Are tampons and maxi pads yesterday's news?
After reading an article where model Lauren Wasser lost her limbs because of symptoms related to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), I started to question myself, and my reasoning for using tampons. That week, I saw several products online for natural tampons, cloth maxi pads, and menstrual cups, that I had not noticed before. I started thinking, do I really need to use tampons and maxi pads? I’m aware that it is the media’s job to instill fear into the public, to some degree. Well this time it worked. Seriously, at one point I was scared that my vagina would cough and die. So I did a little research on alternatives to over the counter tampons and maxi pads.
According to the Mayo Clinic, TSS is rare, but it does happen, and has been historically associated primarily with the use of super absorbent tampons. Most women experience TSS after five hours of using a tampon, because tampons were not designed to be worn more than that time period. But I’m a heavy sleeper, and I grow tired of waking up in the middle of the night wondering if there is a horse head in my bed, when really I just had another leak from wearing a tampon or a maxi pad for too long (pads are also not designed to be worn more than five hours).
So I decided to give a menstrual cup a go. Being the cheap woman that I am, I went with the disposable, Softcups brand. I figured that if the product didn’t work, no Walgreens was going to take a used, $40 menstrual cup back for return, so I had better go disposable to see how I liked it first.
I went to my local Walgreens, and I asked the pharmacist, a dude, where I could find the menstrual cups. Mostly because some pharmacies (I hear) keep them in the pharmacy area, and not the feminine hygiene area. He was slightly confused, and probably disgusted. Well, at least his expression looked that way.
He was kind enough to get a lady clerk to help me find them. So I asked the lady clerk where I could find the menstrual cups. She was confused too. After some explaining, she gave me the package, and said, “Let me know how you like those thangs, baby doll,” in her hard, Southern accent. She said the thought of putting a cup up her tooter was weird, and she wanted to know if it actually worked, or if it was a “thing." I agreed to come back and give her a full report, and went home to try out my new cup.
So this is where things get weird. I got home, sat on the toilet, and got ready to insert that bad boy. It ended with a broken cup (don’t ask me how that happened), and a little back pain. Then I realized that I was probably doing it all wrong, and began to read the directions. (Yeah, I know it was a dumb move). Sure enough, I was doing it all wrong. Back pain was totally not part of the equation. And turns out, you don’t insert it like a tampon.
You push back, not up. Finally, the back pain was gone, but I have a low cervix, so this contraption is going to feel weird anyway.
But that’s just a minor inconvenience. What’s great is that it lasts 12 hours, and I can pee and poo wearing this thing. I did have a little leakage when I urinated, but the old lady on the Softcups website says that it was totally normal. Whew! But you don’t know how happy I felt when I woke up the next morning with no leakage, no stains in the bed, and best of all, no odor! (You can turn up your nose if you want, but every woman has had an odor in her lady parts. It’s part of life.)
Either way, I was happy. No more changing my tampons every hour (because I’m a big water drinker), no more changing tampons before sex, and no more asking co-workers for tampons when Mother Nature starts creeping on a come up. I was in bliss! Plus, one pack of disposable cups costed me less than $6 with my Walgreens card, and about 12 came in the pack. One lasts 12 hours, which means that I used an average of 3 vaginal cups during my heavy flow days. On my light days, I used a panty liner (hey, I’m still a work in progress). Can we say that I was geeked to already be saving money? I would have already annihilated half a box of tampons by day three of my menstrual cycle.
The old woman on the Softcups website also said that you could have sex wearing one. Whaaaat! I was ready to take that bad boy for a test drive with my husband! But he came down with the flu earlier that day, so no nookie for me.
But whatever. Me and my tiny vagina felt liberated. I’m feeling myself for sure.
Have you ever tied a menstrual cup? What’s your take on it?