I may be entering the TMI (too much information) arena, but I was never comfortable with the idea of a tampon. I didn't do much research but did steer clear of them, especially when several people I knew continually got urinary tract infections around the time of their cycle and come to find out that they are tampon users. One day when my cycle was pretty heavy and I had a bunch of errands to run I decided to try a tampon that I received as a sample. It was okay but not totally comfortable. Since then I have worn a tampon maybe six times and have gotten to the point that they are comfortable to wear but I just don't like them much. I decided to do some research to see if my feelings that they are not healthy for you are unfounded.
One of the first things I came across are that tampons are not just cotton, they're made of dyes, fragrances, and super-absorbent chemicals. Research has found a link between uterine problems and bleached tampons. Chlorine from bleach turns to dioxin and is one of the most dangerous chemicals on the planet. Dioxin accumulates in our bodies over our lifetime and it's not something the body can ever get rid of.
Tampons are often made with Rayon. It's made from wood pulp and during the process of converting wood to rayon, hundreds of chemicals that are used are embedded in tampons.
Fibers remain in the vagina after a tampon is removed. Can the chemicals and fibers in tampons cause health problems? We now have staggering rates of endometriosis, fibroids, PID, TSS and over a million hysterectomies performed this past year--the most ever. Twenty-five years ago, these were rare illnesses for women.
While there are many reasons for the above illnesses, I don't want to take a chance that putting bleached fibers into my body for several days a month may be a contributing factor those illnesses.Sanitary pads also use a bleaching process and also use more than just cotton. But having them outside the body is much safer than using them inside the body. This is the route that I have gone so far, though I have been researching other options.
What other options are there? One is the "Diva Cup".
An alternative to store bought sanitary pads are cloth pads, such as Luna Pads (they also sell the Diva Cup).
Similar to cloth diapers, you just use, wash, and reuse. They snap around your panties making them similar to the store bought pads. I know some people who swore by these for their heavy cycles, saying they absorb so much more and stop leaks. This is the option that I am really leaning towards, though I need to get over the "ick" factor of washing them. For some reason I can wash cloth diapers just fine but kind of gag at the thought of washing menstrual pads!