Date: June 30, 2015
posted by Lee / Comments: No Comments / Tags: Feminine hygiene, Menstrual cup, menstruation, Tampon, Toxic shock syndrome
A few months ago, I made the decision to stop using tampons. Mostly because of my upcoming trip to Sri Lanka, as personal hygiene can be a bit of a challenge in a country where you can’t even flush loo paper and it’s totally normal to burn your trash. The last few summers I collected my tampons during my cycle and then took them down to the railroad tracks to burn. If you think that’s gross, you’re totally correct, but it’s also environmentally irresponsible and slightly humiliating.
I’ve been using tampons since I was 15-years-old. They were a godsend to stem my insanely heavy flow and although I suffered occasional leaks, they were far more reliable than the diaper-sized pads I used to stuff my pants with. At nearly 35, the decision to quit tampons was a terrifying. These tiny, bullet-sized products were so entwined with my period and my psyche I wondered if I could ever stop using them for good.
I was due to depart for Sri Lanka in June, so in April I decided to take my Rainbow Cup for its maiden voyage to see how she fared. It had been sitting in my drawer since February, but I didn’t pluck up the courage to try it out until then.
The Rainbow Cup comes beautifully packaged and in a variety of colours (I went for blue.) I removed it from its organic cotton pouch and eyed it suspiciously. It seemed cumbersome and I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get it in. Ironically I had the same feeling nearly 20 years ago about tampons, so I read the instructions and went for it.
I ran it under the tap, folded in into a ‘C’ shape and inserted it until I thought it was in the right place. I twisted it, as per the directions and was instantly surprised that I could no longer feel this object that was so like the plastic nipple of a baby’s bottle. After doing a little dance in front of the mirror I pulled on my underwear and went about my day.
Admittedly it’s a little tricky to remove. You have to relax and pull it out by the stem-like extension of the cup. The first couple of times it was almost like a vacuum and I had to pull super-hard and left the toilet bowl looking like a particularly juvenile Pollok imitation, and I know this may sound pretty gross, but it was actually quite beautiful.
I hadn’t ever had contact with my menstrual blood except for instances of leaking and it was fascinating. There were bits and it was much darker than I anticipated and even after I had flushed, a small pool of it lingered in the toilet. It was pretty cool and I was suddenly inspired by my bodily secretions; for a second I even considered making some art with it. I haven’t quite gotten around to that yet.
I wore it that first night to sleep in without incident. No leaks and no setting an alarm to remind myself to change my tampon. I slept incredibly well and knew from this point on that I was hooked and could never go back.
The money I save alone each month is a good enough reason to keep on cuppin’ and the environmental and personal health benefits just seem like a bonus. I’m not necessarily trying to convert anyone here; I just want to share how much better I feel for having made this change.
I’ve recently read articles like this about young, otherwise healthy women contracting TSS from all of the chemicals used to manufacture these monthly necessities and it makes me shudder. There are alternatives out there and I think that at times we’re a bit scared to try something new unless we know someone else who has.
Well you all know me and I’m telling you that there is life after tampons and I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. I am also in no way being compensated by the aforementioned menstrual cup, this is not an advert. I just wanted to talk about something I think a lot of people avoid discussing. You’ve got choices and you’ve got nothing to lose.