And now for something completely different. Disclaimer: This post will discuss “feminine matters”. Yes, I mean menstrual cycles. Specifically, I will be talking about reusable products. If this is something you might find you are squeamish about, or you are not interested in hearing about, feel free to ignore this post. If you are here from the 5 for 5 today, feel free to read another post. Thanks!
Turn back now if you can’t handle talk about bodily functions. It’s part of life, but I totally understand if you’re squeamish.
Okay, hello there to any of you still reading. It may be odd to consider anything to do with that glorious time of the month a gift – but this is something it is hard for me not to get excited about. I have switched to reusable menstrual products, and I am not going back to disposables! Let me tell you why –
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a heavy flow during my period. I would have leaking issues often in middle school when I was just using pads. I finally talked my mom into letting me use tampons my freshman year of high school, because I was always worried about leaks. Plus, it is hard to convince your teachers that yes, you DO really have to go to the bathroom again. On top of that, I had awful cramps. I know everyone complains about how unpleasant cramps are, but I would be doubled over in pain often during my visit from Aunt Flo.
It proceeded to get worse as I got older. There was a point in time where I was using super plus tampons as well as moderate to heavy flow pads – and I would have to change tampons every 1 1/2-2 hours. It would continue to be this heavy for several days, and then taper off toward the end of the week. The pads were handy because I couldn’t always get to the bathroom that often – especially working in child care. One day I remember very well: I had to ask my boss for an early lunch break to go home and change my clothes because I’d had an epic leak problem. I always dreaded that week.
Fast forward – my favorite thing about pregnancy (other than growing an awesome human being) was not having to deal with the issue. I was upset when at 6 months postpartum my period came back. I was breastfeeding, darn it! That first one after the baby wasn’t particularly heavy, but I would not call it light. Then, the second month it seemed like it would be the same old thing – heavy flow, unpleasant cramps.
I was worried about having to deal with all the trouble and take care of a baby at the same time. How could I go to the bathroom every two hours, and nurse a child every three hours as well? Not to mention, you know, caring for her needs.
I finally decided to do a little research. I’d never really wondered why my flow was bad – I just thought that was the way it would be. My lot in life. I looked over the possible causes for a heavy flow and intense cramping. Most of the items on the list were medical conditions – all of which I was fairly certain I didn’t have. Then, I came across something that surprised me. Hidden among a list of diseases and conditions was this: “Chemicals in disposable feminine products.” This is something I’d never really thought about at all. I did more reasearch, and was shocked to see the ingredients used in the manufacture of these products. I’m not super “crunchy”, but when I thought about how thin and permeable my vaginal wall likely was, it started to make sense.
I made the decision then to start using organic feminine products from the local health food store. Amazingly, within two cycles I saw a drastic change. My period was lighter (not light, but more average – I’d have a couple somewhat heavy days, and then a few moderate to light days) and the cramps had gone down too. Honestly, I wasn’t so sure it would help – but this was shocking. The downside – those organic products were way too expensive. I felt like I was just throwing money away. So, I started to contemplate trying a menstrual cup.
Back story – I had heard of menstrual cups a few years back, and the idea repulsed me. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to use one. It sounded gross, uncomfortable, and weird. I wasn’t that crunchy, thankyouverymuch.
Yet, here I was thinking it might be for me. It would certainly help with the expense – one cup can last years. With only one income, the thought of saving all that money by not constantly having to buy disposables was tempting. Not to mention the fact that I’d already been getting rid of other disposable products in order to be more earth conscious and for economic reasons. I already didn’t use paper towels and cloth diapered – wasn’t this the next logical step?
So, I bit the bullet and bought a Diva Cup. And let me tell you – there is certainly a learning curve. But, when I look back to learning to use tampons, it really was about the same on the awkward scale. Honestly, it icks me out less than tampons. It keeps everything “up there”, so I don’t feel as gross during the week. I just take it out, dump it, and re-insert.
You wouldn’t know it when looking at one, because honestly they are intimidating, but they are WAY more comfortable than tampons. In fact, I can’t really feel them at all – and they don’t dry me out the way a tampon used to. There is also little to no risk of TSS, which is great.
I also added some mama cloth in the mix. Mama cloth are reusable cloth pads – they are great for lighter days, or for back-up just in case of leaks with my cup. I had leaks at first when positioning was off, but not so much now.
And oh my word – my period is completely different now. No cramps, except for the little flutters at first that warn me that it’s on the way. I still have a mildly heavy first couple of days, but after that it is very light and also shorter.
I know it sounds crazy, but I am part of some cup and mama cloth groups on Facebook, and many have shared the same story. It is really hard to believe the difference, but it’s there.
Another awesome thing about menstrual cups – they are changing lives around the world! I read an article about how young girls in East Africa have improved their quality of life from the use of cups. They no longer miss school due to being unable to afford feminine products. You can read more about this type of thing here.
Now I’ll step down off of my soap box about how awesome reusable options are. I truly do think that if you have to live with “the curse”, it’s great to have a good gift to help deal with it. 🙂
It even comes with a cute little bag!
Part of my mama cloth “stash.” Feminine products can be cute? Who knew?