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Dealing with Visits from Aunt Flo

Tuesday, September 18, 2007, 19:43 EST Leave a comment Go to comments

What is a sunny Tuesday morning without a post about menstruation? I bring this up because [TMI ALERT!] I got my period yesterday, and this is my second cycle using absolutely no disposable tampons or pads. Not only an I proud of myself, but for reasons I myself don’t quite understand, I have a sudden urge to preach the gospel of non-disposable menstrual products.

First, a brief history. Lara, an online friend from a loooong time ago, turned me on to cloth menstrual pads via this page. Thus introduced to alternative menstrual products, I have used Glad Rags and Lunapads and occasionally Pandora Pads month after month, sometimes in conjunction with tampons, occasionally replacing tampons entirely.

The advantages of cloth pads over disposables are significant. Because they are washable and reusable, cloth pads are more environmentally friendly and cheaper. I find them soft, less likely to chafe, and generally more comfortable than even “ultra-thin” disposables. The disadvatage is the need to carry used pads until you get home and can wash them, but a plastic zipper bag takes care of that problem.

Cloth pads are also cheaper and less polluting than tampons, but in other ways, they are lacking. Most women who wear tampons do so because they don’t like pads, and cloth pads are still pads. Especially while travelling, I found that pads could never replace the convenience of tampons.

In the meantime, I had seen something on the Glad Rags web site called the Keeper, and it began to intrigue me. (I have since noticed that Lara mentions it in two places on her site.) The Keeper is a natural rubber cup that you insert into the vagina to catch the menstrual blood. I admit that I didn’t like the look of the Keeper, which is a brownish color. Not that I would have to look at it while I was using it, but it just reminded me of old-fashioned medical supplies and equipment.

But when I learned about a silicone version that didn’t look like old brown rubber, I decided to give it a try. The translucent silicone version is called the Moon Cup and it works exactly like the Keeper. I bought one online a couple months ago and used it last month for the first time.

Before I elaborate, I should acknowledge that in order to use a menstrual cup, you have to understand your own anatomy and be unafraid to touch your genital area and come into contact with menstrual blood. None of that was much of a problem for me, being the daughter of a registered nurse who didn’t make me learn about this stuff from my friends at school.

So anyway, let’s just say that I’m sold on the Moon Cup. It took me just a few tries to get the hang of inserting and removing it, and once I trimmed the “stem” at the bottom (which was poking me from the inside, if you can imagine that) it was quite comfortable. I find it not the least bit difficult to use in a public rest room because it can be emptied, wiped with toilet paper, and reinserted without having to rinse it in the sink. I still use cloth pads as back-up but don’t really have to, as I have yet to have a leak. And while it was a little pricey up front ($35.00), it would take me only 10 months to spend that much on tampons ($7.00 for a box of 40, 20 used each month). The Moon Cup should last much longer than 10 months; the Keeper, which has been around longer, has a useful life of 10 years.

But the best part is that I can carry it in my purse in the little drawstring carry bag and never be caught by surprise. I feel like I have been freed of the worry of needing to keep supplies on hand at home, in the car, and at work. And there is something very feminist-feeling about not dreading my period.

So there is my menstrual manifesto. Anyone interested in purchasing a Keeper or Moon Cup can do so here or through a variety of other sites that also sell them (I bought mine from Glad Rags).

The more bashful among you can open your eyes now.

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