I thought I'd continue on from my last post on personal care (no shampoo) and talk about simple, green and frugal ways to take care of...... secret women's business (in this context, taking care of "that time of the month").
So what did I do to take care of my menstrual needs??
Okay, I know that this can be a touchy/squeamish issue for some, so be warned for too much information ahead!!!
I use reusable menstrual products - products I've been using for over three years now. Namely, I use cloth pads and the Diva Cup. Now there are a heap of websites out there talking about how to use cloth pads and the Diva Cup so I won't repeat too much (I've provided some links at the bottom of this post) and I'll just write about it from my own perspective and how it went for me.
Firstly - cloth pads....
I used to be a tampon person but I did use disposable pads for the first 3 days of my period (my period back then was 7-8 days). So it took me awhile to get sold on the idea of cloth pads. After all disposable pads would sometimes leak on me so surely the idea of cloth would mean its even more messy.
Well, after much thinking, I finally bought ONE (yep, only one) cloth pad. When I took it out of the package, my first thought was there was NO WAY this thin little pad would hold all of my menstrual blood. I used to change disposable pads every hour to hour and a half on the first day. The cloth pad was thinner than the "slim" pads that they have out there! Still, I tried it and surprise, surprise it held it all in! AND I didn't have to change as often - about every 2-3 hours.
Changing would involve me putting the pad straight into a wet bag (like the kind I had for my kids' cloth nappies) and putting another one on. Then when I got home that night, I would put it in a bucket and leave it there till next wash time (about a day later). My cloth pad washing routine was cold rinse cycle first, then warm-hot wash afterwards.
I know some people would say I should soak them first, but I am first and foremost pretty lazy. Besides, I found that the velour topped hemp pads didn't stain anyway. And for those pads that didn't have a velour liner, the stains came out in the sun.
The cloth pads were also way way more comfortable than disposable pads.
The Diva Cup...
Now as I said before, I was a tampon person and while I was enjoying the painless switch over to cloth pads, I still wanted to have the same flexibility as tampons. So after a bit of reading, I decided to buy a Diva Cup.
When I first got it out of the box my first thought was WOW, ITS HUGE!!! The Diva Cup is probably the size of a standard pub shot-glass. I thought there was no way this could be comfortable! So in typical avoidance fashion, I waited till another friend of mine tried it, then I asked her about it. She assured me that once in, you can't feel it at all and was very very comfortable. PLUS she told me she wore hers for 12 hours straight and no leaks.
Anyway, the 12 hours straight thing sold me and next period, I tried it. I folded up the cup as per instructions. It was a bit scary going in ("relax, relax, breathe in, if a baby can come out of there then this little cup CAN fit in") then once in, I squirmed a bit, moved around and.... yep couldn't feel a thing!! I had one of those moments where you feel like a little miracle has occurred... yes, really. I realised that because its so soft (the cup is made of silicone), its not like a tampon where you can feel it move inside you if you squirm enough.
That day, I wore it for only 6 hours - I wanted to see what it looked like! So in the shower, I took it out and saw that the cup was only 1/2 full..... oh and the cool thing about the cup is that its got measurements on side so you can see exactly how many mls of blood was caught! (okay, I find it very cool, but I am a bit weird like that.)
Taking it out was also a bit scary at first but again, once I learned how to relax, it got a lot easier.
I now wear my Diva Cup 12-14 hours straight with no problems or leaks.
Three and a bit years on...
Am loving my cloth pads and Diva Cup. I find that not having to change so often has made the whole time of the month a lot simpler. And here's something else.... my period is now a lot shorter! So there's no real study or evidence done to prove that going reusable means that your period will get shorter, but I'm attributing the use of less chemicals in my menstrual products for the reason why its now shorter. My period has gone from 7-8 days to now 3-4 days. Also, I no longer experience any cramps during that time of the month.
I feel good that I'm no longer contributing to landfill every month. PLUS, after an initial outlay of about $100 AUD (for 7 cloth pads and the Diva Cup), I am no longer having to buy menstrual products every month.
For those who want to read a bit more about cloth pads and menstrual cups, check out the following websites:
ETA: I just realised that I have talked about the Diva cup as if its the only menstrual cup out there. Its not - there are heaps of different brands - the Diva cup is the only one I've tried simply because that was the cup a friend bought first. For a really good read of the different types of menstrual cups out there, check out: http://menstrualcups.wordpress.com/category/comparisons/
Thanks again everyone for responding so positively for this post.