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Girls' Night Out

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"Women's night out and you're talking about tampons?" she asked in amazement. I told her that we were discussing an article in today's paper about the health hazards associated with feminine hygiene products.

Kristy sat down to join us at our table and, overhearing part of our conversation, she asked, “Batons, who’s in the band?”

I laughed and replied, “Tampons, not batons.”

“Women’s night out and you’re talking about tampons?” she asked in amazement. I told her that we were discussing an article in today’s paper about the health hazards associated with feminine hygiene products. “It’s bad enough having stomach cramps for four days let alone worrying about chlorine bleach in tampons and toxic shock syndrome,” groaned Kristy, faking a stomach cramp. She continued, “We really don’t have any choice other than staying in bed all day.”

“Well, actually, we do have several choices,” I replied. “Women have a lot of options today.” Chlorine-free tampons, pads, and panty liners; pads for heavy, medium, and light flow; pads with wings; night-time extra pads; slender pads; skinny and super tampons; you could fill a bathroom cabinet with them. Not only can we find numerous pad and tampon options, but several other innovative products as well.

I had a captive audience that wanted to know more, so we discussed the pros and cons of the alternatives. Chlorine-free pads and tampons cost a little more but are a great choice for women who do not want to expose their bodies to unnecessary chemicals. The pads still pollute land fills, though.

Cotton pads, a second choice, are washable, reusable, and less expensive than disposables. As they are made from unbleached cotton they do not contain dioxins. The down side is washing the pads, which some consider time consuming and inconvenient. The pads may also seem more bulky.

When I suggested sea sponges, you should have seen the look on my friends’ faces. Before anyone could say, “You’re kidding,” I explained that small sponges can be used in place of tampons. They’re washable and last for about six months. No landfill problems here!

My friends seemed less surprised at one more choice: a small rubber cup that collects the flow. Apparently with a little patience the cups are easy to insert and remove, they’re economical, and they last for about six months.

Questions were fired: Are they safe? Where do you buy them? Don’t they leak? Are landfills really becoming clogged with tampons? This last question sent us into reels of laughter, as we imagined our garbage dump overflowing with synthetic pads and tampons, which take many times longer to break down than natural cotton. Realizing that these products do end up in landfills got us thinking, though.

If the alternative products are safe (yes, the government has approved them for use), and if they don’t leak (each person’s needs are different so it makes sense to use a small pad for just-in-case times), then maybe we should give them a try. The websites on these products have all the Q’s and A’s anyone could come up with. Health food stores have the best selection and choices of products; they may even be able to give you a sample.

Outcome of the evening: each of us decided to try one of the alternatives. We had little to lose and much to gain. Next week who knows what we’ll discuss?

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