January 2012 was a pivotal month for me. At 24 years old, I was bidding farewell to an almost five-year-long relationship, which had stemmed to a five-month-old marriage. A single mum who had lost herself in her relationship and motherhood duties, I felt like a ghost of myself. Devastated at the loss of my relationship, I decided I needed to make some changes for me and improve some of the other relationships in my lives – namely, my relationship with myself: my health, my happiness.
I can still remember the day of my first period. My friend was visiting from another province, and I was wearing navy blue corduroy pants and a grey turtleneck sweater. I had turned 13 two months before. I was mortified. My mother gave me pads, and after my friend had left, we discussed menstruation in all its negativity: cramps, headaches, pads, tampons. My first impression of menstruation was that it was nothing but a pain (literally).
I used pads originally, for a few months, but the bunching and discomfort was no good for an athlete. My mom bought me my first box of Playtex tampons that summer so I could go swimming with friends, and I began to use tampons during the day and pads at night. Suffering from low iron, I was almost always anemic and would often get sick during my periods. I went on birth control to reduce the heavy, heavy flows and regulate my period. I had a period every 28 days, with a five day moderate flow, and one to two days of light flow or spotting. This was my life for the next nine years, when I got pregnant.
Following the birth of my son, my periods were different – irregular and sometimes incredibly heavy – and tampons were out of the question. Even though I had no internal stitches, I found them uncomfortable and sometimes even painful. I could ALWAYS feel it. Fast forward two years, to my separation.
I woke up one morning, made myself a coffee and sat in my living room while my son ate his breakfast and played with his trucks. A girlfriend dropped in and informed me I needed to pick myself up. We started talking about this and that, and she mentioned a new product she was in love with: The Diva Cup. After she left, I felt a little ashamed. I did need to pick myself up, make a meal and get on with it; I needed to show my son that I loved myself, that my health and my happiness were important. For some reason, the Diva Cup stuck out in my mind and on my next trip into town, I dropped by the Health Food store and bought one.
As I sat at home that evening, I looked at my purchase. For just under $40 dollars I had bought this bizarre looking creation, and I eyed it with a little bit of skepticism. Was it really that great? I hit the internet to check it out. What I found was a ton of good reviews. Not only was it eco-friendly (yay!), but it lowered – almost eradicated – my chances of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) compared to using tampons. Plus, it was good for a year making it economically friendly – a great bonus for a single mom, or anyone else!
The first insertion was a little tricky, but I followed the instructions, took a break and tried again. Success! The key was finding what worked for me. I bet I dumped it four times the first day, just out of fear. Within a few days, I was able to dump it twice a day – at 9AM and 9PM – perfect for my busy life. With tampons, and my fear of TSS, I had to stop everything and change them every four-five hours. Who has time for that? Plus, I could wear it to bed – no leaks, no bunching!
I have spent my whole life avoiding things that would hurt me. I would never take amoxicillin (which I am allergic to), or eat spoiled food – so why did I voluntarily put myself at risk for TSS. How many times had I, as a naïve teenager, left a tampon in for ten hours or more? I thought things like TSS just couldn’t happen to me – and I was lucky it didn’t.
It sounds dramatic, but the Diva Cup was the first of many positive changes for me this January. I started eating better, and my inflammatory bowel syndrome has been reduced to irritable, at worst. I began working out regularly, and lost over 25 pounds. I rediscovered my athleticism, and am planning to run a half marathon next May. In January 2012, I decided to make my health a priority.
The Diva Cup works best for me for a few reasons:
- On my heaviest flow days, I only have to dump it about 3 times – morning, late afternoon or dinnertime, and just before bed (only as a precaution).
- I have found my periods to be shorter – Perhaps because I’m not scraping the walls of my vagina pushing in and pulling out tampons.
- Eco friendly – no plastic wrapping, blood soaked cotton, cardboard boxes, or feminine pads going into the trash every month.
- Economic – for about $40CAD, I am covered for all of my periods for about a year. That’s under $3 a month – and pads/tampons are expensive!
- No leaks!
Today, at 24, I have a very different outlook on menstruation. I can now see menstruation as a gift, a sign of femininity, fertility and health. I wish my Mom could have had this kind of positive outlook, or been aware (or open – she’s grossed out by my cup) of the other feminine hygiene products out there. I know if I ever have a daughter, she’ll know all about menstrual cups!
Happy Periods, girls! Be healthy and stay strong.