A Feminist Education in Feminine Hygiene

Roughly 1 year ago a friend recommended to me that i read the book Cunt: A Declaration of Independence. I took her advice and proceeded to receive the feminine education of a lifetime. This lovely, lovely book brought to my attention the concept of environmentally conscious replacements for the standard pad and tampon; an idea that had not once crossed my mind in my experience as a menstruating girl/young woman.

Upon first hearing about menstrual cups and washable menstrual pads, I found the idea interesting – but maybe not for me. A year later I picked up an issue of Bitch Magazine and – flipping through the glossy pages – found an ad for Lunapads. Here again was this idea of washable menstrual pads. I opened my laptop, typed in the URL, and was greeted by a fantastic and informational website made by women. Never before had I been so excited about my own period! I decided I would give it a try. If I didn’t like the products then at least i would be supporting a really awesome company, and if I did – well, then I would be able to save hundreds of dollars over the years AND help the environment, too.

The day my package arrived, I opened it with hopeful anticipation. Inside was a Divacup & 2 Mini Pantyliners. I washed The Divacup and, although it wasn’t my period, tried it on (or is that in?) for size. I was floored. I could barely even tell that it was there! I couldn’t wait for my period to start so I could see it in action. Next came the pantyliners. I snapped one into place and pulled my panties back up. Again, I was filled with awe at how comfortable this product was. Normally wearing pads feels like an ordeal, definitely not something to look forward to.

I counted down the days to my next period and was more than ready when it came. I read the directions again on how to insert The Divacup and slid it into place. It was like living a dream: unlike a tampon I could leave it in for up to 12 hours and not worry about toxic shock syndrome. I didn’t get that icky uncomfortable dry feeling when removing it either, and I could sleep with it in, and work all day without it becoming uncomfortable. But the real plus side was how much it could hold! I have a copper IUD so my periods are unusually heavy. Wearing a normal pad on one of my heavier days is a pain. Literally. It chafes my thighs and I just feel like a mess all day. Not with The Divacup.

Although it was difficult to get it in the first several times, it got easier. The key is to get the seal right or you may end up with some leaks. But never fear! With a Mini Pantyliner handy those little leaks won’t be a problem. I’ve found that (if at home) the best way to get the DivaCup in is to sit on the floor with your knees open and slide it on in. Or if you happen to be at work or in a public restroom, insert it while sitting on the toilet, not standing. But everyone’s body is different, that’s just what worked for me.

The moral of the story: Do yourself a big favor and buy a Divacup. If it just isn’t for you, invest in some Lunapads and Lunapanties. They will do you and the world a ton of good!

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Izzy! We’d love to hear from everyone else, too. What writers, magazines, books or other publications inspired your “feminine education”?

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  • Jane

    It was the other way round for me, discovering reusable menstrual products is what lead me to ‘feminine education’…it made me realise how little I knew.

    Cunt: A Declaration of Independence was one of the first books on my list, then books like Taking Charge of Your Fertility (ALL women should read this book!), and then onto every book I could get my hands on about gynaecological/sexual health. Plus anything relating to sanitary protection which taught me all about the health, environmental and other issues with disposable tampons and pads…making me love my cloth pads and menstrual cup far more than ever.

    If it wasn’t for discovering such options I wouldn’t have went into sexual health and be doing the sort of work I am today. It’s amazing that a small discovery can make such a massive change in some women’s lives, and not just by making our periods a little easier/more comfortable!