All Articles Tagged "menstration"
I started my period when I was nine years old, during the summer between second and third grade. And while you might think that someone who has been battling the red dragon for so long would get some leeway with a light or short cycle, that has never been my life.
Instead, I’m the heavy flow, seven day type of girl. So I was never really about that tampon life. At nine, when my flow was still relatively moderate, I wasn’t skilled in the ways and workings of my vagina to be able to properly insert a tampon. By the time I got older, and my period settled into the monthly Hoover dam release, a tampon wouldn’t have done much for me. Plus, there was this borderline traumatic incident where my mom tried to insert one for me that just proved that tampons could in fact, be the devil. So pads it was…and still is.
Today, I love the security I get from pads but there were times when I wanted the freedom and air circulation that only a tampon could give. And somewhere along the way, my younger sister had become an expert at using them.
So, I’d use them occasionally, at the end of my cycle on maybe the last two or three light days.
It was during one of these “light days” that my friend and I went to explore Brooklyn in the summer. I wore an airy, dark floral print romper, a bandeau bra, a tampon, some comfortable, breathable drawers and open toed sandals. My period was coming to an end, it was a nice summer day and I intended to celebrate the occasion.
On the train to Brooklyn, I felt great. I had inserted the tampon in just right. I was good to go. But after the nearly hour long commute, I started to wonder if today was really a light day after all. I thought I felt something sliding down my inner thigh.
Must have just been sweat.
But it wasn’t that hot and I’m not naturally that sweaty. After a hour of walking around, it was clear that today was not as light as I thought. I should have worn a pad because blood was slowly starting to dampen the romper material in between my legs.
So here I was an hour away from home, with no access to a bathroom. Anyone who lives in New York City knows that unless you’re at a restaurant, businesses can be very stingy about letting the public use their toilets.
I went to a nearby pharmacy and bought some pads, the cycle friends I should have trusted from the start. They would never have me out here soaking through my clothes in the middle of the street. My only saving grace was the fact that my romper was black; otherwise, everyone would have been privy to my misfortune.
My friend and I kept walking until we stumbled upon a barbershop. Praying that blood wasn’t running down my legs, I walked in and asked one of the barbers if I could use the restroom. Thankfully, he said I could. When I got in there I planned to just slap a pad on, flush that disloyal tampon and take my leaky vagina home.
But when I took my romper off, the damage was more severe than I had anticipated. So I took both it and my panties off and were rinsing them out in the sink. I’ll spare you the details but based on what the rinse revealed, it was anything but a light day.
I walked out of the bathroom, 20 minutes later, with soaking wet drawers and a jumpsuit. But a clean wet, with soap and water. So I dealt with the discomfort.
On my way home I sat on the plastic bag my pads came in and rode an hour back home, having learned a very vital lesson. Tampons aren’t exactly the devil…but knowing my life and my flow, I’ll always need a trusty pad as a backup.
Last night, my sister and I were watching TV when some type of feminine hygiene commercial came on. In the commercial the women were dispelling myths about their periods. All of the myths were indeed false, until one woman said, “I used to think that people would be able to smell my period.” Immediately, I looked over at my sister. There was some truth behind that myth. If you wash properly and there are no other vaginal health issues, then people shouldn’t be able to smell your period. But, if you neglect your personal hygiene, there’s a good chance the funk might hit the fan…like literally.
If you don’t believe this is true, check out this absolutely humiliating story about a woman who woke up late for work and didn’t shower in the morning, though she was on her period. Here’s how her day at the office played out.
Suddenly, Corynne noticed something was amiss. It smelled like an “animal died.” I didn’t smell it. Funny how that works. Corynne was screaming how bad it smelled. “It’s coming in waves,” Olivia said…But then I did smell it. We moved around, and strangely, wherever I moved, we had pinpointed and isolated the spot!.. It was my period-blood-overflowing vagina all along…
She didn’t realize it was her period blood until she went home and used the restroom.
And then — AS ONE DOES — I went to the bathroom. That’s when I nearly passed out at the smell of my now near-toxic-fumes-level of massive menstruation…
In this woman’s defense, she mentioned that up until that day, her flow was too light so she took a supplement to increase blood flow. Well she certainly, got more than she bargained for. And though her story is a bit of a hot mess, there’s a lesson to be learned here. The lesson is when you’re on your period, wash your vadge, two or three times a day if you have to and change your napkin or tampon often. Hopefully, these are lessons we learned right around puberty when our mothers handed us our first sanitary napkin. I know in my house, my mother warned me about vaginal odor saying, “By the time you smell yourself, someone else has already smelled you.” I don’t know how true that is; I’d like to think if my vadge stinks, I’d be the first to know. But I can understand why she said it. It was a warning not to be caught slippin.’ Don’t be foul.
If however, you found that you were one of the coworkers in the situation above and you knew that the odor was coming from your coworker’s pants, how would you handle it?
Would you pull her aside? Would you ignore it or would you wait until she left the room and talk about her with the other employees? If you would tell her, how would you go about having that conversation? What would you say to make her aware of the issue without humiliating her anymore than necessary? Do tell.
I have to say, I really have some very keen friends within my Facebook network. For instance, Modupe Liston, a Milwaukee activist, posted a very poignant thought on her wall, “How come there is not an organized women’s movement against the absurdity of high prices for feminine hygiene products such as tampons and pads?”
Always Ultra Thin Overnights with Flexi-wings has been my staple product since they were invented. I’ve never been a tampon girl as I have developed an abnormal fear of Toxic Shock Syndrome, thanks in part to my reading of the insert from a pack of tampons as a child (long story). Yet over the last couple of years, I too have noticed that my beloved sanitary napkins has begun to slowly creep up in price. It’s not like an item that I can go without – unless I plan on taking up residency inside a menstruating hut, like the Dogon women of West Mali, for one week out of a month. Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad idea if the hut came with cable television and dark chocolate chip cookies. But alas, I don’t own a hut but I do have bills, which means that my hemorrhaging A$$ has to get up and go to work.
Anyway, the average cost for my necessity ranges between $7 to $9, depending upon the size of the package I get. Since I tend to flow on the heavy side, I go through about four to five of those suckers a day, which means that I use about a pack of around 36 in a month’s span. Based upon my rough estimations, my Aunt Flow costs me about $84 dollars a year, which means that I have paid thus far around $1260 since I was 15. And by the time I’m relieved of my womanly duty (i.e. menopause), I will have spent over $3000, just on sanitary napkins. Of course, this cost does not include inflation. Nor does it include the cost of party-liners, PMS relief, chocolate chip cookies and Victoria’s Secret panties that my aunt ruined. If we factor in these additional expenditures, we are probably looking at an additional $5000 over a lifetime. That is almost $10,000 of my hard earned money, which I have no say-son in.
The fact is that owning a vagina is pretty costly; from the pap smears, to infections, to the birth control, to actually giving birth, to menopause, woman must absorb certain costs that are exclusively spent on maintaining our natural, biological function. And who get’s rich off of this? Well since it is the elite that runs things and majority of the 1 percent are not women, let’s just say it’s men. And in a lot of ways, they have us by the…ahem…lady parts.