I have menses on the mind! How do you deal with yours? Does it make you happy?
Like most women, at least in the US, I tried a disposable pad my first bleed. It was weird, obviously, but, I’m not gonna lie, I was so stoked about getting my period I probably didn’t care much. Well, the next month rolled around and I was going to a friends birthday at a water park, so I moved on to tampons rather quickly. They helped me forget that I was even bleeding, and I stuck with them for years. I never used to even think about the fact that I had options until about 8 years ago when I was introduced to the menstrual cup. I didn’t enjoy the disposable aspect of menstrual products, and I liked the “down with the man!” attitude surrounding the conversation that introduced me to the menstrual cup so I scurried off to find one. Loved it! And again, I stopped thinking about any other options available to me. As years went on, I found I wanted other options, and decided to buy some cloth pads, which weren’t nearly as bad as I thought they would be. I now like to make my own cloth pads.
Why do I think it’s important to think about our choices in regards to menstruation?
- It can make menstruation more fun and special for some people.
- Disposables are a drain on resources, both our own financial resources, and earth resources.
- Disposables are generally less health promoting, containing many chemicals (check out a video of a pad being burned here).
Of course, you may choose to stick with conventional approaches, but many women find that they prefer the “alternatives”, even not for the above listed reasons, they just like them better. If you choose to use disposable products pick organic tampons and pads.
Now that you know a little about my history, you will understand that I think it is wonderful to realize we have options and we can be very (or pretty much) self reliant, while even finding we have something to look forward to with our menses! Some of these awesome options include…
The menstrual cup
The diva cup, keeper, lunette.. You have options! In general, they are about the same but some cups can work for some women while others do not. The keeper has a latex model and a silicon model, the rest are only in silicone. These work by being held in place by the vaginal muscles and the blood flows into them rather than out your vaginal opening. Rather ingenious, right? They can be hard to learn for some women, but a benefit is that you can practice before you start your period. If you choose to use these, cozy up to youtube and watch videos about insertion and such. When I started, all there was was the live journal community and I remember trying a bunch of different folds (punch down is the best!). For some reason I don’t care for the cups much anymore, personally.
Different from the above menstrual cups, the softcup is not as long lasting (they even have a disposable version). You are supposed to trash the reusable one after your entire period is complete. Personally, I would reuse it unless it got a tare. The beauty of these is that they can be in for longer periods of time (they have a higher capacity) and they can be worn during intercourse. So if you love having intercourse on your period, but hate the mess, you may want to try these out.
Birth control turned menstrual product?
Some women use their diaphragm or cervical cap to collect blood. These must be changed more frequently, as they are not meant to hold menstrual blood, but they do have the added benefit of mess free intercourse.
You can buy natural sea sponges and cut them to your desired size. This has all of the benefits of a tampon, but can be reused and doesn’t carry TSS risk.
I don’t know all of the reasons I may prefer these nowadays, but I can certainly tell you some: I can make them myself! Does anyone else’s bedsheets always die by taring, or is that just me? A big flannel sheet that has a tare in it can serve another purpose! Lovely. I like to make pads similar to reddy’s, but you can find cloth pads of all different shapes, sizes, and absorbencies. Generally, cloth pads should be soaked after use or rinsed by hand and then thrown in the washer.
This is a pretty simple overview, and obviously this doesn’t go into detail on each choice, but shows you a few of the options out there. Look around and have fun. I anticipate you will be looking forward to your next period in no time :).