New year new you?
Happy New Year, and welcome to January 2022! For those who do not know, January is Self-Love Month, and I find that fits so well since, for many, it is a month full of New Year’s resolutions. The “new year, new me” mindset motivates people all over to take better care of themselves, but something that is usually unaddressed is improving menstrual health. Taking care of yourself includes taking care of your mind, body, and spirit in ways that align with your goals and personal values, and this does not change on your period. Today, we will explore menstruation and the focus is on taking care of the body for individuals that experience menstruation in ways that improve their self-love.
The reality is: periods suck, but they don’t have to be that bad for the individuals that experience them. The first week of January is Women’s Self-Empowerment Week, but I will be discussing self-empowerment for any and all individuals with experience with menstruation. This is because not everyone who menstruates also identifies as a woman, people who menstruate can have diverse gender identities and expressions, but all share experiences dealing with monthly bleeding. It can be hard to feel empowered when your body goes through a cycle you have little control over – when your period comes you are expected to manage the flow, while going on with everyday life. If you have ever menstruated, or have been taught about menstruation, the period products you most likely know and use are those most discussed in schools and advertised in media and stores: pads/liners and tam-pons with applicators. These are both disposable paper products that, even without “pink” or “luxury” taxes, result in significant regular expense. In addition, these options are often noisy, bulky, and marketed specifically to people who identify as feminine. Part of the problem is, in order to feel empowered and in control of your decisions, you need to understand all of the options available to you.
Things to consider:
- Did you know there are tampons without applicators that give you more control in positioning by inserting with a finger instead of hard plastic? Or that, if you prefer an applicator, there are reusable applicators that you can use with those tampons?
- Did you know that there are internal menstrual products made without paper that, unlike tampons, do not cause dryness or irritation and are not linked to causing Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)? Incidence in the US is estimated at 0.8-3.4 cases per 100,000 (NCBI).
- Did you know that there is an internal menstrual product that you can also wear during sex? Discs sit further in the vaginal canal and cannot usually be felt while in use.
- Did you know that there is absorbent underwear designed for menstruation? Similar to cloth pads, they are reusable and hold the same amounts of liquid as paper pad equivalents
- Did you know that all of these options above are more cost effective and help you produce less waste than standard pads/liners and tampons with applicators? See charts following the piece for more information.
Having discussed these ideas, we now encourage you to continue with your own research; try different products, different brands, and different sizes – your period is as unique as you are, and you deserve to choose a product that fits your needs. We may not have much say in how or when our period comes, and it is definitely not an enjoyable experience, but having the choice for the product you want to use is a way to honor and love yourself when your period does come.