Men, I need you stop right now and run away like a starving cougar is chasing you. The word menstrual should have done that to you. Look at the word itself. “Men” is an address and “strual” if you screech it out a long time sounds like a cougar about to claw your back. I hardly doubt that’s a coincidence. So, shoo!
Now, ladies, I am so sorry we all have to deal with this. I avoided a lot of it only by being pregnant. But now that pregnancy is not a part of my life anymore, dealing with Aunt Flow is a regular part of my life from here on out.
Let’s talk typical menstrual products. Pads are made out of the same stuff as disposable diapers, and bleached. Tampons are bleached as well. Nasty, nasty stuff going next to and inside some parts you cherish and want to protect. I had no idea there was any other option until one day Kronk and I were looking into going on a hike. The hike was in a wilderness area where you had to hike out everything you brought in that was trash.
In our research we found something called a menstrual cup. It was called the Diva cup, and you may have heard of it. If you haven’t, it’s a silicon cup that goes inside where a tampon would go. Instead of absorbing and being tossed, it collects and then is rinsed out and reinserted.
I tried it and it was so uncomfortable I couldn’t bear it.
The next time I found myself looking into menstrual alternatives was when we were looking into cloth diapering for the kiddos. It turns out there’s a lot of overlap in the cloth diapering/cloth menstrual communities. You know, cause we’re a bunch of filthy hippies. Anyways, cloth menstrual pads work the same way cloth diapers do. I got myself some Lunapads and found a cleaning routine that worked. I would rise the pad out in the sink, soak it in some hydrogen peroxide, and then do a cold rise, then a hot wash in the washing machine. Yes, a lot of it involves dealing with your own blood, but I gotta tell you, as a woman who has dealt with various body fluids from various people, my own blood no longer grosses me out. Over the years I tried a few different brands and even made some of my own.
Tip: if you make your own, for the love of your dear precious skin, do not use velcro as a closure like I did the first time I made pads. You can recycle baby clothes snaps and use those instead. Jan Andrea, who has a ton of useful guides to making your own stuff, has a fabulous guide here on cloth pads.
Since having four kids, laundry has been beastly to keep on top of. Specifically, the three-wash-one-drier load to clean cloth diapers every two days was too much. When I tried different wash routines with less cycles, my diapers wouldn’t get clean and my babe would get rashes. Same happened with menstrual pads (I didn’t want to wash them with anything else), and I was always running out because I didn’t have enough pads to last more than two days. So after Scooby was born I just kinda dropped the whole cloth deal except for occasional cloth diaper use for him.
So I was back to using disposable pads, but the cost was bothering me. So I researched menstrual cups again and decided on the Fluercup. There’s a lot more options with menstrual cups now than eight years ago when I bought the Divacup. In short, I’ve been using it and have trouble getting it so it doesn’t leak, but it’s comfortable now! I have a feeling after a few cycles I’ll be a bit better at getting it in.
I’ve also heard of women using sponge tampons. Since my big investment in a cup I need to wait a good long time before trying something else, but if I keep having leaking problems, I’ll probably look into them.
So what’s the hippiest way? This one’s a bit tricker, because there are factors involved such as energy usage, where the menstrual product involved is manufactured, and so forth. But here is my estimation of the path to being a less crappy hippie.
The Steps to the Hippier Way of the Menstrual Cycle
1.Using commercial pads and/or tampons
2. Using commercially produced menstrual alternatives from other countries
3. Using commercially produced local menstrual alternatives
4. Making your own from recycled materials and using those, washing in a washing machine
5. Making your own and hand-washing them in the stream in your backyard while humming “Imagine” by John Lennon
So, the bottom line is, you’re a woman and you’re going to be bleeding a lot for the rest of your life. There are cleaner and cheaper ways to deal with it. If you’re interested, check out some of the links and be a little hippier. Peace out, man!