Updated: Apr 14
I recently watched Amy Schmusers comedy special on Netflix, called "Growing".
Apart from the deeply relatable (female) experienced Amy joked about, I and my mother in law almost yelled a harmonious "AMEN" at the TV when the topic of periods arose.
Amy started out by recounting the experience she had when firsts first got her period. Right after her mom talked to her about the wonderful transition into womanhood that her period marked, she finished off in contradiction by describing it as a "disgusting" secret that need not ever see the light of day. I noticed how untouched I felt about that part of the story. Not because I didn't care or couldn't relate. Rather more the opposite. It is too much of a familiar story. Not only in comparison to mine, but that of the many other girls and women I have come across in my life. I really do believe and have seen very often, especially in my own life, How this first experience and learned attitude manifests on throughout the adolescence into everyday adult life. Not only for women, but likewise in how men relate to us.
As I watched on I was immediately surprised and shortly excited at her mention of period cups.
I say shortly, because she quickly fell into a stereotype, and it seem to work away at the same attitude of disgust she seemed to have confronted and complained about. I get it though, inexperience with something, is more likely human to provoke negative opinions. She expressed awe and respect as well as disgust at the idea of its purpose, function and the level of required interaction. I almost lost interest at that point until she saved herself with the mention of another alternative, Period panties made popular via THINX. It seemed like she was trying to regain favour with the majority millennial audience, whom she had earlier in her show referred to as carrying less of a shame and disgust around the periods. It just so happen that I had began writing this post 3 days prior. I stopped at some point that the idea of having to cover such a broad and deeply rooted topic. But it got me thinking, it needs to be spoken about as much as possible, especially in a very real and open minded fashion in oder to break away from such false stereotypes.
If you are one of the few men that have made it this far in scrolling and reading, I commend you regardless of your reasoning. This post is for the females, but you are more than welcome to stay and to be honest I think it might do you some good to do so.
You might already know or had a glimpse of the possibilities out there. Big company sell you their conventional products as "freedom", "safe" and "care free" solution. Some even dare to go as far as claiming no toxicity. And it all seems to have "worked" out for us, been FDA approved and acts as a milestone in our civilised and developed worlds. Perhaps like me, 3 years prior to today, you agree with all of the above convention and will cringed at what I am about to suggest. But I now swear by some of these solutions. Now that I have your attention, without further suspense, Iet me get to the point. In this article, I am talking periods and the waste reducing alternatives you should be considering and even giving a try.
When I say alternatives, I don’t mean the one or two you find in every mainstream convince or grocery store and petrol station. My fellow females, I am here to tell you, “you have more options than just tampons and sanitary pads”. The following post will list and shortly explain in order to provide you with experience based feedback, to explore the benefits and even set backs and in the very least get you thinking outside of the box when it comes to menstrual support. And WOMANNNN, they aren't only freeing but empowering as well. I myself am still on a journey of discovery, even after actively employing 2/6 of these alternatives over 2.5 years. I thus think its both perfect timing to write about my experience and knowledge gained up until now, as well as, continue on to explore the other options I know are out these. So you might notice that 2 of the solution will be linked to other posts. Please click on these links to get further into each option. Likewise, keep an eye out on the blog and social media posts, to be notified when I try out the other listed alternatives.
I am sure by now you have read up or heard in passing about the cumulative single use plastic waste we produce that is having a negative environmental impact. However, the same can be said in the extreme levels of waste being produced by single use pads and tampons.And you might think, so what, their biodegradable. However, most pads are around 90% plastic (adhesive on pads are Ade of polythene plastic) ! Then of course there is their individual packaging and applicators to add to this number. However when you purchase reusables, not only are you avoiding the daily disposables, but some of the alternatives out there can be used up to 10 years. For the average woman has approximately 500 periods, this obviously is more or less depending on many personal biological factors and circumstances. You are looking at an average of 35 years, so a single product like the period cup will have to be replaced 3 times in the average woman's life. where as with someone like myself, with a heavy flow, and longer mensural cycle duration, average waste produced with conventional solutions, puts me at ca. 40-45 pads or tampons each month. If I live to have 500 periods, that would put me at 20`000 single use products (and that at the lower end, and not accounting for the 13 day cycles I had from 16-24 years old). I don't know about you but 3 vs 20000 seems like easy math.
I don't only do this for the environmental aspect, but for me its is also about mental and emotional well being and health. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a real life side effect of tampons. As much as brands you grew up with seem to have won over your trust and sympathy, did you know more than likely your conventional period pads are also a health risk ? This is because they are made or lined with materials that have toxic elements ( dioxin, chlorine, rayon...) that can leach into one of the most sensitive and empowering parts of your body. For many people in the world (and yes, I mean the "developed" world as well), it's also a political and economical decision. In countries like the UK and USA this means to free yourself from "luxury taxes" opposed on you, and thus for many this makes the possibility to purchase non existent. Apart from this, for everyone going mainstream and government approved ways, there is the standard in having a monthly cost for repurchasing disposable products every time the red aunty is in town for a visit.
Before I proceed here or you go on to read any of my current or future post, here is something to consider: Use up all your pads, and or tampons before you go out and purchase these alternatives. Lowering or going Zero waste no not and in any and all situation has never been about discarding existing waste producers unused, in oder to fit into an ideal and "instagramerable" ideal.
That being said, if you already have one of these products and you aren't satisfied with it, please do not give up! Keep on keeping. We are all very different and yet very similar, so in oder to know what works for you, it's a matter of trying. I urge you to think of the time and effort it took you to first figure out how you know "deal" with that time of the month. This time around, its even more worth it, because you will be doing the planet a favour, and yourself one too. When you reduce your waste and open up to alternatives, you will quickly find it is definately not a one solution fits all sort of thing. And you might also find that a combination of more than one item works for you.
A huge part of this, it also a matter of how comfortable and ready you are to rediscover your body and explore it along this journey. Some of these solutions might seem disgusting because we aren't used to really dealing with our bodies or addressing our monthly visitor. I have found the process has made me more comfortable with that part of myself (especially after pregnancy and birth) and in many ways that in itself is quite freeing in comparison to how I used to relate. I do not feel like its a dirty little secret that needs to be managed and hidden, rather I see it now as me taking good care of myself and finding empowerment in understanding what my body is going through and discovering that I can feel immense comfort in knowing that part myself.
Link on the image above to go read post about Period Cups.
Reusable Pads & Panty Liners
(Link available by 30th April, 2019)
Apart the two above, here are some other alternatives, most of which are less spoken about and I am yet to test, review and link:
Mensural Disks (specifically for Intercourse, ZIGGY CUP)
Reusable tampons (crocheted, cotton)
Also lets not forget Accessories:
(Link available by 30th April, 2019)