I'm here with an inquiry or two about reusable menstrual products.
I personally have been a tampon user pretty much since I first got my period 10 or 11 years ago. But somewhat recently have been thinking more and more about alternatives for various reasons. One being that since having my little copper buddy inserted nine months ago, my periods have gotten slightly heavier and a fair bit longer (what with spotting and all) so I'm using more product than I used to. Granted my cycle in general has lengthened, as well, so things might have balanced out in that regard - but I digress.
This seeming increase is problematic for me from a budget standpoint and an environmentally conscious one. Also, I've never been 100% satisfied with tampons. I frequently encounter a problem where if I have to go to the bathroom, especially for a bm, while I have one inserted, during the process it will sneak its way partly out. Forcing me to have to either remove the half-used item or squish it back up inside. I can assume this just means I have a shorter vaginal canal or that I'm not inserting them in far enough somehow. I don't get this problem as often with light and junior sized tampons. But on my heavier days relying on those shorter but smaller tampons means having to change them much more frequently which is a pain in the rear.
So, I'm trying to examine my options to do away with tampons and I thought I would consult the wonderfully diverse vagpag community since, other communities (like yahoo answers, for instance) seem to more often than not snigger in disgust and bewilderment at the idea of alternative menstrual products.
I am, of course, familiar with reusable cloth pads. I'm not much of a pad fan. Partly because I don't like the smell of my period blood and partly because I prefer to go commando pretty much every day I can. As well, as the fact that my house only has an old tiny clunky washer but no dryer which makes for doing laundry a complete chore. I am still looking into buying a few pads, simply for night time spotting or the like. But for the most part am not interested in using them as my primary product.
I am very interested in cups. But since there is a small risk for IUD expulsion with their use, I can't bring myself to risk it. I know a good handful of IUD divas use cups successfully without expulsions occurring and that I'm out of the 3 month post-insertion most likely to expel time window. But I adore my copper pal a lot and was very lucky to get it for no cost whatsoever through planned parenthoods health program in my state - and I'm not entirely sure they'd fund a second one completely if this one expelled. So, no cups for me, for now.
Which brings us to what I'm really here for: sponges. They seem the most tampon-like of the reusable methods. They are pretty darn inexpensive, they're non-vagina angering, they don't require full on laundering, from what I hear they can be kept in during PIV (a super bonus), etc. I would love to hear any of you superstars' testimonials good or bad about sponge use. BUT the thing stopping me more than anything from making the switch right now is this: I am a vegetarian, for two reasons. One, personal health reasons. Like a good portion of Americans my family has a history of high blood pressure, cholesterol, overweight/obesity, arthritis, heart disease, etc. I'd like to break that pattern. So far, so good. And two, environmental and cultural reasons. The affect our use and consumption of animals has on the planet, Americas problem with using/consuming a far larger percentage of resources than our percentage of the world population should call for, etc.
But I don't want to get into a huge veg! yay! rant. My issue is that sponges are harvested from sea sponges in the ocean which are, by all technical accounts, animals. I'm not really sure yet how I would feel about using them from a personal/ethical/etc standpoint. Could anybody out there maybe illuminate me as to what, if any, sort of resounding effects the harvesting of sea sponges has on marine life/the earth/the species, etc. Or better yet, does anyone know if there are other sponge options available out there NOT made of sea sponges? Preferably not made of horrible synthetic materials, but I'm open to hearing about whatever you might know about.
Heck, maybe you smartypants even know of something other than pads, cups, and sponges that I've never even heard of! To which I say bring it on!
Anyway. Sorry, this got quite so lengthy. I appreciate those of you who stuck with it and leave comments, thankyouthankyouthankyou!