Thursday, 23 October 2014

*Warning: Too Much Information is an understatement* Menstrual Cups

We also all agree that periods are awful? (If you answered 'no' to that question, go away, we can no longer be friends) This is going to be a post about periods, I haven't written it yet so can't vouch for how graphic I'll get, but the phrases "torrents of blood" and "painful vagina" are likely to come up. Continue at your own discretion.

Tampons and chocolate

So... Periods. Painful, little bit gross, completely unfair. As if sexism wasn't bad enough, we could at least do without our own bodies revolting on us for a quarter of our lives between the ages of 13 and 52.

The generally accepted necessities are pads and/or tampons (as well as painkillers, caffeine, chocolate, an exclusion zone for other people, stain removal detergent, new knickers, iron supplements, extra sleep, etc) but they aren't perfect.

Pads, you end up walking around with a squishy puddle of blood inside your pants. Those wrap around wings are always touch and go, have a particularly drawn out month and you'll start to rub the skin at the top of your thighs raw. I don't need to go into the issues of overnight pads do I? we can all agree they're just uncomfortable and despite being the approximate size and shape of a memory foam pillow never quite right.

Tampons. The string. I've never liked the string. I'm sure it's unhygienic, I can't see how it's not. Also the whole toxic shock syndrome risk just makes me very unhappy. I know it is a rare condition but I know two friends who rushed to hospital with it, one of them went into cardiac arrest and very nearly died. Tampons are essentially sponges and they don't discriminate in what they absorb, this is a problem because the walls of your vagina are made of a mucus membrane that constantly secretes fluid to maintain itself, tampons absorb that and mess things up. This can lead to your pH levels being off and can contribute to developing infections like thrush. Plus, there are times when your flow isn't as heavy as the tampon is designed to handle and when it's time to pull it out you end up performing some internal sandpapering. Those of you feeling queasy, I did warn you.

There are environmental impacts of them, we all agree that littering is bad, yes? We are pro-polar bear survival? If we actually stop and think about it we do care about what future generations will think about us leaving them man made mountains of rubbish that aren't going anywhere? Pads and tampons go into landfills, they're not great at biodegrading.

But honestly, whatever. Pads and tampons are not SUVs, and there's enough period shame about with someone trying to tell me that women should stop complaining about their periods and think of the rainforests. Plus, what are the alternatives? Just bleed over everything until it's over? Join a hippy commune?
They can also contain 3 times as much blue liquid as a regular tampon. Source.
When I first heard of menstrual cups I was a bit grossed out. Okay, so they're easily cleanable silicone that I can sterilise as often as I wish, but they're still essentially a small bucket to catch everything that I have to put up and pull out of myself. Yuck.

They do cost more initally, £22 from Boots at time of writing. But if you have to buy a box of tampons a month for a year then you're one of the lucky ones. I need at least two to deal with the fact some days there are torrents of blood and some days tsunamis. Okay so everywhere has own brand versions but they are cheap and nasty to use with a tendency to shed bits of fluff in places I don't want to be fluffy. So that leaves us with the name brands. Normally, yes, there is some kind of offer on, right now you can get 2 packs of Tampax for £5.

5x12=60

Sixty pounds to deal with something natural, that directly affects half the human race, that we pay 20% tax on? And that's just for one year! There is a man (yes, definitley a man) lying in a swimming pool of money somewhere and laughing.

So, menstrual cups. I use a Mooncup, because it's what Boots stock and therefore was the most easily available. They have two sizes, one for if you're young and have never delivered a baby, another that's ever so slightly wider for if you haven't kept up with your kegals.

It looks like an egg cup with a tail. You can trim the tail to whatever is most comfortable for you, but I would advise waiting a few days, as you move the cup will change position. Give it a chance to find it's resting spot, and find out what you need to pull it out. Personally, I trimmed mine too short and sometimes there's a few undignified and panicked minutes of trying to get at it. (See, told you there'd be too much information)
Helpful illustrations from dismembered hands. Source.
You fold it up, insert it, and forget about it for 12 hours. When you empty it just tip the contents down the toilet, rinse the cup under the tap and repeat step one. Running it under warm water I find makes insertion more comfortable, as does remembering to relax.

Mooncups are great, once you get used to them you can't understand why they aren't used by everyone. I've even found I get less cramps using them, though your milage may vary.

If you've got this far I'm guessing you haven't clicked away in squeamish horror or run to the bathroom to vomit, have you ever considered an alternative to pads and tampons? Will you now? Or is this just really icky and you wish I'd never started typing?

Joy xx
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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Crying in Public

The phrase "Ugly Crying" is one that I understand completely: full body, crumbled face, snotty sobbing that leaves you unable to make legible sounds. But I do have a few issues with it, mostly that it implys there is a way to be attractive when crying which is an utterly absurd idea.

Jess, New Girl. via Tumblr
I cry, often and a lot. I missed that part of growing up where I was teased for being a crybaby and learnt to suppress tears. I'm aware it's odd how easily I burst into tears but it's also one of things I've just accepted, not crying would be like not freckling it's a physical response that feels completely out of my control. It's just one of those things that I do, I get emotional and I cry.

If I am upset then there's just an outpouring of fluid from my eyes, my face goes blotchy, and sometimes (rarely) I start to hiccup. It doesn't matter if I'm by myself, surrounded by friends or family, or complete strangers. Being prone to crying and unable to predict it I have found myself in awkward situations, waiting in the queue at Sainsbury's when overcome with depression- cry. In the library after a disagreeable meeting with a tutor- cry. Walking down the street on a day when my hormones have decided life isn't unpredictable enough- cry.

Possibly if those situations had been awkward enough I'd have found a way to get a lid on it, instead they taught me something else: other people don't give a shit.

If I'm around people I know then usually they make it worse by trying to talk about it, which is reasonable, usually crying is a sign that something is wrong, I understand completely that they want to help. But if you're alone in a crowded place no will give a toss. As individuals we care about the emotional well being of someone we know, as a social group crying is perfectly acceptable so long as you still get on with what you were doing. If you're in the shopping queue make sure you have your bags ready to pack and money to hand over, don't miss your stop on the bus, if in the library keep the sniffing to a minimum and carry on reading.

Seriously, we are. via Tumblr
I'm sure if I curled up in a ball, Ugly Crying in the middle of the street strangers would come up to me. But if you just keep your head up, walk on, occasionally wipe away the tears so you can see where you're going, you'll be dandy. Public displays of crying have become so commonplace in NYC that there is in fact an entire Tumblog devoted to the best places to go and cry.

I don't find crying a cathartic experience, it's more like a nosebleed, a mild annoyance that you can't really affect and is the sort of thing best dealt with by yourself- other people blustering around will just get in the way.

I would urge you, if you see someone crying in public, to treat them in the same way you would someone having a nosebleed. Offer them a tissue, ask if they're all right, leave them to get on with it. Obviously step three might alter based in their response to step two- if they're crying or bleeding because someone hit them, for example, stick around.

Do you cry a lot? Or are you more like my dad: see somebody crying, get terribly British, offer to put the kettle on and just leave until you think it's all over?

Joy xx
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