Let’s talk periods. The good. The bad. The gross.
Remember way back, when you might have thought naively, “I can't wait to have my period”! It seemed so grown up. So mature.
Then it actually happened.
All of a sudden that glorious rite of passage turned into a proper pain in the, you know, sides. Because of those cramps. Well, and the non stop bleeding from your nether region, which can be pretty traumatic if you have no idea what's happening to you.
Whether you got your period early (I still remember the poor girl in my grade 5 class who had hers) or a little later we all dealt with similar issues. Whether your cramps were light or so excruciating you had to miss school. Whether you experienced the joys of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or didn't- if you had a bad day, parents, family members and strangers alike would assume you were and always ask *eyeroll*
And for the rest of your days people felt they could comment on your emotional state by assuming you were “pms-ing”.
Regardless of whether or not your experiences were the exact same as the next person we had one thing in common.
We all had the navigate the waters of menstrual products.
The embarrassment of having to buy them. The confusion as to what the heck all those different sizes, absorbencies and colours meant. The struggle and pain of trying to figure out a tampon and how to insert it. Oi.
I still remember my first experience with those. My mom only had the old school ones in huge, thick cardboard applicators (definitely not meant for my freshly post-pubescent lady bits) I got it half-way in and thought, “ok. This will be fine? I guess?” SMH.
It most certainly was not!
You seemingly had to figure it all out on your own, because periods weren't talked about. They weren't normalized. They were something that was hidden and barely whispered about. With silly euphemisms to describe them, like “Aunt Flo coming to visit” or “riding the crimson wave” or the most crass, that a lot of bad ass girls would use when referring to theirs, was being “on the rag”.
Hiding menstrual products in the deepest, darkest crevices of your purse or backpack and praying they never fell out.
Remember that tampon commercial where they advertised them being so discreet a boy could shake it like a packet of sugar and never actually know what it was, lest we offend his delicate sensibilities?
Things have gotten better since then.
Thankfully periods are no longer the intensely taboo subject of yester year. People are talking about them. Using proper terminology. Monthly bleeding is no longer whispered about and thank whatever deity you worship for that!
Periods have gotten more commonplace and there has been a shift in the menstrual products offered. No longer are we pigeonholed to using just tampons and pads.
No longer are the commercials focusing on just the happiest of girls, giggling and fresh, while riding a horse (seriously? why were there always horses?) which is great because I honestly questioned those commercials and ads. Or more honestly, I questioned myself. I never looked fresh faced and felt that happy. Are you kidding? I was sore, and miserable and could sometimes be sporting a hormone related pimple. Sigh. Puberty.
Those commercials just made me wonder what was wrong with me. Never once thinking that others felt my misery or anything, because, of course we never talked about periods, remember?
Now, instead there are alternatives like period underwear, cups, and reusable menstrual pads. Rejoice! Not only do we have options but we have green options! Reusable options to make our imprint on this world a little less. However the options can STILL be overwhelming.
Menstrual cups seem great and I know many a person who swears by them. They come in different sizes (as do we all) and finding the right fit can be tricky but once you do you’ll be thrilled with life!
Did you know you can even feed your plants your period blood?!
Or so Ive heard but haven't tried. Waste not, want not and all. I personally have mental images of Audrey II.
Unfortunately for me I know what a spazz I am and trying to insert a cup correctly and then remove it delicately, without spilling a drop -like Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child- would end in total disaster. I would end up looking like a crime scene, so for me a cup, especially in public, is out.
I love the idea of period underwear (we all have them anyway if we’re honest! The ratty ones that hide out in the back of our drawer 3 weeks out of the month – you know the ones!) but I feel like I have too much “flow” to use those just on their own.
I do love the idea of having them as a bit of extra backup protection though! Nothing worse than having your pad leak and pool through your underwear and often times your pants.
There are also reusable pads. New modern options that are not your grandmothers period rags. Layers of absorbent material wrapped in pretty prints that snap or velcro around your underwear. Wear. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
Lil Helper now make these reusable menstrual pads for the people out there that mestruate! They come in different sizes. And new prints. The excitement is real.
There are liners which are on the smaller size and perfect for those who wear cups that need the extra bit of protection. The regular size is meant to mimic the size and thickness of a regular thin disposable and the heavy/postpartum Hyps are meant to hold even the heaviest of flows.
The Hypatia pads are certainly on the way to making life easier every time your body gives you the red alert. So if you’re looking for an environmentally friendly option give these a try!
Is there more to say on the topic of periods? You bet your ovaries.
But that's a blog post for another day.
Are you willing to try a cup or reusable pad? Do you use reusable menstrual products now? What are your experiences with them?