After my second miscarriage I was surprised when my menstrual cycle triggered some intense emotional reactions, causing me to relive some of the feelings from that difficult time.
However, there's something good that's come from that experience. I realized that using pads during menstruation was part of what triggered my emotional reaction and brought up those feelings, and I've decided to approach menstruation in a different way.
When I was young my mother showed me how to use disposable tampons. She didn't let me use pads because she'd had some really bad experiences with them when she was growing up. She told me about having to wear an elastic belt to hold her pad in place, and it was obvious she'd hated it. I was given the impression that tampons were the best thing ever invented for menstruating women. I remember reading the warnings on the box about toxic shock syndrome, but my mother had never taken the time to explain any of that to me and I casually brushed it off. I figured what was best for her was also best for me, and I went on to use tampons for many years.
The first time I ever used a pad was after giving birth for the first time. It was such an odd thing to let the blood flow onto something outside of my body, and it was definitely awkward trying to keep the pads in place. If the flow demanded a larger pad it felt as though I were wearing a diaper, and I started to understand how my mother must have felt as a teenager. Not knowing about any other options however, I used whatever I had access to at the time. I continued to use disposable tampons, and pads were reserved for postpartum recovery.
As I got involved in blogging and started reading other blogs, I began to learn about some strange menstrual practices of other women. I discovered that some women actually use reusable cloth pads and washed them between uses. While the idea was intriguing, especially the concept of saving money and minimizing waste, it wasn't enough to cause me to change my own practices.
I also learned about menstrual cups, and that was the strangest of them all! To insert a flexible cup into one's vagina to catch the menses seemed bizarre! I posted about menstrual cups on my blog, more with a sense of odd fascination than a serious consideration.
Then a family member got a DivaCup and raved about how wonderful it was! I thought it was a little weird, especially when she invested in a cup for each of her young daughters, to save for when they would need it. She even got two other family members to try menstrual cups, and they seemed to love them just as much. It started sounding more like an interesting idea to me, and less bizarre. However, the initial cost of the cup was an issue for me. In the short-term it was less expensive to buy a box of tampons or a package of pads than a menstrual cup. Plus I couldn't find a cup at any local store. I'd have to order it online, pay shipping, and wait for it to arrive. It seemed like a lot of effort for something I wasn't sure I wanted to do.
Then I had two miscarriages. I had to use a lot of pads and look at a lot of blood during that time. I watched for blood clots and tissue to make sure that my body was appropriately flushing out what was no longer viable. It was intense.
Then my period came, and it all came flooding back. Changing pads, checking for anything unusual that might indicate a problem, paranoia and fear. It was connected to the pads.
I didn't like tampons. I didn't like pads. Neither seemed appealing in any way to me.
I considered using cloth pads, but I didn't want to spend money on something I could make myself and at the same time I didn't really want to do the work of making them myself. Plus, how would cloth pads work any better for me than the disposable type? The only difference would be that I was washing and reusing them. All the same annoyances were still there, and there was emotional trauma linked to them either way.
I finally seriously considered a menstrual cup. I'd done some research about cups back when I'd originally blogged about them. I knew there were many brands to choose from, and which were the most popular. Some prices had changed since I'd researched them before, and some newer companies had popped up on the market, but the basic information was still the same.
I posted on the Mamas and Babies facebook page and asked for input from the wonderful women there. I got so much helpful information, especially the personal experiences and reviews from those who had used menstrual cups. There were very positive responses along with some helpful tips about where to get a good cup, which brands to trust, and most of all how to use them successfully.
In my search I also discovered the option of reusable sea sponge tampons. I almost ordered a set because the price was lower than any of the cups I'd found, but I waited to make sure I knew exactly what I wanted before purchasing. I found out that the sponge needs to be changed as often as a disposable tampon, and that like disposables they can leak. I'd heard that menstrual cups only need to be changed every 12 hours, and that if used properly they don't leak at all. The sponges were recommended for use for 6 months, while the cups were recommended for a year. I also read that a menstrual cup can potentially last up to 10 years. There was also a rumor that the sea sponges, while completely natural and replenish-able, were potentially toxic because of the polluted nature of our earth's oceans. In the long run I would save a lot of money by making a relatively small investment in a menstrual cup now.
As I did some more searching I found the best price for a menstrual cup was on a website that I order homeopathic medicine and other supplements from fairly regularly. By including a DivaCup with my next order I would save on shipping costs.
So I've placed my order! I'm getting a menstrual cup, and I can't wait to try it! I find it so ironic that I'm actually looking forward to that time of the month, particularly after it had recently triggered emotional trauma. I think the difference is that I'm taking charge of it rather than letting it control me. I'm identifying what I need to change, and making those changes. I feel this is part of my healing, and I'm really looking forward to a healthier me.