A guest post by Christine: a full-time working, cloth diapering, baby-wearing, co-sleeping mother of one. She writes regularly on her own blog: Thoughts of Fluff.
It’s THAT time…
Your “period”, your “time of the month”, “Aunt Flo”, “crimson wave”, “cycle”, “girly time”…whatever you call it, I dreaded it.
I started my cycle when I was 14 years old. My mother was a pad user, so, naturally, that’s what I started with, too. I hated them. They were crinkly and made me feel like I was wearing a diaper. I can’t say that I wasn’t aware of tampons at this point, as my mother was very good about having talks to me growing up and I was fully prepared for when this time came.
I understood the menstrual cycle quite well and what the purpose was. I was okay with it up until I actually got mine…then I hated it. I hated the bulkiness, I hated the weird odor, I hated everything about it.
I started using tampons within a year of starting my period.
I read the side of the box about TSS, like most other people have, and figured it couldn’t happen to me. After all, that says you have to leave the tampon in a LONG time, and I won’t do that. Fast forward to me actually using them – lies, all lies.
I have always had a light cycle, and found myself going 8-12 hours sometimes with the same tampon simply because it was barely soaked and it hurt to take it out before it had absorbed enough. I figured I wouldn’t get TSSif it wasn’t that soaked. Silly? You betcha. Did I anyway? Yep. Playing with fire, I know. Unfortunately, this would become the norm for many years for me.
Throughout high school and college, I would occasionally have dizzy spells and other minor annoyances which I attributed to any number of things, though I now wonder if it might have been more tampon related.
Happier times…. I conceived my first child at age 25. YAY! This meant no period for a glorious 9 months! Trust me, I was happier about the baby, but the lack of a period was a bonus! As anyone that has had a baby knows, you can’t use anything inserted into your vagina after birth for 6 weeks. Trust me, right after the birth, you’re okay with that! I was okay with using the pads they provided since I just had a baby bruise me up a little bit (honestly, it wasn’t that bad, I was just a bit sore and was okay with nothing going in there!), even if they were ginormous pads.
It had been a long time since I used a pad, but it would be a handful of weeks that I continued to use them. I heard the bleeding would die down after a couple of weeks, but there I was, 4 weeks later, and still using them. Still bleeding like I was on my period. Perhaps I started again already?
I had no clue. What I did know as that I hurt. I hurt badly. The tenderness and bruised feeling from having the baby subsided within a week or two, but now I had a different pained feeling. I was sore. VERY sore. I was swollen (externally), I was very red, I was slightly itchy but it burned at the same time. Was it a rash from not being clean shaven, perhaps? I’ll try that, then. I must be doing something wrong. I tried everything. I bought different brands, different sizes, tried shaving, everything. Nothing worked.
“I HATE MY PERIOD!” Side note: “I HATE PADS!”
While all this was happening, I saw a post about “mama cloth” on one of the cloth diapering websites I was following. I thought, “Cloth for your PERIOD?! GROSS!!!!!” Now, we had cloth diapers for my new baby for many reasons. Saves money, helps prevent diaper rash, helps keeps chemicals away from his skin, they are cute….
Wait, back track. “Keeps chemicals away from his skin”…okay, so there must be chemicals in disposable pads, too.
After that realization, I decided to read the post on the “mama cloth”. I learned a lot that day. I learned there were cloth alternatives. I learned there were things out there called menstrual cups. They were cute, actually. I decided I wanted to get some for me and try them. That wouldn’t help me immediately, however. I needed something *NOW*. I read within that post that the chemicals from the disposable pads can cause you to not only bleed heavier, but bleed longer. A show of hands, please, for anyone that *WANTS* to bleed heavier and longer! Anyone? No? Didn’t think so.
That was that. I was done with them. I didn’t care if I ruined underwear! I dug through my drawers and found old undies I didn’t care a lick about and decided I’d just wear these until I was done. That was the last day I bled. I got rid of the disposable pads. I got rid of the bleeding. Wow. I’m sold!
I bought a pack of cloth pads. Just one (a 3 pack of Pink Daisy pads), so I didn’t have enough for my period yet. That was fine by me, I was not going to have it anytime soon (with luck!) because I was nursing my son! Well, that was hope, at least! I figured I’d start again around 6 months or so, but was going to do a bunch of research before then.
I found more pads, and looked into the “menstrual cups”. I read about numerous brands from disposable SoftCup (sold at Wal*mart and various drug stores) to reusable cups like Lunette, Mooncup, and DivaCup. I saw all sorts of things about tampons while I was exploring, including facts like this tidbit from the Softcup website:
“When a tampon is inserted, it creates microscopic tears along the vaginal canal. Tampons can leave behind residual fibers and traces of bleach, dioxins and other residues from the cotton cultivation and tampon manufacturing processes.”
Oy! This might explain some issues I had before getting pregnant! I saw my OB/GYN monthly before getting pregnant. I kept having issues…. but they never knew what. Sometimes they’d claim I had a yeast infection, but for the very same symptoms the next month, it was a “bacterial vaginosis” infection. The next month, same symptoms, but this time they said “It’s nothing. All tests are normal.” Well, obviously it was SOMETHING, or I wouldn’t have had the horrible rug burn feeling internally! We were told it was a reaction to laundry detergent, we switched. Fabric softener, we switched. Soaps (really? these are the same soaps I’ve always used!), we switched. None of it worked.
Reading the above stats on tampons was like someone turning on a light bulb. NONE of this has happened since I had my baby. I have had no issue like this at all!
I got a free sample of the Softcup from their website, but never got to use it. My friend was talking to me at my house, and I mentioned it. She was intrigued. I was talking about cloth pads and cups, and she was surprised as she’d never heard about them! I showed her stuff online, read her the couple of tampon facts, and then offered her my sample. After all, I was 12 months postpartum and I still hadn’t even started! She *LOVED* it, and quickly asked me where she could buy a DivaCup that I had shown her. She purchased two – one to keep with her in case she was out when she needed it, and the other to keep at home. After all, they are good for 12 hours at a time, so you really don’t have to worry about changing anything while you’re out!
Seeing how much she loved that made me excited for when I start my period again. Wait, what? EXCITED about my PERIOD?! That’s what I said. I’m done with those days of bulkiness, odors (the chemicals in the disposable products really cause that…. I never knew that before!), pain and mandatory bathroom breaks when I don’t even have to go. When I start again, I have my cloth and I have my cups. I will be healthier, happier, and no longer a slave to my period. No worries about having supplies with me, and no worries about leaving them in too long. I will be free to worry about what is really important to me, my son.