Posts Tagged ‘menstruation’

  1. My Mooncup Adventure

    June 25, 2012 by Anon

    Image from

    So here we go, AWOT.  I promised you my Mooncup adventures, and here they are.

    Like Becca, I’ve never really got into the magical goddess running-with-wolves thing that other women manage to find in menstruation.  I don’t find it particularly empowering that I’m in tune with the moon, and when Germaine Greer suggested tasting menstrual blood I put down the feminist literature and read the Famous Five for a  week to try to erase the image.  I don’t like the taste of blood when I cut my finger – I can’t imagine it’ll be improved by coursing down my vaginal walls. I have menorrhagia (aka the Raging Menses) and throughout my teens stuffed my vagina with tampax, my pants with Bodyform, and fainted in assembly every month.  My GP didn’t quite tell me that it was the curse of Eve, but he basically said this was just something women had to cope with, so I did.

    On arrival at university, the university GP – a woman who should be beatified for services to bleeding – told me this was nonsense and offered me a contraceptive injection that stopped my periods altogether.  She was left cradling what remained of her offering arm, and for ten blissful years I didn’t menstruate.

    Alas, after ten years, medical advice is to stop with the hormone-altering substances and so I’ve reverted to my natural state.  But now, a reasonable number of my friends are Mooncup devotees, and evangelised to me the glory of the Mooncup.  Once I’d established that it doesn’t sit over your cervix like a contraceptive cap, but in the vaginal opening, that you can wear it while exercising, and that it alleviates period pain in some women, I liked the idea.

    The reality proved slightly more difficult.

    The day before I was due, I popped into Boots.  This was the first dilemma: Mooncup comes in two sizes, A (for all women over thirty and women under thirty who have given birth vaginally) and B (for women under thirty who have not had a vaginal birth.)  I am exactly thirty, but I’ve never given birth, and since I don’t have sex with men the largest thing to go in there has been a tampon, or a finger. I’m also small in stature, with size 4 feet and miniature hands.  I hesitated. I’ve made the mistake before of thinking I’m more petite than I am – memories of ‘petite’ shirts button-popping tight, or trousers wrinkling in defeat around the bottom larger than I thought it was.  How vain would it be to buy a smaller Mooncup, only to have to return in shame to Boots for the larger one to fit my flappy fanny?  I got the larger one.

    In retrospect that was probably a mistake.  This thing is huge. I mean, giant: I’ve drunk tea out of vessels smaller than this.  But, undeterred, I took it into the shower with me the next morning when the Raging Menses arrived.  Cocking a leg in ordinary tampon-insertion position, I folded it as instructed, brought it to my vagina, whereupon it unfurled with vigour.  Imagine those little rubber toys that you turn inside out, place on a surface, and then watch them jump.  Then imagine them doing that right on your vulva.

    Undeterred, I tried again.  This time I got it partly inside before it did the explosive unfurling. This pattern was repeated for about fifteen minutes, after which time my skin had prunified from being in the shower so long, and the shower looked like I’d tried to stage my own version of the shower scene from Psycho.

    I decided to resort to lube.  Clutching a towel around me, I grabbed the Liquid Silk – and then discretion got in the way and I checked the instructions.  Do Not Use Lube.

    Fine.  So, with unusual foresight, I covered the bed in towels, lay down, and attempted to insert it.  Some time later, and after much swearing and explosive-plastic-popping in the vicinity of my vag, I’d actually managed it, but only by virtue of lying on my back with my legs spread as far apart as possible: this is not a manoeuvre I can imagine doing in a public loo. Not without fear of arrest, anyway.  But it was in, at least.  The next instruction was to check that it had unfurled properly by running a finger round the edge.  I had a bit of a rummage, gave up, and left it there.

    Next, I discovered that the little plastic tail will indeed need trimming.  As I walked round, the tail was catching painfully against my already bruised and battered ladybits.  I put up with it for a couple of hours, then realised that I needed to trim it if I were to use this damned thing with any illusion of comfort.

    Getting it out is the next item on the amusement arcade of Mooncup. Item 1: try pulling the tail. Nope.  The suction is, as promised, firm.  Item 2: try reaching up to squeeze the base of the cup. Seriously? Who on earth can actually do this?  I couldn’t reach far enough in without getting back into the shower, squatting on the floor, bearing down with my pelvic muscles as though about to give birth, and finally yanking it out with brute force.

    It had, I’ll grant you, done its job of collecting some menstrual blood. It didn’t spill as I yanked it out.  I rinsed it out under the tap as directed and trimmed the little plastic tail.

    I looked at the little plastic cup and contemplated another fifteen minutes of battle with my own vagina, which now felt as though it had been repeatedly punched by a gang of malevolent goblins wearing plastic boxing gloves.

    I used a tampon.

    If you have a story you would like to share anonymously, please email or DM me on Twitter for the anon account log in details. Thank you.

  2. Reflections from Aunt Irma

    June 22, 2012 by Jenni

    Image from IT Crowd / Channel 4.

    Every time that particularly joyful week in my menstrual cycle rolls around again, I am always found clutching my spasming sides and reaching for the painkillers moaning “I hate being a girl, ugghhhhhhhhh!”, before retreating underneath my duvet trying to curl myself into the smallest possible space. I hate it when my boobs hurt so much that I can’t walk around unbra’d without holding them still. I hate it when boys just don’t understand why whatever silly thing they said/did is making me grumpy and shouty. I hate it when my hormones get the better of me and try to make me cry at sad films, resulting in a battle of wills between me and my tear ducts because I refuse to let it be known that I am secretly soppy. I hate it when I am contorting myself into some awful yoga position trying to reach that spot on the back of my thigh with a razor, again.

    Well, I decided from my duvety-cocoon-of-pain, sod that! I am determined to remind myself of some of the reasons that being a girl isn’t all that bad, if only so it stops me thinking of how much my uterus is rebelling against me today.

    Firstly, boobs. We have em, and we can play with them at any time of our choosing. I like to jiggle mine at my friends, and sometimes they even join in. I love having jubblies, I personally think they are a wonderful accessory in all situations. They’re an excellent shelf for catching tit-bits of food (see what I did there) that would otherwise go to waste, and some lucky ladies can even use their cleavages to store all manner of objects when their arms get tired. They make big necklaces sit just right and hold up strapless tops. Plus their receptacles come in a rainbow of shapes and colours and materials to suit any style. We can push them up, squash them down or squeeze them together and they’re just lovely.

    Another thing that’s great about being a girl is when you feel beautiful because everything is working together today. Now, most of the time you will find me dressing in an array of humorous T-shirts, jeans (bootcut, never skinny fit) and a big snuggly hoodie because I dress for comfort and not for style, and wouldn’t really know style if it slapped me in the face. Every so often though I like to dress up and make an effort, wear a dress and makeup and stuff. It’s lovely being girly for once-high heels and swishy hair and everything feeling wonderful because I know I look great today. And I also know that tomorrow I don’t have to bother, which probably helps too.

    And oh the conversations! The things you talk about with your closest girlfriends would make Casanova blush. Nothing is taboo-from how much your pants are trying to crawl into your bumcrack today to just exactly what you would do to that guy/girl, and where. Girlfriends instantly understand that the correct response to “Men are sh*ts” is agreement, icecream and wine. They’re the ones who rearrange your clothes for you so no-one can see your bra, who lend you magic pants when you’re having a “fat day” and who make sure you haven’t got your skirt tucked into your tights when you leave the bogs.

    Yes, girls tend to be bitchier than boys, but then again they’re also the ones who stick by you through anything, they help you up when everything falls apart and they steer you away from creepy men in bars who are trying to chat you up. In short, they’re the best. I guess you couldn’t be an AWOT without first being a WOT.

    And I know that this time next week when Aunt Irma has retreated back to her cave that I will think of a million more reasons why being a girl is fabulous and better reasons at that. But for now, I shall clutch at these 3 like a beacon of hope, and proceed to curl up in my bed and eat my body weight in chocolate.

    In the end, being a girl is pretty darn awesome. Just not this week.

    Jenni (@circlethinker) is a science geek, a theatre aficionado (both on and off the stage), and a big fan of socks. In fact, she claims her socks are more awesome than mine (see Twitter bio), but she hasn’t seen my Bakewell Tart socks, so I can only assume she is wrong. She’s in her early twenties and recently finished up a Biomedical Science degree at Sheffield. Jenni has a lovely blog over here and you can find her on Twitter right here


  3. Period Drama

    March 29, 2012 by Becca Day-Preston

    Last week, I found myself, for the first time since I was like 16, in the unenviable position of being caught short without a tampon. Luckily, I was able to scrounge one from an acquaintance, who gave me a conspiratorial nod and handed me, not a tampon, but a cute little purse. Her…tampon purse. In this diddy little purse were three tampons and some paracetamol. She had packed herself, like, a tampon…kit. I assume this was so she didn’t have to take her handbag to the loo every time she went, but could still ‘conceal’ her tammies.

    I guess there’s every chance that this took me aback because, as a messy whirlwind of a woman whose handbag contains the secrets of the Universe and the lost treasure of the Sierra Madre, I don’t organise my tampons. In fact, just last week, a tampon that had managed to come free of its applicator and wrapper fell out of my bag onto the couch, where my cat hastily decided to destroy this new ‘mouse’. But I digress…

    Please don’t think I’m not grateful to this lovely lady for helping me out in my hour of need. Seriously, I’d save her life in a fire, as thanks for that kind deed. But it got me to thinking about periods in general. Why does that girl feel the need to smuggle her tampons around in a weeny little wallet when they’re already in ‘handbag-safe’ packaging? Why do Lil-Lets market ‘whisper wrappers’? Why is it such a big huge massive gigantic deal that periods, yaknow, happen?

    Why am I even annoyed about this?

    OK, the tampon purse, I see the deal. In a bar or your workplace, you might not want to stride to the bog, Tampax Super aloft and bright orange, announcing “I am going in there to switch out my jam rag!” I get it. Personally, I pop a tampon in my pocket before bobbing off to do my shameful business, and that’s not much different. But the whisper wrappers on Lil-Lets really piss me off. You are, I would assume, in the ladies’ loo*. It’s pretty safe to assume, really, that anyone who’s going to OMG hear you unwrapping your tampon is probably also of the period-having persuasion. And even if they’re not (maybe they’re pregnant, or on birth control, or trans, or they simply don’t have periods) they probably don’t actually give a shit if they hear you unwrapping your tampon or your pad or your fricking Mooncup.

    The Lil-Lets that have silent wrappers (“so you don’t get that tell tale rustle when you’re in a shared toilet” according to the Lil-Lets site, jeez) also have outer packaging that pisses me off like big style:

    Oh wow, isn’t it just so awesome that now we can hide from our menstrual shame in the comfort of our OWN HOMES!? Errrrrr. no. Seriously, I find this more than a little bit ridiculous. If you’re living with a boyfriend, then quite frankly if he can’t deal with seeing Tampax’s big blue box on the bathroom shelf, then I’d question his ability to handle an adult relationship. If you’re worried about your friends, what, seeing your tampon box and judging you, or something? You need new friends.

    The whole idea of periods as shameful is as old and disgusting as sexism itself. It’s tied up in the totally messed up notion that women, and the female body in general, are dirty, impure, abject things that are always “less than” man. Quite frankly, I have enough of this bullshit every time the media tells me to wax all my pubes off, or to ‘act like a lady’, so I really, really do not have the time to be worrying if the woman in the next cubicle can hear me unwrapping my tampon, or whether people I trust enough to have inside my house will see a Tampax box by my bog (where I also do pooing and weeing, but nobody freaks out because I have toilet rolls out on display, huh?)

    I get that I am probably being a little over dramatic about this, but the fact is that little things like this- tampon purses and whisper wrappers and discreet packaging, they all add up to the idea that your periods are super gross and dirty and you should be ashamed. When I’m on my period, I’m too busy mainlining Dairy Milk, crying at the boyfriend for “NOT UNDERSTANDING MEEE” and trying not to OD on ibuprofen. The last thing I want to be worrying about, is how I should be hiding my secret bleedy shame.

    Oh, and you’re paying for that packaging, too, with a mark-up of 5p per tampon, over Tampax…just sayin’.


    Becca writes an absolutely top notch blog (where this post first appeared) which I recommend you bookmark immediately. She describes herself as a beauty addict, feminist and faux ginger, as well as a Minajaholic (probably not the same as a mingeaholic, which is what I first read when I saw that). She’s a postgraduate student, an amusing tweeter and a user of excellent similes. I suggest you follow her on Twitter tout de suite.