Finding green solutions to everyday problems has been a key focus for the sustainably-minded modern-day human, but swaps need to be considered carefully when it comes to your health. Menstrual cups and period pants are a great alternative to tampons for those who have access to clean water and feel comfortable using them, able to be reused over and over again and easily washed. Sea sponges, however, do not fall into this category of smart swaps when it comes to periods, owing to the fact that within those pores hides a myriad of health hazards.
It’s easy to see how one might reach such a solution, with sea sponges being pushed as a natural alternative to implement into your beauty regime, house cleaning, and even painting. Fortunately, the Internet’s OB/GYN, Dr Jen Gunter, stepped in on The Vagenda to set the record straight when it comes to sea sponges and why they should not be inserted in the human body.
“When dried for commercial use, sea sponges are very absorbent and unfortunately they are often marketed for menstrual use as a “natural” tampon,” wrote Dr Gunter. “I say unfortunately because they are most definitely not recommended.”
In life, sponges earn their bread and butter by filtering seawater and siphoning out the good bits. It’s a sedentary lifestyle but it’s honest work, delivering oxygen and fresh nutrients to the porous wonder while also swooshing away waste. To do so involves getting pretty well coated in sand and bacteria, and while I won’t speak for all vulva owners I’d wager those are two things most people don’t need all up in their genitals.
Anything from soap to warm weather can upset the delicate ecosystem that exists within the vagina, where yeasts and bacteria exist in a delicate balance to keep people comfortable throughout their cycle. Add into that foreign objects and you welcome disaster.
Tampons themselves have undergone many design changes to reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome, a potentially deadly condition that can be brought on by an infection in the vaginal canal. It stands to reason, then, that a porous object that’s not easily cleaned probably falls under the Danger Zone category for reusable sanitary products.
Sea sponge’s unsuitability for period care was mirrored in a thread circulating on Marine Biology Twitter, which emphasized the gratitude with which field biologists wear gloves when handling marine organisms.
Meanwhile, toxicologists expressed their fatigue over the “natural = better” facade.
And others mused about what else might come to one day feature in the intimate hygiene sections of the world’s Goop emporiums…
For more information on myth-busting and healthy intimate hygiene practices, check out The Vagenda.