Frequently Asked Questions
How to Use Sea Pearls
We feel that an important part of empowering ourselves as women includes regaining confidence in our bodies. We must re-learn how to listen to and trust the natural signals our bodies give us. Using sea sponges gives women the opportunity to experience what their bodies feel like -- both inside and out. They also give us a chance to get into the rhythm of our special and individual moon cycle.
*Sea sponges, like tampons, are not sterile. Therefore, great personal care should be exercised in their use.
First wash your hands thoroughly before, as well as after inserting your sponge. Wet your sponge with lukewarm water then thoroughly squeeze out any excess water. Twist up your sponge into the shape of a tampon then standing with one leg up or sitting on the toilet, with your free hand gently hold open the skin surrounding the vaginal opening. With your other hand place the tip of the twisted sponge at the opening of your vagina using your thumb and index finger or thumb and middle finger to push the sponge inside your body aiming upwards and back. The resistance you may feel when you try this is the normal pressure of your pelvic muscles which will help hold the sponge in place. If you feel any uncomfortable pressure then remove your sponge by pushing down with your pelvic muscles insert your fingers again and gently pull out your sponge. Your sponge may need to be trimmed to fit better so trim around the outer edges of it. Sponges are pre-shaped so don't cut them in half. Once you have trimmed enough off just rinse again and insert as instructed above. If you are having difficulty inserting your sponge because your vagina is dry then you may wish to use a personal lubricant around the entrance of your vagina.
Sponges are soft and textured like your vaginal wall and very easy to remove. You will become more familiar with your menstrual flow and learn how frequently you need to rinse your sponge with each cycle. Sponges have an absorbency of 6-9 grams of fluid. Much like a regular tampon. We recommend changing your sponge every 4-6 hours. You can also sleep with your sponges in overnight but you should not leave your sponge in for any longer than 8 hours. They may leak when full, (as tampons do), so you may want to use them in combination with a thin panty liner on your heaviest day. When a sponge is ready to be changed it will begin to work its way to the vaginal opening as it is saturated. Simply feel for the perimeter of your sponge with your fingers, grasp it, and pushing with your pelvic muscles, pull out gently. For another retrieval option you may sew a piece of waxed dental floss or cotton string to the sponge to aid in its removal. Sponges, however, are very delicate and may tear, so be sure to tug slowly and gently if you decide to use a string. If your sponge feels snug and unready to be removed then it is not saturated enough and there is no need to change it yet. If you change your sponge too frequently, the sponge will not absorb enough to its full capacity and it may cause discomfort upon removal.
Rinsing and Storage
Do not use harsh synthetic soaps on your sponge. It leaves a film that upsets the natural PH balance of your vagina. You may however use a mild natural soap to wash your sponge with such as Dr. Bronner's. Just add a few drops to your sponge when washing between removal times. If you do not have a disinfectant with you or access when out in public then wash your hands thoroughly and rinse your sponge out with water before reinserting. Once you have access on your next cleaning then use one of the suggested cleaning methods we have listed. There are several ways to disinfect Sea Pearls.
You may soak them in any of these mixtures below for up to 30 minutes or more:
1. A solution of 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1/4 cup of water. This will also re-bleach the sponge if it becomes discolored from use.
2. A solution of a few drops of Tea Tree Oil in a cup of warm water. Tea Tree oil is a very effective germicide and has been proven to inhibit up to 60 strains of bacteria, including S.Aureus. This will also eliminate any odor on your sponge.
3. A solution of 1Tbsp. apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of warm water.
4. A solution of 1 Tbsp. baking soda in one cup of warm water.
5. A solution of 1 Tsp. Colloidal Silver to 1 cup of warm water. There is no pathogenic organism known that is not killed by Colloidal Silver in 6 minutes or less. Its use is also of benefit to women who suffer from recurrent candida (yeast) infections.
*Soaking a sponge in the Tea Tree mixture we mention above then inserting it into the vagina is a great way to get rid of an active yeast infection. For some women it can be irritating so use discretion.
After your cycle is done and you have washed your sponge out thoroughly, air dry it (preferably in natural sunlight) and then store your sponges in their muslin bag or what ever carrier you have and store in a cool dry place.
Your sponges may last up to a year or more depending on how you handle, clean, and care for them. Having an extra set of sponges for back up is a good way to keep from being caught on your cycle without in case something unforeseeable happens. Some women have a set at home, in the car, and at work. When traveling out of the house it is a useful to have a zip lock bag or our sponge tote with a zip lock for when you use a public restroom or if you can't rinse at work. That way you can store the un-rinsed sponge safely until you can clean it later in the comfort of your home.
Information About Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a rare disease, which may have serious consequences. Tampon use has been associated with this disease, which is caused by a bacterial infection from the presence of S. Aureus being in the bloodstream. Researchers have concluded that S. Aureus enters the blood through wounds in the vagina. These wounds vary in size from tiny abrasions to microscopic lesions known as cervical erosion. Research done on the effects of ordinary tampon usage, reveals that tampons dry out the vaginal mucosa, especially toward the end of your period. This may result in the creation of tiny, invisible wounds that may lead to vaginal and cervical ulcers. This may explain the close connection between TSS and tampons.
The risk of TSS exists for all women using tampons during their menstrual period. The reported risks are higher for women under 30years of age and teenage girls. TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death. The incidence of TSS is estimated to be 1 to 17 cases per 100,000 menstruating women and girls per year.
To reduce the risk of contacting TSS, use tampons with minimum absorbency needed to control menstrual flow. You can also reduce the risk of TSS by alternating your tampon use with external hygienic pads. You can also reduce the risk of tampon-related TSS by not using tampons.
What Are the Warning Signs of TSS?
Sudden onset or high fever (usually 102 F or higher), fainting, or near fainting when standing, dizziness, a rash that looks like a sunburn, vomiting, and diarrhea .
If you have these symptoms during your period , stop using tampons and see your doctor immediately. You may not have TSS, but you should make certain as TSS can be dangerous if not treated correctly in its early stages.
What Should I Do?
1. You may reduce the risk of TSS by using tampons intermittently during your period. Overnight, it is preferable to alternate your tampon with some form of external protection. Remember you must change your tampon regularly.
2. Take special care with personal hygiene during menstruation. Continue your daily bath or shower routine. Wash your hands before and after inserting tampons.
Does TSS Come Back Again?
If you have had TSS, there is a good chance it could return. Therefore, you should see your doctor before using tampons again. The risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) increases with higher absorbency. In order to reduce your risk of TSS, you should use the lowest absorbency that meets your needs and alternate the use of tampons with pads.
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