In praise of tampons

// 24 February 2012


cuddly toy tampons.jpg

I’m just going to put this out there: I reckon tampons are almost as essential to female freedom and equality as birth control. It’s not something that we like to talk about very much. In fact, just typing the word now makes my inner-13 year old squirm. But quietly, for at least a few days every month, don’t we all THANK GOD that we have access to these blush-making tubes of sanitation?

They’re extraordinary things, really. Tampons – unlike their sisters, Sanitary Towels – enable us to maintain an almost unbroken stride throughout the month. There’s none of the mess and smell of pads; tampons go in, they get replaced, bada-bing bada-boom. Period done. You can still go running, or swimming, or wear a thong if you want to. Basically, you can do everything men can do all the time without having to worry about blood getting everywhere.

Gone are the days of society gentlewomen having to retreat to bed with piles of rags. Or worse, much worse: of poor women having to wash bloodied scraps, trying to stem the flow while the babies cry and the adolescent daughter shudders at the machinations of her own body. No, wait, those days are still very much around. It’s easy to imagine that just because developed countries have learnt to cope with periods, everyone else has too. But in slums across the world, women are going without sanitation of even the most basic kind.

It’s not a sexy cause. Indeed, it’s taboo in our culture. But by being more willing to talk about it, by opening up the subject to scrutiny and debate, maybe we can usher in a new societal approach to periods. When it becomes easier to talk about our own luck, then it becomes easier to publicise other women’s suffering. Anyone want to kick off the sharing?

More reading on periods (yay!):

Wikipedia “Culture and Menstruation”

“Few Indian women can afford sanitary towels” – Guardian

PMS Warrior blog

The F Word blog on “Menstruation”

Picture by the_toe_stubber, used under a Creative Commons License

Comments From You

Debi // Posted 24 February 2012 at 8:45 pm

Tampons are fine, I guess. But I always resented the sheer price and effort of a “disposable” thing that I was expected to spend up to £10 a month on, which came with huge amounts of fearmongering about TSS, and the associated concern about finding public toilets that had biowaste disposal bins (not nearly as common as they should be.)

Then I discovered the Mooncup and I was an instant convert. Gone was the monthly bill and the ‘where do I throw this?’ concern and suddenly all biology was demanding off me was five minutes in boiling water every month.

Tampons are nice in emergencies, but I swear by my cup.

Amelia Jane // Posted 24 February 2012 at 10:41 pm

Thought I’d add – non-women and men also have periods and praise tampons.

Kirsten Hey // Posted 25 February 2012 at 10:10 am

Yeah, me too. For poor women, anything disposable is prohibitively expensive. Whilst I appreciate the sentiment of the article – good sanitary protection is life-changing for women – I don’t think tampons are the answer. Mooncups kick their arse.

sarahfogg // Posted 25 February 2012 at 10:49 am

I might be over-sharing by confessing that I HATE tampons. I’ve got nothing against other people using them if it suits them, but I personally can’t get on with them at all. I used them for a year at university, and it took me almost as long to make the connection between the tampons and how bad I felt during my period. I couldn’t feel them inside me as a physical object, but my cramps were much worse and I could tell SOMETHING was in there that shouldn’t be. They were also quite painful to remove, as they absorb all the natural lubricants as well, so getting them out was an ordeal. Not to mention the string irritated to no end, again because they made it so dry down there.

I gave a Mooncup a try, but I’ve never been able to actually insert one, it’s too big. (Or rather, I’m too small, since I’ve never met another woman with the same problem.) I hung on to it though, in case it becomes easier. For the time being I use washable sanitary towels, which are a good deal cheaper than disposables in the long run (though not as cheap as a cup) and, for me at least, very comfortable.

As far as smell goes, I don’t know if other people’s smells are worse, but for me the smell of washing-up that needs doing is worse than the bloodiest my pads have ever been.

As long as we’re all talking about our periods, it’s probably helpful to talk about ALL the options, as different methods will suit different women.

sohcahtoa // Posted 25 February 2012 at 11:09 am

I don’t like tampons either (for much the same reason as sarahfogg). There are also a number of conditions (e.g. vaginismus and, I imagine, the state of having given birth or having trauma to the area) which make them difficult or impossible for people to use. So while I appreciate the general sentiments of the article, I do kind of resent the implication – even if it was unintentional – that my ‘female freedom’ depends on my tampon use.

Also, while the point about the developing world is very valid (great article here, I think it’s a little patronising to assume that before proper protection became available women were utterly helpless when their periods came round: why not assume that they found ways of ‘getting by’? I’m sure I read somewhere that the ancient Egyptians and Greeks had tampons of a kind…

Laurel // Posted 25 February 2012 at 12:06 pm

vaginisimus. cant use them. couldnt say. but i do have a vinnies tampon case. =)

Feminist Avatar // Posted 25 February 2012 at 1:17 pm

Also oversharing: but before contraception, I used to have very heavy periods that a tampon (even the big ones) couldn’t always handle, so there were days when using them could be messy. Which is one of the reasons why people also buy pantyliners, but then you start to wonder why use both when a sanitary towel can do the job. I also know women who don’t use mooncups for that reason: they don’t feel they can rely on them to last long enough between trips to the bathroom (or at least to a bathroom where they would feel comfortable washing one out). Plus, I also agree that on days where your flow is light, tampns suck up all your vaginal moisture, which can be painful.

Women in the past had a variety of methods for dealing with menstruation, including handmade tampons and towels, but also, in some parts of the world, using natural sponges (also used as contraception) and even bark. I guess what makes modern sanitary products good is that they are often thinner and disposable, but as pointed out above, the latter benefit is increasingly under critique. I also suspect that in 19thC Britain that the rags used for menstruation were also disposed of immediately or at least regularly, because there is usually a lot of emphasis on using ‘old rags’ – there is no sense that they are looking to make a quality, reusable product. Plus the vast majority of women in the world in the past as today had to just get on with life regardless of whether they were menstruating; money didn’t earn itself, and children and other responsibilities didn’t disappear before the disposable tampon came along.

Leonore B // Posted 25 February 2012 at 3:05 pm

“I don’t like tampons either (for much the same reason as sarahfogg). There are also a number of conditions (e.g. vaginismus and, I imagine, the state of having given birth or having trauma to the area) which make them difficult or impossible for people to use. So while I appreciate the general sentiments of the article, I do kind of resent the implication – even if it was unintentional – that my ‘female freedom’ depends on my tampon use.”

I’m glad this has been said. I appreciate that tampons have their own practical advantages (e.g. for swimming, as stated in the piece) but they aren’t for everyone and, in my experience, it’s perfectly possible to take the draining out option for a few days without this being a terrible bind.

I also think there’s often already a needless status attached to tampon use that needs to be considered before singing their praises as the apparently liberated choice. When I was at school, I remember there being a certain amount kudos attached to tampons as the apparently more grown-up and cool option in comparison to towels. With hindsight, I’d say this was all connected to conventional ideas about what it means to be a “functional” woman and “losing” one’s so-called “virginity” (or being on track to do so soon). Indeed, I remember feeling wary about being seen with towels and used to carry a tampon in my bag, even though I never used it because I didn’t want to be marked out.

Payal // Posted 25 February 2012 at 4:39 pm

I do find tampons convenient, especially at night — not having to worry about sleeping a certain way so you don’t stain the sheets is great! But I find I cannot depend on them completely because I don’t always bleed enough, and end up with a dryness issue if I’m using one when when I’m only spotting. On the days that I do bleed heavily, I need to use a sanitary pad as a backup since there isn’t always a guarantee of getting to a loo (that I feel is clean enough) on time. The other problem is, I sometimes have insertion issues and there are times when it is quite impossible to use tampons.

Also, as I come from a developing country (India), tampons are not always easy to get since they’re more expensive than sanitary towels and demand is low. Because of this, the smallest size–which I’d need most of the time–isn’t available (rarely, if at all), and I always have to do with the “normal” size. (On the flip side, friends who need the “super” size ones also have the same problem: they can’t get hold of the correct size.) Yes, overall, I’m glad that I’m lucky enough to be able to afford tampons, which is not the case with a vast majority of women around me. That said, I managed pretty well before I started using tampons sort of regularly (which is only about 3 years or so, in my early 30s). In college, I used to play cricket — yes, whites and all :-) — and we all still managed with the thick cotton-filled pad that we used to get (or were able to afford) in those days; we didn’t even have the thin gel-based pads here at that time.

I haven’t come across washable sanitary towels; would love to try them out.

(Finally, @sarahfogg: Hello, nice to meet someone with the same “small” problem! I really thought I was the only one out there!)

Sham // Posted 25 February 2012 at 6:02 pm

Things to bear in mind:

– For the most part working-class women in England in the 19th century did not wear knickers. From the mid-19th century onward a middle-class women certainly would have worn drawers, but these would have been left open at the crotch until relatively late in the century. As the century went on these were adopted by working-class women as well. But the taboo against bifurcated garments for women – the dreaded trousers, and by extension trouser-like closed drawers to be worn as an undergarment- meant that open-crotch drawers were considered far more modest and appropriate, than closed underwear.*

– For women of all classes underskirts would have been worn – both for warmth in an age before central heated and to save on laundry (you wash your underwear to save having to wash your outerwear). This meant that during menses women and girls would have been able to – if you’ll forgive the lack of a technical term – let drip. And rather less able to secure a pad – although not impossible if you waddle – before, of the course, the grisly dawn of the sanitary girdle (circa I think early-20th century, but am not totally sure).

– Which of course, it utterly gross.

– However, you have to put it in a context where – despite what we may often rather erroneously think about the Victorians and their attitudes to the body – most people lived at far closer proximity to their own bodily realities and the bodily functions of others. Working-class families, that is to say most 19th-century families, shared extremely limited living space; often only one or two rooms for an entire family. Family members of all ages, including sexually active couples and their [rapidly multiplying!] children, might easily be sharing a bed. Washing facilities could typically be tub of shared bathwater in front of the fireplace once a week.

– Which is not to say that people didn’t find their own strategies to find or create privacy or that they weren’t rules and expectations governing and policing the exposure of bodies and bodily functions. Of course there were and it’s a fascinating subject in it’s own right.

– But expectations of privacy and of the ability and the compunction to maintain levels of bodily cleanliness were not established the ways that we would find familiar in 21st-century European society. Of course people washed, but we are talking about a world before the creation of the exfoliating scrub**.

– In this context the taboos around menstruation were different to the taboos we currently hold around the subjected. There certainly were taboos, including rural superstitions from all around the country, some of which persisted at least until my grandmother was a girl in South Wales in the 1930s/1940s, including the belief that a woman on her period would curdle milk in the dairy.

– But there were other superstitions that linked menstruation with sexual availability and attraction. Suffragette, trade unionist and all-round-atta-girl-hero Selina Cooper writes in her autobiography about advising her fellow mill girls in Yorkshire in the use of sanitary pads, and the uproar this created from their mothers who believed that if their daughters followed her advice they would never attract husbands. The older women believed it was necessary for the blood to drip on the floor in order that men would be able to smell it and be overcome with the sheer fertility of it all.

– Our current taboos are about smell, mess and maintaining privacy, bordering on secrecy, in admitting to having a menstrual cycle and our culture’s folk beliefs are about the irrationality of the woman with PMS. As much as I love my mooncup*** the idea of me emptying down the sink of a public toilet is horror-story awful. And I imagine, dear reader, that the sight of me doing it would be equally repulsive for you.

– So, although understandable, there is something a little bit naïve in the author’s belief that a 19th century working-class woman would have the time or the inclination to spend her monthlies scrubbing out rags, especially since with a crying baby she may well not be menstruating anyway. Women didn’t necessarily feel the negative associations the author ascribes them about that aspect of their gendered bodies, even in a patriarchal culture with many other negative beliefs about women, sex and reproductive function.

– It’s also important to bear in mind that women menstruated far less in the days before wide spread access to contraception and better standards of nutrition, as periods started later and were interrupted more often by the cycle of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing that formed the lives of most married working-class women until menopause.

– Similarly poor women globally may not have the same taboos around the need to stem or disguise menstruation. And many women worldwide are still without access to the contraceptive medicines that allow richer woman to have so many periods in the first place.

– I know that the author of this well meant and passionately written piece never for a instant suggested that access to tampons and access to contraception for women globally were an either/or thing. But as attitudes and taboos around menstruation vary so greatly throughout history and by culture, many more women may need access to contraception than may actually want access to tampons. I wouldn’t know, I think you’d have to ask them…

– We live – happily in my opinion, but I am product of a soap and scented culture – at a far greater remove from our bodily functions than ever before. Tampons – as we are sold them – let us jaunt merrily through the ever verdant fields of Europe and America in white trousers on our way to the tennis courts and the sunlight shopping street swinging bags full of joy. So here’s to the maligned little mouse (though I never did like you!) and our ability to regulate our bodies as we wish!

– But let’s not forget the history within which that regulatory framework sits and the ongoing need to scrutinise the rule book as we apply it to ourselves and others, especially since we are not necessarily its authors, even if they’ve convinced us the pen is in our hands.

*So you all full-knickered tarts, better start de-crotching those pants! I love this because it’s example 5,000,000 of the utter arbitrariness of slut shaming through the ages and the constructedness of what is/isn’t provocative, sexual and acceptable in a woman’s dress and behaviour. In this case, perceived cross-dressing as an indicator of a hyper-heterosexuality and/or the eroticism of a well-shaped leg unswathed by skirts. See also, Restoration theatre and every opera ever.

**Not actually true. The Romans knew the value of a good descaling.

*** Safe space – so I can say it! Although I am loathe to become the mooncup evangelist, who thinks feminism starts the moment you shove some Tupperware down your knickers, it truly is bloody fab. Pun definitely intended.

Yes. // Posted 25 February 2012 at 6:25 pm

Tampons are stupid. It’s all about the cup. You don’t have to keep buying it every month & it’s a million times better for the environment.

sianandcrookedrib // Posted 25 February 2012 at 6:56 pm

I disagree! Tampons are bad for the environment and are itchy. They are made by massive corps who invest their advertising spend on ads that make out that women’s bodies are leaky, embarrassing and icky, and who then charge women through the nose for their product. Which contain bleach and other chemicals that increase your risk of toxic shock. And then they send women into schools to tell young girls all these negative messages and hook them into brand loyalty.

Mooncups all the way! And free, healthy period products for women across the globe.

Datch // Posted 25 February 2012 at 8:04 pm

I also don’t much like tampons, but have recently discovered menstrual sponges (my favourite is the Jam Sponge – In my experience they’re more reliable than tampons, and there are no dryness issues as you insert them damp. I love them! I’d thoroughly recommend them to anyone, especially if you’re not a fan of sanitary towels.

@sohcahtoa – I think it was sponges that were used by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks (though I might be wrong).

aging superhero // Posted 25 February 2012 at 9:05 pm

I’m a bit small for mooncups too, and have always really disliked tampons, for similar reasons – and enough not to bother using them after one or two tries. I was horrified a few weeks ago when that comedy mooncup review was slated by some friends who not only thought it derided women who would use the mooncup (I remain unconvinced on this score) but also decided that the author must be inept with her genitalia. Seriously.

Sooo. Whatever works for you, really. I like reusable pads best. They’re thick and comfy, you don’t get the dryness that comes with plastic, you don’t get the smell issues that come with plastic – had you spotted Bodyform’s new Natural range, by the way? kind of implies that the rest of them are lightly scented – and you don’t have t keep buying the damn things all the time, unless like me you constantly forget to carry them :eyeroll: maybe I’m lucky that the only thing periods keep me from is swimming.

Marge // Posted 25 February 2012 at 9:35 pm

I think the author needs a lesson in menstrual history:

The main thesis of Judith Bennett’s “History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism” is strongly brought to mind by this article; that if we don’t know the history of women, then we vastly over-estimate the progress we’ve made. Tampons don’t make us more liberated than our ancestors – because our ancestors didn’t have our hangups about menstrual blood!

Ania Ostrowska // Posted 25 February 2012 at 11:28 pm

I love the heroine of Charlotte Roche’s “Wetlands”, using her DIY tampons (manufactured mainly from toilet paper) as a big finger to the corporations making money on bleached non-ecological tampons.

She also tended to leave them, after use, all over the place. Wetlands is definitely the matter of taste.

Kathryn // Posted 25 February 2012 at 11:41 pm

My first experience with a tampon was darn near traumatic, and they only slowly became tolerable after that. I’ve never found them very comfortable, which has often made me resort to pads. Recently, I started using a Diva Cup and it’s one of the smartest things I’ve done for myself in a long time. MUCH healthier for my body, and much more cost-effective.

Lucy // Posted 26 February 2012 at 12:15 am

Thank you so much for putting me onto the mooncup!! I had no idea that something like that existed, I will defiantly be purchasing as soon as possible!!

Chris Ann // Posted 26 February 2012 at 12:18 am

Tampons are ok, but I love my Diva cup. Everyone keeps talking about Mooncups, must be the same thing. To the person who found the Mooncup too big, the Diva cup comes in 2 sizes.

For a woman in poverty there could be nothing better. You buy the thing once, you can use it all day and wash it when you get home.

Nothing to have to dispose of either.

Lindy // Posted 26 February 2012 at 12:21 am

While I see your point, pointing to tampons and saying they are the reason for female liberation is like pointing to all the nearly naked ppl dancing around on a music video and saying “look we’re sexually liberated!” while ignoring the ongoing issues of sexism, the double standard, misogyny, etc. Tampons have helped but again like someone else said our ancestors weren’t as freaked out by a little blood. Our shame, secrecy and need to hide menstruation (readily admitted by you yourself I might add as you state just typing the work makes you squirm) is what has kept women down. We fear and dispise a natural, normal bodily function. I am tempted to going digging through my books for some research references but it’s suffice to say that the menstrual taboo is key in suppressing women and used often even in the present day to keep women “in their place” by reminding them of their weakened state once a month. (Recall Gordon Libby stating how he hopes there aren’t any key conferences when Judge Sonia Sotomayor is menstruating or PMSing. Want to shame a woman and call her authority into question? Just remind everyone that her reproductive organs bleed each month and it makes them “crazy” or my favorite “hysterical” a word derived from the Greek term for womb; aka being female equals being mentally unbalanced.) So yes while hygiene products have helped to solve this, they are merely treating the symptom not the root of the problem, not to mention their environmental impact as other fellow cup wearers have mentioned. Additionally, as for women of the 3rd world having to use “washable rags” (oh gawd, no- a reusable product, Lord help us if we aren’t continously adding to the landfills as much as possible… ugh!) there are modern cloth pads that are amazing! They are easily hidden under clothing like disposables and work just as well. They even have programs to send modern cloth pads to women in need since reusable products are a much better solution for poverty struck populations than costly disposable products. Check this out- So while I applaude your efforts to overcome the silence surrounding menstruation, I must say you’ve barely scratched the surface.

Faith // Posted 26 February 2012 at 1:05 am

@sianandcrookedrib – Not all companies that manufacture feminine hygiene products “bleach” their tampons or “add several chemicals”. Seventh Generation and o.b. do not do that.

I have been using o.b. tampons the majority of my life because I was scared of applicators. The one time I did try an applicator tampon, it did not insert correctly or comfortably. I’d also like to point out that most other manufacturers of tampons design the tampon to expand length wise, which I cannot fully understand. I did not want a tampon sinking its way out of my lady parts. Ack!

I wish o.b. still manufactured it’s Ultra (purple) absorbency tampons. Those were the largest tampons available and I had never leaked with them. They discontinued them for some reason though. =(

It might be safe to mention I ALSO use a Moon Cup. On days when my flow is heaviest, I use the cup. Why? Because I bleed so much that I go through a super-absorbency tampon almost every 1-2 hours and cannot just jump up and change my tampon that often. Even those heavy days, I end up emptying the cup every 3 hours or so(yes, it fills that quickly). Why don’t I just use the cup and ditch tampons? Because my vagina gets irritated with the cup after a while, insertion is messy and it takes me a long time to clean up. I usually have blood all over by the time it’s inserted properly. I don’t sleep with the cup in either. The last time I did that it leaked, soaked through my clothing and thankfully just missed the bed. I also despise sanitary pads for this same reason(the mess it creates). Well, that and they’re so uncomfortable, smell, and leave you feeling “gross.” It bothers me when I can feel blood gushing out of my body every time I stand up. It feels nasty, for a lack of better words. I don’t like checking my pad every time I stand up, to make sure the blood that just gushed out made it to the pad and not through my panties. =(

Regardless, choose something that works for YOU. Don’t let anyone guilt you into using something you’re not comfortable with. =)

Rachel // Posted 26 February 2012 at 1:06 am

The biggest misconception in this article is the belief that disposable tampons and pads are sanitary. They are never sanitized, but they do contain harmful toxins and create a bacteria filled environment in the vagina and vulva. Reusable menstrual products — including lunapads, gladrags, the mooncup, the divacup, the ladycup, and many others — are far superior in every way. In the case of menstrual cups — of which there are many varieties, in many different sizes — most can actually be sanitized, they do not absorb our natural lubricants and do not interfere with the natural cleaning process of the vagina and therefore pose no threat of TSS. Reusable cloth pads can also be sanitized in the wash and do not interfere with any of the vulva or vagina’s functions — meaning they allow air circulation and will not cause allergic reactions, rashes, massive bacterial growth, or a bad smell, unlike their disposable counterparts. The impact on the environment is much less with reusable products, and they are a much more affordable option. Better for your health, the environment, and your wallet, why would you ever use tampons or disposable pads again?

Louise // Posted 26 February 2012 at 2:05 am

I started using my DivaCup a year and a half ago and reusable cloth pads about a year ago, and I’m never going back to Tampons or disposible liners ever again!

1 reusable menstrual cup and a small stash of cloth pads will last most women between 5 and 10 years, save hundreds of dollars over the years, no risk of TSS, don’t dry you out, and a lot of women say that they have less cramping and shorter periods (mine went from 5 days plus spotting to 2 days and no spotting).

@ Payal: There are several wonderful cloth pad compaines out there as well as several Work At Home Moms that sell them on Etsy and The Cloth Pad Shop. Some of the cloth pad compaines out there include LunaPads, Glad Rags, Party In My Pants (PIMPs), Moonpads, and Treehugger cloth pads.

There are several Menstrual Cup companies as well such as The DivaCup, Mooncup, Lunette, Meluna, etc.

Rachel // Posted 26 February 2012 at 8:11 am

I’ve tried both washable pads and the mooncup, but ended up coming back around to tampons. I liked the idea of the mooncup, but in practice I found it gave me godawful cramps *and* I was always afraid of laughing too hard while it was in and… well, having leaky issues. I’ve still got it, and may try it again at some point, but it’s tampons all the way for me. I do have concerns about the waste, and occasionally wonder whether they’d take to composting, but that might just be one step too far.

Melissa // Posted 26 February 2012 at 9:59 am

I have to say, Tampons actually ruin my Vagina if I wear them on a monthly basis. Not only that, they can actually be very dangerous to our bodies. Toxic. It also can break the bank, even for those in a free country. I totally disagree that tampons are even remotely close to being essential to a women’s freedom. My cup and my cloth pantyliners are essential parts to my monthly routine because it doesn’t destroy my vagina, it doesn’t risk my health and it doesn’t add to the pile of garbage our world is becoming. And honestly, I feel more free with my cup than I ever did with any tampon.

Cat // Posted 26 February 2012 at 7:18 pm

I think everyone has made some really important points… tampons are great, but the ‘disposable’ nature of them is what killed for it me. Just thinking about how many you use every single month and where they end up – it’s just toxic for our environment. I have bought a mooncup, but haven’t quite managed to use it yet! I definitely think it is the way to go though.

Lis // Posted 27 February 2012 at 12:28 am

Tampons are far from liberating. They are ichy, uncomfortable and gross. They and disposable pads just end up cluttering the landfill. Yuck. It is much more sanitary to wash your own pads and to use a diva cup instead of a tampon. If you are going to write about tampons and reusable menstrual products maybe you should check out some washable pads. They are FAR from “rags” and women who use them are cetrainly not barbaric and underpriviliged.

Laura // Posted 27 February 2012 at 8:24 am

I used Mooncup for two years, as I found tampons dried me out. It was fine at first, but in the second year really started irritating my vagina. I then moved to sea sponge tampons, which were more comfortable than tampons and less hassle than the Mooncup, but again after a while they seemed to cause internal problems, so I moved back to tampons. I had previously used Tampax, but since I last used tampons there was a new brand of non-applicator tampons called Cottons available in Boots. These are made of natural, unbleached cotton and I haven’t had any dryness problems – MUCH better than Tampax for me. They’re also frequently on offer in Boots, which means you can get a pack of 16 for under a quid, plus the boxes are tiny, so you can easily carry a whole box in your bag.

I remember when I first got my period looking round at all the older girls at school in horror, wondering how they coped with having this horrible, uncomfortable pad in their pants every month. My second period was REALLY heavy and came while I was on a walking holiday – blood soaked pads up a mountain was hellish. So I do agree that tampons are a great invention, but as the above comments have shown, every woman is different, and one woman’s hellish pad is another woman’s perfect solution!

rhiannon // Posted 27 February 2012 at 8:25 am

Another vote for the cup (in my case the diva cup) here! I only need to empty it once a day in the mornings and when it’s in properly it doesn’t leak at all. All that packaging that tampons involve is obscene.

ollie // Posted 27 February 2012 at 9:39 am

Comments on this article are great. So good to find out what other options are out there and how they work for different people! I have never used anything but disposable pads and tampons but I might branch out now.

Artemis2012 // Posted 4 March 2012 at 12:14 pm

Yes tampons can be great to use, but like many things on sale, we take it for granted that they are safe to use. Every wonder what a tampon is made of? Every considered the associated waste? As someone above pointed out, they are not medical devices, so dont have to be sterile, yet the wrapping used suggests they are. Manufacturers are planning to include a chemical laden wipe with each tampon so we don’t have to ‘worry’ about the trip to the sink after insertion. Many tampons are bleached white using toxic bleaching agents. Tampons with added fragrance should have set alarm bells going with every woman. The fact that we put an item in one of the most absorbent and sensitive areas of out bodies with even questioning its composition is beyond me. There are good organic and safer alternatives like the moon cup. Also I really dont understand why we have to perpetuate the manufacturers myth that we smell? If blood smells that bad why not have fragrant plasters? Lets not keep promoting this insulting myth eh?

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds