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Reusable Menstrual Pads, my body and me

by Kayleigh Taylor 4 months ago in health

Let's talk about our bloody selves

Menstruation, or more widely known as a period, is a general monthly occurrence for girls and women everywhere and is a perfectly normal and natural part of being a glorious woman.

Most girls have a period that lasts on average 3-7 days on a monthly basis. But, for some, their periods can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to constant bleeding on and off for months.

I know, because I am one of these people. This brings me to my first topic of discussion;

What is classed as a 'normal' period and what did women use as sanitary products before sanitary products were easily accessed?

Well as I stated, the average woman or girls period lasts 3-7 days, most of which will be filled with some pain and discomfort (sorry ladies) and all of which will at some point or another probably pass a clot or two, (this is perfectly normal).

During monthly menstruation, the form of sanitary products used has drastically changed over the years. From scraps of rags to sea sponges, creative women (and a handful of men) have devised several ways to help handle menstruation. However, nowadays we have a range of products to choose from. From liners to tampons, pads to cups, our world has truly changed and the array of products now available has had a truly liberating effect.

But what about the girls of the world who still have to isolate themselves during menstrual cycles due to ignorant or religious views?

It's a sad reality but even in the 21st century, sexism is still rife and there is utter disgust surrounding periods from several parts of the globe; most of which occur through religion. In fact, all religions of the world have placed restrictions in one form or another on menstruating women, including Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. The only religion in the world where the scriptures condemn sexism is Sikhism.

Unlike other religions, Sikhism does not view women as 'impure' during their menstrual cycle and instead, they seek to celebrate the fertility that a period allows and do not restrict women from doing anything during their periods. There is an excellent article covering the taboo of periods and explaining how the Sikh Gurus referenced menstruation in their scriptures. I have linked the article below.

So we have a range of sanitary products to use but which ones are best?

Now, this is a tricky one. As far as your body your choice goes, any sanitary product is up to you. You should choose a product that most suits your body and one which you find the most comfortable. All sanitary products come with their pros and cons, depending on your body and how it works.

Tampons for example are perfect for the more active females. Those who may be involved in sports and especially long term swimmers. If you find the right size to suit your body and flow, you can barely feel that you're wearing one and it helps to keep some 'unpleasant smells' at bay. (Don't worry, only you can usually smell those smells, not people around you).

However, the feeling of not wearing a Tampon altogether can lead to some forgetful and health costly problems; one of which I am embarrassed to say happened to me.

Toxic Shock Syndrome something that can happen to any female but is an increased risk with the use of tampons. This is usually because they're left in too long and once removed can cause the following symptoms:

  • a high temperature.
  • flu-like symptoms, such as a headache, feeling cold, feeling tired or exhausted, an aching body, a sore throat and a cough.
  • feeling and being sick.
  • diarrhoea.
  • a widespread sunburn-like rash.
  • lips, tongue and the whites of the eyes turning a bright red.
  • dizziness or fainting

I developed Tss after forgetting I had a Tampon in and leaving it in for a whole week. Yes, a week. When it was first removed, the smell was horrific but I otherwise thought I was alright. An hour later I awoke in the night to all of the symptoms above and had to seek medical attention immediately. 10 days of antibiotics later and several trips to and from the doctor I started to feel much better but Tss is something that stayed with me so I never used Tampons again.

Pads and Liners are perfect for those wishing to lower their chances of Tss and still manage their periods with relative ease and cleanliness. Available from all major supermarkets and most small shops, pads and liners are a reasonably priced way to manage your periods and can easily be rolled up in the wrappers provided and discarded appropriately after use.

But the cons.

Well, a large number of women say disposable pads and liners make them feel unhygienic and less feminine. While I don't agree with the feminine part, the hygiene side was a real ball ache (without the balls) for me. I felt like every Tom, Dick and Sally could smell my leaking vagina (sorry for the unholy image) and not to mention I used to be a big swimmer so, at the time, I prefered Tampons anyway. (This was before my Tss experience).

Menstrual Cups something I tried for all of 10 minutes and took straight back out. Fitting just inside of your vagina, the menstrual cup can be comfortable for some but they were highly uncomfortable for me. I found myself scared to sit down in case a flow of blood suddenly squirted on the floor like something out of a menstrual horror movie, (images of which will now not escape my mind).

One of the reasons I found the cup did not work for me is due to my problems with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and the ever-growing (and annoying) polyps that grow out of my uterus.

Of course, try before you judge. Menstrual cups didn't work for me but they just are perfect for you.

This brings me to my final product and one which changed my life for the better.

Reusable pads

Now I know some of you may be thinking,

"Ew, that's disgusting, why would you re-use a pad?"

Well, I assure you not only are they hygienic, but they're also safe and far more environmentally friendly than any of the above-mentioned products.

Tampons, pads and menstrual cups can all end up in our oceans and considering the times we live in, I try not to contribute to that problem at all if I can avoid it.

Re-usable pads come in a range of sizes and designs and they're extremely cost-efficient. For example, an average pack of 12 pads or Tampons from reputable companies can cost on average £3 per box. Most women and young girls use 1-2 boxes a month. That means an average yearly spend of £72 and those that suffer from heavy periods will be spending a lot more.

I invested in a pack of 6 reusable pads from a small business on Etsy that cost me £24. I have had them for over 6 months and they still look brand new. They can be bought singularly or in packs (I recommend packs of 6) and are supplied with a wash bag to wash them in once you have finished.

It is advised you change them once every 8-24 hours (so they last longer than a pad) and they smell far less and feel far more comfortable than any sanitary product I have ever used.

They tend to clip to your undies with a little popper underneath the fold and once you're ready to change one, simply take it off, swill it with cold water (to avoid staining) and pop into the washbag to be washed. I tend to do this once a day to make sure I always have a couple available but you can opt to do this bi-daily instead with a quick cycle.

Most liners are black as well, so even the unsightly appearance of wasted blood no longer fills our minds. Win, win.

I have taken the liberty of linking an amazing shop below. Although you may find a cheaper alternative on Amazon, I am a big believer in shopping small, so I have linked a small Etsy business.

Just remember, whatever you choose, whatever suits your body, it is just that. Your choice. Your body. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Break the taboo, break the stigma. Talk about your bloody selves and embrace every inch of being a woman.

Thank you very much for supporting me and taking the time to read my work. Your support fills me with the confidence to carry on.

If you have enjoyed what you have read, I would appreciate it if you could hit the like button and if you're feeling particularly generous, maybe give a tip too?

Kayleigh Taylor
Kayleigh Taylor
Read next: The State
Kayleigh Taylor

Kayleigh Taylor is an award winning poet and published author with a love for writing the raw reality of topics including sex, parenthood and politics.

Kayleigh enjoys literature, music and creating items which she sells on her Etsy store.

See all posts by Kayleigh Taylor

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