I will begin with a warning, this post is all about my genitalia and bodily fluids, most specifically menstrual blood. I am trying, in writing this, to be minimally graphic while still being clear, but if you're grossed out by those subjects, you may wish to just skip this one.
You may some time ago I made a resolution to reduce the amount of garbage that leaves my house. Part of this is reviewing what gets thrown away and figuring out alternatives. One thing that I throw away in pretty large quantities every month is feminine hygiene products, pads, mostly as I don't get along well with tampons. Every month I throw away dozens of these things, and it's only me. I can't place any of the blame on my husband or my sons.
I have been thinking about it for quite some time, but I've been waffling. The most obvious option is reusable pads. The idea of washing and reusing something soaked in my blood is just a little creepy to me. But why? I can wash and reuse diapers soaked in my son's urine and feces. Why is that not a big deal to me?
So I decided to suck it up and buy some reusable pads. I purchased Glad Rags. Bleh. They seemed an inexpensive option and came 3 to a package. But they're small to begin with and they shrunk when I washed them. They're okay on light days although they do tend to spin around leaving the snap side up and the pad side down and requiring awkward periodic adjustments. On heavy days they are pretty worthless. I used one of my son's Grovia Organic Diaper Soaker Pads (he doesn't use them anymore) on overflow days which are a bit of overkill and only work when I'm wearing super snug granny panties to hold them in place. Obviously I was going to have to come up with a better solution.
Now, I like using the fabric pads over the disposable pads for a few reasons. First off, I never have to worry about running out of pads. There's always going to be some around, I just might have to do a load of laundry. Also, they're much more comfortable. There's no itchiness, sweatiness or chafing. I'm starting to get a little uncomfortable with sharing the occasional discomforts of my nether regions with the world so I'll end it right there. The fabric pads are a little less cooperative about staying in place unless I'm wearing very tight clothing which is especially annoying because tight clothing reveals the naturally lumpy shape of my body and is best avoided. It is not annoying enough to decide it's not worth it to use them but the Glad Rags & diaper soaker solution really wasn't working for me after awhile.
I thought about making my own and there the Hillbilly Housewife blog has a good instructional page for doing so. But as we were moving and things were getting shifted around, my sewing machine was completely inaccessible and remains so as of this writing. I searched for a retail option that sucked a little less than the Glad Rags and became interested in Luna Pads, but the price was high for something that was so close to a product that had disappointed me before. If anyone has used them, by the way, I hope you'll comment and let me know if you love them.
It took me quite awhile to get around to trying anything else for several reasons, but I did do some research in the meantime. I learned that the plastics used in maxi pads may release estrogenic compounds that can wreak havoc with a woman's body and that women who used alternatives often reported that they eventually had gentler cycles. This appeals to me quite a bit since mind have always ravaged me.
I received a nice Amazon.com gift certificate as a housewarming gift and decided as I was searching for something nice for the house, that I'd also get some Luna Pads and see if I liked them, but I couldn't get past the feeling that this precious money might be completely wasted doing so. And then my eyes fell upon the Diva Cup. I had originally passed over this option because of my hatred for tampons, but really, it's more like a diaphragm than a tampon and I've used a diaphragm before with no issues, so why not? And it costs about half as much as a Luna Pad starter kit. AND doesn't require a run through the wash machine before reuse.
So I took a shot and bought one and tucked it away to await my opportunity to test it out (and then searched for it for a few days because I couldn't remember where I put it) and lo and behold: I love it! It's super easy once you figure it out (it does help to have used a diaphragm before but it's not exactly the same) and I had it figured out by the second day. It does feel a bit funny when you first put it in, but I "walk off" that feeling in just a few minutes. I used it overnight with no problems, though if I hadn't gotten up to use the bathroom in the night I might have had a problem because it was pretty full. I think I am not going to like trying to empty it when I'm out and about, but you can leave it in for 12 hours and using the bathroom while it's in is not a big deal, so I'll probably never have to. You just have to pat instead of wipe, which is probably better all around anyway. I have not yet had the courage to wear it without a backup pad, but I haven't needed one.
Some additional cool little things about the Diva Cup: it has lines on the sides to indicate how many ounces you've got in there. Weird, but kind of cool. If you're the type that likes to use your menstrual blood in spells or as an offering (something I am now considering though I never have before) this is a great tool to help you with collection.
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