Those pesky little shits. I’m convinced the only reason the patriarchy exists is because women have been continuously distracted by Raggedy Anne’s persistent womb punching.
For millennia we have been searching for the perfect mix of pain relief and absorption. Whilst we’ve moved on from ground toad as pain relief, our menstrual absorption techniques haven’t evolved much since the Ancient Egyptian Tampon.
I remember eagerly telling my Year 5 teacher that my crimson tide had arrived. I had reached womanhood, and if tampon adverts were anything to go by, a world of carefree rollercoaster rides and white shorts awaited me.
White shorts were the last thing on my mind, especially after I got off the bus to find I had leaked through my tights, school trousers AND coat to leave a neat red-brown stain on the seat (Thank God for those ugly patterns!)
Finding the right period protection can be a traumatic experience – get it wrong and you risk discomfort and major embarrassment. Get it right and… well you’re still on your period.
I spent the first few years of “adulthood” stuffing my pants with bulky pads. Then in Year 7, sex education gifted me with a whole other option!
My effortlessly cool tutor said there was no other option for her. So it was settled. Pads were out, tampons were in… well not really in. My first attempt at inserting a tampon ended with me crying on a hotel bed, despairing at the thought of never entering a pool again (I’m big on catastrophising).
So tampons were out until my first sexual encounter and then it was a cycle of thin pads, compact tampons, thinner pads, pearly tampons etc.
But neither fully left me at ease; tampons were drying when my flow was light, pads unreliable when it was heavy. But I soldiered on, convinced that since I heard no complaints from my fellow females, everything was great for them, and should be great for me too.
Last year I was planning my first backpacking trip and I new sanitary bins would not be priority in areas where the toilets were “flushed” with a bucket of water. I did some research and the diva cup seemed to be the apparatus of choice. No bleach, reusable, lasts for up to 12 hours. It seemed perfect. Plus it was the only “alternative feminine hygiene product” I could get in Boots.
So off I trotted to SE Asia, cup in tow.
I guess it worked. But it also didn’t.
I could leave it in until I got to an appropriate toilet, but I also “felt” it every step I took. I never knew if I had it in properly, it always seemed to pop before it went anywhere.
I was convinced I was the problem. On paper it was a perfect product and the internet was raving about it. So I reluctantly persevered.
Then one morning I listened to “The Taboo Trifecta” episode of Freakonomics. In Miki Agrawal I found my spirit animal. I was in equal parts awed and inspired by her courage and ability to fight the patriarchal silencing of our needs. And of course if period panties were good enough for her surgeon sister, they were good enough for me!
Thinx have really made me feel in control of my period. I don’t have to shove bleached, phallic objects into my hoo ha and I don’t have to worry about painting another bus seat. They last all day and keep my sheets clean in the night.
As you can see, they are actually cute so my period pants are probably nicer than the pants I wear the rest of the month. The absorbent material is thin and removes all odours. My period isn’t as heavy as it used to be (thanks to my uteran companion) so I can only vouch for there brilliance if your flow is light to medium.
It’s time to take back our periods!
We should be able to talk about period pain as if it was an arm ache, not in the hushed voices of someone who just clogged the toilet at work.
We should teach our girls (and ourselves) about the full range of products available – with the pros and cons of each. It should no longer be a given that young girls sign up to filling their bodies with bleached cotton as they contribute to our already unsustainable levels of global rubbish.
Find your most confident period practise and let’s smash the patriarchy!