I got my first period in the sixth grade. Like most first-timers, I used pads and panty liners. I hated them so much that I begged my mom to let me use tampons soon thereafter. Once she agreed and showed me the tampon-using ropes, I didn’t come near a pad for decades.
Following the birth of my first son, all bets were off when my midwife whipped out the sexiest of all women’s undergarments, the infamous mesh underwear. And yes, of course I waddled around wearing thick, giant postpartum pads for days (weeks?) following that, as my vagina was wrecked and in no position for any other remedy. Obviously.
Fast forward about four years, now the mother of two boys and, thanks to an early self-weaning second baby, my period was back in full-swing. I handled it as I did before motherhood with my usual tampon brand, but a few months in I realized it just wasn’t working. A product that must be comfortable and effective was no longer either.
I tried switching sizes, brands, subtypes within brands I trusted…no matter what, I came up unsatisfied. Then one fine day Facebook, in all it’s infinite advertising wisdom, showed me Thinx. Thinx are reusable period proof underwear. “Gross,” I thought.
But here I saw these real women with real bodies promising me a better period. So I thought again. Maybe I could use these just on my light days at the end. I ponied up for three pair figuring that once these magical period panties arrived at my doorstep at least half of my six-day period would be more comfortable.
A couple months later my friend was visiting from Houston and saw them drying in my laundry room. Naturally, I began infomercialling her about them and through this conversation I learned that she was also having a problem with tampons following childbirth. She asked if I’d ever tried a menstrual cup. “Gross,” I thought.
But here was this real woman with a real mama body promising me a better period. So I thought again. Maybe I could use it just on those first heavy days at the start of my period. I ponied up for a Lena Cup, committed to kicking tampons to the curb completely.
It’s been well over a year and I have never once regretted making the switch. Here’s why:
- Comfort: It takes some practice but once you position the cup correctly for your body, you cannot feel it. Like, at all.
- Convenience: You only need to remove, wash, and reinsert your cup every 12 hours.
- Cost: It only takes a few months to recoup the cost of a cup, which can last you up to 5 years! Also, have you ever had to pay a plumber to come out only to have them tell you that your “feminine hygiene product” was the cause of the problem? I have. Not only did it make my face turn bright red, it cost me a few hundred bucks.
- I Heart the Earth: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Two out of three in every period for me.
Thinking about making the switch? There are lots of products available now such as Lena Cup, Diva Cup, Thinx, Lunapads, and even disposable cups if you want to try them out before buying a reusable one. **BONUS TIME, the disposables are great for travel for two reasons: a) you can throw them out if cleaning on the go is not practical and b) sex is the same as ever in case you are with your love and ready to enjoy your trip to the fullest.**
Whatever product you choose, give yourself time. Your first period with a cup is going to be tricky but as with all things, practice makes perfect.
Now if I could just discover a modern solution for PMS…