Hey reader: I reviewed as many different period products as I could find, but the article was long as hell. So I decided to break it up into pieces and I’ll share a new one every week. This is part one, about tampons. The review of maxi pads is here and menstrual cups is here.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve been slowly test-driving a number of “alternative” period products. It was impossible to review them all during a single cycle because, cramps. And sore boobs. And generally nobody got time for learning any new shit or where to put it when your uterine lining is full-on hari kari and none of the godforsaken bodegas in your hood sell gluten-free chocolate chip Tate’s.
Having your period sucks. All you want to do is just open the same absorbent thing you’ve been using since you were 13, put it where it belongs, and push forward through the rest of your miserably over-scheduled day. Whatever seems like a great idea mid-cycle, when you’re so horny and optimistic and carefree, feels disrespectful when your period finally arrives.
What in the hell is this plastic cup thing I bought? Nuh uh, pass me the motherfucking Always!
Anyway, that is why I wrote this article on the very first day of my period every month until I had tried everything. Unlike some other reviews I’ve read, I wanted to give you my raw, honest, period-fueled opinion (like alcohol, your period is a truth serum) and not pretend like all this eco shit is just so awesome, you should try it what are you waiting for!!!!!!
Overall making the switch is worth it, but it’s not necessarily a fun or easy transition. Don’t underestimate how emotionally attached you are the products you’ve been using all these years. My advice: Buy new stuff in advance and give yourself time to adjust. The last thing you want is to be reading labels in the tampon aisle of Rite Aid as you bleed through your pants. And if you’re trying out something new, make sure you’ve read the instructions a few times before shark week so you’re not squatting over the toilet trying to assemble an Ikea dresser out of DivaCups.
Confession: I used a tampon for the first time when I was in my mid 20s. I know, right. But my mother scared the living hell out of me when I was a tween, and I was always afraid I’d get poisoned. Turns out she was kind of right (don’t tell her, I’ll never hear the end of it). That means I am not the best judge of tampons, tbh, so you’ll have to do a little experimenting to see what works best for you. But please, please do consider switching over from your conventional tampons — they’re so bad for your poon!
No rayon, fragrances, chlorine, or other toxic sludge. The chemicals in conventional tampons are linked to cancer and reproductive problems, and they can also cause irritation and allergic reactions. Companies don’t have to disclose all the ingredients in their tampons, which makes it even scarier. You’d never put a glob of unknown cancer-causing goo into your mouth, why would you put it in your vagina?! There’s only one kind of unknown goo any of us are putting anywhere and it’s not made by Proctor & Gamble amiright?! *Waits for high fives*
Lower your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Rayon, found in conventional tampons, is super absorbent and in some cases tooabsorbent. If left in too long or if there’s not a lot of blood flow, tampons it will start soaking up whatever else is around, like bacteria. TSS is basically a giant staph infection in your chach. (Someone should be that for Halloween; it’s basically the scariest thing I can think of.)
Works great. I don’t have a real heavy flow, but all of the ones I’ve tried worked well with no leakage.
Almost all of the organic cotton tampons have cardboard applicators(except the new Honest Company ones). This is obviously a great alternative for mama earth, whose landfills are brimming with plastic coochie sticks used for approximately two seconds at a time and then definitely not biodegrading for the next two bazillion. However, a dry-ish pussy and a cardboard applicator don’t feel great. And if you’re used to the leading drugstore tampons, this is going to take some getting used to. Usually this isn’t a problem in the first couple days because the flow is heavy enough to act as a lubricant (oh please, you and your boo already know blood is a good lube so stop acting brand new). Anyway, if you’re towards the end of your period and your flow is really light, you might want to reconsider using a tampon at all. When the tampon doesn’t have enough blood to soak up, it will start soaking up bacteria and it could throw off your pH (or lead to TSS — see above). The other option is to use tampons without an applicator, but yes you will have to stick your finger into your pussy (the horror!)
No sleepovers. Although the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome is less, you still shouldn’t sleep with a tampon in — even if it’s organic!!
A few years back, I kept getting recurring yeast infections. The gynecologist at Planned Parenthood (I was broke with yeasty foam pouring from my vagina; this is the kind of care conservatives want to defund btw) told me that I should stop using tampons and see if that helped. I did and it did. I never loved tampons to begin with, but after that I never looked back. So I don’t use them very frequently but when I do, it’s always the organic kind (I like Natracare because they’re everywhere). If you’re skeptical, try organic tampons one day per cycle (not on your worst day) and build up slowly over time.