporium cloth pads! Love them!

  35. After owning a Keeper for 14 years – they’re only supposed to last for 10 – I switched to reusable pads and haven’t used anything else. The first pads I made myself from an old t-shirt (the top layers), a towel cut into strips (inner absorbent core), and some fleece (as the back layer). I’ve since purchased a few pads from Precious Stars Pads, a company created by a teen girl in the UK, and love them! They are very well made, easy to wash/care for, and are INCREDIBLY absorbent.

  36. This is quite interesting. I am 43 have 3 kids and did not know about menstrual cups, menstrual sponges, etc. Also loving the reusable pads link. I think I am going to try the cup thing. Thanks

  37. Hello!

    I thank you for helping to re-motivate me to try the Diva cup. I’ve used it a few times in the past, but I’ve always had trouble with leaking on the first day or so of my cycle. Has anyone else had problems with leaking? Suggestions?

  38. Katie,
    I highly recommend reading “The 28 Day Lighter Diet”. The title is a bit of a misgiving, as the book focuses on what women can do to embrace our bodies and the changes it goes through, not just maintaining a healthy weight.
    I had always, always used tampons, that is, until I read this book. Since then I’ve switched to pads and my periods are much more subtle, comfortable, and lighter. The cramps, backache, and the stabbing pain in my nether regions has all gone away.
    The authors touch on the value in using cast iron pans, prepping and freezing soups prior to your period, and tracking your period so you can better plan life around your period. I’ve been really amazed how much impact this one little book has made in my quality of life.

  39. I’m curious if you have to use some sort of liner with the diva cup or the like? And if so, what would one use?

  40. Hi,

    I am thinking about investing in a Diva Cup, but can I leave it in while sleeping? Or should I take it out while sleeping and wear an organic pad? Just want to hear some opinions!

    Thanks! 🙂

  41. I use the Diva cup and love it. I agree with the three menstral cycles before forming an opinion. It really feels much cleaner and safer.
    Just wondering if any one has started their daughter off on these. It’s on my horizon and just looking for some advice on younger girls and using a cup.

  42. I tired 2 different menstrual cups this summer and neither seemed to work for me. One was disposable and was apparently not for use for those with a tilted uterus ( might of been helpful to have read that on the box ahead of time), but had to do a search and rescue! The second I tried was the Diva 1. Even though I am over thirty and have had 3 kids, I am a small framed person. The cup worked but caused me so much pressure and pain, I was miserable. I tired it a couple of times and had the same experience each time. Is there a cup that works better for small framed women? If so, I would be willing to try again. I like the idea of the cup if I can find one that works for me.

    • I am 5’1 & 110 pounds and have 4 children. I have tried other cups but the one I like best is the Lunette it fits me perfectly except I had to cut off the stem . It opens easily once inserted and I cannot feel that im wearing it. I holds a good volume of liquid which is good if you have heavy periods like I do.

  43. Thank you so much for posting this!!!! I had no idea this was out there and am going to try this my next cycle. I appreciate all of the time and research you put into your natural alternatives. I have learned a lot from your site. Thank you, and God bless!!!

  44. I cannot use the Diva Cup because I have vagnismus and I am really interested in cloth pads. But I work full time. How can I change pads while at work? I don’t want to have to store the old pad 🙁

    • I think it depends on if you how heavy your flow is.
      But if your flow is regular or light you can try a overnight cloth pad with menstrual underwear which is leak proof underwear just in case you leak.
      but if you have a heavy flow you will have to carry the used pad in a wet bag some pads come with them or you can order them online.

  45. Are menstrual cups not recommended for people with vaginismus? I have vaginismus too but I wanted to try the diva cup to see if it would help that problem because I would stop using the tampons that dry out my vagina.

  46. Wow…I am shocked not only by your post, but what others on Facebook said as well. I’ve been feeling sick for the past 2.5 years, and ironically enough, I finally scheduled a doctor’s appointment for tomorrow. Self diagnosing, I feel as if I have symptoms of Endometriosis, but I am not a doctor 🙂 I am a total believer that we absorb what we put into our body and that most products we come into contact with today are toxic in some nature. My periods are SUPER heavy and I get such severe cramping that I never would have considered switching to a natural product, but I think my mind has changed after reading this post. I never realized how much my body may be absorbing from the tampons I am using, and I am very curious to try the organic products to see if this helps reduce/eliminate my symptoms. Thank you, thank you!

  47. Katie,

    Thank you so much for sharing about these natural alternatives to Pads and Tampons. I have been using my Diva Cup for about a year now and I absolutely love it! It really is amazing. The cup can be a little uncomfortable at first but once one adjusts to it, I don’t feel it at all.

    Keep up the great work!

    Megan Marie
    Author from Amazing Things Press

  48. I have been using the Diva Cup since 2003 (the same one). I wouldn’t use anything else and I’m so glad it’s silicone b/c I’m allergic to latex. Don’t let the $30-40 price scare you or the nitty gritty hands on the vag stuff. It’s very, very freeing to not have to worry about running out of or having to wash pads. Every woman should have one!!!

  49. Excellent post Katie! I have used cloth pads for just over ten years now, and shortly after having made the switch (with pads my best friend and I made together!), I knew I was a convert for life. SO much more comfortable…

    It did take me some time to get used to washing them, but it’s now just routine for me.

    I did also try the Keeper once; sad to report I found it to be painful. I have never had children, and I do wonder/suspect the difference that could make. I recall from the article here that one such product comes in different sizes, but don’t recall which one. Perhaps that would make a difference, perhaps not. However, since I’ve also never been a fan of tampons, that may have more to do with it than anything; maybe that’s just not right for me at all.

    I initially switched because of the environmental implications of conventional pads, but I must admit that the decision was equally based on financial reasons as well. Thinking about what I’d spent up to that point just on pads…wish I’d simply been able to save that money every month! Hindsight…

    At any rate, bravo Katie for posting this ararticle, and bravo to any woman even considering making this kind of change! It takes courage to go against the grain as we know, amd I do believe it is wholly worth it!

    ~Melanie

  50. I’ve been using a Diva cup and light day glad rags (as extra leak protection my first day of heavy flow) since 2009 and it is so freeing! You don’t feel like a gross monster gushing everywhere and I love that I can wear it overnight. There is a learning curve to insert or remove it initially, but worth the time. 🙂

  51. Hi, I use DevaCup and am so thankful for the tip to turn it inside-out!! The stem just rubs so badly, and I was afraid I would have to go back to normal tampons, so thank you! I did have a question–do you have any ideas about what to wash the DevaCup with that is cheaper than the solution they provide? They said not to use vinegar or castille soap, so I was wondering if anyone had suggestions. Thanks!

    • I have used a Keeper cup for a few years now & I just wash mine with Kirks Castile or Kiss My Face olive oil soap. Never had a problem! Just love the freedom it gives me now with my heavy cycles!

      Thanks Katie for the idea to turn it inside out! I’ve had 6 babies & my Keeper leaks some & I don’t like the stem either!

  52. I am in my 70’s and have had some problems with urinary incontinence – not on a regular basis, but I do wear a TENA pad most of the time just in case the problem arises. Other brands chafe and irritate. Using a disposable pad would be great. Are there any or could you recommend where to get something for my problem.
    Thanks.

  53. I wanted to tell others that tampons caused 2 female friends of mine to have hysterectomies – I think they had endometriosis but not sure. I just remember they & their doctors said it was from tampons.
    That was when I stopped using them – at least not very often -couldn’t get away from them entirely.

    I am thankful to hear of all of you wanting to do the best for yourself.

    Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about that anymore…. lol 🙂

  54. when you said to turn the diva cup inside out do you mean to use it inside out or just stretch it and then use it the right way?

  55. I have been using the silicone Mooncup for the last six years or so and would NEVER go back. Great post!

  56. I love both the diva cup and my newer jade and pearl sea sponges. The sponges are definitely easier (no learning curve, just wet them and push them in to a comfortable place, if it rubs it’s probably not in far enough). BUT you definitely have to “interact” more with the blood, as you must rinse it/squeeze it out. My system is to use the diva when I won’t have access to private bathroom that has a sink right next to the toilet, and I use the sponges most often at home. They have pros and con’s but I love them both.

    The diva takes time to learn but is not really messy and if very effective if inserted properly. In public stalls just dump it out and reinsert it.

    For someone prone to yeast infection, you can use a bit of tea tree oil and baking soda in water to soak/clean your sponge (or diva cup) and this really helps.

    Keep trying if what you tried didn’t work, there are so many brands and options now… Something reusable and natural for everyone!

    • Bummer, I was hoping sponges would be LESS gross than a cup. 🙁 But the cup sounds very messy so I’m curious about why you say it’s not. The whole cleaning process sounds like the risk of making a mess is high (not to mention really, really gross).

  57. The menstrual cup is FANTASTIC. Everyone should have one! They are so convenient and comfortable and save SO MUCH money … and good for the environment … This product really just changed my life in a fantastic way, I found out about them about 1985 or so and what a difference, especially for someone who has heavy periods. Really can’t recommend this enough …

  58. Absolutely LOVE the cloth pads. Sooo comfy and love that they’re reusable. I get mine off http://www.honouryourflow.co.uk/ they do cloth tampons for anyone who’s interested aswell. Absolutely love the fleece and velour pads and they even do some with fabric from my favourite shop for clothes and bags – Cath Kidston. Love it! Saving up to buy more for my collection at the mo. Comfiest pads I’ve ever used and no more irritation or rashes on my legs or allergic reactions like with the disposables and natracare cotton pads. And I how I don’t annoy anyone with this comment but no leaks unlike with disposables since they absorb liquid faster and the slim megas are shaped better than normal pads

    I’ve only used cloth pads for 2 periods now but I’m never going back to disposables. Doesn’t even feel like you’re wearing pads like I had with the disposables and they even helped to reduce the cramps and severity of the periods a lot already. Best thing I’ve ever tried! Never going back! Just my 2 cent on them sorry it’s so long! 🙂

  59. Hi Katie,

    I started using the bigger Lunette almost three years ago and am so glad I did. I have super heavy flow for the first two days and taper off from there. Like so many of the ladies commenting here my first month or so was awkward and I continue to use a pad because I leak the first two days. However, before Lunette I used two large packages of pad and now I use half a pack each month saving both the environment and my pocketbook.
    Several ladies asked about using one in a public restroom. In my purse I carry a small cosmetic bag with an empty travel shampoo bottle and two pads and two viva paper towels. I fill the bottle at the sink when I enter the restroom and use it to clean the cup, particularly the holes. I find everything works better if the holes are clean and open. I rarely use a paper towel or two but once in a while you find yourself in restroom with out the basics
    Thank you for the extra information about commercial pads. I read about cloth pads but not about the problems from the chemicals and plastics in commercial brands. This is new to me but makes perfect sense. You always have wonderfully timely topics and point me in new directions to explore in wellness and health. Plus my husband and daughter and neighbors husband simply adore you bacon chicken bite. So, thank you, thank you, thank you. And Happy Holidays.

  60. what do you suggest for postpartum bleeding?

  61. They do make postpartum cloth menstrual pads that you can buy.

  62. It is important not to use any menstrual cups or tampons or any other thing of the sort post partum. You are much more susceptible to infections. I would just use cloth pads. I used the inserts for my baby’s cloth diapers b/c they seemed to be just right. Although, admittedly I used the standard throw away pads for the first few days when flow was more than I wished to deal with.

  63. I have also been too busy having wonderful babies to be too worried about the topic. I have been using Natracare and have considered organic cloth pads. The Diva Cup has also sounded tempting but what do you say to the silicone??? I don’t want that inside of me. I am from Austria (Europe) – you know alps, New Year’s concert, Mozart, and so on 🙂 and I am not sure where to get the natural rubber version. Aren’t you worried about the silicone?

    I don’t blog but I have loved your posts since discovering your blog! Do you receive e-mails, too? I am so old-fashioned in some ways. 🙂

  64. Hello everyone! I used the diva cup for the first time today, it was fine all day and then tonight after I changed and cleaned it my cramps were so severe I had to take it out. I rarely cramp anymore with periods and I’m only heavy on the first two days….I’m wondering if I’m doing something wrong or if I should try other options? I ended up taking it out…and I’m still cramping!! Any advice would be apprieicated!! Thanks!!

  65. The Diva cup is amazing! I have used mine for 3 years and will NOT go back to mainstream methods!

  66. Hi,

    Does anyone find they need to wear a pad or pantiliner with their Divacup during the day or when they sleep?

    Thanks!

    -Elle

    • I use a light day cloth pad (GladRag) for my heaviest flow day because sometimes I’ll have a leak if I’m not able to empty my cup in time. In general it shouldn’t leak to much if inserted correctly. Make sure once you insert it to spin it once all the way around, you need to make sure it’s completely expanded.

      I know some people can struggle with removing their cup but I struggle with the insertion. For me I t just takes some patience, reinserting sometimes and relaxing.

      • Thanks so much! I think I will invest in a cloth pad to save money! 🙂

  67. I would recommend Lunapads, they also sell the diva cups. You can get their cloth pads in organic as well.

  68. Wow, just wow…this explains so much! Throughout 2013, I suffered from recurring Bartholinitis (a clogged gland of Bartholin). I had to undergo several unpleasant procedures, but it kept coming back. My gynaecologist told me it was because during my first childbirth, I had a small tear which had healed up in just the wrong place, blocking the gland/duct. I told him I found that odd, because in my memory, that wasn’t the place where the tear had been. But he assured me there was some scar tissue there and I believed him. Then I started noticing the Bartholinitis only came back if I used tampons. I stopped doing that (also because I got pregnant again :)) and the swelling gradually disappeared.

    Having read the article above, I can only come to the conclusion that microscopic bits of cotton and/or coating of the tampons were clogging up the gland/duct. I am so glad I know this now! I just ordered the divacup and I hope it will work for me. Thanks so much for the information, love from the Netherlands – Monique

  69. I am a menstrual cup user! I wrote a blog post about it. I’ve told my friends about it and they all think that I am crazy. I am looking to get another one off of Amazon in the very near future. I cannot tell you how much more conformable and secure I feel.

    One of the prior commenters mentioned that their periods are more regular and lighter thanks to menstrual cups use…I may agree with that, because since I switched, I have more regular and normal flow periods than ever before.

    I do use a pantyliner as back for the first two days…I am still trying to get with the cloth pads thing (mainly cause I HATE doing laundry and I am not sure how that would pan out).

  70. The Diva Cup should be emptied/cleaned at least every 12 hours, NOT every 24 hours.

    “The DivaCup can be worn up to a maximum of ten (10) – twelve (12) consecutive hours and should be emptied, washed and rinsed a minimum of two (2) – three (3) times daily.”
    http://divacup.com/how-it-works/your-first-questions/#12hour

  71. Thank you all for the abundance of information! I am still very confused and unsure about switching. I am currently about a month post op from having my tubes tied and having a Mirena IUD removed and my first post op cycle is kicking my butt! I’ve never soaked through a super tampon in my life! I hate the waste of the tampons/pad and wrapping, but not sure if I can bring myself to using a ‘cup’, which I remember seeing in a Whole Foods market a few years back and was just blown away by the idea of it. Cannot wait for menopause to hit so these periods can finally stop, being going through this monthly crap since age 9! (except for my 1 pregnancy).

  72. Hi Katie, I’d like you to know that I LOVE your website! I was wondering if you have heard of the SoftCup brand of period cups. I am new to this world and I recently purchased a box of these on Amazon.

  73. Has anyone tried a Femmy Cycle Menstrual Cup. I have just spent hours looking at the different cups and this is the one I am leaning most towards but wanted feedback before using money from my tight budget. I like the ring for removing it, the way it opens and the way it traps the fluids in itself instead of it flowing out. Not so thrilled that it doesn’t have as long of a usage (recommended to replace yearly) as other brands, but maybe its a good thing.

    • I’ve never tried that cup but wonder if the 1yr is really true. When I first got my Diva cup (at the time I didn’t even know there were options!) back in 2009 they advertised to replace every 5 (or 10?) years. Now they advertise to replace every 1 or 2 years. Either they are making them less durable or it’s just a marketing thing, since they’ll make more money if they are replaced more often. That’s my guess anyway.

  74. I just started using Pads from the Company Organyc. I found them much more comfortable and much more absorbent than the Natracare. And they bothered me less..

    My sister uses cloth pads from http://www.mypeepod.com and is in love with them. She’s buying me a set for my birthday 🙂 can’t wait to try it.

    Thanks for this important post. I wish more people out there would read this!

  75. THANK YOU!! I had never heard of these natural feminine products before reading your post. I immediately ordered the Diva Cup and this is my first month trying it. I absolutely love it!! I will share this information with the women in my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! No going back to traditional tampons & pads! 🙂

  76. I’ve heard of menstrual cups since I was a teenager and I’ve been considering giving it a try. I do have a concern tho, does the cup have to go all the way up to your cervix like the nuvaring birth control does? I wasn’t able to use nuvaring because I can’t reach my own cervix.

    • Not at all. I have trouble reaching my cervix too and don’t have any trouble getting a menstrual cup out. It also has a little silicon part that hangs down so you can reach it.

  77. It is so nice to see people using alternatives to tampons both for your health and the environment! I used the sea sponge over twenty years ago and loved it but had problems finding it at times. I also used the Diva cup but like other commenters it was hard taking it out at times due to suction !

    It doesn’t look like anyone has mentioned the Instead menstrual cup – the name has been changed to Softcup. It is latex free and is my favorite menstrual cup on the market. Although it is marketed as one time use only – I reuse mine for my cycle and have had no problems. Two unique points about this cup is 1) you can have sex with it in!!! and 2) and off label use is that it acts as a bladder sling for post baby incontinence issues letting you jog/jump/skip! At least that has been the experience of some users…

  78. I have used the Diva cup for 1 cycle thus far. I have struggled with leaks a bit and I saw your advice was to turn it inside out. Is that to stretch it? Or do I actually wear it inside out?!

    Just a bit of background. I’ve had 3 babies in 2.5 years (no duplicates, all were singletons). I use the size 2 diva cup. Thanks!

  79. I am looking at a number of things to improve my health that I will be doing when Income tax comes in. I will be purchasing most of it off of amazon and was wondering if there are any on amazon that you recommend. I want to purchase most of what I am getting off of one site instead of several……..

  80. I have been using a combination of natracare sanitary towels and a mooncup (it’s the most widely available cup in the UK) for the last couple of years, and it has been really good. The cup took a bit of getting used to, and I still leak a bit (hence the use of pads) but it’s so much easier than tampons which I hated, and it’s much cheaper too, I hve a very heavy flow and was using a combination of tampons and towels but I got sick of the cost (about £10 per period) and the itching I got from plasticy towels. I’m a total convert. I’ve also noticed my flow is getting less heavy and more manageable. I also like that I can measure the millilitres of blood I have lost and monitor my periods that way.

    What prompted the switch was when I thought about my effect on the environment and how many of the products I was using per month (obscene!). I’m now spending about £1.78 per period (that’s the cost of a box of natracare long pads, and often I don’t get through the box in one month).

    I recently bought a mooncup for my friend for Christmas, and she was delighted (I was worried she’d think I was weird but she said she would never have got round to buying it if I hadn’t have bought it for her!) so I’m spreading the word!

  81. Hello!
    I am new to your blog and this is the first article I am reading; I am so delighted that you have covered this important topic. In college, I became a huge advocate of resuable cloth pads and the Diva Cup. I use LunaPads and I love them. Many women that I talk to about this issue are still perplexed about how conventional pads and tampons could be dangerous, so I am always happy to get refreshed on the facts and offer alternatives. Thanks for the great facts and read!

  82. So many commenters, but I wanted to add my experience since first reading this post. I had heard of menstrual cups years ago, but was too nervous to try one and eventually forgot about it. Since I’ve been detoxing all aspects of my life bit-by-bit, I thought I needed to take the plunge. I was especially curious if I would have lessened cramps as some women shared. So, I went out after reading this post and bought a Diva cup.

    After two cycles, I still have cramps (which I manage with herbal tinctures to the point that they’re still uncomfortable, but I don’t need pills anymore–a huge step in the right direction). However, my period decreased in length from 5 days to 3. That happened the very first cycle.

    I used the Diva cup, followed directions exactly and have not experienced any leaks, day or night, despite the first two days being very heavy. I love that I can work or be out of the house without having to pack my purse with tampons and worry about changing them in public restrooms. It does take some initial persistence to properly position it, but the convenience of it after that, added to the fact that it lessens our environmental impact & is non-toxic, makes me wish I had tried this years ago when I first heard about it.

    Thanks for this post in giving me the nudge!

  83. Katie,

    Thank you for posting about this topic. My sister told me about the Diva Cup two years ago and I will NEVER go back to conventional methods for my period!! I abandoned pads in high school and strictly used tampons. After having my daughter, I had to use pads for about a month and found them to be horribly messy and unpredictable to sleep in. (Occasionally twisting or something…)

    The Diva cup is fantastic. You don’t even notice that you’re having your period. No string to pee on…. No leaking…. And even after 24 hours, the cup is only half full on my worst day.. But best of all, I’m not sore and dried out trying to pull out a tampon anymore.

    If I had to recommend one product for women, it would be the Diva Cup hands down.

  84. I”ve had three kids and tried the diva cup in a the “before childbirth” size, and it was painful. I could feel it! I can’t imagine how the larger, “correct” size would feel. I have a short vagina. I’m curious if anyone had the same experience as me, but was able to find a different brand they liked? Thanks.

    • I have been researching menstrual cups for about a month and a half now. I have finally picked one Monzcare R- Cup Reusable Menstrual Cup Size 2 and am waiting for it to arrive. What I have found by reading a gazillion reviews on amazon.com and other sites is that all cups are relatively the same with little differences that appeal to each individuals preferences and bodies: softness/firmness of cup, stem, length of cup, textures, colors, etc. I liked the reviews on the Monzcare and the price is really reasonable (I figure it would get me started and if I want to try another Im not out but $16.99.) One I really want to try when I have a little extra in my budget is the FemmyCycle Menstrual Cup (they have multiple sizes including one specifically for a short cervix) as it is totally different from all others but at $39.00 I wasn’t ready to start out with it. Good Luck!

  85. I have been doing a lot of reading on menstrual cups. One of the ones I’m interested in trying is the MeLuna shorty. One of my concerns is that it is not silicone, but TPE. Does anyone know about this plastic and whether or not it is safe to use? I am having trouble finding info. Thanks!

  86. I know this is a late post but, I must say after reading this article I decided to try the cup. My experience, amazing! I guess I was lucky, I didn’t have a learning curve! It’s comfortable, easy and no mess. I bought size 1, even though I have four children via c-section. All four of my kids are boys, and we all share a bathroom so I’m very happy to have an option that doesn’t leave “evidence” behind. I’m just so happy your wrote about this!! When women say it’s the closest thing to not having a monthly visit, they are speaking truth! I was a little skeptical, but since you talked so highly about it, I decided to just go ahead and try it. So glad I did and highly recommend it!!

    • I am so glad you had such a positive experience! Thank you for sharing!

  87. I’m 17 and I ordered my Diva Cup online a few months ago. I’ve had my period for four years now, and I’m so glad I switched to the cup at a young age. I feel bad for the women in their thirty’s who have spent hundreds of dollars on pads and tampons every year. I was a little nervous at first because it was a new product I was putting into my body, but I closed my eyes and did it, and the Diva cup has simplified my life. If you have any other questions about the cup feel free to ask me.

    • Is it messy? The whole process of cleaning it every time sounds disgusting to me and I don’t know how you could do it without dripping everywhere and/or getting blood all over your hands. I’m looking to make my periods LESS gross, not more, but if someone can convince me that the cups aren’t as gross as they sound I’d be happy to switch.

  88. I wish I had known about the cup years ago. This is only my 2nd cycle using it and I can’t get over how effective and efficient it is. I highly recommend the Diva Cup. I am 100% satisfied with this product.

  89. Why does the insert for my Lunette still have a TSS warning?? Does the diva insert not??

  90. I love Talulah Bean’s cloth pads!! They come in tons of adorable patterns and Erica is super nice. Excellent product and customer service. The minky pads wash-up like a dream, no staining at all.

  91. Love my Moon Cup and cloth pads! I use both and alternate between them. I also experienced a decrease in flow, cramps and moodiness after I made the switch. Now that I’m off the pill (using the Fertility Awareness Method) it’s like I’m a whole new person, my husband is thrilled!
    It’s my theory that our bodies react to all the chemicals in disposables and bleed and cramp more. The big companies don’t have a problem with this because it makes you buy more of their products, along with medication to treat cramps, bloating etc. and then they advertise to tell you that these symptoms are normal but you shouldn’t have to live with them…. Aarrrggggg!… Ok, I’m done with my soap box. 😉

    • Rachael, I do believe you’re on to something key here. I’ve had an increase in cramps over the years and would love a natural alternative, as I don’t like taking meds for relief. I’ve never tried a cup, but am willing to give it a whirl after reading this important post. Thank you for your comment as well! Stay on that soap box!!! 🙂

  92. Have any of you had testimonies of switching to natural methods like the diva cup and it helping endometriosis? I am on a health and healing journey with my endo and I would love to hear feedback from some of you ladies if you have any. Thank you! 🙂

    • Hi — I had severe endometriosis and had an emergency laparotomy to remove a large endometrioma from my ovary and additional lesions allover my bowels (this after years of doctors telling me nothing wrong) I was placed on continuous birth control for 2 years after the surgery (which I hated but was scared to not do it). Luckily around that time a doctor who was interested in acupuncture referred me to an acupuncturist specializing in infertility and the rest is history. I stopped the BC pills, and after about 3 months of twice weekly, than weekly, until finally tapered to monthly visits. I have had no recurrence of disease since my surgery in 2002. I continue to go monthly sessions. I went overseas for 4 months (3 years ago) and by the 3rd month I was beginning to have symptoms I had not had in years. I will mention once in a blue moon I will have a pain in the ovary but it is not lasting. In addition, if I eat too much hard cheese I will have the old endometriosis bowel pains that take your breath away. . Lastly, there were definite food triggers with endometriosis pain for me — dairy. One more thing, nothing will help until all the lesions are actually removed from your body, you need to go to a doctor who knows what they are doing. A good source for learning about questions to ask is Dr. Albee- Center for Endometriosis website. I have not been to him but his website was around way back then and was a huge source of info for me in finding a surgeon. GOOD LUCK! PS I have not had luck with western trained acupuncturists. When I move, I always look for a Chinese trained acupuncturist. I know that is a huge generalization but it has been my experience. Chinese trained usually do full body front and back and about 60 to 75 minute session and don’t even have to ask you questions- just assess you. Western ones tend to be 20 -30 minutes. in and out.

  93. I recently made a very good friend who has been helping me get my life together. I am very crafty and have been considering making my own pads, but my friend Rose (who is from panama) cautioned me against it speaking of risks of blood infections. She had to use reusable when she was a kid and was always getting infections from it. I am really interested in doing this because I am working toward a completely natural home, but I would really like to know what any risks are of infections so I know how to prevent it.

  94. I’ve used homemade cloth comforts for years. I proudly made my first batch in pretty cotton prints with terry inner liner. I also made them petite (only 7″ long) because I feared noticeable bulk.
    I’m more practical now and just finished my 2nd batch using layers of flannel, jersey, and fleece in plain old black and brown. And they are closer to 10″ long. I make them very non-descriptive. They are simply 10″x12″ rectangles of three layers of the materials above. Then I quarter-fold each into an oblong pad which fits snugly in the pantie crotch. The flannel is slip resistant so they stay put. They look and feel so comfortable, I can’t wait until my next cycle.
    I have strayed far from tampons since I want a healthy, cleansing flow, however to minimize nighttime leaks, I used scraps from the same fabrics to make inserts or tucks. There really isn’t a term for this since it’s not on the market, as far as I know. It has always been uncomfortable to tuck a large pad into my folds to inhibit drips and leaks, so my concept of inserts which is multiple layers of 2″x3″ seems to work well for tucking between the folds for extra protection while still donning the pad as usual at night.
    Someone above is very concerned about the “yuck” factor. All I can say is, you get used to it. And after changing baby diapers, it’s really nothing compared to that. It is time-consuming and a bit labor-intensive to constantly clean the comforts during a cycle, but it’s only once a month. I rinse, soak, repeat until the water runs clear, then hang them on a laundry rack on my private patio to dry. They get washed in the next load of laundry.
    As many women before me, I will never go back to commercial sanitary products.

  95. Awesome article!

  96. Does anyone know if menstrual cups will leak when moving a lot? I am a advanced ballet dancer and I was wondering if anyone else knows if they would leak.

    • If inserted correctly (make sure it’s fully expanded!) it won’t leak! I’ve done many sports (including sumo wrestling) and you won’t even know it’s there!

  97. Two cautions about menstrual cups. 1. There is some evidence that they carry an increased risk of endometriosis. (Possibly due to backflow.) 2. They are not intended for women who have never had intercourse. I found this out the hard way before I was married. Putting it in was no problem, but getting it out was excruciating.

    Personally, I’m a big fan of reusable pads.

  98. Just curious to know if anyone has ever heard of or tried Thinx underware? I’m considering buying a few pairs to try. Very very interesting idea!!!!

    Thanks for this article!!!

    • yes! i just bought a pair. they are actually very comfortable and well made.

  99. I tried the Diva Cup for months and it made things so much worse! I had terrible cramps and it says directly on the label not to use natural soaps to clean it, and I wasn’t comfortable using the wash they have as it is full of chemicals.
    Since then, I have switched to Natracare which is 100% organic cotton. I get the ones with no applicator because I don’t like to waste trees. They are actually less expensive than large non organic brands and work wonders. No leaks, no cramps, no issues.

  100. I have used the Diva cup and it worked well for me except that I am gone from home a lot and tend to have heavy periods. How do women deal with the Diva cup when in public. I find it awkward in public restrooms and could use some helpful hints.

  101. I switched to (homemade!) cloth pads over a years ago, and though I haven’t had to use them lately (because I’m 6 months pregnant) I’ve found that it made my cycles shorter and easier. Washing them wasn’t a problem at all – just kept in a wet bag and thrown in with my next load of laundry – sometimes soaked in the bathroom sink beforehand if they needed it. But I absolutely love it, they’re SO much more comfortable, and I haven’t had a yeast infection since I switched. I’m worried about finding ones that will work postpartum for me, so I may have to bite the bullet and use disposable again at first, but I think it will be much more soothing to get back to the cloth pads afterwards.

  102. I have been using the Keeper for 5 years. After trimming the tail it is great. I bought the diva during that time, and felt it was to pliable, and that made it messy. It also cracked after a few months. I have noticed a huge difference in menstral cramps, much better. I use fabric pads to catch any leaks. I recommend switching! Huge savings as well!!!

  103. I always thought these cups sounded gross but after reading this and doing a little research I might just give it a shot. What is your opinion on the divawash ingredients??

  104. it makes me wonder what kind of chemicals are in baby diapers. I was using cloth but switched to disposables. However, I am actually switching back to cloth today. So glad because who knows what kind of chemicals are in them.

  105. Hi Katie!? I’m a huge fan of Wellness Mama. I currently work in marketing at Chick-fil-A and have a small blog about women’s issues from a Christian perspective. I’m interested in growing my following and revamping the blog with hopes it could in time become a source of income. You’re a blogger I admire, so I wanted to ask you a few questions.

    First, what tip would you give a novice blogger trying to grow her following?
    ?Second, what do you think is the secret to your success?
    Third, what would you suggest to make a blog profitable?

    Many thanks for your time, and for all your great work with Wellness Mama. It’s been a huge source of inspiration since having my first child!

    Sylvia

  106. Another great option to add is the new Thinx underwear – they are antibacterial, absorbing, reusable underwear for your period. I ordered a pair of these out of curiosity and I’m impressed with the quality and feel of them. I’m going to use organic tampons or the cup in conjunction with these, but they’re definitely a good back up method instead of using disposable pantyliners!

  107. I use the LadyCup and it has definitely made my periods lighter and shorter. Plus for the past few months I have been regular after having many irregular cycles since childbirth. The key is to position it as low as you can because if your cervix is low during your period and you position it too high, it will hurt and cause more cramps. It will also increase the chance of leaking. It does take a couple of cycles to get used to but it is totally worth it! No more pads! No more stained underwear! No more going to change every other hour! You can even use the restroom without taking the cup out. I’ll never go back to pads!

  108. Tried the Diva Cup for months, consistently leaked around it (despite lots of kegels), and it was always sliding out of me. Tried cloth pads and got two UTIs within three months. Tried Natracare pads, and they really had trouble sticking to my underwear (and I wear normal cotton bikinis), which is uncomfortable. 🙂 So…even though I’m the “crunchy” sort, I couldn’t deal with all the hassle. I hope eventually someone comes up with a good-sticking chlorine-free pad.

    • You may need to try a different cup like the LadyCup or the Fleur Cup. I read the Diva Cup reviews and chose to go with the LadyCup instead. You might also need a larger size since yours slipped out. Don’t give up yet! Lol

  109. Interesting conversation. I have been trying to find an alternative to the pad or tampon option. Was very excited when I came upon the menstrual cup, but after trying it twice – unfortunately it was a no go. I found it uncomfortable and difficult to urinate while using it. Had similar issues with the Softcup, a one time use option. Next option to try will be the Sea Sponge or cloth options.

  110. Hi I had a question about the sea sponges you linked ua to. It says on their site that they can be used for pre pregnancy, post pregnancy, and INTIMACY? Is that true? And if so, I’m not sure I understand what its saying it can be used for exactly as far as intimacy is concerned. Like…a catcher for birth control?

  111. thank you for the article! It is good to be aware of all these alternatives.

    Just to add my view, I have to admit I would be concerned to use the cups. They are made of silicone and although it is currently believed silicone is a safe material (hence used widely), we once thought the same about plastic. Just because there is no contrary evidence does not imply silicone is safe (after all research results are always probabilistic and often not focused on long-term observations).

  112. Thank you for your willingness to post on this topic. I am trying to go more natural with my family’s health a little bit at a time and finally have come up with the willingness to try cloth pads for my cycle. I am in the middle of the baby years so it may be a while until I get a chance to fully know what I like but nonetheless it is a great time for the trial as I can buy a few and try them.

  113. For me, there is no other option besides the Diva Cup (or various cup). For my daughter, 20 years old and unmarried, she uses organic cotton pads that I made myself. They’re reusable and not gross if you are a mature woman.

  114. This has been so interesting to read all the comments. I am 63 and had no idea there were such things on the market. I started my period in 1962 at 10 years old. My mom couldn’t afford to buy sanitary napkins, so she tore an old cotton sheet into pieces, folded them to fit my panties. Then she put a safety pin at each end. These had to be washed every day. I finally got a belt to hold the Kotex napkins in place. When Stayfree adhesive pads were available, I thought they were the perfect thing. My, but things have come a long way since 1962. My daughter is 42. I wonder if she knows about the cups. Thanks for teaching someone my age something new.

  115. I have been using my menstrual cup for 2 years and love it also! I do have a question, what about young girls just starting their periods? My daughter is still young and has a few years before starting her period, but thinking ahead, does anyone have any recommendations/experience with young girls using it?

  116. Do we really know that silicone is safe for insertion in our bodies?

  117. My Gynaecologist and doctor actually warned against diva cups as it can cause the blood to splash back up, creating endometriosis. If you have heavy periods (like i do), or if you already have endometriosis than you may not want to risk it or make it worse. While it can happen with Tampons, it’s less likely as long as you change when needed. I use the tampons you’ve suggested (the cotton) and I’ve been really happy with them and my periods seem to be less painful.

  118. I’m interested in reusable pads &liners but I have a few questions. How many do you have to buy to last you thru Aunt Flo’s visit? My period is medium and can last 4-6 days. 2). are the printed/colored ones only on the outside or is the color inside to? 3) Since some are Organic cotton, is the coloring/dye from some other “healthier” source as well?

  119. What do you use while you are cleaning the cup? I would also be uncomfortable cleaning it in a public restroom.

    • I just get some toilet paper, grab it (tightly…don’t drop that thing in public!) and wipe it with to after dumping if I am in a public stall with no sink. You probably wont have to dump it in public though, I do mine at night and in the morning at home.

      The first few months are difficult, so stay close to home or use a pantyliner as back up. If you find it leaking, rinse with water (much easier to insert if wet) and rotate around 360 degrees 3 full times….for me this is about 10 mini turns since my hand doesn’t go all the way around-this one tip really helped my leak issues! If it is uncomfortable or painful, trim the stem. Mine stuck out and pinched until I did this. It look me about 3 cycles to really get my cup, and now I would never look back. Easy, good for the environment and the pocketbook, and lasts 10 years (the packaging said this many years ago when I bought mine anyway….) I use the Diva, btw. Hope this helped!

  120. Wellnessmama,

    Do you have any compiled research or know of any research about how menstrual cups can effect our body chemistry?

    Thank you!

  121. Katie,
    Just say an ad for shethinx.com. Do you know anything about these THINX period panties?

  122. What do you recommend for an 11 year old who’s on her first year of her cycle? I’ve used the sea sponge and the diva cup for over a year now, but I don’t feel comfortable with her using those items at this age. The washable pads seem like a challenge for school days.

  123. I, too, am looking to find something for my 12-year old that just started her period this past year. The smaller Diva cup is way too big for her. And, cloth pads are not usable on school days. Any ideas on what’s out there for pre-teens?

  124. I wrote a very similar article about this over 20 years ago – and I still haven’t tried the cup myself! Talk about not practicing what I’m preaching. Better pick one up before I hit menopause 😉

  125. Hey there, everyone! I am pregnant right now and I was wondering what you do for postpartum bleeding. I am not too keen on the industrial pads or Depends that I hear recommended everywhere I look. This is my first baby so I am not quite sure what to expect, but I understand that usually only the heavy-dutyiest pads work. Are any of the solutions above appropriate for postpartum use?

  126. What are the best reusable cloth pads? Are the fabrics and materials that are used chemical free, etc? I want to reduce waste but am worried about the safety of reusable pads.

    • I don’t know what the best ones are–I think it’s just a personal taste. I use Luna Pads (here’s their FAQ page: http://lunapads.com/learn/tips/lunapads?geoip_country=US) but I haven’t tried any others. I know you can get all-organic cotton ones from them (super soft, just gotta say, not to mention their One4Her and Pads4Girls programs!), and I’m sure there are other sellers as well. I found out about a bunch of different brands from YouTube–I would say that’s a great place to start if you want people’s opinions of the different ones they’ve tried. Also, for the ladies worried about using the pads on school days, I’ve got a suggestion. See, I live at school, so I face this problem anyway. What your girls need is a carrying case–a small, waterproof-lined bag they can put used pads in until they get home. Then as long as they carry a few more pads with them to school (conveniently inside the carrying case–maybe an external pocket?) they can just change and not worry about them til they get home. No hassle, no embarrassment. Companies who sell cloth pads also tend to sell carrying cases. 🙂

  127. They make postpartum reusable pads on Etsy. Can’t speak to how well they would work for you, but it’s an option to consider.

  128. I like the Joyful Living Naturals pads you linked to in the article. I couldn’t find a way to contact the makers on their website so I figured I’d ask here. Are the pads accurate to the sizes given on the website? It’s hard for me to imagine a 13 inch pad. Also, I’m kinda new to these…what sizes are generally good for day and night use?

  129. I found this site yesterday, and I’m starting to think you may have changed my life. I’ve started with oil and honey cleansing (trying to get rid of this weird acne that has developed that I’ve never had before in my life…and I’m 29).

    What’s really funny is that during my last cycle I had to buy super plus tampons again. My flows had gotten less productive, and now have gotten more productive again. I figured I’d stock up on the essentials when I went: super plus, plus, regular tampons and then thick overnight and thin super ‘pads’. Holy expensive, especially when I got through an entire combo box of super and regular tampons in one flow. I remember looking at all of the boxes being happy because at least the company is local (Wisconsin), but figured there has to be something better…

    I was once asked if I have PCOS. I had no idea what it was, freaked out after reading about, talked to my doctor, got tested and my results came out negative, but I do suffer from ovarian cysts ocassionally, which my mother did too. I also suffered a miscarriage 3 years ago and haven’t gotten pregnant since, and it’s not like we’re not trying. We’re actually trying quite hard. Starting to become a stressor…

    But, I really don’t think I’ve heard of these before. I may have in high school health class or something, if I remember correctly, and thought it was totally disgusting. Now that I’m older and wiser…when I see multiple rave reviews and think about not filling up my garbage with all the waste, losing one in the toilet at my dad’s house during a dinner party and having to fish it out, and not spending a small fortune on these little bullet shaped torture devices that actually could be deadly.

    Ladies, you might have created a convert. My Diva Cup + Diva was is ordered and on it’s way!

  130. I have never tried out alternatives to Tampons, I workout a lot and by that I don´t mean just going to the fitness club. I play football and crossfit and other sports, my question is how does it work with the diva cup and sports? I would really like to give it a chance and try it out. I have horrible cramps each month and I refuse to take hormones to make it better, I have read here that the cycle changes and most do not have cramps anymore, which is great.

  131. I must say that I am so inspired by your articles. I could never think my period the same way. Honestly, the impacts of these common products and the difference between them is incredible! My cycle is unpredictable, although, cramps barely hurt and my flow is based on my daily movements, I’ve noticed. I appreciate such thorough information that could arise awareness so effectively is hopeful!

  132. I use the Diva cup and have been for a couple of years. I like it so well that I want to buy more menstrual cups. I’m happy with the Diva but have seen others: Lunette, SoftCup, Lena, Athena, GladRags Moon Cup, Eva Cup, Dutchess. I am assuming that all are not natural, BPA free, and whatever else is considered safe. The SoftCup sounds like a great choice for the days I work. I know it is not totally environmentally friendly as it is disposable. BUT I would be using just one a day as opposed to several tampons a day. And I would still use the DivaCup at home and when I’m not at work and the mercy of a public restroom. The box says not linked to toxic shock syndrome, but still I question the chemical factor. Katie do you know anything about any of these cups that are alternatives to the DivaCup?

  133. I switched to cloth pads due to getting yeast infections almost every time I had a period. Now that I am pregnant I need to use pads as a backup for incontinence. My allergic reaction to them was so bad that it would burn when I peed. And it prevented me from my daily routine. I discovered that the pads I was using contained latex and harmful chemicals. I am allergic to latex but nowhere on the box did it give that warning. I had a rash on my legs and it was horrible. I now enjoy using cloth pads, because they are cute and environmentally friendly. However I would never go back to disposable products. Now I can’t wait to try a menstrual cup after my baby is born 🙂

  134. My cervix moves so far up during menstruation that I can’t reach it, so it is very hard to use a cup. However, luckily for me, I’ve always prefered pads anyway. I use the cup on the first day(my heavy day) if I have to be out in public, otherwise I just use cloth pads the whole cycle. They are great!

  135. Katie,

    Did you use cloth pads postpartum? Any suggestions about how many pads to have on hand?

  136. I would love to switch to cloth pads (I don’t think cups would work as I am a petite teenager) but on school days I don’t have time to change my pad for up to twelve hours (on the really long days when I have a ton of extracurriculars) and although I doubt it would fill up I really don’t want it to start to smell and not be able to change it. Right now I use Always overnight pads for 24hrs before changing them but occasionally the pad will smell (while I’m at school) and I need to change it. Also, are cloth pads leak-free? One of my worst nightmares is my pad leaking all over my pants and onto the seat so I really don’t want that to happen. Is there a way to prevent the cloth pads from smelling and (above all) make sure they don’t leak?

    Thanks!

    Kira

    • Kira,
      I don’t think there is any way to 100% prevent leakage with ANY pad… especially if you don’t change them for 24 hours. In my opinion, cloth pads smell less than store-bought ones, however if you’re leaving it on for such a long period of time I’m sure it will start to smell. Honey, you want to be careful about leaving your pads on so long. You might get yeast a infection or rash, not to mention it has got to be uncomfortable! Most women typically change their pad around 3-4 hours, maybe more or less depending on their flow (this goes for any pad, store-bought or cloth). Don’t be embarrassed to change your pad at school. It’s natural and I can guarantee you’ll feel a lot better and have a higher chance of preventing leakage and smell. You could buy a heavier flow pad (like ones meant for postpartum), but again I have to stress that it will be a good idea for you to start getting comfortable changing them while you’re at school. It will give you less worry in the end 🙂

      • If I used cloth pads though, how would I change them every few hours when I’m often away from home for 12hrs every week day?

        • They make bags for this purpose, called wet bags. It’s a bag with a waterproof lining. Put your used pad in it, then when you get home you can soak them or immediately wash them. Whichever you prefer. Check out Etsy.com to look at wet bags (people use them for diapers too).

  137. I’ve been battling recurrent yeast infections for over a year. I don’t know why it took me so long to think maybe my feminine products could be a cause. I haven’t started yet, but I bought organic cotton tampons and am looking into the cups. I’m nervous about it because I have von willebrands (a bleeding disorder) so I have very heavy periods that last 7 to 10 days. I usually have to wear a tampon and pad, and have to change them about every two hours. Has anyone who has heavy periods had success with any of these products?

  138. I found these reusable pads on amazon that have great reviews – one person asked if they were 100% cotton and this was the response:
    The Outer Shell is made up of 100% polyester with PUL . The inner layer is a 100% bamboo. The middle is 2 layers of microfiber pads.
    Are all those ingredients non toxic to use?

  139. I loved loved using menstrual cups (diva was too long for me even with the stem completely trimmed so I got the moon cup). But after using it for 6 cycles, my body started rejecting it. Sex became extremely painful after my periods and towards the end of each cycle it was extremely painful to remove the cup. At first I thought I had an infection or something but this happened every time I used the cup and I was fine the two weeks before my period. Once I stopped using the cups and started using organic tampons/pads, the swelling and pain down there went away. It’s just too bad! I really liked the convenience! 🙁

    I like the natracare tampons and the seventh generation pads!

  140. Hi Everyone!
    I have been using the sea sponge tampons for the first time. Overall I love them, but (and not to be TMI here) I am noticing that I can’t urinate unless I take the sponge out each time. Theoretically, I should be able to leave it in till its full and use the bathroom normally in the meantime, but that doesn’t seem to work for me.

    Anyone have this problem? I have searched and searched online ,but can’t find anyone who has any advice on this.
    Thanks!

  141. After reading Amazon reviews I bought the Lena Cup! I love it.

    Sounds gross– but menstrual cups do get stained over time, even when completely cleaned after each use.. Some people sanitize theirs by boiling them or putting them in the sun–both of which I’ve heard can reduce staining.

    I chose the lena cup for the color, cute (and discreet) floral cotton carry cover, and the reviews about the softer texture/firmness.

    Here it is! http://amzn.to/1QqCqYl

  142. Never ever going back to tampons! Love my Mooncup!

  143. Thanks for the post about the Diva cup. I bought one used it and went through a learning curve but finally got the hang of it and am loving it and it’s convenience and the fact that (almost) no one will ever guess what is inside of that little pink bag is…. Yayyyyy? No more tampons!

  144. Hi Katie,

    Thank you for all the great information . I just came across a new product call THINX underwear. I was unable to get details on their website as to what they are made out of. Do you know anything about them? Would they be another good alternative?

  145. I just used a menstrual cup for the first time with this month’s cycle. I will never use anything else. I got it in right the first try (somehow) and had no leaks. I wore the washable organic pads that came with my starter kit the first day just in case. I ended up not needing them but they were so much more comfortable than traditional pads. Also, my period lasted 2 days with a very light flow, minimal cramps, and just 1 day of light spotting on the 3rd day. I usually have a 4 to 5 day cycle with heavy flow on 2 of those days, so that was a welcome break. I definitely recommend these natural options. I spent $40 roughly on my set which included both the small and large size cups and 6 pads in 3 sizes. I don’t foresee needing anything else.

  146. Has anyone ever tried the Fermallay Cup? It’s from the same company who makes the sea sponges. It has a empty valve so one doesn’t even have to remove the cup from yourself to empty it, which sounds awesome to someone like me who is apprehensive about trying it. This cup is a one size fits all, so I’d also love to hear if anyone had sizing problems with it. I’ve had intercourse, but not children, so according to the site I should be a good fit for it, but if anyone has experience with this specific cup I’d love to hear! Any thoughts, tips, or tricks with this specific cup.

  147. Can I put this in coated in a natural lubrication? I’m nervous about putting it in. And yes I know just relax and I’ll be fine, but I’m specifically asking about using this with lubrication and if anyone has tried it and does or doesn’t reccomend it.

    • I’ve used coconut oil and had absolutely no problems.

  148. I use both cloth pads and a menstrual cup. I switch back and forth depending on how heavy my flow is, what mood I’m in and if I’m traveling or not. When I was JUST using cloth pads (before I discovered that menstrual cups existed), I used disposable pads when I traveled and I hated it because of course they’re uncomfortable as heck (and give me rashes), along with the fact that I was adding to the trash problem.

    I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved over the last 5 years with cloth pads and using a menstrual cup.

  149. Yes!!! I used tampons for almost 10 years with no issues and then one morning at work I started feeling really itchy all over my body. My entire body was red with yellow streaks and felt swollen burning and itchy. I quickly went to the bathroom and put cold water on my face. Went away so thought nothing of it till 1 month later when it happened again and I put 2&2 together… instantly ordered a juju cup as that was all I could pick up that evening, and I love it! Periods are so much nicer since then, and that was 3 years ago! I’ve then been in shock when reading some of the ingredients online. They definitely don’t advertise what actually goes in. I agree that you picture fluffy cotton balls!!