Day 13 – {A Little TMI}

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.  🙂

diva-cup2

It even comes with a cute little bag!

20151012_214353

Part of my mama cloth “stash.”  Feminine products can be cute?  Who knew?

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7 thoughts on “Day 13 – {A Little TMI}

  1. So, um, I’m one of the brave souls who read through this because I’m an incurably curious creature. And though I’ve got to say Diva cups are not for me, I’m thrilled that they work for you and that you can see them as a good gift from our loving Father. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading! I feel like I owe you a batch of cookies for that. 😉

      I know it’s an odd thing to be grateful for, but knowing how difficult a simple thing like sanitary options for menstruation is to come by in other parts of the world, I really do feel blessed.

  2. A wonderful side benefit of menopause is that I am passed that stage! But I did have the same kind of issues that you talked about. I heard about Diva cups but it sounded too gross. But had I know that perhaps my heavy bleeding and cramps were due to chemicals in the products, I would have tried one. I am going to send this info to a few women that I know. THANKS for sharing your story.

    • Feel free to pass info along. That is part of the reason I wrote the post. I know it’s maybe a little taboo in some circles, but I get really into sharing this because I feel it can be helpful.

  3. The curiosity thing got me too. A surgery has removed the necessity for me, but I’ve got daughters that might wanna hear about this from me (really, mom?). 🙂

  4. **Crazy crunchy mama alert** That’s me!!! I JUST discovered mama cloth, so the timing of your post is funny! I’ve used Instead cups for several years (although they’re disposable, they last WAY longer than tampons, etc., so the environmental impact is minimal). I tried a Lunette cup for several months, but it just didn’t agree with me. Never could get it comfortable and working. But about a year ago, I started to notice that my skin was reacting to pads/liners. Red and painful. SO not fun! So I bought a single cloth pad to try, and I’m in L-O-V-E. It’s got an organic bamboo velour topper, and it’s simply luxurious. I did also notice that my period was far lighter (not that it was ever super-heavy)… either that, or the thing is just super-super-absorbent! I’m about to buy a whole stash. I can’t believe how excited I am about this thing. 😀 (And now you know way too much about me, too.) I just came across your series today on the #rahrahsisterhood post, but now I want to read more!

    • Awesome! I don’t know if you’re looking for suggestions of great places to purchase pads, but I use Royal Maze Fluff quite a bit (you can find her on Facebook). I’d also suggest yurtcraft and PamperedShopPads on Etsy.

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