In this day and age, full of a lot of negativity toward women, its difficult to be positive about your body, and, especially your period. I know, its not a fun topic to discuss. But it is natural and normal and I think that it’s time to end the stigma around it.
When I was first introduced to the process of puberty (at the young age of 11, I believe), it was during a special “puberty” class in fifth grade. We watched a gross video, listened to a couple of women talk about tampons and pads, and then spent the rest of the day wondering if the boys experienced the same sort of gross embarrassment in their mini course on adolescence. Hint: They totally did.
Being in the group of children that are considered “Late Bloomers”, I ended up not needing this knowledge until the summer before my Freshman year of high school. And I did what most young girls do. I used pads for the first few years. They’re uncomfortable and embarrassing, and I was constantly scared that someone would be able to tell that I was on my period because I was wearing a bulky pad and didn’t feel “grown up” enough to wear tampons. And when I did switch to tampons, I was terrified of TSS, because horror stories about it were everywhere.
In attending college and getting a job, I’ve learned that periods aren’t something to be entirely embarrassed of in the adult world. People are super willing to share their stash of tampons or pads if you’re in need, just because they’ve been in that situation. But there’s still a stigma around blood stains on your clothes and carrying around feminine products in public without concealing them. And heaven help you if you drop one on the floor in public. People treat it like a rag full of snot, even if its clearly in an unopened package.
With the amount of knowledge and the popularity of feminism that we experience on a daily basis, you’d think we’d be making huge bounds toward removing the stigma over women’s health and feminine products. But period is still a word that you whisper. And we still hide our tampons. And there are taxes on them when Rogaine and Viagra are exempt from luxury taxes. The feminine product industry has very little regulation, meaning that tampons are bleached and covered in chemicals and fragrances that can cause all kinds of irritation, as are sanitary pads. Women in third world countries can’t get access to ANY kind of sanitary product half the time, meaning girls missing school and even MORE period shaming.
Its a sad situation. But if you’re willing, you can change the world (and improve your health) on your period. This solution isn’t for the squeamish. But menstrual cups and reusable pads are the future. Gross, right? But its not as bad as you’d think.
Its hard to find exact numbers, but according to one website, a woman will use around 11,000 tampons or pads in her life (Source). That’s a LOT of product that has to be 1. maufactured, 2. transported, and 3. disposed of. Just one person switching to a reusable collection method can save SO much cotton that’s made into tampons and pads, cardboard and plastic that are made into packaging and applicators, and money for themselves having to buy more for every cycle. If you buy a menstrual cup, you’re likely to use it for a few years before having to replace it. So, depending on your cycle, you’re spending about $40 once, instead of $5 to $20 every month.
Have I mentioned my passion for healthy and chemical free living? I’m switching partially because of the fact that a medical grade silicone cup is not going to give me cancer, whereas the chemicals used in the processing of cotton tampons and pads might. I’m reducing my risk for TSS because the cup has NEVER been shown to cause it. And I’m one step closer to a healthier, chemical free life.
By making the period switch, you can also help girls in foreign countries or living in poverty. There are companies, like Ruby cup, Femme cup, and Mooncup that use part of their purchases to get period supplies to women and girls who might not have them otherwise (Source). Isn’t the most feminine thing to do help another sister? Or, if you buy reusable pads from somewhere like Etsy, you’re helping small businesses and not feeding into the corporate system of greed.
And some perks of wearing a menstrual cup? You can’t feel them. They last up to 12 hours before needing to be emptied. There’s no pulling-out-a-dry-tampon feeling (in fact, you can use water based lubrication to help you insert one if you need). And if you use them right, they’re fairly simple.
I know it sounds crazy, but you can change the world. Can you imagine what life would be like if we ALL switched? So, do your research. Maybe its time to change.