Heads up, friends. This post is for the ladies.
(Are there actual dudes that read my blog? Hmm. This I do not know. If there are – consider this your warning. Because I have discovered sea sponge tampons and they are changing my life like an electrifying tent-revival preacher. Lord’a’mercy and YES & AMEN. Before you ask: yes, this is fo’reals, and NO I’m not nutty. Not completely, anyway. Er, let’s move on.)
If there’s one thing we women can all agree on, it’s that having your period is a drag. I mean, there’s really nothing awesome about it. Bloating, cramps, blood, inconvenience, the perpetual fear of starting when you’re out of the house without supplies (shudder). The whole shebang.
I know that no one really wants to sit around having a scintillating conversation about All Things Periods! But we all have to deal with it one way or another. I figure we may as well bite the bullet and have a mature conversation about the best possible supplies that are comfortable, effective, safe, and eco-friendly. Right? Right. Okay then.
First things first: it’s high time we all embrace the fact that periods are a reminder of a perfectly natural function of our bodies which is actually quite beautiful (philosophically speaking) when you consider the incredible system of fertility and new life that our bodies are uniquely designed for.
If you’re squeamish about your own body and your monthly cycle, consider this my gentle invitation to reconsider the framework upon which your discomfort hangs. Periods may be messy and inconvenient, and a real bummer sometimes. But we don’t need to be squeamish about them.
Unfortunately, the conventional pad and tampon industry has done a bang-up job of perpetuating the squeamishness, and I hate that. After doing my own reading on the topic years ago, I grew much more squeamish about shoving a toxic cotton wad of dioxins up in my lady-business or having my hoo-ha get cozy with a petroleum-based plastic maxi pad. Now that’s gross.
Now, many people are averse to natural solutions because they believe that they won’t work as well. I TOTALLY get that concern. It’s not something to mess around with. Using an inferior system has dire consequences and inherent junior high nightmare flashbacks. I’m fully on board with you on that one.
The thing is – I’ve found a system that boasts the following (as compared to conventional pads and tampons):
- More effective
- WAY more comfortable
- Significantly more frugal
- Significantly more eco-friendly
- 100% natural and free of toxic ingredients
So perhaps now you can understand my excitement?
Last year I wrote The Ultimate Guide to Reusable Menstrual Supplies (6 Different Brands Compared), and compared and contrasted six different companies, including a huge variety of cloth pads, a couple of wet-bags, and a menstrual cup. The only thing I was missing was a tampon alternative. I vaguely knew about sea sponge tampons, but had never tried them.
Cloth pads are fantastic, and I use them every single month, but the cup just hasn’t worked out for me at all (I suspect a mildly prolapsed uterus that won’t allow the cup to be properly positioned, resulting in leaks and discomfort). I was pretty happy with my selection of cloth pads, but I did wonder about the sea sponge thing.
I finally connected with the Sea Sponge Company a few months ago and decided to give their products a try. I had no idea what to expect. Would they be a nice idea in theory, but leak after like an hour? Would they feel weird and uncomfortable? Would they just totally gross me out?
The verdict? I am in love. As in love with reusable menstrual supplies as one can possible be. (Which, it turns out, is a lot.)
I totally wish someone had handed a couple of these to my awkward tween self and saved me a couple decades of hassle. That’s okay though – I’ll settle for sharing my enthusiasm as a sea sponge tampon evangelist to y’all. These things are totally life-changing, my friends.
Why I Totally Love Sea Sponge Tampons
Like I outlined above, the reasons to love these humble little sponges are vast. Here are my favorites:
1. 100% natural & toxin-free
The Sea Sponge Company explains: “Our Sea Clouds™ contain no synthetic fibers, pesticides, or chlorine. They are completely natural sponges sustainably harvested by hand from the Mediterranean Sea. They are exceptionally absorbent on their own and even contain naturally occurring enzymes that inhibit odors and the growth of bacteria in addition to containing healthy sea minerals.”
2. Eco-friendly & frugal
According to most tallies that I’ve seen around the web, the average woman uses approximately 17,000 disposable tampons and pads in her lifetime. That’s a scarily large amount of trash in the landfill, just from one person alone! Sea sponges are reusable for up to six months, and biodegradable when they’re past their prime, which makes them better for the environment and better for your pocketbook. Win-win.
3. More effective
This might be the only reason that some of you care about. I get it. Not everyone appreciates the crunchy tree-hugger mindset. The reasons above might not set your little heart a-flutter. The thing is – sea sponge tampons actually work better than conventional ones. It’s true. I have to change them less often (and when I forget for a little while, it’s no big deal because they’re non-toxic), and they are just as absorbent as a regular tampon, if not more. They also leak definitively less than both conventional tampons and the menstrual cup, in my experience.
But are they Truly Comfortable?
A huge bonus (or perhaps the biggest reason of all?) is the fact that they are so incredibly comfortable. I can’t feel them at all once they’re in. After you moisten them with water, they are silky soft. They conform to fit the shape of the vaginal walls far better than any other potential product, which is why they work so well. And, although I love my cloth pads, it’s nice to have a break from the dampness in that area, and keep things a bit more “contained”.
As for that ick-factor that some of you might be concerned about, yes, you’ll have to deal with cleaning and inserting and rinsing and such. But like I said – there’s no need to be squeamish. It’s worth every single bit of it to know that you are using such an effective and safe product in your body. I can be 100% honest and tell you that I don’t find it gross in the slightest. If you’re unsure, I challenge you to give it a try and see how you might grow used to it. You might just surprise yourself!
GIVEAWAY + Coupon Code!
Woohoo! The Sea Sponge Company is offering a great giveaway to one lucky reader! One person will win a 3-pack of reusable sea sponge tampons, a box of suppositories, and a mesh sponge drying bag. Just enter using the rafflecopter form below.
If you don’t want to wait to place your order, be sure to use this exclusive discount code to get 10% off your order: red&honey10. Also, The Sea Sponge Company is also currently running a promo for free samples of their Sea Naturals™ Vaginal Hygiene Suppositories and Sea Naturals™ Vaginal Moisturizing Suppositories that customers can add to their cart. Don’t miss it!
Giveaway ends Thursday, March 5, 2015 at midnight.
What’s your favorite menstrual care solution? Have you tried Sea Sponges?
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by The Sea Sponge Company, but all opinions are my own. I have more than enough of those to share ;)
I see you don’t monetize your website, but you can earn additional bucks every day.
It’s very easy even for noobs, if you are interested simply search in gooogle:
How do you take out the Sea Sponge? Do you leave it low enough that you can grab it or do you have to go up and find it?
I’m able to grab it with 2 fingers. It’s not hanging out of you, but it’s not that far up, either. It’s obviously not for the squeamish… but personally, I find it to be no big deal. 🙂
Hi. I’interested in trying the sea sponge. What brands do you recommend and where can i buy them? Thank you
I want to know what people do in a public setting? I’ve been using a sponge for a few months now and I love it. When my daughter’s time comes I want to intro her ti sponges but what will she do in school?
Hi Natalie! There are a few suggestions on this page: http://www.seaspongecompany.com/collections/feminine-care/products/sea-clouds-sea-sponge-tampons.
The website says that they recommend changing it every 3-4 hours, but I frequently keep it in longer. It does say that overnights are ok, too. For a school day, I’d do one of the following:
– keep it in the whole day, if the flow wasn’t too heavy
– start the day with a cloth pad, then when needed, switch to the sea sponge. Then, by the time you need to remove and rinse, you’ll be at home.
I absolutely LOVE my double-pocket wet bag that I got from Domino Pads (reviewed in this post: https://redandhoney.com/ultimate-womans-guide-reusable-menstrual-supplies-6-different-brands-compared/)
It allows me to carry my unused pads/sponges in one pocket, and stick the used ones in a separate (waterproof) pocket. It’s perfect!
Good for you for encouraging your daughter to pursue natural menstrual care! xoxo
I find it awfully condescending that you seem to think finding your period gross somehow means we are squeamish or uncomfortable about our own bodies. Periods are gross. They are and that’s a fact. Bowel movements are gross, urine is gross, vomit is gross, periods are gross. Please don’t try to suggest I need to better understand my body. I love and respect my body, but I have no problem saying that I loathe my period with a fiery passion and that I wish desperately that I didn’t get one at all, ever. I’m happy you don’t seem bothered by the cleaning and reusing of these products, but please don’t look down on those of us who are. I have been trying to find a natural alternative to tampons but I just will not put myself through something I find revolting (periods are revolting enough as it is). It’s disappointing that so many blogs just breeze right over the “gross factor” issue like it should be the least of my concerns. I need someone to admit that it’s gross and try to explain why or how to get over that – not someone to condescendingly tell me that it’s not gross at all and its all in my silly little head.
Sorry for the rant, but I am so tired of this attitude among natural bloggers, that nothing the human body (especially the female body) does can ever be gross, and that those who think otherwise must have body or self-esteem issues. What about those who can’t handle the sight of blood? Are they just unappreciative or ignorant of their bodies too?
I think you’ve made a lot of accusations here about things I never said. You seem to have read things into the post that aren’t there.
I’m sorry that you didn’t find what you wanted from this post. Thankfully, it’s a big internet out there, and I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for eventually.
Wishing you well,
Thank you for the kind, mature response. I just started following your blog this week and am impressed with your response to someone who was not being respectful to you, nor actually reading what you have said.
OK, the grossness factor. I tend to think of it more in terms of mess, smell and so forth. Here’s what I’ve found with different menstrual products.
Anything where the blood comes into contact with the air will cause oxidation, and that’s what gets smelly. Menstrual cups win here, because the blood is contained and stays fresh. Disposable pads and tampons are the worst, because the blood doesn’t just oxidise, it reacts with the chemicals in the pad/tampon to get particularly nasty-smelling. With cloth pads, the smell changes a bit, but the natural fibres don’t react in an unpleasant way with it, so it’s not too bad. Sponges were about the same as cloth pads, or possibly marginally worse. Disposable pads are the worst here, as they are worn externally and the smell gets really nasty.
Then there is how much the blood gets around. With tampons, it’s not a huge amount, because it’s either in your vagina or in the bin, but you have that whole horrible business with the string, which is wicking up urine and possibly faecal matter. I haven’t used a tampon in fifteen years, and have only used a disposable pad a couple of times in hospital, and by now I find it completely incomprehensible that these are the norm, because I find them really unpleasant and unhygienic.
Pads don’t make you get in contact with the blood much, at least not with your hands, you’re sitting in the stuff. With cloth pads, there’s the business of washing them. If you leave them soaking all through your period, I find they smell dreadful. The woman who made my pads introduced me to dry pailing, which works far better and involves pretty much no smell. Just put them aside in a container during your period, then soak them with oxygen bleach powder and cold water for an hour before you throw them in the washing machine, and add a dab of stain remover if you have any stains left after the soaking. You have your hands in bloody water for a few seconds, it’s still less unpleasant than disposables but that’ll put some people off.
With menstrual cups, it is all much easier if you can access a basin while you’re changing your cup on the loo. (You can also change your cup in the shower, but even with light periods, you’re meant to change the cup twice a day at minimum.) You’ll get a bit of blood on your fingers for a few seconds, and it’s often quite viscous and doesn’t smell much at all. It’s easily washed off in a few seconds, and you don’t get smelly fingers. The cup does does not pick up a smell, it’s silicone (or TPE for Meluna) and thus inert. Everything is contained inside you, apart from the moment when the blood goes down the toilet and you wash your hands, and to me this is by far the cleanest option.
Sponges were a nightmare. They’re difficult to get out, they leak if you so much as laugh, and you end up with a lot of blood on your hands. The blood is fairly smelly, and it was really hard to get the smell of blood off my fingers. The sponges got ratty and shed, and goodness knows what they were leaving in my vagina. I have very light periods, for reference.
You have to put your fingers inside your vagina with cups, sponges, and to a lesser extent, tampons. With tampons you are coming into contact with urine and possibly faecal matter, but possibly not blood. With the other two, it’s just blood. I find that cups are a lot less messy and a lot less icky than any other option. It’s a personal thing, though, which is why it’s good that there are so many options these days.
There’s also the issue of comfort. Tampons are the worst, they are drying and can drag painfully on your vaginal walls. A cup should not be felt once it’s in, and shouldn’t be much of a hassle to insert or remove once you get the hang of it (they have a bit of a learning curve). Sponges are the same as cups in this respect. With disposable pads, there may be irritation and chafing, especially if they work loose and start sticking to you instead of to your knickers. Cloth pads are very comfortable, although if you’ve bled enough for them to get a bit slimy on the surface, that can be annoying for some people.
Beth, you mentioned that the cup was too large for you. You were using a pretty old brand of cup, the Keeper, and to be honest I wasn’t even aware that it was still being produced, since it never gets mentioned on menstrual cup forums any more. It helped pioneer menstrual cups, which is great, but it’s not a very good cup. There are a lot of different sizes and shapes of cup these days. I have a low cervix too, and have found that the best cups for me are the Meluna Shorty range. The small Keeper is 53mm long, excluding the stem. The shortest Shorty Meluna is 38mm long. It makes a huge difference. Of course, the smallest Meluna only has a small capacity, but still, there are four sizes in the Shorty range, and I find that the Large Shorty (41mm long) does fine for me most of the time.
How have you found that the sponges hold up to longer term use? I had serious hygiene concerns about them.
I totally just blew the thought of ever trying the Sea Sponge (however, I recently read a post re: the menstrual cup and I’m def interested in that). What blew me from using this? The vegan aspect. While their response weighs more on the plant side….er, the thought of the sea sponge as a animal… *shudders*
“Are Sea Sponges Vegan-Friendly?
At The Sea Sponge Company, we and many of our Vegan customers would say “yes” and the following is why. The first and most debated question to consider related to the “Vegan question” is whether sea sponges are plants or animals. By definition, sea sponges are classified as animals – although, this was debated for centuries, during which time they were considered first as coral and then as “half-plant and half-animal organisms” – but everything about their life cycle is far more akin to that of a plant. Specifically, they grow like plants, they eat like plants, and they have no organs or brain or nervous system, meaning that they are not self-aware, cannot think, and feel no pain of any kind. Additionally, when harvested correctly sea sponges do not die or incur injury; instead, they grow back stronger and fuller than before, like a plant that has been pruned, and at the same time release spores that settle to the ocean floor and form into new sponges. For these reasons most people in the modern day are agreed that using a natural sea sponge is in no way at odds with the Vegan belief system or lifestyle. To read more on this question check out our blog post “Are Natural Sea Sponges Vegan-Friendly?””
Is it safe to use these right after giving birth in place of pads? I have a feeling it’s not but hope it is d:
Unfortunately, it is not recommended to insert anything at all vaginally for 6 weeks after child birth. But as soon as you get your regular period back, go for it!! 🙂
I totally agree! Sponges are amazing!! I switched to cloth pads a while ago but missed the convenience and “clean feeling” from using tampons. I also wish I had heard of these as a tween! I plan to introduce them to my daughters when the time comes! Thanks for sharing your experience and helping it seem less “weird” for others!
I’m kind of excited about this! After reading your post last year I asked my mom to make me re-usable pads. They aren’t the best because we wouldn’t figure out how to make them attach securely so they often slip out of place under my buttocks but I love it! And haven’t gone back to regular pads. Would love to try these!
I use the diva cup, and have been pretty satisfied with it. I’d totally give the sponges a try, I don’t see how they could be much different!
Love the post, you have a great sense of humor! I’m just about to try sea sponge tampons for the first time and this was very helpful and informative!
This post came at the perfect time, as I’m currently trying out sea sponges for the first time. Thanks for the post! 🙂
Oh man, ever since having children, the cup just hasn’t been the same… I may have to give these a try!
Jacqueline, I love using them too…for so many reasons! I was curious, what size did you use that leaks on you? I have a moderate to heavy flow and have to use a Super on heavy days, but I’ve not had any leaks at all. Have you tried the Supers or Ultras, or do you use Lights or Regulars?
I love my sponges too! The only thing negative thing is that for me they do leak more than regular tampons. I just wear my reusable panty liners with them to catch the leaks and it’s fine. My motivations were health (no more chemicals where they don’t belong), taking better care of God’s creation, and saving money. The big unexpected bonus has been comfort. Sea sponges are soft and totally comfortable, unnoticeable, even, until they’re full. Recently I had to use a ‘sposie for some reason, and I was SO glad to get home and switch back to my sea sponge!