Disclaimer: This blog is about... menstruation. Many men (and probably some women) will likely not want to read on. I, myself, am not very comfortable talking about this, as Danice would attest, and I am even less comfortable writing about it for the masses of people who read my blog. But I'm writing as an effort to get rid of some of that awkwardness, as I will explain below.
I made a decision about menstrual products last year, and it was probably one of my best choices all year (you know, next to deciding to become a pastor!). Since it was my sister who inspired me to do this, I'd love to inspire more women to follow suit. Also,I want to brag about how hard core I am, because I'm proud of it, and I don't exactly drop it into casual conversation.
This is what I did: I stopped buying tampons and pads, and instead, I bought two reusable products: the DivaCup , and Lunapads (designed and produced locally in Vancouver). Both can be ordered online.
Together, these cost me about $70, and will likely last me several years. My wallet is happy!
I am no longer contributing any menstrual products to landfills (an average woman throws away 12 000 pads and tampons in her lifetime, not to mention the packaging). The planet is happy!
I don't know much about the health risks of tampons and the bleaching and all that, but I'm kind of glad to not have to worry about that now, too. Bonus advantage: you can't feel the DivaCup, and Lunapads are much, much more soft and comfortable than plastic pads. My body is happy!
So... good for the environment, good for my body, good for my budget. All I had to do was to get comfortable with seeing my own blood. Which was easy, once I reminded myself that the people making me think it was dirty and embarrassing (maybe even shameful), in need of sanitizing, bleaching and immediate disposal were... drumroll please... the producers of the tampons and pads! How convenient for them. They're so embarrassed for me that they use a strange blue liquid to substitute for blood in their little scientific demonstrations on their commercials, and tell me I need "protection" from something that comes from my own body! An interesting article I read online (read it!) talked about how disposable pads (Kotex brand) were invented in 1921, after WWI, from an absorbent wadding used to bandage wounds in the war. The part about advertising is fascinating:
"...the menstrual product industry has employed a three-fold marketing strategy that remains remarkably unchanged almost 100 years later, though its methods may vary: medicalize menstruation as a problematic bodily function; emphasize the importance of hygiene (menstruation as "dirty"); and stress the potential for embarrassment ostensibly inherent in menstruation itself. In these ways, menstruation is itself constructed by the marketing of the product. In conjunction, these strategies effectively instruct women to be silent on the subject."
So I'm trying to break the silence, and change my own perceptions about my body and the way God made it to function. But I won't say much more - you can check out the product websites. (I will warn you that the DivaCup takes some practice and you have to be ready to give it several tries. Before starting with it, I used "ob" brand tampons, without applicators, and I think that was a good intermediate step.)
Feel free to ask me more questions about this, if you want... it might help me become less awkward talking about it.