5 Ways Sanitary Pads Are Killing You

Do you know what disposable sanitary pads are made of? Most likely, you've never thought about it. Menstruation is not a topic that is often discussed, but it is an important topic for every menstruating person out there. 

If you use pads, you're having them pressed up against your body, specifically the skin around your vaginal area, for around 5 days every month. The skin around this area is highly permeable. Items that come in constant contact with your skin are absorbed into your bloodstream and distributed throughout your body. 

Disposable sanitary pads contain certain stuff that you definitely don't want near your vagina. They cause undesirable side effects and are detrimental to your health. Over time, they may even lead to major illnesses like cancer!

 

Dioxin

Sanitary pads are not naturally pure white. The fibres in pads are chlorine bleached to give them their clean and sterile appearance. This bleaching process creates dioxin, a highly toxic pollutant. You may think that the levels of dioxin in sanitary pads are quite low and do not pose any danger. However, dioxin accumulates in the fat stores of the body over time, and can stay there for up to 20 years. Exposure to dioxin can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, hormone dysfunction, endometriosis, and various forms of cancer. 

 

Rayon

Apart from cotton, rayon (synthetic fibre derived from wood pulp) is also used in your sanitary pads. Rayon is cheaper than cotton, and helps to enhance the absorption capacity of pads, but also contain dioxin from the bleaching process.

 

Pesticides

Conventionally grown cotton is heavily sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, and these chemicals can stay on the cotton long after it has been harvested. Side effects of exposure include infertility, hormonal disruption, thyroid malfunction, diabetes, endometriosis and depression.

 

Plastics

Sanitary pads often advertise themselves as 'leakproof', with an impermeable plastic layer at the bottom of pads which do not allow liquid or air to pass through. The plastic traps moisture and heat, creating an environment that promotes the growth of yeast and bacteria. It can also cause sensitive individuals to experience burning, chafing and soreness.

 

Fragrances

Scented sanitary pads with odour neutralizers and other artificial fragrances contain a combination of unknown chemicals, which can enter the bloodstream and cause side effects. On the surface, they also irritate the skin, causing allergies and reactions.

 

Eco Femme Reusable Cloth Pads | LiveLoveLuna

Growing up in Singapore, pads are usually the first menstrual product recommended to us during sex ed class or through our mothers. But it's not too late to try an alternative! Reusable cloth pads do not contain harmful chemicals, as they don't require bleaching or fragrances. They are usually made of cotton and not synthetics. 

If you're squeamish about blood, here's a way to wash cloth pads without having to deal with the blood. Or you can start with small changes, like using cloth pantyliners instead of disposable liners on a day-to-day basis.

 

Reusable Menstrual Cups | LiveLoveLuna

Menstrual cups are also a great alternative to disposable pads! If you've never used tampons before, don't worry, you can still switch to cups. The learning curve might be slightly steeper, but the benefits it brings are worth it. Other than being better for your health, they are also more comfortable and convenient. (Here are 13 reasons why you should try a menstrual cup!)

Ready to make the switch? Shop our range of reusable cloth pads and menstrual cups now!

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How to Clean Your Menstrual Cup

Since menstrual cups are reusable, it's important to clean and care for them properly so they will last! We share how to clean your cup during and in between periods, along with wonderful tips that our customers have shared with us.

Clean Hands

Wash your hands with water and a mild soap before you handle your menstrual cup. Your hands may have touched many bacteria-laden things before you handle your cup, such as door handles, computer keyboards, elevator buttons, etc. Anytime you're going to touch your cup (or yourself), remember to wash your hands. This will reduce the risk of infections, and keep the vagina and surrounding area clean.

Before First Use

Before using the cup for the first time, check that the air holes at the top are open. Wash your hands and clean the cup by washing with water and a mild soap. In a large pot, submerge the cup in water and boil for 10 to 20 minutes before first use. You may place the cup in a wire whisk to prevent contact with the bottom of the pan during boiling, which may damage it.

Boiling Menstrual Cup in Whisk | LiveLoveLuna
Cup in a wire whisk to prevent contact with the bottom of the pot.
Source: Menstrual Cups Asia - LiveLoveLuna, Facebook

Cleaning on Your Period

During your period, it is best to wash your cup with mild soap and water every time you empty it. We recommend using the Lunette FeelBetter Cleanser, a mild cleanser that's specially formulated for washing a silicone menstrual cup. If not, you can also use other liquid soaps that are oil-free and fragrance-free.

If you are using a public restroom, camping, travelling or just do not have access to running water you can either rinse your cup with bottled water or wipe it with a piece of Lunette Cupwipe, which disinfects the cup. You can also just use clean tissue or toilet paper in a pinch – once convenient, wash your cup thoroughly.

Lunette Menstrual Cup CupWipes | LiveLoveLuna Singapore

Cleaning The Airholes

Fill your cup with water, place your palm on it, turn upside down and squeeze. When the water squirts out through the airholes, they are instantly cleaned! You can also use a blunt toothpick, or an old toothbrush that's dedicated for this purpose. Do not use sharp items like needles, as you may accidentally damage your cup.

Between Periods

At the end of your period, it is best to sterilize it before storing for the next use. You can rinse your cup, submerge in water and boil for a few minutes. You can also put your cup into a mug filled with boiling hot water (from the kettle) and let it sit covered for a few minutes.

You can also use the Lunette FeelBetter Cleanser to thoroughly wash your cup before letting it dry and storing it. Other suggestions include using a steam sterilizer for baby bottles, or sterilizing tablets.

Getting Rid of Odour

If your cup has an odour even after washing it, you can set it in a place with direct sunlight (e.g. near a sunny window) for a day. This should get rid of any lingering odour on the cup.

Storage

Never store your cup in a plastic bag or an airtight container. It's best to store it in a breathable cotton bag. Most cups come with their own little bag included. You can also just leave it out in the open, in your bathroom or somewhere with good air flow.

Menstrual Cup Storage | LiveLoveLuna
Cups left on a plate in an open area with good airflow.
Source: Menstrual Cups Asia - LiveLoveLuna, Facebook

Good hygiene and cleaning practices will make sure your vagina stays healthy, and your cup remains in good condition. If your menstrual cup starts to deteriorate and show wear and tear, such as a sticky or powdery film, splitting of the cup, or severe discolouration and odour, it's time to replace your cup.

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All You Ever Wanted to Know About Vaginal Discharge

Vaginal discharge is probably something that's less talked about than periods. Those sex ed classes taught us about puberty and menstruation (at the very least on a basic level), but vaginal discharge has never been discussed. That may leave you wondering: Is my discharge normal? And what the hell is this stuff?

It's completely normal to have vaginal discharge; every person with a vagina produces it. Changes in vaginal discharge can even help you identify if something is wrong down there.

What is Discharge?

Vaginal discharge is a substance produced by the female reproductive system that comprises mostly water, micro-organisms and vaginal cells. The glands in the cervix and walls of the vagina are "activated" by the hormone estrogen to shed old cells and flush them out in the form of a sticky mucus.

Vaginal discharge can vary from person to person, and also depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle. Most women experience vaginal discharge at some point, but some women have it more often or in larger amounts than others.

What is the Purpose of Discharge?

In terms of cleanliness, your vagina is pretty low-maintenance. It has self-cleaning abilities, producing fluids that cleans up old cells and unwanted bacteria, and flushing them out of the body as - you guessed it - discharge. This helps to prevent infections and keeps your vagina clean.

Is My Discharge Normal?

Most women have vaginal discharge, but the amount of discharge produced is different for each woman. Some have a little discharge now and then; some have discharge every day. What's "normal" for you can change several times throughout your life, due to factors like pregnancy and menopause. It can also vary throughout the different stages of your menstrual cycle.

Other than the amount of discharge produced, the odour and colour may differ as well. Normal discharge should be a clear to milky-white colour, and have a familiar musky scent. In between periods, you may experience clear, slippery and odourless discharge that suggests ovulation.

Abnormal Discharge Cheesy Odour
A cheesy odour is not normal.

Abnormal Discharge

The following changes in your discharge can indicate a problem:

  • change in odour (especially an unpleasant odour)
  • change in colour (especially greenish, grayish, or anything looking like pus)
  • change in texture (such as foamy or looking like cottage cheese)
  • vaginal itching, burning, swelling, or redness
  • vaginal bleeding or spotting that is not a menstrual period

Here are some types of abnormal discharge and their causes.

 Type of Discharge Possible Causes Other Symptoms
Thick, white, like cottage cheese Yeast Infection Swelling and pain around the vulva, itching, painful sexual intercourse
Green, yellow or grey in colour, frothy, has a bad smell Trichomoniasis Pain and itching while urinating
White, yellow or grey in colour, with a fishy odour Bacterial vaginosis Itching or burning, redness and swelling of the vagina or vulva
Cloudy or yellow Gonorrhea Bleeding between periods,urinary incontinence, pelvic pain
Bloody or brown Irregular menstrual cycles, or less often, cervical or endometrial cancer Abnormal vaginal bleeding,pelvic pain

 

If you have abnormal discharge with other symptoms, please see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will most likely ask you several questions about your medical history, your symptoms, menstrual cycle and sexual activity. Your doctor will also give you a full-body physical exam, and examine your pelvic area.

Avoid scented soaps
Avoid scented soaps in the vulva area.

Tips to Prevent Infections

Practicing good hygiene is the best way to prevent infections that lead to abnormal discharge. Here are some tips:

  • Wear breathable cotton undies, and avoid overly tight clothing
  • Avoid scented soaps and feminine products
  • Wipe from front to back to prevent bacteria getting into the vagina and causing infections
  • Don't use douches as they can remove useful bacteria
  • Keep the vulva area clean by washing regularly with mild soap and warm water

Don't be grossed out by your vaginal discharge. It's normal to have discharge, which helps to keep your vagina clean, and acts as an indicator when something might be off down there.

  

If you use pantyliners daily to catch discharge, why not get cloth pantyliners? Our Eco Femme Pantyliners come in a 3-pack and are perfect for everyday use. They're more comfortable than disposable liners that tend to bunch up in the middle. You're also reducing waste and saving the Earth at the same time!

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How to Choose Your First Menstrual Cup!

With so many brands of menstrual cups out in the market today, you may be lost in the sea of choices and wonder which one you should purchase as your first menstrual cup. Before you rush out to get the most popular brand or whatever's most easily available, here are some factors you should take into consideration, to make sure your first cup is suitable for your body!
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13 Reasons Why You Should Switch to a Menstrual Cup

"Menstrual cup? What's that?" If you've never heard of this amazing product to help you manage your periods better, you're missing out! Here's why you should consider switching from disposable pads/tampons to a menstrual cup.
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