- Women's Health
Mooncup Menstrual Cups V Tampons And Pads
Social Taboos And The Squeamish
The Mooncup is a medical grade silicone cup that collects and holds menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. The Mooncup is washable, reusable and eco-friendly. The squeamish amongst you, and those that view this topic as a social taboo, might already be thinking ‘too much information. Please, stick with me and don’t hit the back button just yet.
The squeamishness and social taboos that stop open discussion about such things might serve the interests of the tampon and sanitary pad manufacturers; however, it’s certainly not in the interest of the environment or your health. That’s really the key issues discussed here, I want to highlight the impact that a ‘flush and forget’ attitude towards sanitary products has on the environment and why menstrual cups provide a much more eco-friendly and healthier alternative.
On any day, more than one million women in the UK will be menstruating, that’s more than the populations of Manchester and Liverpool combined.
Women spend approximately £90 per year on sanitary items. In the UK that equates to a staggering 1 billion tampons and sanitary towels purchased and used annually. All of them, including the plastic applicators, have to be disposed of. Some get incinerated and some end up in landfills. However, more than four million tampons and pads are flushed down UK toilets every day.
What’s Wrong With Flushing
Once flushed down the toilet, tampons and pads don’t break down as you might expect - even if it does say ‘flushable’ on the packaging. Instead, they coagulate with fat into fatty balls called fatbergs. Fatbergs block and constrict drains and the only way to get rid of them is to scrape them out by hand. So, the next time your tempted to flush, spare a thought for those whose job it is to fix the problem you are helping to create.
Go that little bit further. Let cooking fats cool and solidify before putting them into a container that’s destined for the bin. Better still, mix the fat with seeds and make tasty fat ball treats for the birds that visit your garden.
During periods of heavy rain, overflow pipes can release water from sewage networks directly into our rivers and the sea. Sewage diluted by rain poses little danger to the environment. However, so-called disposable personal items can end up on beaches and riverbanks. Not only do they look unsightly, but they are also a health risk and an endangerment to wildlife.
Beach users regularly come across this waste washed up on the beach or swimming alongside them in the water. To a child, oblivious of such products, the potential health dangers of used sanitary products is not always obvious.
An estimated 2 billion sanitary protection items are flushed down British toilets each year. According to a Beachwatch survey, sewage related debris (SRD) accounted for 6.2% of the total waste washed up on British beaches – an average of 136 items per kilometre of coastline.
The Health Risks
Organic tampons are made from 100% cotton, standard tampons are made of a blend of cotton and rayon. When inserted in the vagina, tampons absorb both menstrual blood and the natural fluids that are there for a purpose.
Drying out the vagina alters the pH levels and increases the likelihood of infections. The most serious of these, and probably the most talked about, is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). TSS develops when a toxin, produced the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, is absorbed into the bloodstream through the vagina walls. Although Scientists agree that there is a link between tampon use and TSS, they remain unsure of the exact connection.
It is suspected that high absorbency tampons may increase risk of TSS. Tampons that are too absorbent for the menstrual flow may also cause ulcerations.
- You-Are-Loved.org: For more information about TSS please visit you-are-loved.org. You Are Loved are a non-profit organisation set up by the mother of Amy Rae Elifritz who died in June of 2010 from TSS.
- TamponAlert.org.uk: Alice Kilvert Tampon Alert provides an information service for the awareness of Tampon related Toxic Shock Syndrome and also offers a support group for survivors and bereaved families. You will also find an extensive list of alternative sanitary products.
What Are The Healthy Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Tampons?
There are a number of healthy and eco-friendly alternatives. The Mooncup menstrual cup is one of them. Not so long ago the Mooncup was the preserve of hippy health shops and tree huggers, now it can be found in high street shops, numerous health and wellness websites and through main stream online shopping destinations such as Amazon and eBay.
The Mooncup is a flexible medical grade silicone cup worn inside the vagina. Menstrual fluid is collected and held in the cup rather than being absorbed. Menstrual cups have a greater capacity than tampons and only require to be emptied every 12 hours, in comparison to tampons which require changing every 4-8 hours.
Menstrual fluid is held safely within the Mooncup away from the vaginal walls and vulva and without being exposed to the air which significantly reduces odours.
Economic And Eco-Friendly
Mooncups are reusable and can last for up to 5-10 years making them far more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly than tampons.
There are no known health risks or reported cases of TSS associated to the use of Menstrual Cups.
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