a) Long post ahead.
b) Post talks about periods.
c) I can get pretty graphic at times.
I’ve been wondering whether to write this post or not for a pretty long time now. There were considerations for the menfolk who drop by my blog occasionally. Didn’t want to gross them out. But then, most of the guys I know are either married or have girlfriends. So finally, I decided that it wouldn’t harm them to know what I’m going to say here. They can even forward my opinions to their wives or girlfriends (Notice how I’ve cleverly replaced the ‘and’ here 😀 ) if they wish to.
For people who get nauseous at the very first mention of ‘periods’ or ‘menstruation’, you may close the browser now. OR, you may head to my post on baby poop, pee and puke. Less revolting. In fact, I didn’t get graphic about the poop and puke at all!! Maybe it was in this post? Umm no, thats too decent too. Damn!! Why can’t I find a gross post when I’m looking for it?!
(Nah. Just kidding. Close the damn browser right now 🙂 )
Coming back to the topic. I’ve hated periods all my life. They ruined most of my carefree nature, landed me in embarrassing situations more than once, took away much of my freedom, cramped my lifestyle (literally) and in all, appeared to be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Or to any woman for that matter! Then I had the twins. Everything seemed worthwhile , even the rashes and the PMS. At least for a while. I still don’t have a benevolent attitude towards periods. If I didn’t fear early setting in of osteoporosis, I’d have gladly gone in for a hysterectomy right after the twins were born! No seriously, am not kidding.
My earliest memory of suffering was when I hit puberty. That was the age when I’d just begun excelling at sports. Badminton and swimming were my personal favorites. I had a large group of friends with whom I used to go to the pool regularly. If the pool schedule wasn’t too hectic, we’d have a round of badminton before heading back home. Or sometimes, we played badminton after reaching home. Blissful days those were 🙂
Then one fine day, when the gang came to collect me, I just shrugged and said I couldn’t come with them. No explaining done because in those days, we didn’t talk about it openly in front of guys 😐 . A couple of girls in the gang understood, a silent communication that happened without my saying a single word. Later on, I’d realize just how close women can get sharing this one secret! The next day, when the gang dropped by, I refused once again. After day 3, they stopped dropping by my place. It felt terrible. Not just because I was missing out on some great activities and fun but also because I was sitting in my house, sitting through a terrible napkin rash that had broken out on my thighs. It hurt like hell but I had to let it heal so that I could attend school the next day.
The rashes. Its not something that assailed all girls but for me, maybe because my skin was sensitive, I’d have the worst case ever. Getting through a school day would be an ordeal. We didn’t get exempted from physical training or sports (in a co-ed school), so I had no option but to grit my teeth, grunt through the pain and just get on with life. The only thought while going back home was to sink myself into a tub of ice-cold water! And stay there forever. But a tubful of ice-cold water was not readily available those days, so one got by with generous doses of neosporin powder or sometimes, just plain talcum. The skin was allowed to heal in the privacy of home before facing the next day’s challenge!
With age, the intensity diminished, but with every month, the rashes dutifully came back. I have tried every single napkin that has come out in the market. I even bought napkins from international brands. Nothing helped. The rashes came back just as stars come out each night 😐
A couple of years back, after much contemplation, I switched to tampons. We get only one brand in India (OB, by J&J), the one that doesn’t come with an applicator. Needless to say, the initial trials were utter failures, not to mention painful! Gradually, with time, I learned to use it successfully. Tampons helped with the rashes immensely. I no longer feared the periods. For a good 18 months, I was happy that I’d made the switch. The only drawback was that the tampons cause severe dehydration of the vaginal walls towards the end of the periods. Sometimes, it is dry enough to cause severe pain or cramps.
Then one day, while going through IHM’s blog, I came across a post on Menstrual Cups.
This was interesting. I had never heard of such a thing before and before I knew it, I was hunting all over the web for it. I asked plenty of people, posted queries on forums, but like me, most Indian women were waiting for reviews on it. None that I knew had ever heard of it, let alone used it. After much contemplation, I took the chance and decided to use it myself rather than wait for someone else’s feedback. But good intentions don’t necessarily come with prompt actions. It took me a good year before I finally decided to make the switch.
The BF, bless his soul, had bought me a box of Diva Cup (purchased through Amazon). The Amazon offer included one Diva Cup with two bottles of Diva wash, a pH neutral wash to clean the diva cup. It was a pretty good deal, really. After using the cup for a few months, all I can say is, I’m never going to back to the conventional methods again!
The Diva cup is steeply priced. But it pays for itself after a year of use. In India, we can purchase the SheCup which is currently available only online (visit www.shecup.com for more information). A rough calculation is as follows :-
Suppose you spend an average of 30/- per month on sanitary napkins, then you would spend 30×12= 720/- for a year’s supply. The SheCup comes for approx. 675/- . A single menstrual cup can last for up to 10 years if used as directed.
Imagine! One purchase and for a good enough decade, you don’t need to spend on any other sanitary product! A drop of any pH neutral hand/face/body wash is good enough to clean the cup. Once in a while, it would be a good practice to sterilize it by boiling it. Now I’m sure some women would be averse to using kitchen utensils (or even gas-stove for that matter) to sterilize a menstrual product. They can go the normal soak-in-dettol-solution-for-ten-minutes route. It works too. Also, if you wash the cup regularly with the prescribed liquid cleaner you needn’t sterilize it every cycle. But then, the level of hygiene you want to maintain depends on you.
Coming to hygiene, the menstrual cup is by the cleanest method I have come across so far. Since the cup sits inside your body, collecting the fluid, there is no exposure to air and hence, no oxidization and mercifully, no odour. Yup! You heard that right! Menstrual cups have ZERO odour. So even at the peak of your periods, you wouldn’t smell a thing! At all!
Also, because it sits inside, there is no leakage. One can go up to 12 hours at a stretch without the need to change. In case of heavy periods, the cup may get full earlier, so a quick trip to the washroom is all you need to dump the contents, wash with water or wipe with a tissue and re-insert. Thats it. you are done!
I’m going a little haphazard in my glowing review of the cup, so I’ll just quickly summarize the key features that make it click. Hopefully, you will be convinced enough to make the change 🙂
So, here goes :-
1) A menstrual cup lasts much longer. It is made of medical grade silicon and is allergy free.
2) A menstrual cup is environment friendly. Very environment friendly. Sanitary napkins are made with chlorine bleached wood pulp and polyacrylate gel and polyethylene film as the cover. Though this makes the napkin super absorbent what it also does is to make it virtually non-biodegradable (it takes nearly a hundred years to decompose a used sanitary napkin). With the number of napkins you use in a month, multiplied by 12 and then multiplied by the number of years you’ve been using it, imagine the extent of toxic waste created by you! It is never to late to switch to a more environment friendly version of sanitation!
3) Like I mentioned before, there is zero odour. I know many women get grossed out changing their own napkins. Much has to do with the menstrual fluid which gets exposed to oxygen and oxidises to release odour. With a menstrual cup, the duration of exposure to air is so minimal (while you are dumping the contents) that there is no time for oxidization to occur and hence, no chance to generate odour. No smell means feeling wonderful and radiant even during the peak of my periods 🙂
4) A menstrual cup, when worn properly, does not leak. Not even a drop! Unless you are lazy and cross the 12-hour barrier. Even then, there is very minimal leakage. There are no embarrassing episodes! You can sleep through the night without an ounce of worry of staining your clothes or the bed-sheets. You needn’t opt for mile-long sanitary napkins just to get a sound night’s sleep 😀 .
5) It is pocket friendly. One purchase and you are set for many years! At the max, you may need to carry a few panty-liners in your purse, for the days close to the actual period days.
6) You no longer need to let anyone know that you are having your periods! No more carrying your purse to the office washroom for every change! No more hunting for old newspapers to carry to the bathroom at home.
7) Extreme comfort! Menstrual cups do not harm the insides of your vaginal passage and are allergy free. There is a bit of learning curve associated with using it. People who have used a tampon would find it much easier to use a cup. For first timers, instructions are available in plenty on the net. You can start by going through this video first. I did experience initial discomfort , which I later found out, was because of the stem of the Diva Cup. I trimmed it a bit and now it sits like a dream. I don’t even remember that its in there 🙂
There are plenty more benefits, I’m sure. I’m still new to the cup but the experience has been more than awesome. I wonder why such products are not advertised here, why menstrual cups are not manufactured and sold in bulk?! One reason, of course , would be the direct hit that the sanitary napkin industry would have to bear! But since we still haven’t figured out a good way to dispose off those napkins, I think we should resist from using them.
In case any one of you is interested, you may find more information on menstrual cups here. It has a nice list of all available types and sizes, the usage, the squish factor and much more.
One word of warning though. The menstrual cup cannot handle your PMS and your cramps 🙂
( As the millions of tissues in your uterus contract and expand to discard its lining, sending shooting pain signals starting from the tips of your toes to the back of your head, the only thing you can do is grin and bear it as you’ve been doing all these years. Sorry, but that is the sad truth. And if you feel like killing someone while going through it, please feel free and do it. Millions of women around the world will back your right to do so 🙂 )
Hopefully, you’ll become a convert like me 🙂
Have a happy period, people 🙂
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