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Goodbye Pads & Tampons – Hello Menstrual Cup!

You’ll find this title picture very amusing after you read the entry… (or at least if you know what’s in the theme of the picture)

So yesterday I participated in a grand celebration of a one-year anniversary of Bepreparedperiod tweet chats! It was a fantastic party, again, reminding us that the menstrual cycle is a perfectly natural bodily process and we should not be ashamed to speak about it. It’s also important that both guys and girls have equal opportunity to be educated through books and dialogue. During the tweet chat, I mentioned the excitement of introducing a menstrual cup to one of my girls which @bpreparedperiod suggested I blog on. What a wonderful idea, it totally didn’t cross my mind to write about it! It only happened less than a week ago so it’s still fresh on to my mind on how it happened!

So pretty much the highlight of this entry is that I managed to convince one of my girls to try a menstrual cup, although it was definitely an interesting method… one I would not recommend you employing unless you really know the person is comfortable with it and can take a hardy joke. Last weekend, I was over at her house and recently, I had purchased a menstrual cup from a nearby “green” store. It was in the trunk so I thought, “Hey, why not try to persuade —- to give it a shot?” As with most of my girls, the idea of reusable menstrual products do not sit well, particularly when it comes to the question of, “How do I clean it?” Unfortunately the second I have to say “dump and wash it” or “throw it in the laundry” I get that exasperated look already. I may be a person who likes to poke and prod here and there to see if they’ll change their minds, but I never force… after all, menstrual products are all personal preference and I hate the idea that one is “superior” to another – each has its own merits.

My friend just got her period the day before, so it was a perfect opportunity for me to give her a prod to try out the product. I know she’s weary of it, but she’s also one of my girls who is the type to be persuaded with a wee bit of pressure. We were about to head out to shop, so she went into her room to change. I snuck upstairs to her bathroom and took the basket where she keeps her pads and tampons. I emptied out the pads/tampons into my laptop bag temporarily because that’d be the last place she would assume I’d hide them! I brought the basket back into her bathroom and in place of the 20 some-odd products she had in it initially, I replaced it with one item – a menstrual cup.

Heck, I could be an Olympian assassin being able to pull that off without her noticing my movements and within record time! I see all this running and exercising of mine is paying off 😆 I ran back downstairs and sat on the couch and waiting to hear her reaction from upstairs. I could hear her room door opening and she trotted toward the bathroom, likely to change herself before we left the house. I could hear her screaming my name and I burst out laughing. I’m sure some of my readers will consider this a cruel act, however, I know her well enough to not cause any hard feelings and in the event she really asked for pads or tampons back, I wouldn’t withhold them from her. I expected her to come rushing down and scrounging for her products back, but to my surprize, she didn’t. She called me upstairs and asked me to help her (through the door) to figure out how to use it. Now obviously I don’t have a vagina and have never inserted a menstrual cup in my life, but I guess conceptually I know it as well as I could. I talked her through it and she managed to get it in after about 15 minutes (or at least what FELT like 15) of fiddling with it and came out smiling.

She did ask for a pad to put on just-in-case the cup leaked since it is her first time using one, so I just gave everything back to her. I asked her if it felt anything like using a tampon and she said, “Not at all – feels even better and more reassuring.” I was really pleased that she took an opportunity to try it out and whether she continues using it, she at least gave herself the exposure to reusable menstrual products. A few hours into shopping, she was worried it would start to spill as it was day 2 for her and she doesn’t exactly flow on the light side either. She asked me to wait outside the “family” washroom for her just in case she ran into some major trouble. It took her some extra time (compared to when she uses conventional pads/tampons), but I heard the toilet flush so I assumed everything was ok. She emerged, smiled and told me everything was fine and that the cup wasn’t even close to full. She even happily touted that she doubted any pad/tampon she used could’ve withstood so many hours without leaking when she’s this heavy! She was so pleased with the cup that she even told me she ditched the pad because she felt secure enough.

She did mention that at first, when she had to rinse out the cup it was rather disturbing to see how much menstrual flow there was because she’s never seen the true amount of flow whenever it was absorbed into disposable pads or tampons. She also had to be quite careful upon removing the cup as to not spill the entire content all over the place. Understandably, there are all concerns that many of my other disposable-loving girls have. I always like to give opportunities for my girls try new products, disposables and reusables. I will never force the issue, though it can be quite fun and amusing (person-dependent) to pull something like this off and end up with a great reward. Now I have one more of my girls who has at least tried using a cup and that may perhaps create a path for her to try other reusable products like cloth pads.

While writing this entry, I exchanged a few text messages with her to see if she had any additional thoughts. She doubts that she will adopt the menstrual cup as a permanent replacement of her menstrual hygiene options, but definitely will be replacing her tampon-use overnight as it prevents the worry of TSS risk when sleeping beyond 8 hours. The cup will also be more convenient at home to use, though that doesn’t necessarily mean she won’t use it outside of the house either… however, using disposables can sometimes prove to be a convenience. On her VERY heavy days, pairing the cup with a pad backup would buy her a lot of time in between changing if needed or would give her a peace-of-mind to sleep in. Finally, she can immensely cut down purchases of pads/tampons since she has an extra option to rotate with and generate less trash every month.

I hope you found as much joy through this entry as I did with my little joke – which turned out great. I have to reiterate that this is not something everyone should try, unless you know your ‘target’ well. Though it sounded like I did this in the heat-of-the-moment, there was a lot of contemplation and consideration before pulling this off. Remember that you should never force menstrual hygiene options on someone, but encouraging and providing options through a friendly and helpful manner will bring you a better response. You can never understand another person’s needs, comfort level and feelings, so you should ensure not to press the matter beyond what is reasonable between the two of you! 🙂

Menstruation Through The Eyes of a Typical Male

This weekend, I had the opportunity to get in touch with many of my guy friends. Oddly enough, most of my girls live close to me and it’s only on holidays where I get to see my closer male friends who come back into town. Though we keep in-touch over messaging and phone, it still doesn’t replace that face-to-face contact. More to this, is that I wanted to run some things over discreetly with them, such that I also needed to be able to see their facial reactions and gauge changes in body posture and voice intonation. Now suffice to say, it’s not like I’m some psychology expert, but anyone who communicates regularly with people know that being able to see those factors enhances our ability to detect and sense otherwise undetectable things through other forms of communication.

Yay, I'm part of the 0.5% - lol!

This weekend, having 4 days off (today’s the last day, BOO) – my goal was to collect some ideas from the guy’s about their perceptions of menstruation, or rather, perhaps demystify some of the things guys think or say about menstruation or surrounding topics. Mind you, this isn’t a collection of every “view” of menstruation of all males, but only through contact with a few of my guy friends who “dared” to speak to me about such subjects. To be honest, when I gave them feedback on their statements, it was probably more detail than they were ever hoping for. However, having an opportunity for open dialogue is the start to end the taboo on menstruation, for males and females. If we can’t talk about it, then menstrual negativity is going to perpetuate for years to come. The following is a few of the dialogues I had between my various friends.

The Guys:

“Girls use tampons on their period”

Yes and no. Yes, some girls DO use tampons for their periods. However, ‘tampon’ is not an interchangeable word and only describes one, of the many forms of feminine hygiene products. A tampon is usually a cylindrical piece of cotton or other synthetic materials which is inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual flow. Other notable menstrual protection include disposable pads, cloth pads, menstrual cups, sea sponges, etc. Furthermore, there ARE also women who enjoy free-bleeding and as long as that works with their lifestyle and is considerate of sanitation to those around them, then that’s great!

The Guys:

“She’s angry, it must be that-time-of-month”

I have to say, that’s a pretty nasty statement to make and if you’ve tried that with a less-than-humoured girl, it might result in some kicks to the nuts. Though there are times that PMS may lead to irritability, anger or emotional state changes in a woman, it does not mean her period is around the corner. I believe in 2 things regarding this. 1) Women should not be able to use their period/PMS as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour, 2) Men should not use periods/PMS as a means of attacking a woman’s behaviour. With that said, there have been many articles written by men that essentially says, “PMS is not a valid excuse” and since that would otherwise ruin my point that it’s not coming from the viewpoint of a woman – you can reference an article written by a lady here concerning the topic: PMS is no excuse for acting like a bitch – we should recognize that hormonal fluctuations during a menstrual cycle may be a factor of sharply changing behaviour, but not allow it to justify disrespect. Hell, even if it really is PMS or menstrual temper I can almost guarantee you’d be better off not to point it out, unless you can do it in fashion without throwing oil in the fire.

The Guys:

“The only time that I like knowing she got her period is when I’m worried she’s pregnant”

Well, the sigh of relief may be for both parties I suppose in this case. Menstruation however, is something to love and appreciate. Though I know some of my girls have waited in angst for their period to arrive when they had some “oopsies” – as guys, we should consider that normal menstrual cycle means our partner’s body is functioning well (most of the time). What’s better than your loved ones being healthy? Also, while periods are known to wreak havoc, there are also women out there who experienced heightened libidos are really want their sex! Which leads me onto the next point…

The Guys:

“I hate when her period comes! Means no sex for a week”

Menstrual sex is a personal choice and between the involved participants. Not all girls reject sex during her period. In fact, there are many couples who enjoy menstrual sex. Menstrual sex can be pretty cool, think of all the free lube! As long as you are practicing safe-sex or your partner is healthy, menstrual sex doesn’t pose any significant risks. For those who may be less adventurous with penetrative sex, oral sex or just some sensual time together can just be as fulfilling. After all, they didn’t make sex toys for no reason 😛

The Guys:

“I’m always afraid she’s hurt”

It took me a while figuring this one out because I thought he was talking about cramps. But it turns out that for us guys, we associate “bleeding” (or blood) with pain or injury. True enough, if any part of my body began to bleed, I’d probably freak out. Menstruation though is a normal biological function, so “bleeding” for women isn’t necessarily a sign of injury or pain. Sexual stimulation in/around her vagina during this time isn’t going to hurt her unless she has other complexities. Even if she’s feeling some pain from cramps, a good ol’ orgasm can actually wisp that away pretty quickly!

The Guys:

“Menstrual blood is dangerous”

Menstrual blood is only as dangerous as normal blood contact would be. An otherwise healthy individual without transmittable diseases would not have any major dangers. However, certainly menstrual flow that is expelled from the body is still considered bio-hazardous and may contain bacteria or other forms of germs, but it probably won’t kill you or anything if you come in regular contact with it. If the blood is dried, that’s even a lesser concern as exposure to open air for a period of time already cause major bacterial forms to die. If you’re in a monogamous and know thoroughly the healthiness of your partner, the likelihood of dying in a fiery car crash is probably much higher than a deadly illness arriving from sexual contact from menstrual flow.

The Guys:

“I love being able to ejaculate in my girlfriend when she’s on her period because it’s safe”

I had to ask him what he meant by “safe” – he meant that he’s safe from getting his girlfriend knocked up. I had to break it to him that while conceiving while menstruating is low, it’s also not impossible as conceiving during menstruation has been known to happen. It is quite possible for sperm to stay alive within an optimal environment within the vagina, meaning that pregnancy can occur just before/after active menstruation. Also bleeding may potentially be mistaken as full out menses which may mean fertilization is still possible. If conceiving a child isn’t in your line of responsibilities at the moment (or never), then practicing safe-sex at ANY time is necessary.

The Guys:

“I don’t get it. How can she lose so much blood regularly without dying?”

With the number of pads and tampons that are used and the way they appear when they’re saturated, it may appear there’s a lot of blood loss. The reality is that the amount of menstrual flow per period is not that great (sans medical conditions). At an “upper estimate” of 9 tbsp of menstrual flow per period, it’s not exactly cause for concern of massive blood loss. According to my very quick research, the body begins to have adverse medical reaction at 15% of total blood loss. Given that the human body contains about 5 litres of blood, 9 tbsp is about 0.133 litres of blood – or about 2.66% per period. What is necessary to note is that during menstruation, “flow” that is lost is not entirely composed of blood alone. Barring any medical conditions, a normal menstrual cycle isn’t going to drain your girlfriend’s blood supply low!

The Guys:

“Does she have to change her tampon every time she pees?”

Nope, not unless she wants to or needs to. The urethra and vagina are two different holes (I’d be impressed if you could get your penis in her urethra) and furthermore, most girls usually will hold/tuck the string while peeing to avoid it getting wet. Others just simply let nature take its course and then using some toilet paper to mop up the tampon string dry in case it gets wet. Some girls just don’t care at all, because that’s what underwear is for anyway! It’s like magic to guys, but just with a bit of a tug, a girl can check whether her tampon needs to be changed. If it comes out easily, then it’s all saturated and needs to be changed. If there is resistance, then the tampon is still usable, with the exception that her: 1) period is over, 2) she wants to change products, or 3) her tampon has been in for/nearing 8 hours.

The Guys:

“She doesn’t talk to me about her period”

Let’s face it, most guys don’t really want to hear about girls periods, so therefore, girls have been programmed not to divulge anything about it. Right from Wikipedia sources, “Studies have shown nearly all girls in the USA believe that girls should not talk about menstruation with boys, and more than one-third of the girls did not believe that it was appropriate to discuss menstruation with their fathers. The basis of many conduct norms and communication about menstruation in western industrial societies is the belief that menstruation should remain hidden.” That’s not to say I’ve never met girls who’ve approached the topic of menstruation with me openly (without knowledge of my interest), but in general, I really have to be the one to broach on the topic and show that I’m “accepting” to converse about it before they come comfortable with speaking about it. Unless the girl is particularly open with her bodily functions or that the relationship has progressed to an intimate level, it’s likely you will have to be proactive and show her that she can speak to you about such ‘private’ matters. It might not even be that she doesn’t want you to know, but that menstruation is generally regarded with shame and is indecent to talk about, particularly with a male. If you two ever plan on moving forward with a successful relationship, talking about menstruation is probably to least of challenges.

The Guys:

“I’m so grossed out by periods”

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. Honestly, I find semen much more repulsive if anything. The menstrual cycle and the female anatomy is so beautiful. I can only hope to educate you about menstruation to help you change your mind about it, but I’m not going to try to turn a stone into gold.

The Guys:

“Why does she like to ask me to buy her pads/tampons?”

I don’t think most girls “like” asking you to buy it, in fact, most do it only when they really need to, like when they’re clumped over on the couch. Because pads/tampons are very personal choices, most women like to shop for it themselves. However, there are also guys I know who get it as part of their grocery list, but I don’t it’s a really ‘unique’ thing. She has every right to ask you if you guys are involved in a committed relationship and if she has ever bought anything for you in your life, then she can expect you to buy this for her. As long as she equips you with enough information to buy it, it should be fair game. For some women, it can be used as a ‘test’ to see if you’re man enough to do it or they don’t really think anything of it. You’re out getting those apples anyway, why not a box of tampons or a pack of pads?

The Guys:

“It’s amazing, how does she even keep track of how often to change or when it gets full?”

With pads it’s fairly simple, because a visual inspection will allow a girl to know whether her pad is getting full or not. Also, as pads get saturated, the pad will usually become heavier and there may be a damp feeling. With tampons, as I explained above, usually a quick “tug test” will already reveal whether changing is required. For most girls though, it’s just a matter of timed washroom breaks to do a check-up. Some girls may change ahead of time if they’re planning travel which does not give them accessibility to washrooms. I know with most of my girls, they opt to change later when they’re at home as they can get to a washroom any time. However, if they’re heading for a several hour road trip they change before they leave the house or double-up protection. Despite a girl being an expert on her body and diligent on her feminine hygiene needs, leaks may sometimes still happen and that’s ok. It’s like sneezing. Try as you might, but doesn’t stop it from coming out!

The Guys:

“Girls can’t swim on their periods”

Whether the girl ‘can’ swim is subjective on her own skill, not whether she has her period or not. However, if you’re talking about methods to control menstrual flow, they can opt to use internal forms of feminine hygiene, as pads would be out of the question. Feminine products worn within the vagina will offer a chance for the girl to swim while maintaining hygiene for herself and other swimmers. If a girl knows how to swim and doesn’t have debilitating menstrual pains, swimming is great exercise which may help alleviate cramps and maintain a healthy body overall. I do know however, that Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM] usually frowns upon swimming while menstruating (because the body is considered ‘weak’ during that time).

The Guys:

“Girls get their period every 28 days”

This is something I admit that I was pretty ignorant about until I started learning about menstruation from female experiences and stories. To me, the “books” tell you that menstrual cycles are 28 days in length, however, that is not true for many women as bodies aren’t clockworks. Many of the girls I’ve dated before just happened to have a fairly regular cycle every month, but even tracking with bebe for the past 2 years I’ve known her, I can say for sure almost every month she has a different monthly cycle. While she’s perfectly healthy, it does come down to the fact that women do not always have exact 28-day cycles, but rather, vary between 21-35 days and whether or not a woman falls within a 28-day cycle doesn’t necessarily represent overall health. Because I happened to date girls who fell in the 26-29 day ranges, it was awkward for me to start tracking bebe’s to find that hers was much longer (lucky her, unlucky me… LOL). I know a few of my girls don’t really track at all and tell me they just “feel it” when it’s about to come! That’s really cool 🙂

The Guys:

“The washroom stinks when she’s on her period”

I suppose it’s something you really need to bring up with her. Dried menstrual flow does have an odour but is not easily detectable. I know girls who use “open” trash bins who visibly have wrapped tampons and pads in it and the smell is hardly obvious. Unless the girl has very rancid menstrual flow odour, it should not be very strong and only detectable if you plan on sticking your nose in the trash. What makes menstrual flow smell is actually when it comes in contact with open air and begins to fester bacteria. When the bacteria is trying living/decomposing the menstrual flow and pad, that is what emits the stench, not so much the actual flow itself. Proper sanitary practices should already be sufficient to stem the smell. I’ve been to my girl’s house before who hadn’t emptied the trash for 3 weeks and she had pads piled to the top and still the air was pretty clean. I’d broach lightly on the topic with her since it’s rather insulting to be told her menstrual flow smells, but rather, talk about maintaining welcoming environment for guests who use the bathroom as a softer approach.

 

It has definitely been a while since I’ve had the time to write this much! Hope this helps shed some light on what your typical (which I’m not) guys think about periods. I’m glad they offered me an opportunity to trade what I know about menstruation for their personal growth and also that I could share it with the world-at-large here. It’ll also help the girls see things through our eyes and that sometimes we just don’t know any better. Furthermore, I grew up in a conservative family meaning menstruation wasn’t talked about much. Lucky for me I didn’t run into a bunch of misinformation communicated to me from my peers, but certainly I can see why it happens when boys aren’t educated properly about menstruation. They begin to pick up things from their friends and see/hear negativity about periods from other sources. Best to teach them at an age-appropriate level so they develop respect for the female anatomy and a beautiful & natural bodily process!

 

Fulfilling Sexual Needs “On The Rag”

Believe it or not, there are women who still have (or even heightened) sexual needs during their period. I’m a firm believer that as long as you’re in the “mood” for sexual release, your period should not stand in the way. As I’ve mentioned many times, for women who suffer with cramps, orgasms have been a known form of cramp alleviation. Due to the nature of the contractions of vaginal muscles during orgasm, it helps loosen things up and sets off circulation of “happy hormones” which have a long-lasting effect. With my ex, after an orgasm, her cramps would go away for hours before they bothered her again. For many of my non-menstrual community members, many of you may be set off about pleasuring your female partner during her period. There are many non-penetrative or alternative methods to get her off, with some methods, not even requiring you to “get dirty” so to speak. It’s kind of unfair to love her vagina every day of the month other than her period days. You should love it just as much, if not even more, when she’s menstruating!

One of the things I’m told by menstruating women is that most of time, they have no mood to even be thinking about orgasming. Of course, these are all personal choices. However, for those who do have the mood, one of the spoiling factors may be the thought of making a mess. Sex/masturbation on your period won’t exactly cause your period to stop (seems like most people think water-pressure stops your period in the pool), but it’s a great way to treat your body right! I’m sure for many of us who are reading this, we know the wonders of an orgasm, so why not during your period too? Contractions during orgasm also forces menstrual flow from your cervix to come out quicker. Although I hear that it “makes periods shorter” I think I would rather safely say that it helps clean the uterus better but not necessarily whether it would make one’s period shorter. Some women even experience better and stronger orgasms during their period, so who wouldn’t want that?!

Here are some thoughts about “taking care of things yourself” which other women have shared with me that may be of interest:

  • Masturbate in the shower with whatever preferred method, there’s no mess to clean up as it goes all down the drain.
  • Masturbate through your pad/panties for clitoral stimulation – whether by hand or using a toy – the pad will absorb both your flow and vaginal secretions. When you’re done, you can just wrap and toss!
  • If you use sex toys, it can keep your hands clean, but menstrual flow may still end up going down your leg or on the sheets. Make sure you clean your toy thoroughly after use!
  • If you masturbate on a bed or like object, you can use new/old towels, bed spread or anything that will absorb any vaginal or menstrual flow from your “good” sheets/covers.
  • You can masturbate with a tampon in as long as you are not using other objects to penetrate your vagina as that may cause discomfort and pain from forcing the tampon up.
  • Masturbating with your fingers is perfectly acceptable as long as proper hygiene is adhered. Your menstrual flow and menstruating vagina is nothing to be ashamed of at all.
  • If you’re a bit concerned about menstrual flow on your fingers, you can put a condom over the finger(s) which you would insert
  • Using menstrual cups or sponges is similar to the use of a tampon when masturbating. As advantageous as they are, care should be taken not to force the cup or sponge beyond what feels comfortable.
  • Don’t neglect other areas of your body, such as your nipples which may be more sensitive during your period. There are many erogenous zones of the female body such as behind the ears, neck and thighs.

Just before I continue onto the next section, I think some people feel that the “thought” of considering masturbation or sex during one’s period is normal. I’ve read so many forum/question headers that have asked, “Is it normal to masturbate on my period?” – YES, YES it is! Masturbating ON or OFF your period is a healthy thing to do.

So have you ever considered sex on your (or your partner’s) period? If so, many of the hints given above might be a good precursor when considering “sex on the rag”. Let’s take a look at some of the following thoughts that I have concerning sex when the river runs red:

  • Oral and anal sex is an option for those who really don’t enjoy menstrual sex.
  • Mutual masturbation or foreplay can be a lead in to further sex or to enjoy a non-messy night.
  • Use old sheets or covers on top of the bed/couch to prevent stains from menstrual flow, vaginal secretion or ejaculation.
  • Care should be taken to remember to remove menstrual cups, sponges or tampons when penetrative sex is desired.
  • Certain sexual positions may minimize “leakage” of menstrual flow if you’re trying to keep things clean, experiment to find the most desirable one(s).
  • Menstrual flow can act as a lubricant as well, so it might save you some money 😛
  • Dental dams may be used for safe cunnilingus to prevent STD’s or for those who’d rather just not have menstrual flow in their mouths while being able to continue to orally pleasure their partner.
  • If you ejaculate into your partner during her period, she won’t have to worry about taking care of residue semen as it will otherwise leak back onto her pad, tampon or other menstrual product.

Of course after all this is said, don’t forget that safety is paramount. If there’s any discomfort during menstrual sex, it should stop at once. Furthermore, menstrual fluid carries viruses just like other bodily fluids, therefore both partners should be aware of each others health statuses. Furthermore, sex during her period does not mean pregnancy isn’t possible.

While I wouldn’t claim this to be an exhaustive list, it will hopefully pave the way for you and your partner to talk about whether menstrual sex is right for you. If one partner is into it and the other not, perhaps some compromise can be made. If neither partner are interested, then perhaps it gives a future opportunity to explore that avenue. If both partners are interested, then great since you’re probably well on your way already! Masturbation during one’s period can bring a heightened experience of orgasms and sexual interest. It also allows an individual to be in touch with their body and to feel comfortable with the idea of menstruation and masturbation, neither of which need to be exclusive of each other. I can understand that women may experience discomfort, pain or perhaps even lack of libido during their periods and that’s fine. I only hope to share with you my thoughts through experience and through anecdotes from others.

In a more roundabout way, the willingness to masturbate during one’s period may assist them with being more period-positive or at the very least, body-positive! Every menstruator deserves to have their bodies respected and not only cast aside just because a bit of blood is coming out (and seriously, it really is just a bit). Speaking for myself, I can’t deny my love for women (or well, womAn, but “women” in general) in their entirety, so it’d be very unfair to say, “Well I like your vagina only 20 or so days in a month, otherwise I don’t want to go near it!” I know not everyone will agree with that, but everything is worth a try at least once (or at least things which are safe to do so). Menstrual masturbation or menstrual sex can help form even a stronger relationship between you, your body and your partner – and to enhance love for periods and the appreciation of menstruation!

Making Your Washroom “Girl” Friendly – Toilet Etiquette

With the holidays arriving quickly upon us, many of us will be traveling from location to location, either hosting a party or being a guest of a party. One thing that one of my friends recently approached me about, was how to make a washroom “girl-friendly”. I do attest that with many of my male friends, particularly those who lived off-campus with a bunch of guys or on his own, that their washrooms tend not to be girl-friendly. Of course washroom etiquette goes beyond whether the toilet is friendly for females, but just general hygienic practice is equally important. Unless that particular bathroom is not going to be available for guests, it’s important that guys keep some thoughts in mind if you plan on having girls over, or rather, if you plan on having them over ever again.

One key thing that most “male” washrooms neglect is a trash bin. Other than just the obvious disposal of tampons, tampon applicators, pads and pad wrappers, many women also opt to discard used toilet paper (non-excrement ones) in the trash rather than in the toilet. This is more true for those who have older houses who know that one-too-much toilet paper into the commode will usually get it clogged. Most of the girls I know and have actually ran this by do say they prefer disposing their pee-wipe toilet paper into the trash rather than in the toilet. Only 2 of them told me they “dispose it in the toilet all the time”. As I have noticed, washrooms in male-oriented living quarters tend to lack trash bins… I suppose one could argue that we have no ‘need’ for one for ourselves as any time we need to wipe is usually when we defaecate and not generally for pee-wiping.

Many of my girls have told me they dislike going to male-only households for this reason, because while pitching used toilet paper in the commode and flushing is a reasonable expectation, I can definitely tell you that pads do not belong in the toilet whatsoever. I have had to help a friend unclog a toilet before because his girlfriend couldn’t find a trash in his washroom, so she attempted to flush it down the toilet. Though most modern toilets and sewage systems will marginally deal with pads, you’re not going to get lucky every time. By providing a trash bin, you allow a girl to discretely dispose of her used products rather than trying to ‘hide’ it by flushing it down the toilet. If you’ve never had the experience before, plumbing work is very expensive. Please provide a trash receptacle of some sort in the washroom, better yet have a lid on it. Speaking of which for the guys, for your own trash emptying sake, you might want to use a bag so that you can close your eyes, tie it up and take it to the trash after.

The following recommendation doesn’t necessarily apply just to making a washroom girl-friendly, but might even be applicable for the guys. If you plan on having guest over, particularly when there are lots of women (because let’s face it, most of us would agree/admit that households with more women tend to consume toilet paper at a MUCH quicker rate than an all-male household). As long as you have space to spare in your washroom, ensure the toilet paper roll is regularly available and to always keep 1-2 in an accessible and open area, unless you know the guest well enough where they’d rummage through your drawers to get spares. I will usually keep 2 extra rolls of toilet paper right on top of the commode, above the water tank. Here’s an extra thought for you too, though I kind of experienced this (sadly) in a public washroom. Before using that particular stall, I didn’t check to see if there was actually toilet paper available – or well, enough of it. After finishing up my duties, I went to get toilet paper and sure enough, there was a questionable amount left. If you’re hosting parties at your own place, try to always ensure that there is an ample amount of toilet paper available, because no one wants (or wants to see someone) to waddle or scream from the washroom for toilet paper to wipe!

If you can, provide a fixed air-fresheners or a spray. Many of us would say we “over eat” during the holiday seasons, so then we all know, “What goes in, must come out.” In a house that only has one or two available washrooms for guest, make sure that the revolving doors of visitors don’t have to face the last persons stench. I know, I know… our bodies shouldn’t be shunned, but most of us don’t excrete rose-petals either. Pads or tampons which are not properly disposed and allow prolonged contact with open-air may emanate a smell, so if you’re not providing a close-lid trash, then the air freshener will help to mask any dried-period smell coming from the used products.

Clean up after yourself, because I’ve seen some very raunchy male toilets before. We, I’ve seen toilet seats covered in pubic hair and toilet bowls that doesn’t seem like they’ve ever been cleaned. Also, as a penis-owner, I can say we don’t always have “full control” – or rather, water dynamics can be a very interesting thing. For girls who don’t have brothers/father/male family members living in the same household or who are just super-hygienic will sometimes cringe at the thought of pee-droplets all over the toilet. I remember one of my girls came over had to actually ask my mom to wipe the toilet for her before she could go – because apparently, it is OK for my mom to taint her hands wiping it, but not her. Of course I knew it wasn’t my pee because I have a habit of making sure “pee spray” is cleaned up due to training by my bebe 😆 Even bebe having 4 brothers, she still can’t stand when pee flies everywhere so I’m also extra diligent about splash-back when using her toilet. Don’t forget that many girls sit on the toilet when they go, so clean up the seat to the point where even you would sit on it (unless you’re a really dirty person). If you can’t do that, perhaps consider providing those toilet seat covers.

Looking to be extra girl-friendly then consider leaving accessible pads and tampons in the washroom so that one of your visitors caught off-guard doesn’t have to make it “public knowledge” that her period has arrived. Plus, no one wants to spoil the mood of the party or have to leave just because their visitor dropped in for a visit! I know 2 of my friends who really dislike having girls over who don’t seem to know how to “wrap and dispose” their stuff properly, so they even provide small brown paper bags for girls to throw their stuff in before dropping it into the trash. To me, that’s overkill and probably being environmentally unfriendly – but to each their own. I can stand the sight of a used, opened-pad and tampon without getting all queasy, but I can also understand that people don’t generally like looking at someones (or even their own) liquids. For the girls: If you consider flushing your tampons or if you’re on your period, please try to make sure the tampon is actually whisked away on the first flush and that your menstrual flow and clots don’t come back up. Again, not something that bothers me, but something that definitely bothers most guys to see 😛

Keep your ‘questionable’ products hidden. I know that in the end, your washroom is your washroom, but if you have girls visiting (and particularly if you’re trying to make a good impression), it is a good idea to “keep it clean”. If you normally leave stuff like porno magazines, lube, sex toys or whatnot in the washroom, it may be a good idea to conceal them well. I’m sure not too many girls would imagine you don’t masturbate, BUT, sometimes it is a matter of “out of sight, out of mind” – because a girl probably doesn’t want to be going pee and seeing your lube and toys on the counter top.

I know that when you live alone or with other guys, letting things get “out of shape” can be very easy and reversing that, takes a lot of work. I remember going to my guy friend’s house who had 4 guys living in it, sharing a single bathroom. I was afraid to touch anything in that bathroom, worried that if I did, I’d probably get a handful of pubes or that white soap may not actually be… soap. There were clear indications that no one wiped anywhere after peeing, since there were dried pee-spots all over the floor and splashes against the seat. That washroom was barely me-friendly, let alone for most girls (and I have a pretty high tolerance as it stands) to even think about relieving themselves there.

If you have any further thoughts or considerations, please feel free to comment or let me know 😀

Periods/Menstruation For The Single Dad

I thought this might be a very useful post, though I have to admit I’m not a parent nor someone who has had to raise a child with no female support. Before embarking on this post, I have done my research as well as talk to fellow single-fathers, including one of my gay male friends who has adopted a young girl. At some point or another, most of these men will have to explain the intricacies of menstruation to their little (but growing) girl. With menarche beginning at an earlier age than ever before, these men will be challenged ever so much with handling their daughter(s) period, particularly when their daughter is too young to even fully grasp the concept. Also, never having periods ourselves, it only makes our job that much harder and not even able to have experienced what periods feel like. Nevertheless, not having the experience, doesn’t mean we still can’t be prepared. Rather than concentrate this post on saying, “What is the wrong action to take” or “How to do it the right way” I hope this entry will provide some tidbits on how I would feel if I were stuck in such a situation. Every person is different so while one method may work for one, others may not. With the age of which girls are starting their periods, it might be hard for us now to rely on schools to provide the education. In our province, the revised Sexual Education curriculum was dropped due to objections from religious groups (don’t even get me started on this), so you’re much better off as a parent (or parents) to provide your own and proper education.

Part of making your own job easier as a father having to talk to your daughter about menstruation is to foster a close enough relationship with her where she feels comfortable talking to you about it. This type of relationship is not something that builds overnight, but something that must start from day one with your child. I understand in situations where a man has suddenly lost his female companion that he would not have thought about having the bear the responsibilities of a single dad, but certainly, why would you not want to build a strong relationship with your own daughter anyways? It is my hope that should I have a daughter(s), that they will not only feel comfortable talking about their bodies and menstrual health with their mom, but also myself. Being a part of their well-being from birth will stress to them that daddy is also available to talk just because we have not experienced the same thing. I understand some people will argue that as a male who has never experienced menstruation, what place would we have to be a part of educating a female on menstruation… but just because you’ve never been shot before, doesn’t mean you don’t know a bullet is painful (that comparison wasn’t meant to denote the relationship between a gunshot wound to menstruation, that was strictly a coincidence).

The next point is about educating yourself. Whether you had a female partner or not at some point in your life, menstruation may still be a very abstract thing for you. With the world of the internet, you no longer had to be like me, hide in the corner of a library and read up on the female body and menstruation and turn red as people walked past me. There are plenty of resource articles (many which are more professionally written than this) on menstruation which you can learn from. Before you can really make your little girl feel comfortable expressing her own worries to you, you must at least know a bit about her body as well! If you show discomfort, it will only convey to her that her body is something to be shameful over and that a natural bodily function like menstruation is not something “normal”. I’m sure that as a single father, there must be at least some sort of female support you may have, friends, family or whatnot who you can turn to for help should you want some anecdotal knowledge. I’m also sure a medical practitioner would also be able to assist should you not be capable of assisting your daughter fully.

Periods aren’t a curse nor something “bad” – and periods happen for a reason. One of the single dads I talked to told me that when his daughter grows up, he’ll try to persuade her into “getting rid of her period” either by surgery or through hormonal control. I was really taken aback by this because it almost seemed like because he didn’t want to deal with his daughter’s period that he wanted to simply make it a non-issue. Something also seemed unusual that he would be making such an important decision on behalf of his daughter, even though it isn’t like she has a disability where she wouldn’t otherwise be able to make an informed decision. Getting rid of menstruation is a very big thing and I think it should be something up to the girl to decide on, unless she’s incapable of doing so. The start of your daughter’s period is something to be happy about, she’s becoming a grown woman and it indeed provides an extra opportunity for father-daughter bonding. Yes, it might come with some pains and tears, but you should always have an open arm and receptive ears for her to come to in time of need. Don’t forget that as uncomfortable as you may be having to do the “period-talk” that it’s only twice as bad for her.

Menstrual education should start young to build comfort and knowledge. I’m not necessarily saying to remove all childhood carefree life, but certainly a slow introduction of reproductive health might help sooth the way to discussing menstruation. In fact, one thing I’d really take advantage of is a “doctor, dad and daughter” talk at a regular visit. With the presence of a medical professional, it will ensure accurate knowledge and it will show that daddy is both learning so that he can teach and be comfortable with menstrual talk. Much of the male disgust behind menstruation stems from generations of misinformation and misunderstanding. Would we rather our future generations live in ignorance or in knowledge?

Parenting is a very difficult thing and though I am not yet a parent, I have already seen many friends and family alike who have sent the fear of parenthood through my spine. One day, I will meet parenthood with both anxiousness and fear, for it is an opportunity to grow, learn and teach all at the same time. I know that teaching children is beyond what I can comprehend right now. In my opinion, I would try to teach my children about sexual education through age-appropriate means (which would vary between child-to-child, some are more knowledge/mature than others). To scare a child into knowing something they’re not prepared for would only cause terror and ruin a carefree childhood. At the same time, not preparing them means they will meet fear face-to-face. Even if I did not go into details about menstruation with my daughter, I would definitely make her aware that should she begin menses, that she should let me or mom know and that ‘bleeding’ from her vagina is not a sign of injury. As with most guys, we consider bleeding to be a source of injury and pain (which is not ALWAYS the case with menstruation), therefore it already makes a “bad association” in our minds. I want to convey to the guys out there that menstruation, while resembling a cut, is nothing even close to it. I actually find that blood from injuries tend to cause more fear and disgust than menstruation does… or rather, I should correct myself and say that I don’t fear or feel disgusted at menstruation at all, but then that’s just me 😆

To be honest, it’s hard to have “sex talk” with your child, let alone something so very intimate such as menstruation. As a single-father, it becomes even harder as a result of the lack of female support. However, know that you are not alone and if you do a simple Google search, there are MANY men out there who are all brave like you to raise a daughter (or even daughters) on your own! Your daughter might even feel embarrassed to talk to you about it, so you must be receptive and at times if you feel she might already have had her period, try to strike up a conversation about it. Your daughter might be more apt to answer “yes I did get my period” than to have to bring the topic up herself.  Of course you don’t want to be the dad that hounds her to see if and when she got her period, but then you also want to ensure the channels of communication are available and that if she’s not going to approach you, that there are telltale signs of menstruation. Unless she’s hiding her disposed feminine hygiene products (including wrappers, applicators, etc), there will usually be some noticeable evidence. If you don’t want to be upfront with your approach of asking her, a simple trip to the supermarket with her could be an opportunity to walk down the feminine hygiene aisle casually and inquire as to whether she needs anything. Sometimes the best conversation is no conversation, if she does need something and she doesn’t look like she’s in the mood to talk, just let her place what she needs in the cart/basket and off you go!

Other than a leak the next embarrassing thing might just be having to purchase your own feminine hygiene supplies. When I asked most of my girls, they sometimes dread buying pads and tampons more than even bleeding through panties! Why? Because at least you can hide leaks, you can’t hide such obvious purchases! For most of my girls, I quelled those fears pretty fast, either with them or without. I have always been around for (well at least most) my girls and I typically will go out and buy their feminine hygiene supplies before/during their period. They were always able to rely on me as an “older brother” or even my bebe lets me buy her stuff for her. With that said, me buying their stuff has actually helped them get over the fear, because hell, if I’m a guy and buying “this stuff” – wouldn’t it be even more natural for a girl to be buying it? Likewise, as a father, buying your daughter’s feminine hygiene products is an essential demonstration to her. First of all, there should be at all times available feminine hygiene supplies in the house AND she needs to know where they are (better yet, even know how to use it). Keeping some in multiple places might be beneficial, in her room, in the bathroom and perhaps in a closet of some sort. Heck, sometimes removing the discreteness of these products in the bathroom help encourage openness. I have been to some of my friends house where they OPENLY have pads or tampons in the bathroom. Depending on how comfortable your daughter is with discussing her menstrual cycle with you, it might even be possible to encourage her to try various brands and types of protection. Again, the internet is a great resource and having some knowledge on these products (such as the differences between pads/tampons/liners, wings/no wings, and proper usage) will truly help her.

Don’t forget, buying feminine hygiene products for your daughter is something to be proud of and that any loving father would do. You’d be surprized how many guys do it and if you actually spend a day in a supermarket, you’re likely to see quite a very occurrences of it. A lot of the time, we just sometimes don’t notice these things and pretend it doesn’t happen, but in reality, I’ve seen many guys buy these items before on their own. The great thing about being a guy and buying feminine hygiene products is that people will never assume it’s for you! So what’s there to be ashamed of right?!

I know I often put a lot of emphasis on disposable products and that’s truly unfair. However, I think certainly disposable pads and tampons are where most women start off anyways. Once your daughter becomes accustomed with taking care of her own body and handling her menstrual cycle, another great option for those who want to penny-pinch is to consider reusable products. Not only do you save a lot of money ($$$), it is also a great way to teach your daughter to become “in-tune” with herself, be eco-friendly and encourage great bodily health. If you’ve never thought of how much you (and your daughter) could really be saving, consider taking a look at this great chart provided by Lunapads (http://lunapads.com/why-switch#cost-savings). In my own opinion, I have found that many women who use reusable products often are much more open-minded about menstruation and female body/health.

For those who live in Canada or the US, you can also consider a great menstrual resource like Bepreparedperiod and particularly their store should you rather be able to purchase pads/tampons for your daughter online or even schedule recurring deliveries. If you or your daughter believes that tampons are going to be part of your menstrual repitroire, ensure that she is aware of the potential dangerous of tampon usage. It is both your responsibilities to ensure that proper usage knowledge is understood, particularly due to the potential of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), a deadly viral infection. You can read more about TSS and the realities of it at YouAreLoved. I see many forum posts of girls who ask, “How do I talk to my dad about my period?” so make sure you validate your daughter’s concerns as being valid and that you are always willing to listen. A person cannot know everything, so whether you have to turn to the internet, a friend, family member or even stranger (such as a nurse or doctor), your daughter’s well-being and health should be your top priority. There are times when we must set our own shyness or pride aside for our family!

After finishing this post, I realize that some of the information in here might be pertinent to any father, not just single-dads. Nevertheless, this is hardly the exhaustive resource and all the possible angles I could cover, but then there are only so many hours in a day 😛 Anyone who needs more information, please feel free to comment or send me an IM/Email. I am also available on twitter (though it’s publicly viewable so if discussing menstruation is not comfortable for you, you may not want to contact me through twitter) @ http://twitter.com/MenMenstruation

Thanks for reading and don’t forget that your daughter will thank you and love you forever for which you have done for her!

TweetChat #PeriodTalk – All Things Menstrual & Donate to Lunapads!

I’ve been “into” the menstrual community for so long, yet I never even knew (or at least consciously paid attention ) of the existence of #PeriodTalk over Twitter hosted by @bpreparedperiod.

They’re having a chat on “All Things Menstrual” this coming Friday @ http://bepreparedperiod.com/chat.php

Join us for our next Tweet Chat!

OUR NEXT CHAT, Co-hosted with You ARE Loved:

October 14th, 2011 at 11am PST/2 pm ET

Topic: “Come & Talk” Session: All Things Menstrual

We want to hear from you! Please join us for an open discussion on “all things menstrual.” Anything from period humor to period concerns and everything in between.

You know what rocks? It’s the fact I can actually RE-READ all the chats I’ve missed via TweetChat transcripts which is posted up in PDF format by Be Prepared Period.

I’m extra enthusiastic about being able to join the upcoming TweetChat to see what it’s all about live and moreover, I was told by @youarelovedTSS that the chats are “male-participation friendly” – and fetishists, I’m sure that means you guys are expected to BEHAVE since this is a recorded (and perhaps, professional) chat, however, those with family-friendly attitudes about menstruation are definitely welcome to join! I’m sure I’ll be rather quiet just to gauge what my dialogue and what type of things are appropriate to speak about on the first few chats, but it’s great to see that these women are ‘accepting’ and ‘encouraging’ males in their chats. It’s a very warm welcome only because us menstrual fans get frowned upon by women, as men who are, “disgusting, perverts and not normal” when we show our interest in menstruation.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of research on Lunapads – guess they’re my new trend for what I want to write about on MiM in the future! I missed on their last sale (of things I was interested in), so I guess I have to wait until they have an appealing sale next time. The shipping costs hurt for me (wish I lived in BC to do a store pickup), so that’s why I have to hunt for their clearances before I can get some to put them to the test! As for anyone who has used Lunapads and want to provide a review (which I’d give all credits to you for), please let me know! For those who have the time to spare ONE HOUR (I guess that doesn’t apply to everyone) of their paid work day, please consider donating to the Pads4Girls group via the Lunapads site located @ http://lunapads.com/pads4girls.html as….

$28 will provide a school girl in Africa (and beyond) with a Lunapads Pads4Girls Kit so she can stay in school while on her period. Each Kit contains 3 pairs of underwear, 12 absorbent cloths, 1 laundry bag, and 1 moistureproof carry purse.

See our blog for photos and stories about current and past Pads4Girls recipients.

Please Note: All pads for donation are cost-priced; Lunapads does not make any profit on them. The pads are sent directly to the recipients (the organization or individual distributing the pads), not the donors.

If you’ve ever wondered why someone who’s so into conventional maxi pads and tampons would love Lunapads so much, find out why here…

Don’t they ROCK? They’re environmentally friendly and do MUCH MORE than conventional pads and tampons ever could do!

What Pad or Tampon is Right For Me? Thick, thin, wings, no wings – I’m confused!

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?”

Disclaimer: Not my hand.. or pad...

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!

Scented Products – Pads, Tampons, Liners, Wipes & Sprays. Why?

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.

Swimming/Water Activities on Your Period

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!

Bubzbeauty – T.O.M (Time of Month) Girl Talk Video

When I saw this video posted up by Bubzbeauty on my Facebook, I almost fell off my chair. Never did I think that such a public and world-wide figure would ever post something like this: a topic of much taboo and ‘shame’ – particularly in Asian culture. The most I could do was write a heartfelt comment on the Youtube video about how great it is to see someone who, under the eyes of so many, would “dare” speak about periods and menstruation so openly. I’ve always loved Bubbi because of how genuine she is, but seeing something like this makes me feel that she’s a hero to many, including myself!

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