I remember getting these questions regularly when I started my blog, from younger girls who hadn’t started their periods yet and from ones who recently began menstruating. Suffice to say, I’m deeply touched that girls would reach out to me, as a male, to seek such advice. I hope they always get answers from me which are helpful and act as a guide, directing them to good sources of information such as sisters, parents, guardians, relatives or close female friends who can provide more anecdotal guidance than I would be able. I haven’t gotten a question like this for a while in my daily life, because almost all of my god-sis’ or close female friends are already well into becoming experts on their own periods. The “what pad or tampon is right for me?” question probably was last asked by my youngest god-sis about 4 years ago already! The reason why I decided to write about this topic, isn’t necessarily to answer inquiries from females about how to pick their products (as I believe my reviews and highlighted articles have achieved much of that already), but rather, because a male friend of mine has opened up to the idea of wanting to learn. The other day, he approached me, asking about my knowledge on menstruation. While he does not know the extent of my “enjoyment” of menstruation, he came to me because he’s known I’ve been involved in a few serious relationships before and no doubt, has had to deal with period issues at one point or another. So for the guys, this article may be right for you!
So my friend, being the geek he is (like me, heh) – it was very hard for him to wrap his head around how girls pick their feminine hygiene products. To him, how can different products be so unique that it makes you want one over another? He knew that different classes and models of cars offer a variety of features, performance and such, but how can he apply this to pads and tampons – it’s confusing for him! I must’ve spent a good hour just educating him about the basics of periods, why it exists, what the function is, how often it happens, etc. let alone go into details about pads and tampons yet. After he got grounded on what menstruation is all about (and probably puked a bit in his mouth as I noticed changes of expressions whenever I went into details), I began to explain to him the two common types of menstrual protection, pads and tampons. For the sake of not exploding his brain or turning him off the conversation, I started to go over the differences between disposal tampons and pads. Pads were either affixed to a sanitary belt or put onto panties to absorb menstrual flow as it exits the body, versus a tampon which is inserted into the vagina where menstrual flow is absorbed before it exits the body. Pads when filled, are removed from the panties, rolled/folded up and then disposed in the garbage. Tampons are withdrawn from the vagina and then thrown in the garbage or flushed down the toilet. In his words, “I didn’t even know pads existed – I only hear about tampons.” and as you can see, his innocence when it came to the existence of various options and their most basic method of functionality. Unfortunately, these menstrual protection terms are sometimes even used interchangeably.
Then he began to ask me, “How do girls know which pad or tampon is right for her?”
I told him that many girls often are introduced to their first brand and type of pad or tampon by an educator, parent, guardian or sibling. It’s quite common to find in households, that the females within the household share common brands and types of products they use. To be honest, out of my group of girls, I’ve only seen one who has a very different product lines as compared to her sisters and mom. There’s nothing “wrong” with that, however, from my experience, if the mother in a household uses brand X, then the rest of the girls will likely begin and continue to use brand X as well. However, picking a product is all a matter of personal preference and unless you have an over-controlling Asian mother, whether a daughter chooses to use pads, tampons or whatever brand is usually up to them. For some of the more adventurous girls, they may reach out to other types and brands of products through her friends or through her own willingness to experiment with different products. Some girls however, are forced to search for new products if their flow demands that they switch or should they have a particular reaction to the product they’re currently using. I do know a few of my girls suddenly began having allergies to products they’ve been using for years and had to switch products afterward. Allergies may be one or a combination of companies changing the composition of their products or over time, a girl developing sensitivity to one or more of the elements within the product. Just like buying a TV, we often hear from others which one they think is “the best” – then we find out for ourselves whether that’s true or not! Just likes pads and tampons, most people make decisions based on what they hear, see and perceive. It’s almost impossible to learn whether a feminine hygiene option is right until trying it!
Here’s where it gets difficult for him – trying to understand all the different attributes which separate one product from another. So then he asked me, “What is it about those wings I keep on hearing about? If thin pads are so much more comfortable, why do thick pads exists?”
So for a guy who didn’t know the existence of pads and the difference between pads and tampons, I didn’t find it shocking to hear this question. I knew that the concept of “wings” to him would be beyond his grasp, does it help make a girl fly? I explained to him that wings were meant to help keep the pad in place and conform to the shape/movement of the body and panties and that it also acted as a last ditch effort to prevent menstrual flow from leaving the side of the pad. I happened to have a pad with wings in my car, so I opened it up for him to take a look and of course without panties, I couldn’t demonstrate to him the application of wings underneath the crotch area, but I managed with a bit of visual description to give him an idea that wings extend from the side of the pad is is wrapped around the crotch of the underwear, that way, it secures itself against the panties and allow movements and shifting to synchronize with the pad in place.
He was already furrowing his eyebrows at me because who would’ve thought of something like “wings” on a sanitary product? He asked me if there were more “attributes” of a pad or tampon that makes one competitor’s product different from another… I sighed and told him, “yes, lots” and he rolled his eyes at me. Of course having the mindset of a keep, I actually used a very laughable analogy to explain all the attributes of pads to him in relevance to an RPG game. I told him since he’s so familiar with RPG’s, think about that a character is made of many “attributes”, strength, dexterity, intelligence, constitution, willpower, etc. and compare that to a pad with lengths, thickness, absorbency, width, wings, etc. He nodded in agreement with my very geeky analogy.
Length of a pad, what is it for? Well the length of the pad denotes how long the coverage area between your belly button to your lower back. Essentially, longer pads are usually designed for women who have heavier flows and thus, allows the pad to catch flow more easily and to disbursed it over a larger area. Sometimes, longer pads were designed for larger sized women, such as when the Always Maximum Protection pads were marketed, they were labelled for extra heavy flows and for women who were “size 14+”. Shorter pads are usually designed for lighter days and with longer pads designed for overnight use or heavier flows. In Canada, companies usually use “slender, regular, long, overnight, etc.” terminology to denote the length of the pad. In Asia, it’s common to use metric measurement such as “mm” or “cm” to denote the lengths rather than a generalized label of the length.
Width of a pad is similar to length in the sense that it’s a measurement of how much side-to-side coverage there is and is usually dependent on the flow-purpose of the pad. Some brands keep their widths the same and simply make pads longer to make a “regular” into an “overnight” pad. Some brands such as Stayfree (which I’m a big fan of) will make pads designed for heavier and overnight use with a larger width, as menstrual flow will often go to the edges during the night when one is sleeping, rather than day-use where most people are sitting or standing or at least in a position where the flow will drip right into the center of the pad and stay there. Remember that width can sometimes be compensated for in the event of pads with larger wings.
Absorbency usually defines the capacity of menstrual flow that a pad is capable of absorbing and in Canada, the absorbancy falls in-line with the length and under the description of “slender, regular, long, etc.” depending on the manufacturer. Either way, absorbency is not standardized like tampons are for pads. A “regular” absorbency pad by one company may not absorb the same amount as “regular” from another. Absorbency often varies depending on the technology used in the pad, some of which are proprietary. For instance, the big 3 companies in Canada that sells pads, Stayfree, Kotex and Always have various lines of products with different technologies. Stayfree has a new Thermocontrol line, Kotex has the Micromax core in their U by Kotex line, and Always has the Infincel beads in their Infinity line which different from their standard lines. I usually refer to these as the “premium lines” – a description which I adopted from Asia pads and tampons. Even comparing absorbency of a “regular” sized Always pad in their original line versus a “regular” sized Always Infinity pad, the Infinity one will absorb a lot more! Absorbency is very hard to define for pads because there’s just so many other factors involved.
Wings and No Wings, this is always confusing to explain to guys about why any girl would want to use pads without wings. Let’s face it, us guys drive all different types of cars, some people like spoilers and some do not. Likewise, not every girl needs to like wings on their pads, as much as it might sound contrary to not want something that helps. Wings can sometimes cause irritation and let’s not forget that wings aren’t always helpful. For some women, their body is much more attuned to pads with no wings and they feel that their pad already conforms well to their body without the assistance of wings. These are all legitimate personal choices! Furthermore, let’s not forget there’s a cost-savings here because pads with wings will usually either, a) cost more, or b) come fewer in a equivalent sized pack as compared to ones without wings.
Thin or thick? Naturally, one would like to assume that thin pads is always more comfortable and such is not the case. Thick pads sometimes can provide a comfort, like a pillow and also provides a closer body fit. Thick pads usually absorb better than their thin equivalency, however, with better technologies offered, sometimes thin pads can even outperform thick ones. Suffice to say, thick pads still offer a peace-of-mind to some women, therefore, thick pads should not be overlooked at being outdated or “not cool”. Feminine hygiene is a personal choice which is meant to provide both menstrual protection AND a feeling of security as psychological wellness matters too, especially during sensitive period times! Thin pads because of how paper-like they are often make more noise when walking, usually squishing and scratching noises. Thicker pads usually don’t have this problem, but then again, this is on a brand-to-brand basis. Thick pads for some can pose an uncomfortable feeling and usually anti-pad users will say they “feel like diapers” and sure enough, thick pads can get in the way of physical activities because the feeling of the pad is “always there.” Thick pads often will show bulging through tight pants and such, so there is a lack of discreteness if that is important. Thick pads usually are used at home and at night though for that reason when you have your own privacy and where “showing” is less of a concern.
By now, his eyes are already rolled back into his skull because as short as it was for you to read this on my blog, the conversation was a lot longer. I had to then tell him that now we’re done talking about pads, let’s move onto tampons!
Tampons in general have fewer attributes per se than pads.
Absorbency for tampons in Canada and the US have standardized amounts of menstrual flow they are designed to absorb in a single tampon and are as follows:
- Junior absorbency – less than 6 grams (Approximately 5 grams equals one teaspoon.)
- Regular absorbency – 6 to 9 grams
- Super absorbency – 9 to 12 grams
- Super plus absorbency – 12 to 15 grams
- Ultra absorbency – 15 to 18 grams
Of course even between standardized tampon absorption amounts, girls often find their experiences with various brands to be quite different. Because tampons have the potential to cause TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), absorbency ratings are regulated to protect users. Using the lowest possible absorbency to meet the needs of one’s menstrual flow is the best option. Absorbency doesn’t necessarily define the length or width of the tampon, but does influence it. On the same note, because tampons are worn internally, designers of tampons must create them in such a shape, size and way where it’s comfortable and is easy to insert/withdraw.
Expansion is something that is not usually talked about, but is something that’s integral to how well the tampon performs when inserted into the vagina. Tampons can expand in various “shapes” when inside the vagina, width-wise, length-wise or into “flower” type shapes, which help conform to the inside of the vagina. Think of a tampon as a plug and you will realize that the way tampons expand impact how well the tampon catches menstrual flow and whether “gaps” between the tampon and vaginal wall will occur, thus allowing flow to leak past the tampon. Expansion however, can equally cause discomfort so that’s why finding a tampon that has an expansion method which matches one’s body and still provides expected protection is integral.
Applicator or non-applicator tampons pose an impact to the environment and sometimes to the sanity of the girl. Girls who live by applicators usually have one of two reasons, 1) they don’t want to have their fingers so close to their bloody vagina or 2) feel it’s easier to insert. Because applicators add an extra piece of the overall size of the tampon, applicator tampons need to be sold in larger boxes/packages (yes, even the compact sized ones) and add additional trash to our landfills. However, some just can’t get over the idea that their fingers would need to become very intimate and close to their vagina and is unsanitary/unhygienic, therefore non-applicator tampons scare them. I have had real-life experiences with inserting both non-applicator and applicator tampons and honestly, I have preference towards non-applicator tampons no problem.
Type of applicator usually falls between 2 materials, cardboard and plastic. Both cause an environmental impact, however, cardboard because it’s usually biodegradable, has less environmental impact. Plastic however is often known to “glide in” much smoother. However, plastic applicator tips are often flanged to allow the tampon to be pushed through and thus, pinching is known to happen. Pinching already sucks when it happens on your hands, let alone when it’s in a sensitive area such as the vagina! Applicators can also sometimes have features and designs on it which assist in insertion, easy-to-hold grip/shape or compact form. The purpose of an applicator is to allow a tampon to be “planted” directly into the vagina. The applicator plunge is pushed, the tampon exits into the vagina and settles in, then the applicator is withdrawn from the body. The result is a string sewn into the center of the tampon which allows for withdrawal and the string stays outside the body. Some women like to tuck the string between the legs, labia or even inside their vagina.
I noticed that after all this information, I think that his mind was already at the tip of exploding. It’s a lot of information for a guy to stomach at one time, especially because he was the mild and shy type and to listen to my repeat of “pad”, “tampon” and “vagina” it made his face flush red. There were times I had to repeat myself so he understood concepts surrounding tampons and how applicators worked and such. I was more than happy to show him as I happened to have bought a box of U by Kotex Click tampons in my trunk. Seeing the visual really helped him grasp the idea of tampons and what the differences are between pads and tampons. One last thing I touched-base on because I knew talking about disposal pads and tampons already gave him the shivers at the thought of menstrual fluid (and that when pads and tampons are soaked up, the flow is actually less than it appears) saturating a pad and tampon. An average menstrual flow isn’t all that bad in terms of actual amount, but when we visually see a soaked pad and tampon, it almost looks like a someone’s arm was cut off by a saw! I skimmed through alternative pad and tampon options such as menstrual cups and cloth pads and by then, I could see the air of discomfort rising in him. With that, I stopped but then there’s still much for ME to learn about reusable products which I want to do before writing more about them.
Recently, I’ve been very fascinated with Lunapads and really want to make a donation AND purchase a set for testing and perhaps for my interested girls or bebe! So there you have it guys, if you ever wonder how much that girls have to think about when choosing a product right for them, you realize why the aisles are so damn big and complex! Hopefully though, you will also realize that it’s not a trivial matter at all and that picking the right product really helps a girl get through her day accident-free and with a peace-of-mind! If you’re not afraid of your own menstrual flow, I’d REALLY recommend you switching to reusable products because they’re great for the environment, economical, healthier for your body and comfortable because they use REAL cotton and not synthesized materials!
Times like these I really wish I lived in Toronto! I’d totally love to support a night like this, particularly when this is the first-ever Tampon Tuesday to hit “near home”! If you live in Toronto or nearby, have some feminine hygiene supplies & time to spare, I’d highly recommend going to Jack Astor’s tonight (Tuesday, Sept 27, 2011) on 133 John St. from 5:00-7:30PM
Everyone is encouraged to bring tampons and/or feminine hygiene products for THE DAILY FOOD BANK
CTV will also be present at the event, so who knows – if you show up, you might be aired on TV!
I actually wonder whether that many guys will show up or whether this would mainly be a female-event. If anyone does end up going, I’d really like to know how it went down!
Gail Nyberg and Carolina Gutierrez will be there to host the event. For those who may be unfamiliar with what this is really all about…: “Tampon Tuesday is a unique way to gather with other women in your community to NETWORK. SOCIALIZE AND GO WITH THE FLOW.”
According to their “Tampon Counter” they’ve raised ~4000 boxes of tampons. The thing that seemed to catch my eye though is I noticed their banner tagline of, “Women helping women… one box at a time.” – well I guess that answers my question of whether male presence will really be welcomed, lol!
For those of you who are avid shoppers and have access to a Walmart, you would know that this past week was Walmart’s anniversary. As such, they featured many low-price products and paired with back-to-school and back-IN-school sales, they attracted many shoppers of all ages and gender. As I was walking through Walmart, it was almost like wading through the streets of a busy night in Hong Kong, pushing through throngs of people to get at the “sale bins”. Clearly Walmart was prepared, because many of the sale items were constantly available as I watched the associates fill the shelves again and again as the masses of people stepped away, revealing gaping holes where products used to sit. Of those sales, Walmart featured an assortment of Always pads, liners and Tampax tampons for $2.87/ea – however, with a limit of 6. Obviously if you have those families that have many females in the house, whether living with relatives or with many daughters, girls had stacked boxes and packages at the checkout counter. Let’s face it, a family with 3 girls (let’s just say a mother and 2 daughters), that’s already EIGHTEEN packs of pads/tampons that they would be eligible to buy within the limits.
I swear, while the prices of pads or tampons haven’t decreased, it seems like the quantity of them slowly get chipped away. For instance, the original Stayfree line had more pads per package than the current Thermocontrol series, even though the overall pricing structure hasn’t changed. I can understand developing newer products and technology costs money and that shoppers may be turned off at a price hike, but let’s not assume people buying stuff are blind. We know that every package, there’s a few less before and the price of the package is still the same. That morning, when I got to work, I noticed my Brandsaver coupons had arrived, one of which was a 75-cents off any Always product. Given that the only other sale of Always products I’ve seen so cheap was $2.77 (only on 2 days of the week though), I figured $2.87 -0.75 would be a pretty good price to pick up some pads and tampons. Since the other day I only recently stocked up a variety of pads to revisit and tampons to have one of my girls test for me, I was not in need of them. But as usual, I always have my girls and girlfriend in mind and since bebe isn’t a big Always fan, I decided to check up on some of my other girls to see if they needed a restock!
While I always feel comfortable when it comes to being in the feminine hygiene aisle or that I’m a part of my girls’ purchasing decision, I never flaunt my status loudly. Again, I love the fact my girls allow me to be part of their menstrual lives, so in public I never make a huge deal out of it. I also respect the general public where I know that menstruation and purchasing products is a very taboo thing, particularly when there’s a male presence. Therefore I still try to ensure that the people around me aren’t affected by undue pressure or embarassment. I picked up my cell phone while standing in front of the Tampax bin and quietly, but audibly asked one of my girls if she needed tampons. A few heads turned and because this was in the open-floor and not the aisle (because they were in bargain sections, not in the usual feminine hygiene “corner”), there were young, old, male, female and everyone in between who took a double-take to what I said over the phone. I know I’m Asian, but I also didn’t shout in my phone, but in such a tight environment because of such a busy day, people were close enough to hear. I remember my exact words, “Hey [friend’s name], I’m at Walmart right now and I noticed they have some Tampax Supers on sale… the umm.. cardboard ones, are you interested in me getting some for you?”
The looks I received, I couldn’t quite make out the thoughts running through people’s heads. I know that people depending on upbringing, age and culture, all see male-participation in menstruation very differently. I know for one thing my dad would go with my mom to buy these products, but would not carry them and would often tell my mom to stop swinging her bags if they had pads in them, because it would attract too much humiliating attention. Likewise, the older guys in my family would definitely not even be present to buy such products or even recognize the existence of feminine hygiene supplies. For me, periods are something to be loved, cherished and an opportunity for us guys to show a bit of care and extra pampering. Suffice to say, my friend said she was actually running low and would love it if I could buy a few boxes for her and she’d pay me back. While some finished looking, others pretty much watched me and listened in on the entire conversation I had over the phone… perhaps they were interested in why I seem to have no gripes about buying tampons so openly or that I would be the one to initiate an offer to my friend if she needed some. I smiled and said, “Sure. After I get them, I’ll drop them off in an hour or so, is that ok?” and then the call ended. I picked up 4 boxes, cradled them in my arm and walked around for a bit more before going to checkout and getting in my car.
Throughout that time, I asked myself, when people looked at me, was it a look of disgust, jealousy or even perversion? There’s been a few times when I’ve had female sales clerks or cashiers, that they seemed pleasantly surprized seeing my proactiveness or just willingness to carry around pads/tampons without sheltering them. On the occasion where the staff are feeling brave, they’ve even commented on how “lucky your girlfriend or wife must be” even though there are times I were buying them for myself, for one of my girls or whatnot. Surely, I know bebe appreciates that I can openly purchase these products with her and that she never needs to be afraid to ask me to buy them, or buy them in my presence. Ask yourself, the last time you saw a guy buying feminine hygiene products: what were your thoughts? Was it, “ewww, that’s so gross…” or “Aw, that’s nice of him…” or “Gee, I wonder what he does with those..”
If you’re an Always or Tampax fan and have access to a Walmart, the sale ends in 2 days so get them quick!
So now it sucks that I have to point out this brand in particular, but, it’s right-on-topic with what I want to speak about. Being an avid fan of periods, perhaps I may not be as bothered by the idea of menstrual fluid, the sight, smell or even presence of it – but others may be, whether male or female. I can understand the fear that some girls may be self-conscious about their own smell or might even feel disgusted about their own smell that they would consider using scented products. This doesn’t just have to do with scented tampons or pads, but there is also quite a market out there of women who feel that they need to “feel fresh” by using things like vaginal wipes or sprays. My question is, “is it really necessary?”
Yes, our body does not emanate the most beautiful smells. Even those who use fragrance soaps and perfume – let’s face it, WE do not naturally smell good, we are only masking our own natural body smell. Suffice to say, it doesn’t mean we should discard hygiene and let ourselves smell like crap, but our body, especially our sensitive areas like our pubic region don’t need to smell like flower petals. Furthermore, we all know that these scents are just chemicals, so why on earth would we even consider putting chemicals near our private areas? If you don’t wash your face regularly with acid, then you probably wouldn’t want to stuff a scented tampon in your vagina. Sure, the chemicals in those aren’t as harsh as acid, but the bottom line is… that they’re still chemicals.
For many women who still continue to use conventional feminine hygiene products, disposable pads and tampons – they’re already subjecting themselves to many foreign materials and using scented products is just like adding salt to a wound. I’ve managed to persuade most of my girls who uses scented products to stay away from them or for ones who are self-conscious to only use scented products when they feel that their period smell may be exposed easily. We all like to smell good, I’m not sure how many people on this world enjoy smelling bad if they had a choice, but scented feminine hygiene products aren’t the way to go. Honestly, even a pad or tampon that has been worn to the maximum and leaking, menstrual fluid smell would still be minimal. As a female, ask yourself, how many people would even be close to your vagina? Unless you work in the sex industry or as a stripper, would there be that many people close enough to your vagina where they’d be able to smell you? It’d be perhaps, your partner or at least someone whom you are comfortable enough to be so intimately close to – so is covering up the smell that important?
Let’s consider scented tampons for a moment. A tampon goes inside the vagina and stays there until it’s withdrawn and then thrown away. Please feel free to justify the reasoning of why a scented tampon is necessary because once you pull it out, it goes right into the garbage or down the toilet. Would the smell of menstrual flow for the 2 seconds prior to disposal be so bad where it’d be necessary to have a scented product? Also, I’ve seen my fair share of scented products and really, even the most scented product isn’t enough to completely mask the smell of the menstrual fluid. Don’t believe me? If you have the guts, try it yourself. Scented pads are pretty bad because the pad is already rubbing against your pubic region the whole day and with tampons, it’s sitting inside your body for up to 8 hours a day, times the number of tampons you use per day. We may enjoy the idea of our outer regions smelling good and thus, we use heavily scented soaps or feminine wipes, but why does the inside of the vagina need to smell good? Douching has been a long-standing practice, especially for some cultures or backgrounds – but did you know that douching should be something that’s done only on the recommendation of a doctor? Douching can be bad for the vagina because it may upset the delicate pH balance of the vagina.
As I mentioned, I don’t know of too many of my girls who use scented products so for those who do or have used them, for what reason do you prefer scented products? I know some products don’t come with a choice, for instance, Stayfree pads used to have both scented and unscented versions – but not anymore as the all come slightly scented. I can understand if you’ve used a certain product for so long where you don’t feel persuaded to change products, but for those who are using a product such as Playtex tampons where they do have scented and unscented products – why would you opt to use the scented, especially knowing that it truly is unnecessary (or unless you have reasons to deem it necessary)? This is not meant to entice an argument or to say that those who uses scented products as “wrong” – but rather, let us discuss the pros and cons and weigh them as to whether using scented products is a sound idea.
For the women who use liners on a daily basis to stay fresh, then perhaps I can under that manufactures want to add scent to it to encourage the idea that a good smell is the way you stay fresh. You can’t stay fresh just by relying on a scented pantiliner, but also with proper hygiene and changing of underwear on a regular or daily basis. I understand that some women get discharge regularly or have to deal with overactive vaginal lubrication, which sometimes doesn’t have the most pleasent smell or causes that “damp” feeling against your vagina, but yet, isn’t that the point of underwear? Underwear was meant to provide us with a buffer between our bodily fluids and the rest of the world. I looked up the “purpose of underwear” and one important point that came up is that underwear is to “support and protect your genital“. With that said, a bit of gunk on your underwear isn’t going to cause major issues unless you have a very heavy discharge or soaking issue, then, I can see the necessity of wearing a pantiliner regularly.
The vagina, just like any part of our body requires “breathing space” and using a pantiliner every day prevents that. Pantiliners, as part of a pre-menstrual and post-menstrual application is reasonable, but every day is almost excessive. Beyond the consideration of having your vagina stuffed up by products, also consider wearing underwear that’s more air permeable. Wearing breathable articles of clothing may make you think that just exposes your “smell” more, but by improving the OVERALL HEALTH of your pubic area, you are helping it, not hindering it.
Remember the reasons why you chose scented products in the first place, review it and see if it still really makes sense to stick with them! If you want to smell good, consider all your other healthier options.
After a hiatus due to a prolonged illness, I am not back in action! My next topic was inspired as I was purchasing some pads to test in Walmart, seeing the reactions of male significant others, and the discomfort that was expressed between couples down the feminine hygiene aisle. I tend to take my time in this aisle, so no doubt during the very busy “back to school” season, I saw both young and old couples alike, with the females vying for these items before heading off for school or as a regular stock-up. I’m not sure how to write this article using proper wording and being sensitive to those who have perhaps gone through sexual reassignment, hormonal injections, people who have chosen to live an alternate lifestyle or even lesbian couples (since they’d be both ‘comfortable’ with the idea of a menstrual period), so I’m just going to write this in my stance of what Canadian society defines to be a male-female relationship.
So as I’m browsing the typical feminine hygiene products, I see a lot of guys walking past me with really uneasy faces – some more obvious than others, but all seem to express common-ground with each other, “let’s get the hell out of here as soon as we can!” and you can tell, because the second they leave sight of that aisle, their posture corrects themselves, their faces are no longer flush-red and they resume normal motion speeds. Of course, there are the odd guy who wanders into that section who don’t even flinch and good for you, but whenever there are males in the aisle with their female partner or friend, you can tell there’s a large air of discomfort – perhaps for both the male and female! I would say in general, most of the people who purchase these items with their significant other is when they’re living common-law or married. I’ve asked my male and female friends whether their counterpart are willing to purchase pads/tampons with them and most of them said no, or said only in major emergencies would they even consider it. Suffice to say, these are exactly “statistically proven” figures, but simply through questioning people who I happen to know – which may very well differ from “credible numbers.” Case-in-point, I recently went with a coworker to Walmart during a sale for tampons and she bought them in my presence and I even carried it for her all through checkout. It was quite comfortable and because she recently found out about my “interests” in menstruation. She admitted though, that did she not know that I was, “not grossed out by periods” that she would’ve asked me to wait in the car or wouldn’t have even bought it when she was with me.
I remember when I bought pads with bebe for the first time, it was such a comfortable experience for us both… I suppose given that bebe has always known about my “interest” that it wasn’t exactly a shocker for her or that she wasn’t used to talking to me about it. We were standing in the aisle and we were openly discussing which pads I recommend and which ones she usually buys. When I was with my coworker, I didn’t give as much of my opinion, since she only knows a degree of my interest and since we definitely don’t share the same comfort-level over her period as bebe and I do, I didn’t want to be the one “giving her pointers” about which tampons I would recommend or whatnot.
So to the guys, how many of you would actually go with your partner to purchase feminine hygiene products and to the girls, how many of you would let your male partner accompany you to buy these products?
Naturally, guys may feel uncomfortable in this aisle because it’s foreign to them and perhaps a bit embarrassing. After all, guys would not be accustomed to going down this aisle since they have no need for these products, therefore being there is almost like being that one guy who walks into a girls-only school or something. Sometimes, when a guy walks into this aisle, he gets a lot of looks from the females too, although luckily I haven’t been a victim myself of those “disapproving-stares” walking in… perhaps I look natural, lol. Once the guy “detects” the discomfort from others in the air, he will often try to escape quickly, for instance, you’ll often see guys trying to push the cart away, glance at other “non feminine hygiene things”, play with items inside the cart or he’ll put pressure onto his female partner to hurry up so they can leave. This is unfair as well to the female since she needs time to look at her options and choices and after all, shopping should be a pleasure and enjoyment right? We should not be rushed to make decisions. Guys will often look disgruntled as well for being in the aisle and you can tell the sigh of relief they have once they exit the section. It’s a privilege and an opportunity for us guys to be able to join our female partners to buy these items. It shows that they have comfort and trust and also it’s an opportunity for us to learn about our partner/periods. Remember that the discomfort may actually be two-way and the more discomfort you show as a male partner, the more your female counterpart may feel embarrassed, pressured or upset. Most females are quite open to buying male items, so why should we as guys feel embarrassed to accompany our female partners to buy her products? Don’t forget that for some women, it’s hard for them even to buy these items for themselves, so we should not heighten their existing discomfort as it is.
For the females, how comfortable are you when you buy these products with your male significant other? Do you let him pressure you into buying things faster, ask him to go look at something else or do you just take your time despite his discomfort? I saw an older man, who was buying some pads with his wife and he kept on pointing his cart out the aisle. The second his wife turned around and dropped one of the packages in the cart and while she turned around to choose another, the guy was already half-bolting out the aisle. The woman had to yell after her husband and told him to wait because she was not done. The guy sighed in exasperation and turned around and now with the extra attention attracted towards him now, the situation became even more embarrassing as you could see the man’s face going red like a tomato. A female entered the aisle shortly later and was browsing some tampons. I assume her partner came in (not sure if it’s a boyfriend or husband), but he wandered over and stood there with her. This guy seemed a lot more comfortable, but the girl did not. She stopped browsing and kind of glanced around – and gave the guy a really disapproving look. It appeared he didn’t clue in and it was clear she couldn’t comfortably concentrate on looking at her products with the guy’s presence. She prodded the guy to go, but he said to her, “I’m done getting what I need, just waiting for you now” – but the girl still asked the guy to go elsewhere. It was just kind of unfortunate that she was not comfortable with him being there. One could argue maybe they’re not that close, but looking at their buggy, they definitely seemed like a “couple” based on some of the stuff they bought together. Therefore, when it comes to buying feminine hygiene items, discomfort can and does exist on both sides of the fence.
Let’s all try to make shopping for ANY item a comfortable experience and be reasonably inclusive of each other, especially if there’s a relationship involved. If this person will be or already is a “special someone” in your life, then buying feminine hygiene items together should not be alarming. Achieving equality should be for both genders, not just women. After all, it’s pretty typical for women to buy male underwear, but yet, when a guy goes to buy female panties, he is likely viewed as a creep, pervert and is generally frowned. When a female buys male underwear, people will assume it’s for her son, boyfriend or husband, but when a male buys it, people will probably think it’s for him to wear or masturbate in, but not that he’s simply buying it for his daughter, girlfriend or wife. When you show patience and comfort with your partner as you shop with him/her, it makes the experience so much better and is fair to everyone. If she patiently waits for you to pick your choice of condoms, why should you not patiently wait for her to choose the right product so she doesn’t bleed all over you? 😆
August 24, 2011 9:53 PM
THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO HAS ISSUED A “RED ALERT”
DUE TO A TORNADO WARNING IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO
Emergency Situation: Environment Canada has issued a Tornado Warning in an area described as:
Recommended Actions: Emergency Management Ontario recommends that persons in the area described above IMMEDIATELY shelter. Everyone in this area should immediately move indoors, and away from doors and windows, preferably into a basement area if that is possible. Do not pick up family members from schools, daycares and institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. Plans are in place to protect them. People currently outside this area are advised not to enter this area until further notice. If it is safe to do so, pets and livestock should be removed quickly from outside.
Do not call 911 for information about this emergency.
Information is quoted from: http://www.emergencymanagementontario.ca/english/home.html
Menstruating and swimming tends to be one of those inquisitive topics that I get from some of my male readers. I suppose given that many men are oblivious to the differences of a “pad” and a “tampon” – it would not be a surprize to have them ponder how exactly does a woman on her period, swim (or maybe I should say, swim without menstruating everywhere)? Indeed, when it comes to a girl’s period and swimming, almost one exclusive thing comes to mind – a tampon. Nevertheless, there are other options and maybe this will give both boys and girls, a different way to look at water-activities during a period.
I think it goes without saying, that using a pad while fully submersed underwater isn’t going to be a very reliable form of protection. That’s not to say it will be “useless” – but it won’t work the way it was intended to work. Because a pad is like a sponge, it will absorb any liquid, including the water – whether it be in a pool or open-waters. If you’re planning to have your lower-body fully submerged in water at any time during your water activities, I would highly suggest an internal form of protection, such as a menstrual sponge, cup or tampon.
Now of course, if your water activities do not involve lower-body submersion, it’s quite possible to use a pad for your menstrual protection needs. For those who wear a swimsuit, you can optionally wear underwear or an underwear-like article underneath your suit (i.e underneath your bikini bottoms or swim-shorts) to secure your pad onto and of course, you’d want to choose a colour which wouldn’t show through your outer-material. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but some might consider it a bit of fashion faux pas. Because a swimsuit tends to be a closer fit to the body, you may want to use thin pads to avoid any bulging unless that is not a concern for you. Depending on how revealing your crotch-area is on your particular swimsuit, it may also be good to avoid winged pads. My own personal thought before talking to a few of my friends is that when I think of “beach” and “period” – it automatically makes me assume a tampon is involved. However, in places like Japan or even most Asian territories – because tampons aren’t the ‘common’ method of menstrual protection – many girls learn to make do with pads and modifying their water activities. It is quite common for a girl to wear a pad under a swimsuit and just make sure she wades thigh-deep into water at most, to prevent the pad from properly absorbing her menstrual flow rather than water. The more common alternative then, would just be to skip the swimsuit, stay in some shorts and wear your pads as per normal.
I know there’s a lot of talk about whether your period “stops” or not in the water. While I understand the concept of water pressure in play here, your period does not stop in the water and just to make my point firmer, your period (a biological function) doesn’t “cease” just because you are in water. Do you stop feeling the need to go pee or poop on a full bladder when you’re in the water? No – so neither does your period. Some people who think their period stops might either have a light enough period where the blood might not necessarily show or that there’s enough water/polluted colour not to notice (such as in open-waters). A girl with a heavy-flow and not using proper protection will likely not last long in a swimming pool before someone begins to notice. Mind you, you could always “free bleed” in open-waters and people may not notice, but it really has to do with your own conscience and whether you feel it’s hygienically correct for your menstrual flow to be floating around in water that everyone else is enjoying themselves in. If you’re in your own pool, then hell, do whatever you feel like. I should make mention that conventional pad materials aren’t very friendly with drainage systems, so using a pad in the water and allowing it to “fall apart” might cause issues in common pool drain/water systems.
I know that when it comes to swimming (full-body submersion) that it really is a pain-point for girls who don’t use internal protection. One of my girls was an avid swimmer and was pursuing her lifeguard certificate. However, in her mid-teenage years, she reached menarche and at the time she didn’t use tampons, she gave up much of her training and potential career/certification due to her period being an impediment in her being able to attend courses and required training. Pads are still a very large part of Asia and Asian culture, so it’s not unusual for an Asian girl to decline water activities when she’s on her period or will only do some knee-deep wading and water-splashing. Even if they don’t want to use tampons (fully in their rights), I give them extra kudos for being a good sport and still attending beach/water-related outings. Many girls have also found interesting way of using pads and actually submerging their lower body in the water, so you can always try. However, there are always potentially embarrassing consequences when your pad gives out and everything that was “locked” comes leaking out or when your pad fully soaks up water instead of your flow and your period & clots just leave a trail on the water surface.
On an anecdotal note, I have swam with a friend who’s period started unexpectedly while she was racing me and I can verify the whole concept of whether the water pressure is enough to keep the flow in the vagina – it doesn’t. Your period was meant to be expelled from the vagina and while underwater, gravity still exists. I know it can be quite hard for a girl who really wants to attend submersion water activities and having her period, this is just one of those instances where I have to say, “suck it up buttercup” because there’s not many options when it comes to dealing with an active flow while under water without some kind of surgical assistance or internal menstrual protection. Anyone who’s read this blog for a while will know I’m not a big fan of tampons, but sure enough, tampons were invented for a reason and one of them, being a great form of menstrual protection for water-sports! If you’re lucky enough to own your own pool facilities, I suppose you could freely bleed in it – although I’m not sure if it’d be that easy to be swimming with others with that happening.
So to shorten the entire post down, how to deal with swimming and your period?
- Use an internal form of protection (tampons, sea sponges, cups, etc.)
- Don’t swim
- Swim without protection (not recommend for public areas)
In closing, I’d like to add that swimming is a great activity to carry out while on your period if you can do it. Exercise is essential to maintaining good health, but also has great effects on alleviating period-related pains such as cramps or discomfort. If you’re not under so much pain that you’re ready to keel over, then some moderate exercise during your period will get your mind away from the pain, help you get your body in shape and not coop yourself up in the house!
Having spoken to many women before, I have to admit that it is a rarity to hear them say that they actually enjoy having their period. Certainly, women do have their fair share of inconveniences and pains, so I’m not surprized that some, if any, would be excited over their monthly visitor. There are of course those very lucky women who have little discomfort or inconvenience when they get their periods. For instance, one of my god-sis is quite fortunate to be one of them, with a very light menstrual flow and a short period, usually only 2-3 days per cycle. Her pad and tampon consumption is very low and her period has never once debilitated her enough from carrying on her normal lifestyle. There is beauty in menstruation, because not only does it signify the beauty of the female body maturing, but also giving ladies the responsibility of taking care of your personal hygiene by bringing the proper amount of product(s) with you! Maybe that’s why, women are much better at taking care of their bodies (and even in general) than men are capable of 😛
There are however, women who I spoken to who suffer from PCOS, period-related anemia and even sometimes just bad cramps/heavy flow that it severely disrupts their lifestyle, preventing them from attending class, going to work or even something as simple as going out for a walk. One experience I had personally was that one of my ex’s had such a bad period that she didn’t even want to go to the mall with me, in fears that she would need to change her feminine hygiene product urgently that she didn’t even want to endure the car ride or the possibility of not being close enough to a washroom and prevent a leak. Just like anything in life, there will always be women on either ends of extremes. I’m glad my bebe has a fairly normal menstrual experience, although it’s a bit longer than I would usually expect, as usually her cycle is into the 40-ish day ranges.
To put it into words, women have just learned to cope with their periods, but not necessarily embrace it. I cannot say I even know half of the feeling of what women go through during their periods and nor am I a psychologist, so I cannot say how easy/hard it would be to truly ‘love’ ones period. As a period-lover, I also can’t imagine not loving periods, despite the pains involved, so I may not be the person who can accurate describe how to help others change their mentality towards their own (or other females) period. Suffice to say, with women commonly in the workforce, many of them are forced to cope with their period at work, even if they may be highly affected by discomfort, pain or hygienic inconveniences. I wish from the bottom of my heart that every woman can have a pleasant and comfortable period, but unfortunately that dream for me is unlikely to come true. I know girls who have passed out from the pain of their period or have to use both an overnight pad and ultra tampon just to avoid leakage.
A few of my girls do enjoy their period, but not so much the menstruating factor, but more of the fact it gives them an opportunity to test new products, including ones which I suggest or recommend. I’ve had a few female readers send me complimenting emails on how they look forward to their period because they have been inspired to try new products every period as a result of reading my blog. One of my regular reader also tells me she looks forward to her period every month as she enjoys trying a variety of pads and tampons. Both of us amusingly, stock up excessively on the number of products, haha. We both wish there was a way to quickly go through all the products, that way, we can move on and try something new!
This blog exists not only to encourage men to learn and embrace menstruation, but also in hopes that the ladies will enjoy having their period and see it as an opportunity each time it comes along. I understand it’s hard for those who suffer from menstruation or menstrual-related disorders to view their period in the same way, but we can only make the best of each period! I know I’ve accomplished quite a bit with this blog and continue to hope I can touch the lives of my readers, because I’ve receive much positive feedback on how the blog has allowed them to view menstruation from a whole other angle. Persuasion is indeed a hard thing, particularly because it’s hard for me to put myself in place of a female who has experienced what periods feel like, including the “negativity” that surrounds periods. I had a lengthy discussion with a friend the other day about her period and it was tough for me to try to convince her that her period is a great part of her life. Unfortunately she suffers from some pretty wacky stuff with her period, so it’s hard for me to persuade her to enjoy her period in any way. On the bright side, I’ve got her to try a new product that she never tried before, so I’m trying to open up the doors for her to feel more comfortable with her period and get something positive out of it.
Do you or do you know women in your life who enjoy their period or perhaps even learned to love it?
Having been almost a year and a half since I started this blog, I’ve received lots of comments both on-site and as well as through IM and email. People often ask, how is it that I can be so open about a topic that is not native to my biological gender? Easy, it is an interest! With that said, the topic itself should not be embarrassing or shameful to tackle, as menstruation and is wonderful and mystical element of the female body. Women may not bond over the fact they share breasts, a vagina or long hair – but, many sisterhoods are formed over a common ground, their periods and naturally bleeding body. Suffice to say, one of my god-sis’ best friend was actually formed inside the women’s bathroom in high school. How could that happen? Simple, she lent one of her tampons to someone she didn’t know who was begging for one. After 7 years, they still remain close friends, despite facing the trials of life, finishing post-secondary, getting a job and working on starting their “adult” life – all through the small act of lending out a tampon. While this may be a rare circumstance to have such a friendship formed, it is but a simple example of the bond formed through an act of kindness over the pains and unfortunate appearance of menstrual flow.
Regularly speaking to my female friends and some male community members over the fascination of menstruation, I have come to realize that particularly for guys, opening up to fellow friends or a female partner is a daunting situation. Particularly in the case of a female partner, whether a girlfriend or wife, I think it’s necessary that two people are able to speak keenly about their own interests, both personality-wise and sexually. After all, if two people are in it for the long-run, why should they not know everything about their other half? Being able to share things openly with each other is an essential part of a functional relationship. Every girl I’ve been with in a romantic relationship knows about my menstrual interests, because I think it should be fair I can share it with them and fair that they need to be aware of it. There needs to be acceptance both ways, the fact that I fee lcomfortable enough to share such intimate details with them and also that they can accept my interest. Accepting in my mind, does not necessarily mean participating in my interest, but simply allowing me to “do my own thing” so to speak. Also, because this interest, generally speaking, is not something of destructive nature I believe wholeheartedly that it should not be something to cause alarm. For instance, if I were to start using illegal drugs, it would definitely be in any girlfriend or wife’s place to say STOP IT, but she should have no right to TELL me to stop. Suffice to say, if bebe asked me today to give up my interest in menstruation, I probably could because of my love and devotion to her that I would be willing to make such a sacrifice. With that said, it doesn’t mean any male or female should have the right to demand that the other person suppress their right to have a menstrual interest, despite whether they want to “take part” in it.
How did I approach the girl’s I’ve been with about my menstrual interests? Well, I would not be able to answer that in any concrete way, because just like any individual, each girl had a differently personality type, predisposed openness to menstruation and comfort level with their own body. I definitely found the girls who had the most comfort with their own body and open-minded personality that they adapted easily to my interest, including ones who even LOVED my passion with menstruation. Each girl is different so I can say for sure that the way I introduced my interests to Girl #1 is definitely differently compared to Girl #2. As I’ve mentioned before, I never had any girls in my life (who I shared a romantic relationship with that is) who did not at bare minimum accept my love for menstruation. Even bebe with her semi-frigidness seems willing to accept my interest in it and try to share herself with me when it came to such discussions. While she is far from being as enthusiastic as my ex over it, her efforts to do so make it extra heartwarming. Sharing such an interest comes with great danger, because it may very well make or break a relationship – or even – friendship. Remember that even in such an “advanced” and “modern” society, many people still ‘have a problem’ when it comes to the subject of menstruation.
Yes, I agree that menstruation, especially one’s OWN menstrual cycle is a personal detail, many people take it beyond the fact that it’s just “personal” – but the fact they themselves resent it or feel disgusted by it. I have no problem with a girl feeling exposed or that she rather keep her menstrual details to herself, but those who feel that their menstrual cycle is shameful is where the ‘problem’ occurs. Just like our sex-lives, some like to share, some do not, but one should not shelter information about periods for the wrong reasons. With each of the girls I’ve had a relationship with, I took many different approaches and anecdotes, with some I could literally blurt out, “Oh by the way, I love periods” and other ones, where I had to play little games of injecting hints over a period (heh) of time.
One thing is for sure, before any one considers telling their partner or someone about their own interests in menstruation, you really have to “feel out” the other person. What kind of person are they, do they seem receptive of such information? What do you have to gain from them knowing, but also, what costs are involved should it fail? The best way is usually to try to engage them in “period talk” of sorts by somehow directing a conversation towards that subject. If the person veers the conversation away, it may mean they’re very sensitive towards that topic, in that case, I would be very cautious about expressing open interest. Likewise, if they engage in that subject and also seem passionate about it, you may have a green light. These are NOT set-in-stone rules, because while a girl might be open about menstruation or even her own menstrual information, she may not always be accepting of you being interested in menstruation. I remember one conversation with a girl I had who would participate strongly in any conversation about menstruation, including divulging many of her own experiences and intimate details of her, but when I ‘tested the waters’ on how she would react to know that a male was interested in periods, she furrowed her eyebrows. Therefore, one must be cautious about indications of openness to menstruation, in alignment with the whether it shows true openness (to all genders) or whether the openness is present under the consideration that it is a “female-only topic”.
While I would love to share my interest of menstruation, there are some girls who are simply object to men knowing anything about periods, let alone be interested in them. It’s up to you to decide whether it is worthwhile to consider pursuing the chance to open the topic or whether it is best to never touch upon it again. Furthermore, you have to ask yourself, if this is a woman who you are interested in, would you be able to go the rest of your life without expressing your interests or perhaps, even suppressing them? Of course I am not saying just because the girl doesn’t share the same love or acceptance to menstruation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be with her, but you just have to consider the long-term impact and your own willpower. After all, there are several members even of Kayo’s community who has admitted that for years they have sheltered their own fetish and interest in menstruation in fears of that it would affect their romantic partners. Opening up to your partner about your love for menstruation is hard, particularly if every aspect of the relationship is “right” that you don’t want to risk the loss of such relationship over your own passion.
While I do not restrict the knowledge of my love of menstruation to girls I date, I definitely keep it close-knowledge because girls that I’ve known for a long-time and built a solid relationship with, or girls like my god-sis’. Also, with each girl, you can get an idea of their comfort level to the degree of which they are willing to share about menstruation, whether in general or about their own bodies. I suppose I’ve achieved comfort in a lot of these girls because they share the most intimate details about their periods with me and sometimes when we’re out, they won’t even say something like, “I need to use the washroom” – they’ll be like, “Hey, I gotta go change my pad!” and that’s just totally cool with me 😛 I have to say though, when it comes to girls I’ve dated or am dating, I also “restrict” the amount of information I share with them based on what I perceive to be their comfort level. Even with bebe, as much as I love her and want to be with her for the rest of my life, there are still some reservations that I make when it comes to my interest in periods with her. Timing and comfort-over-time is a very large factor when it comes to how little/how much you reveal and with proper timing.
Writing this entry, I’m hardly saying I’ve “perfected the art of revealing my menstrual interests” – but with a handful of relationships and 2 serious ones under the belt, I can say I’ve had at least ‘experience’ with displaying my interests of menstrual within the scope of a relationship. Having girls who appreciate my passion in menstruation is a really wonderful feeling and for the guys who share similarities like this with me, I can definitely tell you it is a liberating feeling being able to tell trusted friends and the special person in your life about your own passion. While such interests differs from hobbies like playing basketball, interest in menstruation can still be a respectful interest and with much to learn about. Remember that loving menstruation isn’t just about benefiting yourself, but also about the benefit of others. With knowledge about menstruation, one can better themselves by knowing that when a girl is angry, it isn’t a matter of her (not always at least) PMS’ing or that she’s “on the rag” and knowing the realities and separating the myths of what menstruation is about. It’s about using your love and education in menstruation, that you may be able to help girl-friends, girlfriend and/or wife to cope with her changing needs over the years. With your love of menstruation, you should help your fellow females feel comfortable with menstruation in generality and personally. It is your love of menstruation that in the most painful times of need, that you are there to support your friends and lover and to help them overcome obstacles in their periods and throughout the rest of their lives.
Remember that knowledge of menstruation comes with great responsibilities in knowing that what other women may confide in you when it comes to their period, they may not want to share with the whole world. I am lucky to say, many of the girls who I associate with and who share many details about their own experiences and regular monthly habits, that they openly share with me and feel ok that I share it with the world at-large. Of course since I rarely define names in my posts, I still hold the information which they provide me with in highest regards and if a girl is open enough to share these details with you, that you return the favour of their secrecy. I always welcome passer-byers and regular visitors alike to share their own stories, comments or feedback with me, on the blog or by other methods of contact. I hope you enjoy reading this blog, as much as I love writing it!