I Tried A Sea Sponge Natural Tampon -- My Experience And Review

Hello everyone, I recently go the chance to try sea sponge tampons from Tom&Pat and I was really curious. I am all for natural, low-waste periods, and while I am a big fan of my period cup I realised that they may not work for everyone. The sea-sponge is a natural alternative to a tampons, there are low-waste since on can last around 6 months. They are a renewable resource, and have been used in ancient times -- and here I was, thinking that tampons are a modern invention. They are also a good alternative if you want to avoid the pesticides, bleach and halogenic organic compounds that are often found in conventional (non-organic) tampons and pads.

The sponges that I got are roughly the size of a plum, which makes them suitable for anyone with  medium flow. They got me through 8 hours of bleeding (I removed them after that time as I would a tampon, to avoid TSS). Tom&Pat offer them in three sizes, depending on how your flow is.

So, did they work? Yes! I didn't leak at all, and the sponge contained everything. And it was super super comfortable.

My friend, whom I gave a sponge to test, discovered that it best to soften them by wetting and then squeeze drying before inserting. The menstrual sponges are easy to insert, even if you haven't started bleeding yet. This is one huge advantage of the sponge over a tampon -- one of my worst period experiences was having a tampon stuck half-in because I had tried to insert it when I started cramping, but wasn't bleeding yet; the cotton kind of suctioned itself to the skin.
Just like a tampon, you need to insert the menstrual sea sponge deeper inside the vaginal canal. Once in, I couldn't feel it at all, and I didn't get that dry feeling that tampons give me. If the sponge is used just as a "plug" and not pushed in, it can feel scratchy. I think the reason that I couldn't feel the menstrual sponge at all is that a) it was moist and b) it adapts its shape to the body. Unlike the cup, the sponge can stay inside during sex.

Removing the menstrual sea sponge is easy enough at home, but messy. It helps to be in the shower or have a bit of toiled paper on hand to contain the mess. I would not use the sponge if I knew I had to change it in a public toilet, unless I was at the end of my period.

The sponge does glide out easily when it's full, so it was easy for me to remove it even without a string. People with a high cervix people like to attach a string to make it easier to pull out -- in that case I'd suggest a natural fibre, not dyed. Unwaxed dental floss is great.

Washing out the sponge was messy, but I expected worse. The sponge gathers the blood in all its openings, but the tissue itself doesn't soak up the blood. I washed the sponges out with cold (!) water and got them perfectly clean. I used a natural unscented soap to clean it properly, and soaked overnight with white vinegar to kill any remaining bacteria. I let it dry before using it, I feel like having it continuously wet would cause bacteria to multiply. Fortunately the package from Tom&Pat contains 5 sponges, which covers you for several uses. Some people use essential oils to disinfect the sponge, but essential oils are powerful active ingredients so I really don't recommend any tea-tree oil in your vagina.

Mashable got an expert to talk about the safety of menstrual sea sponges:
"Yes, they're absolutely safe," said Dr. Raquel Dardik, a gynecologist at the Joan H. Tisch Women’s Health Center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
"There haven't been a lot of really big alternatives to tampons and pads in forever. A tampon is just a piece of cotton that's shaped so that it absorbs blood so that it doesn't come out, and in that sense, menstrual sponges are doing exactly the same thing because that's what sponges do." 
I also have a theory that because the sea sponges don't "suck" moisture but rather collect it passively, they don't disturb the natural flora and fauna of the vagina.
Finally -- I have seen warning about sponges possibly having grit and sand inside from low-quality sponges, but my sponges from Tom&Pat were perfectly clean.

So, this was my experience with menstrual sea sponges! I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable and absorbent they are, and invite you to try them out. The ones from Tom&Pat are hand-harvested so as not to damage the root, and a part of their proceedings If you have ever tried menstrual natural sponges, tell me about your experiences in the comments!

The sponges were kindly provided by Tom&Pat, all opinions are 100% mine.


Photo credit: VenusianGlow

Check these out: