Menstruation: Discovery, Determination, and Discs
Bear down, hook your finger under the rim, and remove. Sounds simple enough, right? I thought so too, but when I was sitting on my toilet fighting with a little piece of silicone it felt very difficult. I am most definitely not the only person with a vagina, young or middle-aged, that has struggled to find the right period product for them. Many people with menstruating bodies don’t even have the opportunity to explore this natural yet somewhat taboo part of our existence. I think now is as good a time as any to stand against taboos around periods and exploring one’s body.
I started with pads. I think most girls start with pads... they seem safe, I suppose. Or maybe we gravitate to using pads because of the stigma around tampons, cups, and discs as they relate to virginity. Perhaps they are the easiest option because they require minimal instruction and don’t involve exploring our bodies in ways that might be new and uncomfortable? The thing is that getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to grow. It was really scary for me to begin to explore.
It was actually another life experience that guided me to want to explore more. I moved to the Caribbean about a year ago, and within that move I discovered the value of opportunities that I’d greatly taken for granted in the US. Once I got to the Caribbean, there were no menstrual cups or discs in the store. I had to fly all the way back to the US just to buy one! People in many countries and communities around the world use what they have access to. This encompasses not only access to menstrual discs, cups, tampons, and pads, but also access to information about the pros and cons of each. Having the opportunity to explore my body and try all of these cool products was a gift I could only receive in my relatively privileged community in Colorado. My life has changed immensely since trying a menstrual disc and it is now my passion to help others change their lives through self-exploration as well!
If you are reading this and haven’t yet explored all that your body is and all that it can be, I implore you to start today! Look at your body. No shame, only curiosity. Learn about what each part of your body does and can do. This can range from understanding the anatomy of your reproductive organs to actually taking the dive and investing in a sustainable menstrual product like a disc or cup. Be patient with yourself! Loving and understanding your body is a lifelong journey!
Whether you’re just starting with your first tampon, or you’ve been nervous but willing to try a menstrual cup, just explore! Your life could change for the better if you only trust yourself and take a little time to learn about your body and all that it can do! I believe that we can all become empowered people through learning about our bodies in ways that are new and possibly scary, but entirely worth it. I’m still learning how to use all of these new products! I’m still discovering all that my body is and learning to accept how it looks and feels. Even though it took some practice, I didn’t give up on that disc, I was patient. Eventually, I was able to get through an entire period, pad and tampon free! A menstrual disc is the perfect period product for me for a few reasons:
- It’s sustainable. Discs can last for 8-12 years as long as proper cleaning techniques are maintained, which means 8-12 years waste free! “Tampons, pads, panty liners, and their packaging...produce 200,000 metric tons of waste annually” (globalcitizen.org), while menstrual cups biodegrade into a sandy material abundantly found on earth making them hazard free to the environment.
- It’ll save money. A disc runs around $30.00 USD while tampons over the course of the 10 years a disc lasts would end up costing around $470 for the average five-day cycle.
- It’s convenient. The disc needs only be changed once every twelve hours. Twice a day sounds much better than every few hours to me!
- It is conducive to all flows. Whether your period is heavy, light, or somewhere in between, the disc can accommodate it.
There’s a perfect menstrual option for everyone. We all have a list of things we’d like a period product to have and supply for our bodies. Discs happened to check all of the boxes on my list. Curious about how to find out what product might be right for you? I recommend starting with the free quiz on periodnirvana.com. Its creator, Kim Rosas, is one of a million women that uncovered the value of exploring her body. She wants to help all girls on this journey to being comfortable in their bodies, yet still willing to explore new ways to serve and love them. It’s harmless! Just take the quiz and read a bit about cups and discs, maybe you’ll love ‘em, maybe not. How will you know if you don’t try?
Yasmin Latchman is a Junior at Regis Jesuit High School. She is from Colorado though she lives in Barbados currently. Yasmin is interested in medicine and hopes to go to college after graduating high school.