Jam Sponge - alternatives to tampons Jam Sponge - alternatives to tampons Jam Sponge - alternatives to tampons

A Jam Sponge is an alternative to a tampon.
It's a healthier way to soak up the blood and it will save you £££!

Don't beat around the bush

Aunt Flo answers your questions.....

"What is a Jam Sponge?"

Sponges live on the bottom of the ocean where they sit and filter stuff.

"How eco-friendly is a Jam Sponge?"

Jam Sponges have been picked individually from the Mediterranean Ocean so that the ocean beds continue to restock themselves. The divers who collect the sponges are careful to ensure that the roots of the sponge remain intact so as the sponge can regenerate. They have been farming sponges for generations and if they overpick them they will lose their livelihood. The sponges need clean sea waters to live otherwise they will die. Their existence is a proof that the water around them is not polluted.

"How does a Jam Sponge work?"

You simply squash it into your vagina and it soaks up the blood.

"But traditional tampons are easy and convenient"

Traditional tampons take about 6 months to biodegrade and love to block up Victorian plumbing on the way. Health wise, the bleaches used in tampons have links with cervical cancer and they are responsible for Toxic Shock Syndrome. I find good health is easier and not having to call a plumber every month more convenient than a traditional tampon.

"How do you get it out?"

You just stick your fingers up yourself and pull it out. When your Jam Sponge is ready for a change it will begin to slide down from your cervix to the entrance to your vagina. You will get plenty of warning that this will happen! Just stick your nice clean fingers inside yourself and slide it out. It might help you if you push down with your pelvic floor muscles at the same time. If you feel any resistance when you try to get your Jam Sponge out it is probably not ready to be changed so just leave it a bit longer, but no longer than 8 hours.

"But won't it get lost or stuck up there?"

Where is it going to hide? It can't get stuck either. If you are really worried you can tie a bit of dental floss around it to help you remove it.

"But it is not sterile"

Neither is a traditional tampon, or your hands, or your vagina - just because something is in a plastic wrapper does not mean it is sterile.

"How do you change it?"

Method 1; pull out your Jam Sponge and rinse it under the tap. Method 2; put the full sponge into the specially provided bag to wash later and insert a clean one.

"How do you wash it?"

What I do is just rinse the sponges out during my period and at the end of it give them an overnight soak in boiling water with a few drops of tea tree oil in. Then I air dry them until next time.

You can soak them in bicarb too, you can put them through the washing maching but use one of those little bags that you are supposed to put soap tablets in.

You can boil them but it will shorten their lifespan and make them harder.

"How long do they last?"

With care a Jam Sponge can last a year. When I used tampons I would use 4 or 5 a day over 4 days on average and I have a light flow generally so that is a pack of 20 costing around £2. A pair of Jam Sponges cost's £9 so they could pay back their cost in 4 months, leaving you lots of spare cash to spend on cake. Yipee! Eventually your Jam Sponge will lose some of it's bounce and become less absorbent, that is when it is time to say goodbye to it.

"I read on the internet that sponges were banned for menstrual use?"

Oh you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet! Lots of articles raise concerns about use of sponge tampons because of contaminants and its true that sponges can contain small amounts of sand /seaweed/shell. I've used sponges my whole menstrual life and know many women who used them years before tampons came in to existence and no one has had any adverse affects- whereas I do know women who have had 'lost' tampons and have had TSS- which doesn't happen with sponges- so I wouldn't worry too much if I were you!

Oh, by the way, in 2010 Boots the Chemist where considering stocking Jam Sponges- and I'm sure they wouldn't have considered us if it were illegal!!

"How do I dispose of them?"

Unlike conventional tampons a Jam Sponge is completely bio degradable, so when it has done it's best for you it can be composted. It won't contribute to landfill in any way and cute surfers won't have to share their knarly wave with your crimson one.

"Will I still be able to swim and play tennis?"

If you must, you can do anything you could do with a tampon in. Personally when I am on the blob I would rather sit hugging a hot water bottle, eating biscuits and snarling at people but each to their own. Allegedly you can have sex with a Jam Sponge in, but I have yet to try it, I will let you know when I do!

"But isn't it just a bit of sponge?"

You could cut your own one out of a kitchen sponge but people would laugh, uncontrollably as you rollerskate down the road with a tell tale red spodge on your white trousers. Jam Sponges are hand picked for their shape and size and absorbency. And the only way you can get an exclusive Jam Sponge badge is by buying a Jam Sponge.


Oh yes, every Jam Sponge comes with it's very own exclusive Jam Sponge pin badge. In theory you could print off a picture of the badge and make your own but speaking as someone who once made their own Blue Peter badge, people will mock you, mercilessly.

"What else do I get?"

Each pair of Jam Sponges comes in a natty little bag, full and detailed instructions and the exclusive Jam Sponge Badge.

"It's huge, I'll never fit that in!"

Don't panic! When wet a Jam Sponge will scrunch up nicely but if you try it and still feel uncomfortable just trim a few millimeters away from the outside edge until it feels better. If you cut it in half you will mess up it's shape and it won't work so well. If you cut it too small it won't create a seal and it won't work so well so trim small amounts away at a time.

"Why are Jam Sponges a funny colour?"

A Jam Sponge is totally natural and unbleached. They have been washed in water and tea tree oil and left to air dry before being sold and that is all.

"Do they come in different absorbencies?"

Nope, one size fits all. They are big enough for you to trim them back if you need to. You can put them in sideways or lengthways depending on the shape of your insides, they should not be uncomfortable when they are in.

"Why are they different sizes and shapes"

I put one large and one smaller Jam Sponge in each set. You may want to wear the smaller one at the start and end of your period. You may want to trim the larger down, you may want to wear both at once - it's up to you. You might get two different textures of sponge as well, one harder and one softer, just to give you as many options as possible.

"But I have really heavy periods!"

So use 2 Jam Sponges at once, it's ok! One higher and one lower.

"But I have really light periods!"

Jam Sponges are easy to remove when they are full as they get heavier and work their way down, so they are safer as you will not forget to take them out! With a very light flow this won't happen so much so you might want to tie some dental floss around your sponge to help you remove it. If your flow is heavy enough to need a low absorbency tampon then a Jam Sponge should be fine for you.

"What is the absorbency of a Jam Sponge?"

This experiment shows the absorbency of a Jam Sponge selected at random. As they are all natural and not mass produced there is no way to make them perform the same so yours may suck up a little less or more. An average period produces about 60ml or more of blood.

Jam Sponge - alternatives to tampons Jam Sponge - alternatives to tampons

Method: 250ml of realistic blood coloured water is measured into each pint glasses.

The glass on the left holds the Jam Sponge, the glass on the right holds an eco friendly regular absorbency tampon.

Jam Sponge - alternatives to tampons Jam Sponge - alternatives to tampons

When the Jam Sponge and the tampon are taken out the glass on the left has 150ml of water left and the glass on the right has 210ml left

In conclusion, the Jam Sponge soaked up a massive 100ml and the tampon a mere 40ml.

The Jam Sponge looks big compared to the tampon but remember it is very squashy and this is an untrimmed sponge! Also, before it reaches its full 100ml potential it will start to slip a little inside you, so you will remember to change it more often, which is much healthier for you than wearing a synthetic tampon for hours.

Disclaimer This absorbency test is a bit misleading, I am trying to prove that they will do as good a job as a tampon but the big difference is that a tampon will sit and lurk in you until you remember to take it out but a sponge will start to come out all by itself, so it will not block blood behind it like a tampon can.

"How long can I keep a Jam Sponge in for"

Wear for no longer than 8 hours (or overnight) but it is better to change your Jam Sponge between 4 to 6 hours.

"How long have people used sponges as tampon alternatives?"

According to the fantastic Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health "Women have probably used sponges to absorb menstrual discharge for thousands of years, but they have also used them as contraceptives and for putting medication into the vagina. Sometimes it's hard to say which sponge was used for what - but maybe women sometimes used them for all three purposes."

"Are there any health risks with a Jam Sponge?"

I checked with www.tamponalert.org.uk the charity that exposes the dangers of Toxic Shock Syndrome and they said "We have no evidence of sponges causing TSS. All known cases of menstrual TSS have been in association with tampons containing man-made fibre, and in recent years this means RAYON."

Toxic shock syndrome seems to be linked with super absorbent tampons but as a precaution I have included information about it so that you can know what to look out for in case you are the very first person to develop it whilst using a sponge.

This information is from NHS Direct in March 2008.

"Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare, acute and serious illness, affecting around 40 people in the UK each year. The link between TSS and tampon use is unclear. Research suggests that for cases which occur in women using tampons, tampon absorbency is a factor. For this reason it is important that women:

Tampon-associated TSS rates are low - there are around 4-5 identified cases a year.it is very important to detect shock early, and get emergency treatment as quickly as possible. If you have any of the following symptoms please remove your Jam Sponge immediatly. If TSS is diagnosed, this action may help to prevent symptoms from worsening.

You can call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 if you are worried

"What will the damage be?"

£9 for 2 sponges, a beautiful red cotton bag, instructions and exclusive badge.

"What is the story behind the Jam Sponge"

It's all on the about page.

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