My period anniversary is January 1. At the beginning of every new year, I reflect on how many years ago I got my first period. This year was a milestone year as I reflected back ten whole years of menstruation. But, I was a little disturbed when I thought I have been throwing away used tampons, countless plastic wrappers, pads, and liners all these years. So much trash ugh! It’s hanging around longer than I’ll be alive! I decided this year to change my usual period products for a better environment and for a healthier me.
For my first few years of menstruating, I strictly used pads. For some reason I liked the maxipads and the super long overnight pads, so my mom bought me whatever I liked. I guess it just made me feel more secure because the thicker pads hugged closer to my body. My mom only used super plus tampons so I would sneak them and I try them out. They were scary looking and painful to remove so I stopped. Other than that, I liked the idea of tampons and the much cleaner feeling it gave me. I was not liking pads anymore when I began getting rashes from the pads failing to keep me dry.
By age 15, I started using regular flow tampons and pantiliners for light flow days and tampon backup. During the daytime I was perfectly happy about my routine. I hated nights on my period because I never slept well. I used overnight pads but was uncomfortable and constantly leaked on my sheets, blankets, and pajamas. And the rashes I was getting from pads weren’t improving. Although I didn’t like to, I started wearing tampons to bed and setting an alarm for exactly 8 hours later. But still, I would be waking up all night, checking the time, worrying I would over sleep with the tampon. Getting TSS greatly concerned me.
After 5 years of this, I found Instead Softcup. It was wonderful for nighttime so I could sleep all night without worry (as long as I was up after 12 hours). I used Softcup for nights only, but for daytime, I still used tampons and pantiliners. For once I felt happy about all my period arrangements. However, I was bothered by the never ending waste. I am just one woman contributing to this waste and there are 100’s of millions of us! Softcup is wonderful but it is still a disposable product like tampons and pads.
I researched online and quickly discovered a reusable cup called DivaCup. Women praised it and thanked it for changing their lives. I was intrigued but was dissuaded by the price. I wanted to win one and I ended up winning one on the DivaCup Facebook page (thank you DivaCup!).
In the meantime, I thought if I was to use a reusable menstrual cup I should also ditch the disposable liners as well. During my research of the DivaCup, I discovered cloth pads and period panties. Also, I learned of all the toxic chemicals associated with traditional pads, liners, and of course tampons. I knew of TSS dangers, but never knew of the all the chemicals involved as well. Now, I was uncomfortable re-inoculating myself with those nasty chemicals every month.
The cloth pads and period panties out there are great but it is unfortunately not affordable for me. I knew I could easily sew my own pantyliners for free. I found around the house soft 100% cotton flannel from bed sheets. After looking up how to sew my own cloth pads online, I set to work sewing right away. I sewed it all by hand which is quite time consuming. I eventually sewed 3 flannel cotton pantiliners and also sewed some flannel into 2 pairs of my own designated period underwear.
My first DivaCup insertion and removal experience was really painful! My first time inserting was all wrong. I had always inserted my Softcup laying down. Well, I quickly learned that is not the way to insert DivaCup. Follow the instructions that come in the box and sit up right! For removal, I had to learn to use my finger to tuck the rim back in to the same folding style as insertion. A few wincing moments later, I figured it out and removal was easier the second time. After making these adjustments, I was using the cup without any pain. I leaked a tiny bit on the first heavy flow day of my period. My cloth liners easily caught the leakage. Despite the slight leaking and pain of the first day, I was totally happy with the cup and my liners.
I am the rare type of woman that actually enjoys her period. I’ve learned to appreciate my menstrual cycle for being there to remind me I am healthy and fertile each and every month. Now I really, really love my period! I have the peace of mind that my period products aren’t full of chemicals, won’t give me TSS, and haven’t cost me anything but my time and patience. All the traditional tampons and pads I used before was simply trash. Now, my DivaCup and cloth pads has more meaning to me. They’re not trash. I will treasure and take care of them because it will last me for years!
Thanks You ARE Loved for all you are doing to raise awareness about TSS and for being an advocate for openness and accuracy about menstruation!