going braless

A Flexible Discovery

In one of my previous articles, I talked about one of my favorite cell phone apps Flo. This app has a feature that lets you communicate anonymously with a community of women. There are hundreds of different topics to choose from. One thing that I found interesting was the idea of reusable feminine products. I came across some posts on my Instagram feed and it opened my eyes to how much waste tampon and pads really make; I was so surprised! 

According to OrganiCup, “The average user throws away an astonishing [275 to 330 LBS] of tampons, pads and applicators in their lifetime.” That is insane! It really adds up. Additionally, "Tampons, pads and panty liners along with their packaging and individual wrapping generate more than 220,462 tons of waste per year, and they all contain plastic – in fact, pads are around 90% plastic!"

So, what did I do to try to reduce my plastic waste? I started looking into sustainable period products because I couldn't believe how much waste I was creating! I switched to biodegradable applicators (the terrible cardboard ones), but then I realized it can never be recycled. Since I started my period, I used pads and the transitioned to tampons. I started with Tampax Pearl and they used plastic applicators which was a no no. The I tried oi tampons which were the biodegradable cardboard tampons. That hurt and were not nearly as absorbant. My last option was O.B. tampons which have no applicator. My journey to alternative and more sustainable tampons would lead me to my journey to finding my sustainable products. 

Tampons

I took to the Flo community and asked women what their experiences with reusable products are. My first stop was to look at menstrual cups. I figured they were the best options, and they typically are! They can last years at a time and are easy to use once you get the hang of it. They can be pricey, but their sustainability makes up for their price. So, I went to Target and I bought Flex Cup in the Slim Fit size. It is best recommended for first time users. It also came with two Flex Discs which I will get to soon. I took it home and immediately opened up their YouTube channel to see how the heck to use the thing. After like 5-10 videos, I was ready to try. That was definitely a mistake. You have to be completely relaxed to insert and remove it without discomfort. I was definitely not that. Later on, I tried to do it in the shower. That was a much better move. After a lot of trial and error, I finally managed to do it with some guidance from the Flo community. I posted asking for advice on how to insert it and at least 4 women commented the way they do it best.

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Moving on, since my Flex Cup came with two Flex Discs, I thought ‘Why not give this a try too!’ and I actually loved using a flex disc even more. The instructions for Flex Disc were much more simple. A menstrual disc sits at the base of the cervix and caps around it, so there is nothing in the vaginal canal (meaning mess free sex!) It is not recommended for women who use an IUD because of the placement of both items. Honestly after using a menstrual disc, I actually learned more about my body’s anatomy. I know what a pubic bone is and what it feels like! The disc really worked best for me. There is no link to Toxic Shock Syndrome at all. It does not inhibit any physical activity, sex or cause any irritation. It even can help reduce odor (because periods are gross even though they're normal).  While this option is not reusable, it can be worn for 12 hours at a time which allows you to not waste as much. A box of 12 discs cost the same as one box of regular tampons. That’s 7 days of products for a good price. They are comfortable and unnoticeable. They work best on medium to heavy days. Flex Disc has to be ordered online. Being the lazy person that I am, it was too much work for me to get up and get my credit car every time I had to make an order. So I went back to Target (yay Target) and I bought an alternative, Soft Disc. Each box costs about 10 dollars and comes with 14 discs. This means it will probably last two cycles before you would have to purchase another box. I liked both menstrual discs. Soft Disc is a little less firm so in my opinion, it is better for first time users, but both are great options. Discs are much cheaper options compared to tampons. They last longer meaning you don't have to waste as much of your money.Patrick Spongebob Money

I think that now I am going to start using menstrual discs. When I tried both of these products the first time, I wore a pantie liner because I was scared of leaking. However, if used right, there is absolutely no leakage. I strongly recommend the app Flo. The community is so supportive for all issues. If you are considering sustainable period products, there are so many more than just a cup or disc. There’s reusable pads, period panties, I even saw something like a sea sponge (?), but there are a lot of options for sustainable products. I wanted to try something different for my body and what works for my body. Every body is different and everyone has their reasons for what they use. That is perfectly OKAY! Sustainable products are something that we should really be talking about more and more each day. I am glad I took the small step to get to know my body and make a smarter choice for the environment, myself and my wallet.

HCXO,

Cecilia

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