If we could just opt out of menstruating forever then we would, but period woes are par for the course. You’d have thought that someone would have thought of something more pleasant than tampons and less, er, sticky than pads by now, but the majority stick to what we’ve always known because Tampax, despite our eye-rolling, is really easy to obtain. However, the planet does no good out of it – the average woman chucks out 250-300lbs worth of period-related detritus in her lifetime – and even though the £2-£5 you spend every month on sanitary products might not seem like a lot at the time, it all adds up.
So what are the alternatives? We’ve all heard about Mooncups, Diva Cups and blood-absorbing knickers, but we can’t quite get on board (particularly with the latter…). What about menstrual sponges, then? They’re lesser-known, but possibly more comfortable than their plastic-y counterparts, and they’ve been used by forward-thinking ladies for years.
Sometimes affectionately known as ‘jam sponges‘, which makes us feel slightly nauseated, menstrual sponges are little squishy sea sponges that can be use instead of tampons. Yep, these babies have been scooped up out of the real-life sea just for you! Although commercially-available sea sponges will have been cleaned up in advance, there still exists the slight possibility that your sponge might have little traces of “sand, grit or bacteria” in, according to a study by the University of Iowa. The study took place in the 80s, which was when menstrual sponges became a ‘thing’ following a bunch of TSS-related scaremongering… but, still, so far, so off-putting.
There seem to be plenty of redeeming facets to the sponges, though. They’re reusable and, providing they are cared for correctly, they can last for up to a year. Also, they beat tampons hands-down in terms of soaking up menstrual blood – anyone who’s ever used any sort of sponge can attest to their high liquid-absorbency levels – and, for those with wonderful boyfriends, you can apparently have sex while you’re wearing one. Fab.
But if you’re the kind of girl who feels faint after just thinking about blood, a menstrual sponge might not be the best option for you. In order to re-use your sponge you’ll obviously have to give it a good wringing out before washing it. Argh. Most of the menstrual sponges on the market require a bit of a rinse every few hours, which might be a little bit awkward to do in the bathroom at work. Some devout sponge users on the internet say they carry a bottle of water around with them so they can rinse their sponges over the loo, but that just sounds a little too organised for us.
We’re on the fence with this one. What do you think of menstrual sponges? Great idea or just gross?