Need quick help - sea sponge? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 09-19-2008, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me start with a disclaimer and apology that although I'm not at all opposed to natural alternatives, I don't know much and am pretty mainstream when it comes to health care. I hope you will forgive me and help me out anyway.

Here's my little emergency situation. I have a prolapsed uterus. For those unfamiliar, it means that my uterus has dropped and in my case sits extremely low in my vagina, not quite protruding from my body, but almost. Sounds fun, right? I'm fortunate that it really has not caused me much trouble or discomfort for the last few months, BUT today I started my first post-partum period. The timing is just delightful as we are leaving for a week at the beach on Sunday. : The problem is that because of the prolapsed uterus, I am having a really hard time getting a traditional tampon to position properly, so it is both uncomfortable to wear and useless as far as absorbing menstrual flow.

I really want to be able to swim and wear a bathing suit on vacation and don't want to spend the first half of vacation sitting out the water activities. I've heard that some women have had luck using sea sponges as an alternative to tampons, but I have no idea about the details - like what exactly I'm looking for as far as is it a product specifically for that purpose, or do I just buy any old sea sponge and start using it? What care/cleaning is required?

I would very much appreciate it if someone could help me out with the details, and especially point me in the right direction to purchase something locally because I don't have time to order anything before my trip. Would I be able to find the right thing at Whole Foods or something like that? Or smaller health specialty stores, maybe?

Any help with the sea sponge or other suggestions would be very much appreciated. I know there has to be a solution out there for me...I'm just so frustrated that I got hit with the first post-partum period right before vacation so I haven't had a chance to figure all this out.
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#2 of 10 Old 09-19-2008, 02:06 PM
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#3 of 10 Old 09-19-2008, 04:01 PM
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I don't know much about the sea sponges but have a friend who couldn't use tampons (she was allergic to them & didn't really know about alternatives) when she was a lifeguard/swim instructor. She used to just change out of a pad just before she went in the water & then immediately upon leaving the water she'd head to the washroom & put on a clean pad. She never in 8 years of teaching had an embarassing moment. I know for myself my flow almost stops in the water.

This is also a technique I have had my girl guides use when they wanted to participate & either didn't want to use tampons (or their mothers wouldn't allow them...) & it has always worked well.

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#4 of 10 Old 09-19-2008, 04:23 PM
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I love the idea of using a sea sponge. I tried it only once because after I had inserted it, I could not reach it to remove it. Now, I have not used tampons, so most likely if you are used to tampons, this will be easy to remove. I, on the other hand, had to enlist my husband to fish around in there until he could pull the darn thing out.

I think you could save money by purchasing a bag of sea sponges from the craft area. Because they are not designated for vaginal use, they are WAY cheaper. Check Wal-Mart. I am pretty sure I have seen them there. To ensure sterility, I would wash or maybe boil them before use. I am certain they would then be safe.
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#5 of 10 Old 09-19-2008, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by oiseau View Post
I use sea sponges from Jade and Pearl and I mostly order them online, but I have recently begun seeing them at some of the smaller health food stores in my area (Boston-ish). I've never seen them at Whole Foods though.
The Jade & Pearl sponges are marketed specifically as tampons, however, I think you could easily improv with any other sea sponges. You'd want to look for silk sea sponges (others types may work though...they just might not be as soft). Mine are usually around 2.5 inches by 1 or 1.5 inches. You could just cut down a larger sponge until it's a comfortable size.
For use, I wet the sponge, squeeze out excess water and then insert it, pushing it back towards my cervix. It can be changed as often as needed and I generally just rinse it and reinsert it (or you could switch to a new one). I clean my sponges at the end of the day by soaking them in a cup of warm water w/ a few drops of tea tree oil in it...soak for 30 min, rinse, let dry. The Jade & Pearl website has a lot of info too.
Good luck!
Yep. I used hydrogen peroxide to clean mine, but other than that, I could have written this.
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#6 of 10 Old 09-19-2008, 08:37 PM
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Fascinating stuff! Thanks OP for asking and thanks PP for responding!

Another possible idea that is more mainstream is to buy the Instead product. I found them in several grocery stores, -mart stores, etc. They are plastic, so not as healthy and eco-friendly as the sea sponges (or reusable cups and such). It is shaped similar to a diaphragm, from what I hear, but much smaller. The product is inserted and it collects the menstrual fluid. You can swim (I did yesterday) and enjoy alone time with your partner (sans any mess). You can remove it and toss it or you can rinse and reuse. The company says toss it, but I rinse/reuse and I know others who do as well. There are some tricks to inserting it and removing it, but I followed the directions in the package and adjusted as necessary along the way. I did have to call for help (toll-free) the first time I removed it. It has been easy after that. LOL I don't use these for every menstrual cycle, though, just for the above activities.

I am not sure if your prolapsed uterus will present any challenges. You could check the web site or call to ask in advance. I do know they are more horizontal than the reusable cups that are similar in concept. They are easy to "find" for removal, so I thought I'd mention it.

Best wishes and enjoy your vacation!

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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#7 of 10 Old 09-20-2008, 10:19 PM
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I used hunks o' sponge ripped off a big one I got at an art supply store. Worked great for years and years. I just rinsed them after use, only boiled them once after I had a yeast infection. Never any problems. They're normally placed pretty much the same as tampons though, so I'm not sure if you'll be able to use them either- but I hope so!
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#8 of 10 Old 09-20-2008, 11:18 PM
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You can sew/knot a cotton string through it for easier removal.
I would boil any of them before first use, just in case of residue of some form... you know, they are the natural filters of the sea.

I have also "heard" of NOT inserting them, simply placing them between your inner labia. Still catches the flow, still basically unnoticable, and you wouldn't irritate your uterus.

---feeling like an emu on acid---
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#9 of 10 Old 09-21-2008, 09:23 PM
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You can use plain dental floss - thread it through the sponge - to make it easier to remove.

I bought some sponges from a craft supplier online, but they were various sizes and I wasn't sure about using them, so I never did.

I recently added an Aubrey Organics Cosmetic Sponge to a order, although I haven't tried it either since my periods are so short and light since I switched to cloth pads.

You may be able to find one at a local health food store. They look the same as the Jade & Pearls to me and about the right size too.

I bought it here, but it probably wouldn't be worth it unless you were buying more to get free shipping:

Here is a description on another site:

I can't seem to find it on the actual site, but you may be able to find one at a local health food store. Just call and ask if they have any AO Cosmetic Sponges in stock.

Hmm... I just reread the OP, and it looks like you've already left today for your vacation. I hope you found a workable solution and had a nice time.
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#10 of 10 Old 09-22-2008, 08:46 PM
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I used the sea sponges for quite a while. I washed mine after each monthly use in Dr. Bronners soap. Other than that I just rinsed in hot water and air dried.

The only time I thought they were inconvenient was in public restrooms. I got some ugly faces rinsing it in the public sink! :

I never used a string, but I like the dental floss idea!

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