SPFJan10

Mama Cloth and More

Here is some food for thought for those of you with biologically female children: feminine hygiene products. Do you know what you are going to do about them when it’s time for your daughter to start her monthly cycle?

Being that we offer childbirth classes that appeal to people striving to live a natural, green lifestyle, I tend to hear about all the latest in green living trends from my colleagues. About four years ago, one of my colleagues asked me if I have ever heard of menstrual cups, and since I hadn’t she proceeded to tell me all about them.

My first thought was, “GROSS!” Why on earth would I want to deal with that when there was the convenience of hygiene products available at the pharmacy?

Some of the reasons she gave me were that tampons were not made with organic cotton, so there was the possibility of exposing the body to chemical pesticides, the cotton was bleached during the production process (more chemicals), and then she mentioned reducing the amount of waste in landfills.

My mind was more open to the idea, however, I wasn’t convinced that I should make the switch and deal with more of a bloody mess every month. Then…little by little, I learned some more and started to re-think my stance.

The next time I learned more about alternatives to feminine hygiene products was when I participated in an event with my friend Shannon Gusé. She was a selling her “mama cloth”, another alternative to conventional products. Her reusable pads are made with love from soft flannel and PUL (super absorbent and leak proof). Here is an excerpt from her blog on Shannon’s Cloth & More:

“My own journey began several years ago when I was looking for a solution to painful, heavy menstruation, and I discovered the idea of cloth menstrual pads.  My research led me to discover that disposable products often times have chemicals in them that alter the body’s chemistry, leading to heavier flow and longer duration – necessitating the purchase of more products, much to the manufacturer’s delight.”

When she mentioned that it might be possible for my cycle to be less painful and shorter, I was finally ready to at least try something different. I approached it as I do with many other things: I might as well try it – the worse that could happen is that I would get a no, and at least in the process, I would learn something.

So I bought a few mama cloth pads, and sprung for a menstrual cup. Much to my delight, my monthly cycles were shorter within a couple of months. Unfortunately, I was having “user” challenges with the menstrual cup, so I settled into a routine of using mama cloth at home and tampons if I was leaving the house.

My big “a-ha!” moment was last summer when we were traveling. I decided to forgo the reusable products for convenience sake, and even forgot to bring the tampons I still used when we left home. I ended up buying a different brand and figured it should be fine.

By day two of using those tampons, I had a horrible headache that would not go away and I was having terrible cramping. I couldn’t figure out why I was so sick…until I realized that the difference was probably the product. I went back to simple sanitary pads for rest of the cycle, and not surprisingly, the headache went away and the cramping subsided after I stopped using the tampons.

After that experience, I was more committed to figuring out how to use the menstrual cup and definitely making more use of the mama cloth. Last week, THIS article and linked video started making the rounds on social media.  It’s nice to see that this kind of information may be starting to reach people beyond those that like to do things the “natural” way simply for the sake of being green and natural.

We are now in a time when fertility issues are experienced by more and more women, and I have to wonder, how much of it is related to the fact that we are putting chemicals next to our reproductive system since puberty, for going on three generations?

And not only are the chemicals next to our reproductive system, but they are sitting on some of the most absorbent membranes in the body. Really – they are…

If you have read down to this part of the post, you may be shaking your head in disbelief like I did the first time I heard all of this information. However, good on you for reading anyway, so I am going to leave you with this excerpt from an article by the National Institutes of Health:

The Vaginal Route of Exposure

“Female sex organs evolved to be self-cleaning.6 The vaginal canal is richly endowed with blood vessels and produces mucus that protects against and washes away harmful microorganisms.7 As a mucous membrane, the vagina is capable of secreting and absorbing fluids at a higher rate than skin, as are some of the external portions of the vulva, including the clitoris, clitoral hood, labia minora, and urethra.7,8,9

“Most of the vagina is covered with multiple layers of dead and dying cells that do a lot to protect it against infection, but [this] is nowhere near the thick leathery surface of our skin,” says Cone. “The vaginal epithelium … is highly water permeable in a way our skin is not.”

Because mucous membranes in the vagina and vulva rapidly absorb chemicals without metabolizing them, researchers have even explored the possibility of delivering drugs vaginally.10 One study found that vaginal application of estradiol, a synthetic estrogen, resulted in blood serum levels 10 times higher than those following oral dosing.11 But while rapid absorption works well when a patient needs a drug delivered rapidly, it may also expose women to higher levels of chemicals from feminine hygiene products than manufacturers intend.”

Read the complete article HERE 

I hope this has opened your heart and your mind to the possibility that maybe your family can start exploring alternatives to conventional feminine hygiene products. Even if you don’t make the switch yet, I encourage you to start reading more and seeking more information.

What do you think?
Let me know your thoughts about all this in the comments – thanks!