There are many mysteries in life, and one of the most prevalent ones is the vagina. Even those of us born with them, spend our lives playing catch-up. Reading between the lines of what is not said in SexEd, what IS said in awful teen magazines (“How much pineapple should YOU eat to set the mood”), and what we know. Almost 25% of women have an irregular period due to some internal or external factor: weight loss, stress, hormonal changes, irregular sleep patterns, etc.
On top of that, 60% of people with vaginas will deal with one of these issues within their lifetime: surprise UTIs, ingrown hairs, yeast infections, or the fear of toxic shock syndrome.
How do we CATCH A BREAK??
One prevalent suggestion is 100% organic cotton: underwear and tampons. Why? Well your vagina has a natural microbiome of healthy bacteria that impacts your health. Improper care like tight clothing or (god forbid) douching, can upset that natural biome. Not only that, your vag also has a mucus membrane that absorbs things more easily than your skin– why buy that expensive skincare routine if you’re not willing to take care of your WHOLE body?
Non cotton underwear can trap moisture in a dark place, allowing for bacteria to grow. The rough fabric can also rub you the wrong way and lead to irritation and discomfort.
“Others, however, especially those with sensitive intimate skin or those prone to infection, including yeast or bacterial vaginosis, can benefit from wearing certain materials that allow the genital skin to ‘breathe.’ After all, yeast and bacteria tend to thrive in moist, dark places.” –Dr. Alyssa Dweck, a gynecologist and sexual health expert.
100% organic cotton underwear can be your one stop solution for these issues, as the material is extremely breathable and super soft. While it is easy to get carried away by the sexy aesthetic and lace of the lingerie industry, sometimes the rough materials of these can do more damage than good (though you would look hot while struggling, so that’s something).
Organic cotton tampons, on the other hand, are a more complicated story. Marketing and media have upped the circumstances and risks behind non cotton tampons. The fear is that regular tampons are made with rayon and other ingredients, are bleached in chlorine, have increased toxic shock syndrome risk, and are carcinogenic (due to dioxin levels). But those are not the reason to choose between regular and cotton tampons. The truth is that while toxic shock syndrome is scary and can lead to organ failure and can be life threatening, it CAN happen with any tampon or diva cup.
Toxic shock syndrome is caused by an infection from the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that already exists in that vaginal microbiome we mentioned. Leaving anything in there and allowing flow to be stagnant for more than 4-6 hours can lead to a growth of unnatural bacteria and lead to such infections.
The major difference with properly sourced organic cotton tampons is that they are better for sensitive skin and for the environment. They are biodegradable (and yes that includes the blood, mother nature could care less about the crime scene we leave behind).
So, in conclusion? Cotton undies for better vaginal health, cotton tampons for conscious shoppers who care about reducing waste and responsible materials. Though, the best choice? Going commando and free-bleeding, but you’re not ready for that conversation 😉