Let’s talk about the mess that comes with menstruating. Women bleed, and – over the years – most of us bleed quite a lot. So it tends to get a little messy. Just that other day, I was at work. It’s a new job and I was chatting with a coworker when I started to bleed. Sometimes you don’t even feel yourself bleeding, so when you do, you know it’s a lot. I wasn’t expecting my period, and for someone who has a regular cycle, this is a nightmare. I was completely unprepared. No pad or tampon, I had nothing on me. I felt like I was in grade 8 again. That awkward stage when you first get your period. You bleed on everything or you’re overcautious and waste a shit load of pads. You feel nervous going to the toilet at school in fear of others realizing you’re going to change your pad – as if it isn’t the most natural phenomenon. How embarrassing! Except, it’s not really. Menstruation is messy, that’s a simple fact, but how can we manage it a little better, or what are all the options we have?
I would have no problems asking my fellow females or menstruators for a pad or tampon, the only issue was, all my coworkers that day, were male. So I had to do the old classic, which was to stuff a HEAP of toilet paper in my undies and hope for the best. Then do a weird little duck waddle back to my car at the end of my shift, walking awkwardly to ensure the toilet paper didn’t move, so as to avoid all and any leaks.
We all have stories like this, and if we’re being honest; most of our stories are a lot worse. Perhaps the toilet paper did slip; perhaps blood leak out onto your jeans, and perhaps you did die of shame.
So what are some ways we can manage the mess of menstruating?
1. Pads & reusable pads
You can’t go wrong with a classic. Pads are a personal favorite of mine. You’ll generally start off using pads (not always) so I’ve always found them the most comfortable. There’s a huge range of sizes and shapes and of course you can even choose accessories, such as; wings. I love a pad with wings, you know that bitch isn’t going anywhere!
As we try to move towards a greener future, we’ve also started to do so with sanitary items. You can now buy reusable pads; well they’ve been around for years but are now becoming more accessible and normalized. I do however question the practicality; the washing, the stains, the smell? However I’m sure inconvenience is a small price to pay for a more sustainable future! We woman in the Western world have it pretty good. In developing countries woman often don’t have the means or the accessibility we can afford, when it comes to sanitary items. Check out this interview with Brittany Pratt; she’s a charity worker in Africa who has dedicated her life to bringing change to the state of education on women’s health in Africa. Brittany is working towards a future where all women have access to sanitary items, education and sexual healthcare.
I don’t know what I’d do if sanitary items weren’t so available to me. Even at the worst of times there’s always a convenience store open where I can buy embarrassingly large pads, Nurofen and chocolate, while giving the cashier an awkward little smile… like, yeah its that time of month.
Tampons are of course, another classic. The sister to pads, and they often go hand in hand…. Hands up my heavy flow girls! Some days the only thing that stops the absolute mess of menstruation is a tampon AND a pad. As with all sanitary items it’s all about personal preference. I love tampons when I’m in a bikini, swimming, or just interacting with water in some way. Tampons are perfect for when you’re out and about, and you want to ignore the fact that you have your period. If we move past the pesky tampon string, always hanging out of your bikini, tampons really are perfect, right? Unfortunately tampons come with some other risks; risks I‘m sure we’ve all encountered.
Let’s talk about the risks that come with choosing tampons
Losing the string.
I’m sure we’ve all been there, for whatever reason. It happens, maybe you had a bikini wax that day and you didn’t want the string to get caught in the wax and ripped out! God, can you imagine? It would be like a scene from The Shining.
GIF FROM THE SHINING
There’s a whole list of reasons we resort to stupid measures like cutting a tampon string, and can you blame us? However the string can still miraculously disappear or break, even if (unlike me) you’re not stupid enough to cut it.
I know I’ve been in some pretty desperate situations when it comes to tampons. Sitting in the bathroom almost crying because the fucking thing just won’t come out, wiping blood off my hands and almost texting my girls ‘hey, should we test how far this friendship really goes. I need your help’. Fortunately for my friends and I, I managed to retrieve the tampon in the end, but sitting there, completely desperate envisioning a trip to the hospital, I vowed to only use tampons when absolutely necessary.
Leaving it in and getting toxic shock
We’ve all pushed our limits with this one, what a shocker! You start your day thinking the max amount of hours you’ll keep your tampon in, and that number always rises by at least two (hours). That is, of course if your period isn’t heavy, then of course you have no choice, but to pull the bloody bastard out! We find ourselves in difficult situations because we try not let our period limit our life. But we can’t ignore it either! Whether you’re trekking through the bush with no toilets for miles, or spending the day sailing; we’ve all been in situations where we try to push the limits of time!
However toxic shock is serious and it is avoidable. Toxic shock is a complication that comes with certain bacterial infections, that’s why it’s best not to leave your tampon in for too long; cause ladies, bacteria builds up.
They can be pretty uncomfortable
If you try to start using them before your sexually active, they hurt like a bitch. Not so fun breaking your own hymen, leave that to horse riding or a very eager teenage boy. Of course it’s a different story if you’ve been sexually active, even with yourself. Do you remember the sensation when pulling your tampon out, and you’ve only just started using them? Oh hell, the shock, the horror! It’s a painful mix of pressure and the sensation of pulling out a plug. But at the end of the day hours of not worrying about your period and actually being able to live your life is always worth it.
3. Menstrual Cups
Who has tried menstrual cups? They’re a great alternative to tampons, but they do really bring the mess to a messy menstruation. If you like tampons, you’ll probably like cups. Cups also come with a lower risk factor opposed to tampons. They don’t contain chemicals whereas if you buy tampons that aren’t 100% organic cotton, they generally will. They also significantly decrease the risk of toxic shock, as it’s just a little rubber cup, containing no toxins. You can also leave them in four hours, as they have the capacity to hold a lot more blood than your regular tampon. So you won’t be caught in the middle of butt fuck nowhere, unable to change your tampon, because these babies have you covered for up to 12 hours!
4. Overnight pads and period panties
At this point you’re basically wearing a nappy. It’s certainly not the sexiest feeling. Your period is so damn heavy you have to wear a ridiculously large overnight pad to bed, and then the fucker still leaks onto your sheets. Fantastic. The overnight pads are really something else. I feel like a toddler; I’m on my period so I’m probably already crying, I’m eating anything and everything, and now you add essentially a nappy to the list. Someone get me a dummy and a bottle and put me to bed. Because we really do revert to toddler tendencies when
we’re on our period, don’t we? I almost cried this morning because I couldn’t find my coffee mug; I’d just filled it up… and somehow lost it. It was in front of me the whole time. My housemate witnessed the whole thing and was looking at me like I was from another planet. Men really are from mars, and they marvel at our Venus ways.
As with menstrual cups are generally used by women who prefer tampons, so too with period undies and pads. If you’re used to wearing pads and the ‘feel’ of bleeding more freely, then you’ll probably love period panties. Period panties are also extremely absorbent, therefore longer lasting, more comfortable and way more sustainable than their counterparts; pads. If you’re still not convinced another reason to switch to period panties instead of pads, is they won’t leak all over your sheets!
5. Sanitary & Panty Liners
For me, liners are a godsend. I can go for days on end with an extremely light flow, the thought of wearing a pad on those days is super off putting; no one wants to be wearing a pad unless they absolutely have to. So for those light days, where you don’t have to worry too much, a liner really is a blessing. Amen.
So, what are some of the many ways we women use Liners?
Liners can (obviously) be used for periods.
Liners are perfect for either when you have a light flow or you’re not sure if your getting period or not… Chucking a liner on – just in case – is far better than bleeding at work, and allows you that little bit of warning if you feel your period coming, and time to get to a toilet!
Liners can be used for discharge
A liner is great for days when there’s a bit extra discharge and you don’t want to ruin your undies. Us women are complicated, and as a result we encounter different kinds of discharge – ruining our undies all throughout our cycle. Our discharge can be acidic; it’s the vaginas way of protecting its environment, the acidity works to fight any bacteria. So a little discoloring in our undies is a small price to pay, but it’s a totally avoidable cost– if you use liners.
Liners can be used for sweat
Sometimes our hoo-ha’s get a little sweaty. Some of the fabrics we choose to wear create an environment where it becomes hard to breath down there. The air isn’t flowing. Obviously it’s not just due to our misinformed fashion choices, we play sports, we move… we’re busy women! So, naturally we get a little sweaty. Now the sweat might not show, but it’s not the most pleasant feeling, and not something you’d want to worry about. Therefore liners can provide a little extra comfort – in soaking up the sweat – and ensure you’re comfortable there’s no nasty sweat stains creeping through that summery skirt you love so much.
6. Free bleeding
You’ve heard of Free The Nipple, but what about Free Bleeding? For a niche group of women this is the way to go. Now, while wildly impractical, I can’t deny its appeal! Maybe because I relish the days when women’s periods were cause for celebration, when a woman could chill the fuck out, eat, bleed and sit around and talk shit with her friends for the length of her menstruation. It really seems like a win win to me. Men wouldn’t have to deal with our crazy and we could kick back in a tent (or a hut?) and be free to BLEED.
So, free bleeding certainly has its appeal, I just don’t know if I could justify ruining so many things. Dealing with stains on my knickers and sheets is hard enough.
However much like Free The Nipple, ‘Free Bleeding’ is actually a movement, therefore it’s taking a political stance to normalize menstruation, instead of being practical. Women go out in public and intentionally let their periods loose, leaking all over town! You have to admire their dedication to the cause! Not only does free bleeding intend to break the stigma of menstruation, but it also intends to highlight the high tax rates on sanitary products, and protest the financial burden of buying such products. A survey found that the average Australian woman spends $19.54 a month on period products, that’s $9379.73 over the course of a woman’s productive years. So not only do we get paid less, but we’re also throwing away almost 10k , just so we don’t bleed all over you.
Let’s talk about the mess…
Periods are staining your sheets, and you keep losing the race to get dressed after your shower. Things get pretty bloody, well… bloody. Sometimes it feels like there’s blood everywhere. We clean up blood that dripped onto the shower floor (after we lost the race), we go through hundreds of paper towels, and we do our very best to get stains out of our new sheets. Women are used to seeing blood, and cleaning it up, it’s for this reason I think we’d make pretty great serial killers, but for legal reasons, that was a joke.
The fact is, no matter which sanitary items we choose to use, it’s always going to get a little messy when we’re menstruating. Our periods have a way of sneaking up on us and being thoroughly unpredictable. They’re sneaky little bitches that ruin you day and your diet. But hopefully exploring which sanitary items work best for you can – at least – provide a little bit of solace.
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