HAPPY WOMENS MONTH Y’ALL! TO ALL MY WOMEN OF ALL DIFFERENT FLAVORS, EVERYONE WHO HONORS US AND THOSE WHO DEFEND OUR RIGHTS TO BE EXACTLY WHO WE ARE!
Have we heard the new Solo album? Have we prayed for Cardi B lately? How are we celebrating the women in our lives and more importantly - ourselves?
So MOB, this story right here is for all our for all the folks out there who have to deal with a period or anyone interested in learning a little about it through my experience. Yes, I’m talking about Aunt Dot also known as the Red Sea also known as your Monthly Visitor also known as the Vampire Buffet — if you get down like that and if you do *clink clink*.
Let’s deep dive into this — I’m 27 years old and have had a period since I was 9 years old. I’m one of the lucky ones who has always a regular period that you could set the World Clock to. Someone at Apple should hire me to make sure we’re all on the same time because it never ever ever fails. Aside from this months visit, where my cycle was 40 days long (not my actual period omg nooo) but the time between the last day of the previous period and the first day of the most recent one. So yes, I’ve had my period for 18 years and I guess this means I’m old enough to have a child in college and I might just use that on the next group of rambunctious HS students I run into on the train. Stand-by for the details on that because they always think I’m a classmate and this always flatters me because it’s a reminder that my skincare routine is working and that these genes were a blessing from mom!
Now that we’ve laughed a little bit, let’s joins in virtual hands and cry because having a period feels more like a death sentence than it does a gift. I know that some of us have irregular cycles, issues with our ovaries, secondary dysmenorrhea and a multitude of other problems relative to our reproductive organs so I’d like to start by sharing that you’re seen and acknowledged and I am grateful to not experience these things.
Regardless of your personal period journey, your OBGYN is your BFF in all related matters because the upkeep and health of your reproductive system is not to be left in the hands of your favorite blogger or WebMD. Women of color and Black women especially are often overlooked by the medical community so it’s extremely important we are on top of these things! Yearly GYN visits, regular self breast examinations, documentation of periods, symptoms and of course — what you use during your period will keep you in the best health possible. I use the app ‘Flo’ to track my cycle.. It helps you log the date of your period, predicts ovulation cycles and offers a lot of useful information about how periods affect us and it’ll be in the App store for you!Now that we’ve covered the need for a medical team in regards to our upkeep and general health — I’d like to move into the very intimate dance that we do with our periods on a monthly basis. And more specifically my personal experience. We know that there are pads and tampons, but there is also something called a menstrual cup! I’ve used a menstrual cup for about a year now, and while I want to STRESS that I do not experience these doomsday periods that some of us have -- my periods are a much more pleasant experience than before. My decision to transition to using a cup was sparked by an inexplicable UTI that I got— and yes, I know TMI but they’re so much more common than we are led to believe. There’s such a taboo around the discussion of UTI’s, yeast infections, etc and I want to help break that stigma.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten a UTI — okay, now raise your hand if you use tampons. I’m not a scientist or an OBGYN but as the proud owner of a vagina and uterus — I see how the use of tampons creates an unhealthy environment *for me* down there. Why? Because tampons are a foreign object and the cotton and rayon that is used is bleached and sometimes scented and this is NO BUENO. From my own research tampons do not pose a definite health risk but using them improperly and mismanaging them CAN and will fuck you up.
And it’s pretty easy to do both.
The most common fear surrounding tampons is TSS or Toxic Shock Syndrome. I remember reading about this in Teen Vogue and being absolutely horrified by what the writer had to share. I was already using tampons at this point and felt pretty helpless when it came to my options but then I remembered what it feels like to wear a pad and well — I took the risk. I’m not sure if we all owned the American Girl ‘The Care and Keeping of You’ but that was a STAPLE in my home when I was going through puberty. Sometimes we’re too ashamed to ask our mothers, sisters, friends or older women for period advice and sometimes, we don’t have these figures present in our life so if you’re raising a young woman or know anyone raising one — this book is a must read for them as they enter a new stage of teen-hood.
So back to it! With there being few options for period related products I was okay with using Tampax, Kotex tampons, etc until I found organic tampons and got made fun of by my friends — I AIN’T FORGET ladies! The first and only brand of organic tampons I’ve used is Seventh Generation and while I loved knowing that they were the best quality of tampon for me, I was still dealing with the usual thoughts of ‘wait is it too early to be wearing this tampon or should I wear a panty liner oh wait what if I leak but damn it’s going to be hard to put this in’ when I’m not bleeding yet and it was all I could do not to fucking scream. It seems like no matter what we do our periods get in the way of things. Between having to find a private and SANITARY restroom for changing, having to change a few times a day and having to use your own money to buy tampons — it’s enough to make anyone fucking scream. Maybe we should let out a fucking scream because WHY ARE WE PAYING FOR THIS? CAN THEY BE FREE OR CHEAPER OR IDK FREE?
Anyways, my menstrual cup has saved me from most of those things and I have never turned back. My best friend told me about them a few years back but it took me a little while to jump on board. I first tried out the DivaCup and loved it but then I got my hands on a Blossom cup because it’s a much cheaper alternative and is abou thalf the price of the DivaCup model. Not only is a cup way better for the environment but it’s a much easier alternative for someone who does not have access to a private or clean restroom throughout their day. The cup is made from FDA approved medical grade silicone that is latex free, hypoallergenic, odorless and that will not deteriorate in your body or possible leave any traces of itself behind (like Tampons can and do). The one thing that people ask me the most is how do you put it in and well, I’m a sexually active woman who has sex with men and you see where I’m going with this? All it takes is VERY clean hands, a few deep breaths and a deep squat. The cup is very flexible, pliable and can be pinched into about 3 different shapes depending on how you like to insert it.
So how do I wear mine? What are the details? I always wash my cup with either mild or unscented Dove BAR soap or Dr.Bronner’s Almond or Baby soap and never let it touch a surface other than a tissue paper. (The website for the brand I use (Blossom Cup) says ‘any mild unscented, non antibacterial, water-based’ soap will work). After she’s all clean and ready I wash my hands AGAIN and make sure not to touch anythinggggg! I hit a deep squat or you can sit if you prefer and relax my muscles by breathing out and then I fold the cup in half and pop that baby right in! It’s so much easier than it sounds and if you have the tampon routine down — this will be a piece of cake!
And what about leakage? Like tampons, if you insert it incorrectly it can leak but as far as how much blood it holds? You need not worry because the cup can hold up to 20 ml of blood and typically we lose 30–60 ml of blood during the duration of our entire period... so you see — unless you’re a very heavy bleeder, you’re in the clear.
I also choose to use a cup because I enjoy the idea of my blood being able to flow freely from my body instead of being absorbed into a tampon that is lodged inside me. With the cup I have been able to pass clots and monitor their size, texture and color and I could never do that with tampons. Sometimes the color of our blood can indicate our health and with the cup it’s easier to distinguish bright red blood (good) from dark red or brown blood (not so good). I think of my period as a purging process that my body is kind enough to do once a month so anything my body is trying to get rid of is definitely something that I don’t need lingering in me.
Speaking of lingering — so how do I remove it and clean it? I take full advantage of only having to change once or twice a day and do so in the comfort of my home. I wash my hands, squat and slowly push it out with my own muscles and if needed — there is a little stem at the end that it easy to grab onto and slide out. I wash my cup in between use and depending on how I feel — I either sleep with it or wear a pad overnight. When my period is over I boil my cup and add a little ACV and then let it dry completely and store it in it’s cute little pouch for next time. Just be careful when you boil it because my first one melted when I forgot about it and I had to get a WHOLE new one.
Lastly, SAVE YOUR FUCKING MONEY! Tampons are expensive as hell and the cup ends up paying for itself within the first 2 or 3 months because you’re saving the $12-$15 you spend on tampons. Even if you get the 96 pack of Tampons from BJ’s — a cup is a way better return of investment.
I hope this was enough to spark an interest and let you know that it’s not scary, gross or difficult. I am an avid supporter of menstrual cups and will always recommend them to the women and uterus having people in my life! Also, they all come in 2 sizes for those who have a vaginal birth and those of you that haven’t so don’t be scurrrred girl! Look it up and let me know how it goes!
Sidebar: my OBGYN is a blessing! I am so happy to have found a Black doctor and she’s truly great at what she does — her name is Janice Aubey, if you’re looking for a new doctor... check her out!
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