A Different Period
Let's be quite honest here - the period, the monthly bleeding isn't a lot of fun. Women, transgender, queer people and those with gender dysphoria face all sorts of symptoms every month, more or less regularly. Be it the obvious one, the bleeding, or the cramps, the pain, the urge to go to the toilet more often than usual, the cravings for certain foods and the mood swings, feeling more sensitive than normal or just wanting to bite someone's head off for just existing - it's not a walk in the park. Once a month people who menstruate sympathetically nod at their peers, shove a bar of chocolate towards their mate or make a hot water bottle for themselves and swallow a couple of paracetamols. The struggle is real.
Personally, I have always had a strange relationship with my period. I didn't have to deal with it until I was well over 18 years of age and even then it was an artificial one, induced by the pill as my gynaecologist was worried and wanted to kick-start the activity of my reproductive organs. So, when I had my first period as an adult, I felt merely disgusted. Stuck a sanitary pad in my pants and got on with my day. Eventually, after years of taking the pill, I stopped and waited for my natural cycle. It was irregular back then, so I mostly got caught off guard, which isn’t much fun when you are out and about and forgotten to have sanitary products with you. However, luckily, since birthing my first child, my periods visit me like clockwork and I am less surprised when they visit.
I am lucky that I have only very few symptoms. I am very emotional before I menstruate, but that's about it. No cramps, no pain, no headaches, no cravings, nothing. Please don't hate me. I know many people, close family and friends, who suffer every month, to an extent that they can barely make it out of bed or walk. We don't have it easy. It can be totally and utterly debilitating. Team that with the endless task of the constant changing and handling of sanitary products, another constant reminder of our monthly misery, and it can feel quite exhausting.
My go to for periods was sanitary towels, and lots of them. I didn't like tampons, they really hurt me. I didn't ever think about the impact my using of those plastic pads had on the environment. I admit I was uninformed, young and naïve. A few years ago a friend of mine mentioned the menstrual cup. She was raving about it, how she never looked back and felt so free when using it. I vowed to look into it but life, laziness and ignorance got in the way.
A few more years down the line and I have stopped eating meat and really want to make a difference, leaving this planet a little bit better than I found it. I look at my kids and feel guilty. I knew of Secret Whispers because of their famous Kegel Weights but then I saw they were offering a menstrual cup, CupIT, too. In a eureka moment, I ordered the menstrual cups and felt a weight fall off my shoulders. Not only was I going to make this work for my body, and create a freer week when bleeding, I was also going to contribute to a greener life, avoiding oodles of disposable sanitary products every month.
Sterilising the cups was a doddle - insert them into boiling water (I used a whisk to stop them from touching the bottom of the pan) for 5 minutes. However, I was sceptical and unsure how this thing would fit and, given my hatred for tampons, I was a little apprehensive. I started with the smaller, blue cup at the beginning of my period, and I needn't have worried. The medical grade silicon is so soft and flexible, and, after the shimmying and jigging around with my hips to make it slot in place, I couldn't feel it anymore. I wore a sanitary pad just in case there were any leakages, but again, maybe it was beginners luck, everything was fine. I nearly forgot to remove the cup in the evening, that’s how comfortable it was - and again, removing it by squeezing the bottom to loosen the suction was fine after a bit of trial and error. The instructions and videos you get when you buy are awesome!
I like the fact that you simply empty the contents of CupIT in the loo, wash the silicon cup and then insert it back in. No trip to the bin, no trips to the supermarket for more sanitary products, no constant reminder that you are bleeding and worrying that you could be leaking. I have read comments that for some people the periods get more bearable - possibly due to the fact that they are no longer exposed to the chemicals that are present in disposable sanitary products.
I have only been using CupIT for just over six months, but I am incredibly happy that I have made the permanent switch to a reusable sanitary product. So much so, that I have been writing and advertising it on my social media, and converted a few of my friends to this environmentally friendly alternative. Life and our planet are precious. If we think about it, people who menstruate bleed for a huge amount of time during their life, once every month for a week or even longer, for potentially forty years plus, depending on the individual. Let's make it easier and more comfortable for ourselves, and save the environment whilst we're at it.
Will you join me? Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. If I can't answer them, I know a fabulous lady (Julie, the founder of Secret Whispers) who can. What are you waiting for?
Carola is a writer, content and copywriter and soon-to-be-published author. You can find her on Instagram @chameleoninhighheels, Facebook @chameleoninhighheels and on www.chameleoninhighheels.com.