Menstruation: it’s something many girls look forward to with either dread or excitement. As a rite of passage into womanhood, they understand that their “time of the month” will define who they are from their first period on. For me, it was something I was completely unaware of. Periods, and everything involved with them, were a taboo subject in my house. My mother’s mother never talked to her about it, so she felt she had no reason to talk to me about it. It was not something to be proud of in my house. Imagine my shock and surprise, then, when I went to the bathroom during school one day and was bleeding quite profusely. Thankfully, I had friends who helped me through this first time and I survived my first day of my period. The only problem, though, was I felt too shamed to actually speak to my mother about it. After all, she never brought the subject up, so why should I? I borrowed pads for the longest time; my mom finally realized I had started and would buy enough for both of us to use. Still, she never once sat me down to talk about my period and what it meant for me. It became a secret shame in my life, something I felt completely clueless about and uncomfortable with.
Without any talk, I had to struggle through understanding and using feminine hygiene products. Pads were my first endeavor. Since I had such a heavy period, I had to buy pads with super absorbency. I felt like I was wearing a diaper and that it was noticeable if anyone looked at me. This added even more to my feelings of shame associated with “that time of the month.” Finally, I ventured out to try tampons after my friend was talking about using them and how much easier they were. Without asking my mother for advice or wanting to know how to use them, I locked myself away in the bathroom with a tampon to figure out. After a few trial and errors, and some serious studying of the diagrams in the package (as well as glossing over the TSS warning), I had successfully conquered the use of tampons! Hooray! As a teenager, I was excited to be offered the freedom tampons gave me that pads did not. Of course, I was completely oblivious to what I was doing to my body, and the environment, by using them.
For the longest, I never fully felt comfortable with having a period. My earlier years shaped the shame I had associated with menstruating and it did not lessen with time. I finally gained control and shed that shame when I started my research on menstrual cups. I remember my mother jokingly (and almost snidely) telling me she had saw a Diva Cup at our local store one day. I brushed it off as something I wasn’t interested in and then went on my way. Recently, though, I began to feel more and more concerned with what I was putting in my body when it came to my feminine products. I knew TSS was a major risk using tampons (I had read a story in a magazine as a young teen about a girl who had TSS that scared me to death). Of course, I didn’t know why until I started researching what was in tampons. I was shocked and appalled at what they put in them and what I was putting in my body! I finally started looking at cups and came upon the Lunette Cup first. It was cute and something I could totally get into using. After some serious perusing of their site, working out what would work best for me, I ordered it. It came during the middle of my period and I tossed my tampons and immediately tried out my cup.
Hello freedom! I was in love. I gained a new found freedom that I was not offered with anything else. It also helped me realizing something – I shouldn’t be ashamed of my period. It’s part of who I am, so why should I be ashamed of who I am? I no longer feel ashamed of my period or talking about it. I’m a woman and I am proud to be a woman. And, I’m thankful You ARE Loved is working hard to educate and empower women about healthier feminine hygiene options that reduce or eliminate the risk of TSS.