Dear readers, if women and their monthly ordeal is nothing you want to read about, then please skip this post. If you are curious, don’t say you haven’t been warned; this is about a woman’s period.
I am a 36-year-old woman who gave birth to three children — the natural way. (Maybe I will write about the births of my kids one day – spoiler: fucking hell, it hurt!)
Every woman is blessed (cursed) with a week of menstrual flow each month. For me, it started when I was 11 years old. I remember the day very well, even 25 years later. I wonder if every woman does. I had my first period the day that I was allowed to go shopping with my sister on my own for the first time. We met with her friend and two guys. I even know that I wore jeans and a T-shirt with Michaelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel. One of the guys pointed out that there was a naked dude on my shirt… Lol, he was only 15, of course, he was shocked, and I felt very grown up.
I started with using pads, but I didn’t like it: the mess and all; it was a lot to handle, and I was still a child. I was reluctant to use tampons at first… The thought about inserting anything “down there” was not something I could imagine. But once I started using them, I actually preferred them to pads. I felt better with them. More secure. And if they are worn correctly, you don’t even feel that there is something inside your body. I was blessed to have a light flow without cramps before I gave birth for the first time. (PMS, though that has been a tough one from the beginning, and I am full of cravings for chocolate, even though I don’t usually have a sweet tooth) My cycle was never just 28 days long as you learn in school, but that’s okay; I got used to it quickly. I was on the pill for quite a while, but I definitely stopped taking any hormones after the birth of my second child. Everything in my body was rebellious, and nothing was normal anymore… After a birth like the second, who can blame it?! I was in labour for 5 hours and only had one real contraction before the girl was born. After that, I had a laughing fit. Between child two and three, I didn’t really care about contraception. And after my second daughter (and last child) was born, I got an IUD. Currently, the one I have is made of gold. Lol… Not even kidding. Because I am worth it!
With the IUD, my monthly flow became more prominent, lasting longer, and I also developed cramps and other pains. PMS stayed the same… I am really very angry and irritated the day before I get my period; and chocolate! Who ate my chocolate?!
A couple of months ago, I began thinking about all the pads and tampons that I used and will use in my life. (I get those brainfarts once in a while.) I mean, I probably have 15 more years to go before menopause will start (or more). Sanitary products are expensive and a massive source of plastic waste. I am not someone who is militant about protecting the environment – I admit it, but I try to live a conscious life and to teach my children to live conscious lives too. I want to leave a good planet for my kids and grandkids. And just all that monthly trash – it is a lot. To think that I have two daughters and sooner rather than later, they will need pads or tampons too, they will make more waste and spend more money on hygienic products too. Is that really worth it? There must be something else.
I was searching the almighty and all-knowing interwebs to find a solution, and I found the menstrual cup. I was sceptical. I found out that there are two sizes – for women who have given birth and for those who haven’t. There are various materials available, and contradictory information too. I read a lot about it and did my research (I always do), but something that kept me personally from getting such a cup on the spot was the fact that I am wearing an IUD. A couple of sites advise against using a cup and an IUD because the cup is held in place with a vacuum. They are concerned that once you remove the cup without removing the vacuum, the IUD could come loose.
I decided to ask my gynaecologist about it, and she explained to me that it is practically impossible to pull the IUD out with the vacuum. Needless to say, I was relieved. She gave me a couple of tips and a brand of menstrual cups that is silicone free. I ordered one right away online and began using it this week. And this brings me here, to this moment. I never thought that I would write about my period one day, but I am so excited this month, that I want to share it. Honestly though, who cares? Who cares that the cup is so much easier to use than I ever thought? No leaks, no spills, nothing. I don’t feel that it is there at all. The only disadvantage I experienced until now is the fact that the toilet looks as if I slaughtered an animal when I empty the cup (It can take up to 12 hours worth of flow… Three times as much as a tampon for me… Cost effective!) I have yet to find a way to make it less messy. Because no matter how you do it, you will come in contact with your blood; you will have to touch and insert your fingers into your vagina to loosen the cup or to put it in. If you are uncomfortable with that, the cup is not for you. Definitely. But honestly, this is your body, nothing about it should be gross, even less something that happens every month. It is another way of getting to know yourself better.
What I like, is that I don’t have to think about changing a tampon at work or when I am not home. I don’t have to think about leaks or spills – on heavy flow days I have to change my tampon every three hours (and I am using big ones, lol), the cup took six hours and more, with ease before I emptied it. I will not have to worry if I carry tampons in my handbag or if I forgot them. I will not have to worry anymore if I have what I need at home, in case the period starts earlier than expected. (When I was younger, I had to count the days on the calendar to know when my period was due. Since 2011, I am using an app on my phone that has a countdown. I love it. Very easy.) The cup seems to be the right solution for me right now.
I can recommend the menstrual cup wholeheartedly. If you are tired of pads and tampons; if you believe that it is a waste of money and doesn’t do any good for the planet, then consider a menstrual cup. That said, the first days I used a pad because I didn’t trust the cup. I was paranoid about leaks and blood stains on my clothes.
I cannot make any promises to you about how you will feel with the cup, but since I am a person who likes everything fast and easy and simple, and the cup is just that for me; maybe it is an alternative worth thinking about for you too. And hey, if it is not, then there was no harm done.
So, that was it. My ode to the menstrual cup. It is 3:46 in the morning, I have a migraine (again), I am tired, and I can’t sleep because of RLS (restless legs syndrome) – I wasn’t bothered with that in a while… Maybe my tired mind just wanted to get rid of all these thoughts, and this post will be incredibly embarrassing in the morning when I get up. Maybe not. Maybe it was necessary to write something like this for once — an other genre of stream of consciousness.