What do I use? Pads, Tampons?
There are a few different products to use for catching your blood during your period period. They are:
- Sanitary Pads...Cloth and Disposables
- Sea Sponge Tampons
- Menstrual Cups
Sanitary Pads come in two varieties, the disposable kind and the cloth, washable re-usable kind.
Pads, napkins, surfboards, rags ... etc are worn outside of the body, and generally attached to your underwear in some way, either by clips, or an adhesive strip on the underside of the pad.
Disposables are convenient but are bad for the environment (they do not decompose and are contributing an enormous bulk to landfill. Do the sums, just imagine how many times you will menstruate throughout your life, and the number of pads your will throw away... it's huge!)
They can also be hazardous to your health because they contain numerous chemicals that may be absorbed into your skin, causing irritation and allergy. I'm not sure if there is anyone making organic disposable pads yet (does anyone out there know?) but if you come across them, they are the better choice for the health of your body.
Cloth pads are more eco friendly, and body friendly. Being re-usable they will save you money, as well as reducing landfill. Using cloth pads does require more effort as they need to be washed each time they are used and for some women it is an idea that they need to get used to.
Generally cloth pads cause far less irritation (most of them are made from cotton fabrics) and there are pads on the market now that equal disposable pads in terms of absorbancy, comfort and leak-proofability.
Tampons come in many sizes and are generally made out of cotton rayon blends. For health reasons, we recommend using only organic cotton tampons as you are lessening your risk to chemicals and TSS.
Using a tampon is pretty straight foward once you've had a bit of practice.
The first thing I would recommend is actually becoming familiar with your body... a hands on approach as it were. The diagrams below give you a brief idea of the location of various bits. Basically to put it bluntly females have three openings down there, the urethra (which we urinate or pee through), the vagina (which we bleed from, have sex, and birth babies through) and the anus (which we defacate or poo through).
When using a tampon, you are concerned with the middle opening, that is, the vagina. Now some tampons come with applicators and some don't. Personally I think you get a better feel and more accurate positioning using your own fingers, plus you lessen your risk of scratching the sensitive vaginal wall which is possible with the use of applicators. See how you feel, I have supplied pictures of non applicator (other sites have pictures with applicators, take your pick, the idea is basically the same.
So get into a comfortable position, this means in this case, a position which is going to allow easy access to your vagina, and a position where the vagina is relaxed and receptive. Usually this is either squatting, laying on your back or standing with one leg on a step/toilet etc.
Remove the wrapper from the tampon, hold the tampon in your hand (the tampon is held between the thumb and middle fingers, with the index finger at the base/string end of the tampon) with the string dangling. Using your free hand to open vagina gently, push tampon up into your vagina, then using your middle finger push the tampon up towards your tailbone. Generally the tampon should go in as far as about the length of your middle finger. When it's in, you should not feel any discomfort at all... if you do it's not in far enough, so simply push it in some more.
Practicing this is easier when your flow is heavier because there is more slip or you may want to try putting a lubricant (like KY jelly) on the tampon.
To Remove - Hold string and pull gently but firmly in the same direction or angle as when inserting, that is not straight down.
Sea Sponge Tampons
Based on the same idea as normal tampons, sea sponge tampons are made from sea sponges. They are absorbant, re-usable, and not linked to TSS.
Menstrual Cups are a small soft rubber cup that are worn internally like a tampon to collect your monthly flow. They hold a generous amount and only need to be changed/emptied a few times a day. They last a long time, are reusable and economical. Available from www.keeper.com or www.keeper.com.au also www.mooncup.co.uk