Having a period sucks. Well at least for me. Now I know without one we women would not able to bring forth life. But let's be real, if we could conceive a child naturally without all the monthly messiness involved, I don't think many of us would miss it.
What’s funny though is that growing up, getting your period was THE thing that bumped you up on the totem pole of perceived coolness by your friends. Well at least that’s how it was in my fourth grade class. I still remember one of my classmates (who was messy AF for a 9 year-old) pretending to have hers for the attention. While I’ll admit I secretly wished for mine to appear, I wasn’t exactly heartbroken when it didn’t arrive until a couple of years later. When it did, I was too embarassed to say anything to anybody including my mom. I tried my best to hide it but when you don’t have the proper protection, its not exactly going to go unnoticed. When my mom found my clothing when doing the laundry a few days later, she came to my room to then give me the “birds and the bees” speech. No. Just no. I don’t remember it being much of a conversation because I was trying my best to shut it all out. But like I said, pure embarassment + a family dynamic that doesn’t involve openness in any form and that conversation was done before it was really started. So began my journey into “womanhood”. My what a journey it has been!
After my induction into this new chapter of life, I would then be burdened with painful menses that often left me on the floor in tears due to the excruciating pain.
Having gone through labor and childbirth, I would say the pain I experienced then was equal to the experience of bringing my first child into the world. To help cope, Advil in extremely high doses (18 pills in one day) became my best friend. While I knew that probably wasn’t the safest it was my only remedy until my gyno recommended birth control when I was around 18. My God that was a game changer! While Aunt Flo still showed up, she wasn't as rude and forceful as before. She was still uninvited but tolerable enough to make it through the day.
Of course since that time, 20 years ago to be exact, I've not only tried several different methods of birth control but several methods of “containing” Aunt Flo as well. As a pre-teen I started with bulky ass pads that felt more like diapers than actual period protection. Ugh...Then it was tampons which ...eh aren't that much better but allowed you the freedom to do more activities like swimming without looking like a scene from Jaws after he's already claimed his victim.
Moving right along, as I became aware of the toxicity of traditional tampons I opted for a more organic variety to protect my insides and health. But since my drop down the rabbit hole of crunchy motherhood and more eco conscious living, I've opted to use a cup. Now the cup isn't for everybody and honestly I'm not sure it's for me, but it's not a bad option for those seeking an alternative that isn’t harmful to your body or the earth. What may be surprising to some of you is that it's one of several options to keep Aunt Flo in check when she tries to disrespect a pair of the good undies and your favorite jeans. Girl bye!
Below I detail the pros and cons of the cup + a few alternatives if that's not your “cup” of tea. See what I did there? Don't judge me for my humor. Judge your ashy heels.
So...the cup. The pros…
It's a one time purchase or at least long term.
It's highly affordable (the cheapest I've seen including the one I purchased is 20 bucks).
Easy storage and travel option
Simple cleaning and sanitizing (its made of medical grade silicone)
It can get messy if you haven't mastered the removal process.
The insertion process will cause you to get real familiar with yourself whether you want to or not. But really we all should know what's going on down there so that when something out of the ordinary occurs we can put in a call to our doctor sooner than later. It literally could be the difference in life or death if it's serious issue like cancer that was caught in its early stages versus the moment where it's beyond treatment.
It can leak if not inserted properly. Honestly, I still haven't perfected it because I'm about 8 months in and still have leakage issues.
Because of said leakage issues, I still have to use panty liners which aren't exactly earth friendly even if they are made using organic cotton. Sigh….
So you can understand while I'm still not 100% sold on the cup idea. Don't get me wrong, it's still a much better alternative to traditional methods, it's not necessarily the best, at least for me. But if it you want to give it a try, may I suggest checking out the site putacupinit.com. It has a comprehensive quiz that helps you determine which cup(s) are the best option for you based on a number of factors including having given birth vs. not, what type of feminine products you're using, your age, length of cervix and more that all play a factor in how your cup will fit. Maybe I should try another cup but honestly I just don't want to deal with anything which is why I'm still looking at other options. Here are few I’m considering that might be an option for you as well.
Thinx aka The Period Panties
Unlike the period panties you want to hide in the back of your dresser drawer or casually throw away after one major leak, these panties are designed to be worn as THE period panty sans any other protection depending on your flow + keep odor and moisture at bay. But can also serve as back up to other methods such as the cup or tampons. While the idea is very appealing to me, the fact that there is still a possibility of me still needing another method doesn’t sit well in my soul. Then there’s the price. The price ranges from $24 for a thong up to $89 for a unitard. But most fall within the $32-$39 price range. If you invest in a few pair to cover 3-5 days, that adds up quickly and far outweighs the cost of a few boxes of tampons in a year. But I deem it the best alternative to other options with regards to the reusability, comfort and style.
There are other companies that make “period panties” but Thinx is the only brand that I know that has been used by people I personally know + they have a teen line as well. Which if I was a teenager during this time, I would welcome an alternative to pads and tampons from a comfort standpoint. For some girls getting your period isn’t the grand hurrah and they want to make that transition as seamless as possible by not having to fiddle with the aforementioned options.
FYI, if you do decided to try, here is my referral code, that gives you AND me $10 in Thinx credit.
Reusable Pads & Pantyliners
Now I'll admit I hadn't really looked too much into this option simply because I was trying to avoid going back to pads. even if they're made of the finest of cottons threads or whatever fabric that's being used I don't want to deal with them. But if I'm looking to remain true to my earth saving ways, this has to be an option. Le sigh…
Anywho, given how crunchy it is, I thought for sure this would be something you would have to order online from the likes of Etsy, find locally in Whole Foods or your neighborhood health and grocery store. But not only are they found in these places, but also Target, of course Amazon and a few other online retailers.
The ease of use seems to be no different than using traditional pads and pantyliners with the exception of the “disposal”. If you're at home, you can put them immediately to soak or a wet bag much like a cloth diaper until you are ready to launder them. But if you're out, then you would simply use the wet bag for storage until you returned home. Wet bags are pretty discreet these days. They typically can hold a changing pad, an outfit and a diaper and even wipes! Carrying a few extra cloth pads and even backup panties would be a breeze. Plus with the design of the diaper clutch, it can easily be carried alone (there’re room for your basics such as phone, a small wallet and a lipstick or two) or fit in the carry on bags we like to call purses (don't come for me, you know it's true).
While it may not seem as practical as the cup (although there is the issue of rinsing in a public bathroom), it’s still pretty doable. So its not totally ruled out.
There was potentially another option with reusable tampons but I didn’t see one company outside of an etsy store or DIY video on how to make your own. Now I’m a DIY queen but this one, #distewmuch. Feel free to research that one on your own and let me know how that goes. Seriously. I won’t try it but I’m still curious.
Now unlike the water aisle which has almost too many options, when it comes to your period, there aren’t many alternatives for “the how” as compared to “the who”. I know the options presented aren’t for everybody. That’s cool. If this aspect of crunchy living is not appealing, would you at least consider more eco and body friendly choices such as cotton tampons without the plastic applicator? Or using a pair of period panties as backup instead of a pantiliner when using a tampon (I’ll admit I still use them sometimes when I can’t get my cup right)? Or buy ones that come in recyclable containers and packaging. These changes may seem small, but every little bit helps to keep more trash out of our landfills and preserving what space we have left for our little ones.
Well this concludes another moment in modern hippie history. Hopefully you’ll consider one of these options for yourself and make a change, if not for the environment, then at least for the health of your lady bits.