Saturday, May 03, 2008

Women, let's talk.

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.


uncanny said...

I've had my Divacup for 4 years and I don't know how I lived without it. I actually forget about my period because I only have to deal with it twice a day. Aside from the environmental and health issues, it's so much easier to never have to think about whether I need to buy "supplies".

The key: make sure the little holes at the top are clear. It doesn't seal right if it can't "breathe".

jadedjabber said...

Thank you thank you thank you! Yes! Yes! Yes!

I got my diva cup a few years ago and I absolutely love it. It took a little while to get used to it but I feel so good about using it. Not only do I not have to worry about "spotting" I also fee good about not putting stuff in my body that has been chemically treated. I mean really, bleached cotton? That can't be good.

More women need to try the Diva cup. You need to give your self two cycles I think. To really know for sure. Once you go Diva, you will never go back.

katevp-a said...

Oh Beth! first of all kudos to you on blogging about this.. i fear i would not have been brave enough (me, the one who works with women's post birth bleeding every work day!).

secondly, i am glad that you posted this because it has been something i have been thinking about lately. i am not entirely certain if i'm ready to take the plunge. also, as a dweller in a co-op building, i don't know how i feel about tossing those reusable pads into a washing machine that at least 50 other people use... is that fair? my friend sarah and i always talk about cloth diapers. should we be throwing cloth diapers in the wash that is used by others. is poop and blood that is not your own kind of gross? kinda i would say. this is my current dilemma.

oh ps. when i say 'we' throw cloth diapers in, i mean her. no baby here!

anyway, thank you for furthering my pondering about switching over.

:) kate

Anonymous said...

i so so agree with you beth.

emily said...

yes. i made that switch too a couple years ago and i love it. i love that my period isn't "branded" and that my period no longer has to be tied to consumerism. I like that companies like Always and Kotex no longer "own" my period, no longer have any persuasive power in my life. And it does feel better to have cloth instead, or to not worry about TSS. Thanks for writing this, friend. (oh and about the comment about washing machines - it's not like blood and poop get on other people's clothes - it's washed out and you can rinse the pads in the bathtub beforehand as well. It's a similar idea to using silverware at restaurants. Your saliva was on the fork someone else is now using, but it's washed away in the meantime. And, you know, people are throwing stuff with semen on it in the washing machine, so...)