By Lindsay Cohn
You eat clean, work out, use green cleaning supplies. But what about, well…your vagina? There, we said it. Time to bring your healthy mindset into your feminine hygiene routine.
When it comes to conventional menstrual care products—namely pads and tampons—what it says on the box isn’t always accurate, notes Eden Fromberg, MD. “In fact, there has been legislation introduced nine times since 1997 trying to require transparent labeling from manufacturers.”
Sadly, companies are only required to disclose the main components (e.g., synthetic rayon, cotton—considered the dirtiest crop due to heavy use of pesticides—cardboard and others). Yet there are potentially harmful dyes, fragrance, additives, pesticide residues, chemicals and antibacterial agents lurking inside. Plus, because tampons are used internally, and the vagina is one of the most absorbent parts of your body, the potential impact of toxic chemical exposure is significant. To mitigate your risk, Dr. Fromberg says women should look for tampons that are made from one thing: Organic cotton. “Brands like Seventh Generation, Sustain and Rael are great,” she notes.
There are environmental implications as well. The National Women’s Health Network reports that 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are dumped into U.S. landfills each year. So switching to natural products is a win-win for you and the planet.
Here’s our guide to safe, effective and eco-friendly feminine care.
PADS & TAMPONS
- LOLA: Not only are this female-focused company’s organic cotton tampons, pads and liners effective, but LOLA also offers an ultra-convenient subscription service that ships a custom assortment every 30 days (in discreet packaging, starting at just $8 per month), so you never run out. There’s even a First Period Kit to get young girls started.
- Sustain: This brand has an array of vagina-friendly products, ranging from high-performance, 100% organic cotton, hypoallergenic tampons and pads to condoms, lube and wipes. Take the easy online period quiz to create a personalized box, which Sustain will deliver to your door in bi-monthly shipments to minimize environmental impact.
- Natracare: This entire line—pads, panty liners and tampons—is certified organic, sustainable, biodegradable, compostable, and free of chlorine and plastic. Plus, Natracare is available at stores nationwide.
Right about now you might be asking, what the heck is a menstrual cup? As the name suggests, it’s a flexible container made from medical-grade silicone that you wear inside the vagina to catch your flow. The main difference between the cup and products like pads and tampons is that it holds fluid rather than absorbs it. When it’s full, you simply empty it into the toilet, wash it with soap and water (or a wipe if you’re on the go) and re-insert. Devotees tout its 12-hour wearability, eco-friendliness and capacity (it collects up to four times more menstrual blood than tampons).
Some users report that it takes time to get used to the cup. So you might want to wear a pad as a backup to guard against leaks in the beginning. Top-rated picks include SckoonCup ($39), Lunette ($40) and The Diva Cup ($41).