Bloating…Blood…Cramps…Yep, it’s that time of the month. You’re on your menstrual period. Ugh!
How do you manage it? Do you take ibuprofen or other drugs to relieve cramps? Do you use the conventional menstrual products found at a local store? You know, the Tampax Pearl tampons and Always maxi pads with the pretty packaging? If you do, I understand. They’re easy to purchase, convenient, and advertised so well.
But you do know that you have other choices, right? There are other period products that are better for your health, bank account, and the environment. And these other choices are travel-friendly. I’ve been traveling abroad for a while now and they’ve made traveling during “that time of the month” much easier.
Before I discuss those options, let me discuss menstruation – often called your “period” and also known as your “menstrual period.”
What is menstruation?
Menstruation is the process in which a woman menstruates, which is when a woman sheds the lining of her uterus (womb) and discharges blood and other materials. This blood and other materials are also referred to as “menses.” Menses flow from the uterus through the small opening in the cervix and passes out of the body through the vagina.
Menstruation typically occurs once a month, from puberty to menopause, except during pregnancy. For many women, the menstrual period lasts from four to eight days. The monthly occurrence is known as the menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of your period up to the first day of your next period. The typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long, but each woman is different. The cycle is controlled by hormones and affected by hormone levels. Having a regular menstrual cycle signifies that important parts of your body are functioning properly. (1)
Why should you stop using those conventional feminine care products mentioned earlier?
Here are 4 reasons:
- There may be toxic chemicals of concern in your feminine hygiene products. (2)
- You could be at risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS) if you use more absorbent tampons than you need for your bleeding or if you don’t change your tampon often enough (at least every four to eight hours). TSS is a rare but sometimes deadly condition caused by bacteria.(1)
- They’re disposable, single-use items that fill up landfills and take a long time to decompose. In other words, they’re not eco-friendly.
- Since they’re single-use items, their long term costs are higher than that of reusable period products, even though the initial costs are typically lower.
So, what are the 4 eco-friendly ways to manage your menstrual period?
1) Drink herbal tea instead of taking drugs.
For cramps (and any other pain), try drinking an herbal tea that’s known to relieve pain before popping an aspirin or another pain reliever pill. Herbal teas are effective natural medicines with many benefits and hardly any known negative side effects. Drugs have many known negative side effects.
Chamomile tea is my favorite tea to drink during my period, especially when I’m cramping. It’s been a popular home remedy for lowering pain for centuries. (3) I’ve also tried peppermint tea, ginger tea, and a mix of herbal teas. Research and try herbal teas and find the one that works best for you!
2) Use a reusable menstrual cup instead of disposable pads or tampons.
Unlike tampons and pads, menstrual cups collect menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it. Your female reproductive system will appreciate that. Also, as mentioned earlier, reusable menstrual cups are better for the environment and your bank account.
There are many different types of menstrual cups. I use the Intimina Lily Cup Compact because it collapses and I travel often.
Menstrual cups do take some getting used to. Putting them in and removing them can be a hassle, but after a few tries, you should get the hang of it. Also, keep in mind that menstrual cups may also increase your risk for TSS if they are left in place for too long. (1)
3) Use reusable cloth pads instead of disposable pads and tampons.
Remember, the less you dispose of items, the less items may end up in landfills. Also, the long term cost of reusable pads is lower than that of disposable pads.
During my heavy flow nights, I wear cloth pads to avoid any leakage from my menstrual cup while I’m sleeping. I also wear cloth pads when I don’t feel like wearing my cup. My cloth pads (shown above) were handmade and purchased on Etsy. They are made of a breathable material (cotton) and my vagina definitely appreciates it.
4) Eat a plant-based diet.
Yes, what you eat affects your period. Having a plant-based diet can significantly reduce menstrual pain duration and intensity. (4)
I stopped eating beef and pork approximately 9 years ago. I haven’t eaten chicken, turkey, nor seafood in about 6 months. I can honestly say that reducing my meat intake has greatly reduced my period cramping – the duration and intensity.
So now you know 4 eco-friendly ways to manage your period.
Keep in mind that what works best for me may or may not work best for you. But there so are many better options for managing your menstrual period than conventional period products. If you prefer tampons, consider menstrual sponges. Think dealing with your own blood is kind of gross? Consider organic cotton tampons. If you prefer to just wear underwear and let your fluids flow freely, consider period-proof panties. Just do your research and find what works best for you – your health, environment, and bank account!
Got any other eco-friendly suggestions for managing your period? Let me know below!