Most people don’t make a point of talking about feminine products. But it is really time we stopped making it so taboo. Feminine products are part of our everyday lives as women and some of them have actually made it a lot easier to be a woman. Be grateful that you don’t have to literally be “on the rag”, that you can plan when you get pregnant, and sports bras make it possible to run without your boobs smacking out a rhythm. As a woman (or a considerate male), these are 5 innovative new feminine products you need to know about.
Still using tampons? Not only are you wasting a lot of money (Jezebel estimates that an average woman will spend $61 per year on tampons), but you aren’t doing your health any favors. Tampons are generally made from bleached cotton, rayon, or a blend of both. The bleaching process creates dioxins – chemical in the same family as Agent Orange. There are also issues of pesticides, perfumes, and other chemicals in tampons. Even if you use organic tampons, tampons can still dry out your vagina, potentially leading to vaginal tearing and yeast infections. A better solution? Try a menstrual cup. The reusable cup sits inside your vagina and collects blood. You only need to change it about twice a day and, no, it doesn’t leak! Read everything you need to know about how to use a menstrual cup here.
When I first heard about the Go Girl female urination device, I thought it was kind of ridiculous. I just squat over public toilets! But then I realized that not every woman can squat. And, when I’m an old lady, my thighs probably won’t be so strong either… That considered, a pee funnel is a pretty cool invention for women. Just hold it against you and you can pee standing up anywhere!
Condoms are necessary for avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and one of the most popular ways of preventing pregnancy. The problem is that most condoms aren’t doing your vagina any favors.
Many condoms are coated in spermicidal lubricants. The active ingredient in most spermicide is nonoxynol-9. While it may do a good job of killing sperm, it can also feel like it is killing your vagina. Side effects of nonxynol-9 include skin irritation to the vulva and vagina, and vaginal epithelial disruption. In one study, it was found that sex workers using nonoxynol-9 over a placebo had higher incidences of vaginal lesions. (Sources: WorldCat, WHO). Also, most condoms are not vegan, which adds a moral issue to the health ones.
Luckily, some brands are finally making condoms which are friendly for the female body. One good option is Sir Richard’s Condom Company. Their condoms are free of parabens, spermicide, glycerine, petrochemicals, are made of natural rubber latex, and vegan. Oh, and for each condom you buy, one condom is donated to a developing country. Hooray for family planning!
You can buy Sir Richard’s Condoms here. They cost about $8-$11 for a 12 pack.
Though sex lubes have been on the market for a long time, you might be surprised to learn that no one was really studying the effects of them on the vagina until the early 1990s. When they did begin research at the NIH, it was found that common ingredients in lubricants – like glycerin – can damage or irritate vaginal epithelial cells. This isn’t just uncomfortable, but it can be dangerous as it increases the transmission of STIs. Glycerin in lubricants also changes the vaginal flora and is linked to bacterial vaginonis.(Source)
In addition to glycerine, sex lubricants also commonly contain these harmful ingredients:
- Parabens: Linked to breast cancer
- Petroleum: Disrputs vaginal ecology and causes bacterial vaginosis
- Silicone: Toxic for skin and is classified as an endocrine disruptor
- Phenoxyethanol: Harms the immune system and irritates skin
- Propylene Glycol: Damages tissues and causes a burning feeling
- Chlorhexidine: Causes skin irritation
- Acetate: This means it is in alcohol, which will dry out the vagina and can cause yeast infections
What lube should you use? There are starting to be more and more options available. I like Sliquid Organics Natural Gel. It is one of the cheapest options for organic lube, doesn’t have any funny ingredients, and works just as well (if not better) than pricier options.
If you are like most women, then you probably have a pair of “period panties” just in case you have any leaks. I hang my clothes out to dry, and yes it is a bit embarrassing to air my dark-stained laundry for the neighborhood to see. A brand finally set about tackling this problem. They make the prettiest period panties you’ve ever seen. The panties are stain-resistant, moisture-wicking, anti-microbial, and have a super-absorbent-yet-thin crotch area that can hold up to 6 tsp of liquid. I admittedly haven’t tried these because spending $37 for a pair of panties is way out of my budget (I guess I’m not that embarrassed of my dirty laundry!). But, for each pair of Thinx underwear you buy, they do donate 7 reusable cloth sanitary pads to girls in developing countries. Apparently, menstruation stops girls from going to school and having jobs in many places, so donating pads is a good cause to get behind.
You can learn more about these leak-proof panties at www.shethinx.com