Interested to try a menstrual sponge but wondering what is the best menstrual sponge out there?
To be honest, when I first came across menstrual sponges while searching for alternatives to tampons and pads, I was fairly intimidated when I read about sea sponges.
A quick search on google on sea sponge indicated that the sea sponge is technically an animal.
“Sponges are animals of the phylum Porifera (/pɒˈrɪfərə/; meaning “pore bearer”). They are multicellular organisms that have bodies full of pores and channels allowing water to circulate through them… Sponges do not have nervous, digestive or circulatory systems. Instead, most rely on maintaining a constant water flow through their bodies to obtain food and oxygen and to remove wastes.”
I was not ready to explore further and left it at that. Until I realized menstrual sponges are also available in synthetic versions.
Reviews of converts raving about the comfort of wearing sponges in place of tampons, and how they provide good leak protection and an odor free experience made me sit up and pay attention.
Oh, the fact that some of them buy it to actually wear it during intercourse when they have their periods, doesn’t hurt too.
Color me intrigued.
What Are Menstrual Sponges?
A menstrual sponge basically functions as its namesake – as a sponge.
You simply insert the menstrual sponge up your vaginal canal, absorbing the menstrual flow.
Menstrual sponges are touted to be soft and comfortable to wear (almost can’t feel it!) and rather leak proof.
The recommended changing time is every three hours, but it is really dependent on your flow volume.
There are two types of menstrual sponges in the market – sea sponges and synthetic menstrual sponges made from hypoallergenic material.
What Are Sea Sponge Benefits?
Menstrual sponge fans credit sea sponges for being all natural (from the sea), and thus chemical free.
The Sea Sponge Company elaborates,
“Natural sea sponges, while remaining hypoallergenic and toxin-free, actually possess enzymes that are shown to inhibit the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. This is just another reason that sea sponges are considered healthier, safer, and more effective for various cosmetic and personal care applications.”
(See the video below to learn more interesting facts about sea sponge.)
In addition, as sea sponges are reusable for up to six to twelve months, it is also easy on the wallet and hence more environmentally friendly.
Another environmental win is that when harvested sustainably, sea sponges becomes a good renewable resource.
In terms of comfort levels, some women who had tried tampons and menstrual cups, remarked that wearing a sponge is even more comfortable! They are also often surprised by the good level of leak protection offered by menstrual sponges.
Sounds Good. But Are Sea Sponge Tampons Safe?
Some critics question the sanitary standards of sea sponges. In a recent blog post, Dr Jen Gunter questioned the biological safety of sea sponges.
“The grossness of a debris and “various other materials” containing vaginal sponge aside there are real potential safety concerns. Bits could break off and become a nidus for bacteria, the sponge itself could have harmful bacteria, sponges may change the vaginal ecosystem promoting the growth of good bacteria, the inability to clean them adequately between uses may reintroduce potentially harmful bacteria that was breeding in the wet sponge sat drying beside the sink, and the sponge may cause abrasions during insertion and/or removal.”
While that being said, many sea sponge users still swear to its safety and benefits.
Are Synthetic Menstrual Sponges Safer?
So for those who are concerned about wearing a sea sponge but still want to try menstrual sponges, one option is to consider trying synthetic menstrual sponges.
Beppy sponges are made from hypoallergenic material such as medical grade water blown polyurethane foam, and are considered safe to wear inside the body.
With regards to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), Beppy claims that the risks are reduced as compared to conventional tampons on its website because of the materials used to manufacture the sponge.
Based on online reviews of the products, it would appear that synthetic menstrual sponges are equally comfortable to wear, as compared to sea sponges, and appear to offer good leak protection too.
The downside is, synthetic menstrual sponges are less environmentally friendly as they are usually for single usage and hence not reusable.
Where Can I Buy A Menstrual Sponge?
Frankly, the easiest place to buy menstrual sponges are via online shops.
You can either buy it directly from the manufacturer’s website or via Amazon.
They are quite difficult to find in stores, as you are more likely to locate sponges in the makeup department than the sanitary protection department.
How To Use Menstrual Sponge
There are women who use the sponge as a complete alternative to conventional feminine hygiene products like napkins and tampons.
Many women, however, choose to use menstrual sponges on occasions such as visits to the sauna, swimming or during intercourse.
To use a menstrual sponge (especially if you are using a sea sponge), you may want to consider to trimming the sponge (when dry) to size for a better fit.
That being said, menstrual sponge manufacturers these days do already sell sponges in different sizes.
If you are using a sea sponge, while most of the sponges should already be carefully processed and cleaned, you should still check it for any debris like shell bits, or coral just to be sure, before you use it the first time.
How To Insert And Remove A Menstrual Sponge
A dried sponge is normally quite stiff, and will soften dramatically when wet.
So, moral of the story – soak and rinse the sponge in warm water multiple times, then squeeze out the excess water before using it.
As a beginner in using a menstrual sponge, it is recommended to thread through the sponge with a cotton thread (or use unwaxed dental floss), to aid with removal.
In actual application, just use the sponge as you would with a menstrual cup or a tampon.
Pro tip- squeeze the sponge into as small a ball as possible before insertion. The sponge will then naturally expand when released inside. This makes for a more comfortable insertion.
Insert it in about 2-3 knuckles in, but the actual distance is actually depending on your cervical position.
If you have a low cervix, the sponge might not even make it past 2 knuckles of your ring finger.
The general benchmark of a good distance is when you feel comfortable with it in, or even not feeling it there at all.
To remove it, just reach in with your finger, or pull out the string (if you have threaded it).
If you are reaching in to remove it, try not to squeeze the sponge too hard while removing it (to avoid squeezing out flow).
Rinse it out well in water multiple times (until it does not feel slimey), squeeze dry and reinsert it.
How To Clean Natural Sea Sponges
In terms of care, if you are using non reusable menstrual sponge, care is a non issue.
If you prefer to use a sea sponge, a little effort is needed in maintaining and cleaning it.
There are a couple of ways to clean a menstrual sea sponge.
You can either soak the sponge:
- in a solution of tea tree essential oil (a few drops of tea tree essential oil in 1 cup of warm water) for 10 minutes, or
- In a solution of vinegar (1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar to 1 cup of warm water) for 10 minutes.
If you are in the mood for more heavy duty cleaning, soak the sponge in a hydrogen peroxide solution (¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide in a cup of water).
For longevity of sponge, you may want to consider soaking the sea sponge in a baking soda solution (1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 cup of warm water) every other week for 10 minutes.
Then rinse and squeeze out excess water before letting it dry (either leave it in a hanging mesh bag, or dry it out in the sun.
Do make sure your sponge is completely dried before next use.
Maintenance of menstrual sea sponges during period is similar to the above, just soak it in the baking soda solution at the end of every day after use.
Make sure you have a few sea sponges in rotation so that you won’t run out of them while waiting for them to dry.
If you notice your sea sponge becoming frayed, simply snip off the loose bits with a scissor can keep it smooth and extend its longevity.
Avoid the following in care for your sea sponge:
- Boiling/microwaving the sponge will spoil the cellular structure (unless indicated otherwise).
- Using bleach will weaken the sponge as well.
- Drying the sponge in a dryer will spoil it.
Best Menstrual Sponge Reviews
There are two types to choose from, natural and synthetic.
If you prefer all natural, sea sponges will be your muse.
However, if you are apprehensive of having living organism in your vagina, synthetic menstrual sponges will have several of the benefits which comes with using natural sea sponges.
Best Menstrual Natural Sea Sponge Review
Poseidon’s Sea Sponge gets our vote for the best menstrual sea sponge for producing high quality sponges for sanitary protection.
Average cost per sponge:
From $19.00 to $42.50
Harvested in the Mediterranean Sea, sponges from these areas are considered to be of great quality.
They are hand trimmed and processed in laboratories in the Kalymnos, using traditional methods, passed down since a century ago.
Reviews from users cited the high absorbency nature of Poseidon’s sea sponges (also known as natural sea tampons) and were surprised by how it can even withstand heavy night flows.
The other often cited advantage is how comfortable it feels to wear it.
Some users compared the experience with that of wearing menstrual cups, and found the sponge to be even more comfortable!
Many women find insertion and removal a breeze, as Poseidon sponges already come attached with a 100% cotton string which is long enough to put your mind at rest.
As the string is so long, you can safely trim the length to your preference.
How To Care For Poseidon Sea Sponge
Poseidon sponges are safe to boil, so boil away when you receive it for the first time for that thorough cleaning and sterilization.
Don’t worry, the sponges are stiff when dry, but will become really soft upon soaking it.
Maintenance is also a breeze, as these sponges come with a clear instruction sheet and a small bottle of 100% tea tree oil (0.85oz/ 25 ml) to function as an antiseptic and lubricant.
Just add 2 to 3 drops of the oil to 1 cup of warm water to soak the sponge after use to disinfect it for 10 minutes. Rinse it multiple times until it is no longer bloody or slimy. Hang to air dry it, and use it when it is completely dry.
For longevity, soak the sponges in baking soda solution to strengthen its cellular structure. These sponges can last for 3-6 months with proper handling.
Being gentle with the removal process can also prevent ripping the sponge. You can also trim the loose edges to obtain a smoother finish, which can also lengthen the longevity of the sponge.
For the natural sea sponges tampons, Poseidon offers five different ranges.
- Starter Pack (5 sponges ranging in sizes from 1.5’’-3’’)
- Small Pack (5 sponges ranging in sizes from 1.5”-2”)
- Medium Pack (5 sponges ranging in sizes from 2”-3”)
- Large Pack (5 sponges ranging in sizes from 2.5”-3.5”)
- Full Pack (10 sponges ranging in sizes from 1.5” – 3.5”, including a 1.7 oz/ 50ml bottle of tea tree oil)
Cost wise, they are neither the cheapest in the market, nor are they the most expensive. The prices on Amazon start from USD $19.00 to $42.50.
However, for the quality you are receiving, they are actually great value for money!
In addition, as they can last from 3 to 6 months, the cost works itself out after 3 – 4 cycles (as compared to using conventional sanitary products like pads and tampons).
For people who are just trying out sea sponges for the first time, we recommend you to consider getting the starter set, which consists of 5 pieces of sponges of varying sizes (1.5’’ to 3’’),so that you can experiment with the different sizes to see what suits you the best.
- Get Natural Sea Tampons by Poseidon Sponge (Starter Set) from Amazon.
Most Amazon reviewers recommend getting the large set as the larger ones are more porous and hence more absorbent.
We think the large set is suitable for people who know they have heavier flows and have experience using menstrual sea sponges.
- Get Natural Sea Tampons by Poseidon (Large Set) from Amazon.
Most Affordable Menstrual Sea Sponge Review
If you are looking to try a menstrual sponge, and want to be more conservative on the finance side, Sponge Producers Naturals’ natural sea silk sponges (available in pack of 12) are an awesome way to drip your toes and not break the bank.
Sponge Producers Naturals produces a wide range of sponge related products for use from car washing to crafting to cosmetic purposes.
They do not specifically sell the pack of 12 of natural sea silk sponges on their website and most people seem to get them from Amazon.
Average cost per pack:
From $10.00 onward
Although labelled as cosmetic sponges, many women who buy them online use them specifically as menstrual sponges. Users described them to be soft and absorbent, with quality that can give the most expensive sea sponge brands a run for their money.
If you do not mind that the product is not marketed to work as menstrual sponge, Sponge Producers Naturals’ natural sea silk sponge is a great option for those considering to try menstrual sponges.
The sizes range between 1.5”-2” and come in varying sizes in the package. Prices start from USD $11 on Amazon.
As you get 12 in a pack, if you find some sponges that are too small to be used as tampons, they are multipurpose as you can use them in other ways (for cosmetic purposes or even painting!).
The cost is really economical and since when cared for properly, they should last for a few cycles, making it one of the most affordable natural sanitary protection option out in the market.
Just remember, as with any menstrual sea sponge, rinse and check them for debris before using them for the first time.
Clean them using the usual vinegar solution or tea tree oil solution, as you would with other sea sponges.
- Buy Sponge Producers Naturals’ Sea Silk Sponges – Pack of 12 on Amazon.
Best Menstrual Sponge Reviews (Synthetic)
If you are not keen on using sea sponges, but would still like to try them out, synthetic menstrual sponges are the way to go.
Made in Germany, Joy Division’s Soft Tampons gets the thumbs up for its design and emphasis on hygienic safety in the category for synthetic menstrual sponges.
All the sponges are packaged individually, and have been dermatologically and clinically tested to be skin friendly.
Average cost per pack:
From $20.00 onward
Joy Division is a company that manufactures erotic lifestyle products, and they market these sponges as an alternative for mess free intercourse experiences.
These sponges can be used with spermicides, and have the added benefit of not being felt by partner during lovemaking (they added almost in their claim).
The manufacturer recommend that for a “almost not there” feel for your partner, to insert the sponges deeper inside the vaginal canal.
As they are rather absorbent, the manufacturer also recommend using a lubricant at the vaginal entrance before intercourse, after insertion of the sponge as the vaginal entrance wall may get dry.
Reviewers share that wearing these menstrual sponges are extremely comfortable, and is easy to insert and remove due to the design. Each sponge has an integrated loop that allows for removal of it with just one finger.
They are available in two sizes – normal and mini.
There is no need to trim them as they come in standard sizes and are designed for an ergonomic fit. They are string free and great for those who are worried about having a string hanging out of their bodies.
Depending on your flow volume, the manufacturer recommend to change them every 4-6 hours, with a maximum duration of 8 hours.
With regards to Toxic Shock Syndrome, the manufacturer claims that as compared to conventional tampons, these soft tampons pose no lower or higher TSS risks,
As they are not cheap, most women seem to reserve them for occasions like swimming, or for mess free intercourse during menses.
They are not made to be reused, and should be discarded after usage for hygiene purposes.
They are not available via manufacturer’s website, and can be purchased on Amazon.
- Buy Joy Division Soft Tampons from Amazon.
So have you tried menstrual sponges yet? How was your experience like?
Leave a comment and let us know.