Anyone who knows me will be surprised that I’m writing about feminine hygiene products.  I’m not a sharing person and would rather take the “fix it and forget it” approach to that time of the month.  However, a recent incident has forced my hand!

First, let me say that we are very lucky to live in a society where we have many options for dealing with menstruation.  We have pads, tampons, even pharmaceuticals that will drastically reduce the number of cycles each year.  Many women throughout the world do not have these luxuries and have to suffer with the health and economic consequences.  For a very inspiring story about an Indian man who withstood ridicule and even ostracism to develop a safe, economical, and even empowering sanitary pad production method for India’s rural women see here.

But we shouldn’t rest on our laurels here in tampon land.  Do our feminine hygiene products really meet our standards?  I would say no.  Why do I say this?  Well, I just realized we shouldn’t flush tampons.  They don’t degrade and they can get stuck in the sewage system and cause backups. Even if they make it to the sewage treatment plant they have to be fished out and trucked to the landfill.  If you didn’t know that, don’t feel stupid.  I have an engineering degree in sewage treatment and I didn’t know that.  Plus, the manufacturers do their best to keep you from realizing.  Check your box of tampons.  I can find nothing saying you shouldn’t flush them.  So the industry pretends to be our friend and but tries to make us forget that we’re filling the landfills.  Come to think of it, they do nothing to combat the “menstruation is disgusting and shameful” bias in our society.  They just say: it’s okay, we’ll keep your secret.  I am not amused.

What’s the alternative?  The silicone menstrual cup (popular example here)!  Europeans have had these for years, they’re reusable, safer than tampons, more convenient, and don’t involve the landfill!  Why haven’t you heard of them?  Well I suspect the pad/tampon manufactures (they are not our feminist friends!).  I only heard about this because a very bored temp admin person at a boring summer job I had was intent on over-sharing all her travel tips, including the menstrual cup.  It took several years for me to become in touch with my femininity enough to use one of these, but now I wouldn’t go back to tampons (except when I misplaced my cup and had to resort to my emergency tampon stash . . . and discovered the no flush problem).

So now I over-share with you!  Many women have posted great guides, reviews, and other blog content to help women find the best solution for them.  Free yourself from those faux feminist tampons!