The pros seem to outweigh the cons on these little miracles
By Rebecca Peterson, Staff Writer
Period-havers, imagine your ideal product for dealing with your personal “Red Sea.” For me, it would be something easy to use, impossible to feel, and effective on my heaviest days. For a lot of people, being able to have sex while on your period would also be a bonus.
Introducing: the menstrual sponge.
There are two types of sponges; the natural sea sponge (which is reusable), and the synthetic sponge, which is not. The natural sea sponge will likely appeal to the environmentally conscientious, as it can last for a long time—up to six months, with the proper upkeep. Like any reusable menstrual product, hygiene is a must. You will have to clean the sponge between uses, and disinfect it with body-safe products like apple cider vinegar and/or tea tree oil.
Make sure to rinse it very well afterwards, as even natural cleansers can throw off your vagina’s pH balance.
To insert the sponge, squeeze it into a small shape and guide it up into your vagina with clean fingers. It should settle easily close to your cervix. As with tampons, if inserted correctly you shouldn’t be able to feel it.
Removing the sponge, however, is the slightly gory downside. If using a natural sponge, I highly suggest tying a thread of unwaxed dental floss through the middle so you can pull it back out without having to… fish around for it. Be gentle while guiding it out—not only will it leak when compressed, but you run the risk of tearing the sponge in two if you’re not careful.
Removal and constant cleaning seem to be the major downsides of the natural sponge, two problems that are countered in the design of the synthetic sponge.
The synthetic sponge is firmer, less prone to tearing, and is designed with a handle to loop your finger through, making it easier to remove. However, synthetic sponges are one use only, which is neither cost-effective nor environmentally friendly. I’d suggest saving the synthetic sponge for special occasions or emergencies.
However, use of the synthetic or natural sponges doesn’t eliminate the danger of toxic shock syndrome. So wear time on either sponge is still restricted to eight hours, the same as any tampon. This could be problematic on lighter days, especially if you’re using a synthetic sponge.
Overall, I think the concept of menstrual sponges is absolutely fascinating. I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to try them, but if I saw one in stores I might pick one up to have on hand. Just in case.