A Story: My Journey From Pads To Cups
NEWS: I now sell menstrual cups at my new store:
I would like to share with everyone how I went from starting my first period and using pads, then switching to tampons, and finally menstrual cups. I’m hoping this story will help inspire some of you to do the same, or at least connect with you on a personal level. Perhaps even bring back a few memories of your own. 🙂
Pads– And So It Begins
My first period hit me when I was 12. I was living with my father and his parents, up in the mountainous woods in northern California. I was the only female of menstruating age on our family’s property, which was about 20 miles from the nearest town. One afternoon, I was out with my male cousins who were visiting us. We were looking for a place to build a tree fort, when I started feeling this dull, nagging ache in my pelvic area, close to my bladder. It wasn’t really bad, it was just kind of annoying.
Before my parents divorced, my mother told me all about periods, but I had never felt cramps before. So I wasn’t sure what the pain was. I also drank a lot of orange juice back at the house, so I had to go to the bathroom. I excused myself and quickly made my way back to the house. While I was in the bathroom, I noticed that the toilet paper was kind of pink after using it. So I grabbed some more toilet paper, to double check… This time, there was a dark red stain on it. I suddenly realized that I had started my first period! I sort of lingered there in shock for a minute. Then I used some toilet paper for temporary protection, and fixed my clothes.
I stood there in front of the sink, staring at my reflection in the mirror for a couple of minutes. Somehow, I just didn‘t look like the same person anymore. I realized I was growing up, and becoming a woman. I was now part of the changing of the tides, the moon, and the different seasons, in a magical way. Life from this point on would never be the same.
After breaking the news to my kind and understanding father, I watching him undergo the “My little girl is growing up” realization. Then we went into town and bought some disposable pads.
Lord, I hated using those things! The pad would move with my clothing, and cause stains. Or it would twist and bunch, which was painful to sit on. Then when I moved certain ways, the sticky side would peel up and stick to my skin… Ouch!! Plus I never felt clean or dry. Eventually, I learned to wear tighter underwear to keep things in place, but I still hated having to wear something akin to a small pillow for 6 days every month. I wasn’t brave enough to try tampons yet, so it was just a matter of setting my mind, every time my period hit.
Tampons– The Next Step
I admit, I avoided tampons as long as I could… I was afraid of them, because they seemed to advanced! Among many other typical fears. But I was forced to try them and learn the ropes one day, when I was 20 years old.
I was attending my local community college, and I had gone to visit my friend Sammy in the girl’s dorms, there on campus. We were watching a movie in her room– when suddenly, my period hit 3 days early! Sammy didn’t have pads, she only used tampons. And my flow had grown heavier by that age, so toilet paper wasn’t going to work. Sammy gave me the instruction pamphlet that came in her o.b. tampon box, and handed me 3 of the tampons to use. It took her a while to talk me into trying them, but finally I gave in and went to the bathroom.
I struggled to get that first one inserted… I didn’t know the vagina slanted back toward the rectum. So like many girls, I mistakenly aimed up (I would learn about that later). Eventually I got it to insert about an inch and a half, but no further. It just sat there, barely inside the entrance. And I admit, I partly didn’t want to put it in further, because I was afraid of losing it, which I now know is impossible. But it still did the job, and collected my flow for about 3 hours! I was amazed at how clean and dry I was! I had never spent my period clean and dry before. I decided to switch over for good, and I purchased a box of tampons that day, on the way home when my dad came to pick me up.
When I was 21, I finally realized that aiming BACK toward the rectum was the big trick to tampons. I was so amazed at how much more easily it went in, and how much further I could get it to go comfortably. Also, how I couldn’t feel it anymore! So that was a neat discovery. For the next 6 years, I would think that tampons were the greatest invention on earth…
Cups– A New And Better Way
I found out about menstrual cups one day in December 2008, after watching a western romance movie called “Stolen Women, Captured Hearts” on TV. For some odd reason, the movie got me wondering what Native American women used during their periods. Especially before white settlers came with all their cloth, back when most native women only wore leather skins. Leather didn’t really absorb… So what did they use?? I decided to look it up online, but found very little information.
I did however find the “museum Of menstruation” website. There, I saw some discussions about menstruation, and I kept seeing the words “menstrual cup”. At first, I thought maybe it was a bowl or a funny shaped cup that tribal women must have used a long time ago… I heard that some native women were kept in their own private tent until their period was over, so I figured maybe they squatted over a bowl or cup to catch the blood…? So I did a google search on the term “menstrual cup”.
One of the first results to come up was a video by YouTube member “Scottishboomerang” (Lucy). She showed the menstrual cup she owned, explained what it was and how it worked, then did a demonstration on how to insert and remove one, using a wine glass. At first, I was completely grossed out, and I refused to even give the idea a chance. But eventually, my curiosity won me over. I started doing research, and I found out that the material (medical silicone) has anti-bacterial qualities. And that the material has just the right blend of softness and firmness, to hold its shape during removal, so it won’t spill.
Eventually, I started to love the idea of never having to purchase disposables again. So I went to iherb.com and bought myself a cup! It arrived in the mail 4 days later, and I spent the week doing dry (non-period) practice runs with it until I got the hang of insertion and removal. Finally, when my period arrived, I tried my cup for real— and it worked like a charm! I was clean, dry, and comfortable all week! I have pretty much been a cup convert ever since, and I try to let everyone know about them.
Its funny how the smallest events in our lives can lead us to something revolutionary. Who would have thought that watching a western romance would lead me to a curiosity that would change the way I manage my period for life? All I can say is, when your instincts tell you to dig deeper, go ahead and do it! You never know what you might find.