Monday, 2 March 2015

Simplify 2 : Periods

image found here
It comes to all us women (and our poor suffering partners and Dad's of teenage daughters...), that time  when "Flo comes to town". Yep, call it what you will : On, painters are in, on the rag, Liverpool are playing at home, on the blob (actually, the first and only time I have ever heard it referred to as such, was when Lily Allen was on The Graham Norton Show and mentioned her period being called "on the blob" during an interview with Miriam Margolyes.  I had an involuntary physical reaction to the immediate imagery this phrase conjured! So, moving on swiftly...), menses, moon, gushing, time of the month, that time (in exaggerated hushed tones), dabs, period, periods, monthlies, usuals, menstruating, girl flu, doo-dahs, shark week, etc etc; we all live with it.  As much as it can be inconvenient and a nuisance, it can also be a relief (I'm not pregnant!) or a curse (I'm not pregnant!), and at times a right pain in the neck, well not the neck exactly. A pain in the lower stomach, yes. A pain in the lower back, sometimes. A pain in the boobs, now and again.  A pain the rest of the household has to endure (in my home anyway), oh dear Godess, yes!

So how does having a monthly cycle, whereby we know when we are "due on" need to be simplified? Well in a number of ways possibly.

1.  Lose the stressing. Accepting that it is nothing to be embarrassed/ashamed about and having your period is not 'dirty'.  This is not something I personally struggle with, but I remember being embarrassed when I was young. Also in some cultures, it is viewed as dirty.

2. Keeping the pantry stocked with suitable chocolate essentials, in a manner similar to a well stocked first aid kit, will serve to placate the bitch within.
In the couple of days before I'm due to start, my chocolate cravings are epic. My personal mantra is :
A Mars or 2 a day, keeps PMS at bay!
And please, don't anyone suggest that a banana or brocolli will set off all those happy endorphins identical to those replicated by chocolate. I completely refute the science on this one. I have yet to eat a banana that can satisfy in the way chocolate can. Seriously, don't mess. Only chocolate will do. End of.

3. Ditch the tampons.  I invested in a Mooncup about 2 months before I became pregnant with Kiddo, so about 6 years ago now.  It cost me £17, and I can hand on heart say that I have used it every single month (except pregnancy and those few months postnatally) since.  The reason I made the switch (after about a year or 2 of swithering whether or not to) was down to:
i. discovering that tampons, as well as the cotton they are made from being treated with bleach and other toxins that I really didn't want 'down there', were also drawing all moisture not just mentrual blood, causing a dehydration of sorts, thus causing/increasing my horrendous cramps.  The tiny fibres in the cotton can also come away from the tampon and remain within the body.
ii. environmental factors - used tampons are thrown away in those smelly buckets to landfill sites or flushed away down the loo. Except that away doesn't exist. Our used sanpro has to go somewhere.  Plus using and basically wasting cotton to make disposable tampons didn't sit well once I thought about it - cotton requires ridiculous amounts of irrigation and pesticide control
iii. cost ( since I started used using the £17 mooncup, I would have spent £117 on Tampax).

4. Washable pads - yes I did just suggest that! As much as I love like my mooncup, it is not 100% perfect. I have learned never to insert it when in the shower as the leakage within 5 mins of getting out the shower requires a further shower (although i don't know why), I have never swam whilst wearing it (fear of leakage), but despite very little leakage (just a little now and again on particularly heavy days), I have continued to wear either a pant-liner or an Always pad which really defeats the purpose of the points I made in i-iii. I don't know if it is a security thing; maybe Claire Rayner's raving about 'wings' in my early teens has seeped into my psyche more than I realised.  But in terms of simplifying, I am now ready to give reusable pads a go.  I had considered this when I first got my mooncup but never actually did anything about it. Moontimes sell lovely washable pads, and no , they are not like the massive cumbersome saddles the school nurse used to issue if you were unfortunate enough to be caught out unprepared! There are loads of patterns online for making your own too - and with wings!!!! So, I have decided to give that a try too.

Talking of all these sanpro options, one thing we need to remember though ladies is that having our period is a luxury. Yes, truly it is. So luxurious is our bodily function, and our extravagant need to use products (menstrual cups, tampons, pads, washable or disposable), that they are taxed. Every time you purchase sanpro, you pay VAT for that luxury item.  The rate of VAT was reduced from the full rate of 17.5% (as it was at the time, the full rate is now 20%) in 2001 to 5%, but Sanpro remain  "non-essential" goods. Incidentally, men's razors are not taxed.  There is something we can do about it though.  There is an E-petition against Tax on your period. Please take a look and sign it if you think your period shouldn't be taxed.

5. I don't know, and can't speak for anyone else, but when I'm 'on', all I really want to do is hunker down with a hot water bottle, endless mugs of tea, a pile of books, a multi-pack of mars bars and alternate between the bath and my bed. Ideally with a giant 'Do Not Disturb - unless you are bringing food' sign for 3 days. To be warm, rested, peaceful, hydrated and nourished (obviously by chocolate) The reality is a multi pack of paracetamol, and a life that carries on as normal. The only difference being that I am crabbit - Hubby can testify to that (although generally he finds it amusing if I am going off on a rant - unless of course I'm bitching at him or Kiddo.  I am grateful for his sense of humour, and ability to alleviate my tense moods by making me laugh), I'm not just crabbit, I'm proper snarky with a potty mouth to boot (the source of Hubby's amusement), and zero tolerance for the majority of mankind with whom I come into contact with (not all, just most...) over roughly a 3-5 day run. In my defense, this is outwith my control. HORMONES!!  I don't actually know how I survive at work sometimes. No, to be fair, I'm not sure how some of the customers do. It would seem a big toothy smile and impeccable manners are my saving grace.  In all seriousness though, I find that as I am getting older my cycle is changing, particularly in relation to my moods, energy levels and general feeling of well being (or lack thereof). I do feel a need to address how I react to these changes and respond in a more respectful way to the needs of my body.
Most of all though, I am extremely grateful that I am under no contract with Mother Nature to go roller skating, cycling or horse riding or wear white jeans when all  I would rather be at home in my jammies.

These days I imagine that most of us get get on with life as normal and tolerate our period when it comes and don't really think too much about it (yes I've made a sweeping generalisation here, I am not talking about ladies with  pregnancy or health matters in mind). For me personally, it is an area where I can make some changes in my life for the better. Changes such as the combination of  Mooncup and washable pads (for my peace of mind) : Cheaper in the long run, more environmentally and body friendly, and changes to what I need physically and emotionally ie taking time for proper rest and peace.  I know chocolate and paracetamol are not ideal so I am researching more herbal and traditional methods of combating pms and cramps, which is fascinating and hopefully helpful. I will share if my findings are fruitful.

Image found here


  1. Oh I loved this! I was having a really hard time last year - I think it was a year long hormonal adjustment to stopping breast feeding, but I would have a few days where I just couldn't stop weeping. Utterly horrible and I almost sought medical help, but know that synthetic hormones and me don't agree. So I battled through and now - touch wood - just as you describe above.

    I would love to return to the days of old where women were sent out the village to live in a hut in the woods when they were menstruating. Can you imagine? I bet they milked it for all they were worth in the village, then got out of sight and started dancing. That hut probably had a king size Toblerones and giant Dairy Milk, a pile of Elle magazines and a hairdresser on call. (Or is that just me? Aside from aching boobs, a small weep, a temper from hell and weird psycho dreams that result in no sleep, I always want to get my hair cut.)

    I highly recommend Nurofen Express (make me feel slightly spacey) and definitely stick with the chocolate. This is no time for health. This is survival. x

  2. :D
    Ha! I too imagine that in the proper old days, when all the women's cycles were in sync, they had an absolute blast out in their cabin ;) xx


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