Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is International Women’s Day 2014! I can honestly say that I have never been more glad to be a woman than I am at this point in my life. I’m usually not a big proponent of this type of celebration/day/recognition, but this time, I am. There are multiple reasons why I am more proud to be a woman, but I can save those for another time.

Growing up, I always was given the impression by various people in my life that being female meant I was, if only to a slight extent, lesser. I will not name names or point fingers, but it happened. The things that make me who I am are, in a lot of ways, very feminine qualities. I am an emotional person. I am a caring person. I love very deeply and become emotionally invested in the people I care about. These qualities, while not limited to the female gender, are more commonly found in it. I was always under the impression that these things make one weak and lesser.

I do not believe so any longer! And you shouldn’t either.

If you are a woman, please be proud of the things that make you the person you are. You are amazing!

If you are a young woman, please know that the struggles you are going through to figure out what makes you weak and what makes you strong will work themselves out and you will be fine. You may not feel amazing, but trust me, you are!

If you are a man, give us a break! Our sensitive and emotional natures are why you love us. Your grandmothers, mothers, aunts, sisters, and female friends took care of you and helped you become who you are.

Women around the world struggle for various things, against various unrealistic ideals, and with various goals in mind. Some struggle for higher wages and better jobs. Some struggle to get jobs at all. Some struggle to feed their children. Some struggle to feed themselves. Some struggle to make it out of sex slave industries. Some struggle for reproductive rights. Many struggle with feeling lesser.

Let’s be proud of being women. We struggle every day for something and we still manage (for the most part) to look pretty and smell nice! Great job ladies, keep up the good work!

Happy International Women’s Day!

My Ode to the DivaCup

WARNING: This post will contain information about my menstrual cycle and monthly period. So, my fellow ladies (and the few brave men out there) should read on… 🙂

After much deliberation, I feel the need to write about the best that has happened to my period since I started it sooooo many years ago. This product is called the DivaCup and I am not being paid to endorse it (although, I would endorse it for some cash…). I just think being a woman became easier for me once I started using this thing.

Fun Facts: The DivaCup is:

  • A medical grade silicon cup
  • Leak-free for up to 12 hours
  • Reusable
  • Better for the environment
  • Comfortable!
  • Educational!
  • Liberating!
  • and probably some more things…

If you didn’t click the link to the DivaCup website up there to see what it’s all about, I’ll tell you my story on why I use this amazing product and why you should, too:

When I started having my period in whatever-year-it-was-a-long-time-ago, it was an embarrassing thing. The few girls who had started having their periods didn’t really talk about it because we didn’t know how to, it was gross, and not all of our friends had started them yet so we probably would have felt like weirdos. My mom showed me how to use a pad/sanitary napkin, because apparently pads were the only option for young girls. I guess parents (moms) weren’t terribly comfortable explaining to their young daughters how to shove things “up there” because, let’s be honest, the longer you can keep your daughter from shoving things “up there” the better off you are, right? Maybe.

All through middle and high school, basically every girl I was friends with eventually started having her period and this became a normal conversation topic for friends. We would compare our cramp intensities, our heavy and light flow days, our regularity each month, etc. I think it was important to have these conversations as young women because when we realized that not every girl has her period in the exact same way, we realized that every body is unique and that it’s perfectly normal.

Once we had all been having our periods, naturally some girls started using tampons. Tampons and pads are both equally available in the stores, but in my case, my mom and I always used pads. When other friends explained to me what tampons were and how to use them, I’ll admit, I was a little creeped out. I was (relatively) comfortable using my pads, even though sometimes I would have a leak, sometimes my favorite pair of undies would get awkward stains on them, and sometimes it would be embarrassing to have to sneak your pad to the bathroom to change it. I guess I just wasn’t ready to change, despite the fact that you can wear tampons in the pool, and they are much less diaper-like. I continued to wear pads all the way up through part of my college years. (Ladies who stopped wearing pads in middle school, yeah you, stop judging me…)

In college, I had a couple of roommates who poked fun at me for still wearing pads, but understood that it was just my choice and comfort zone. Finally, my junior year of college, my roommate at the time convinced me to just give them a try and gave me a few tampons. I locked myself in the bathroom and read the instructions on how to put one in. I was a little nervous, but I soon realized that tampons could work for me. They were more liberating than pads because they didn’t stick inside my undies, they could be worn in the shower and to the pool, and they made me feel like I had finally caught up to all the other girls who started using tampons years before. I was happy with them and thought I would use them for the rest of my life. Wrong.

I came across the DivaCup online one day when my husband and I were talking about my period (yes, we talk about it) and we collectively wondered if there were any alternative methods for dealing with my period that could be better than tampons. When I searched for “alternative period products”, I got a lot of different results. One of the ones that I looked at was the DivaCup. I liked the design of their website because it was very informative, to-the-point, and well-designed, which is important to me. I read all the pages and the frequently asked questions and thought that this would be a cool thing to try. Then I read what the price for the DivaCup is ($40), decided that I was not in such a desperate need for an alternative period product, and dismissed the idea as something I could try later in life should the need arise.

The need arose. We were planning for our trip to Dubai and India to visit B’s family. We obviously were in the planning stages many months in advance and the more I thought about how packing tons of period paraphernalia could be difficult and use up space in my luggage I could put Indian clothes in instead, I again thought about “alternative period products” namely looking for something that would take up less space, be reusable, and hassle-free. Because we would be travelling for exactly a month, and because my husband and I had gotten pretty good at predicting when my period would start, I was pretty much guaranteed to have it while we were travelling. Again I researched, thanks Internet, and found that I could buy disposable menstrual cups from my local CVS if I wanted to see how the whole cup thing worked. These were a lot cheaper than the actual DivaCup. I almost decided to try them, but then realized that if I liked the concept and was able to get the hang of inserting and taking it out, I would still probably want the real thing at some point. I decided to splurge and buy the DivaCup. When I went to the organic grocery store, because that’s the only place that had it for sale, I almost chickened out again, but when I saw that it was on sale for $5 off, I figured it was a sign it was time to try the darn thing already.

I had, by my calculations, three periods to test the cup out on before we were going to leave for our trip. I was in the middle of the first one when I purchased and tried the cup. There are a number of resources for women who are trying the DivaCup for the first time, including articles, YouTube videos, product websites, etc. I probably looked at all of them. When I convinced myself to be brave enough to try and insert it, I was a little scared, just because it is such a different thing from pads and tampons. Gory details aside (not really), I was successful after about two tries. Like all of the articles and websites say, there is a learning curve with this type of period product. You have to learn how to insert it, remove it, clean it, and take care of it properly in order to enjoy it fully.

The first period I had while using this new cup was a little awkward because I was always a little worried that it would leak, but it never really did. I was worried that it would be uncomfortable, but once I got into the hang of inserting it and removing it (putting my finger and thumb inside my body) and just getting to know things better, I was hooked. My second period using the cup was even better. I really enjoyed needing to empty it in the morning when I got up and in the evening when I got home from work. There was no changing it at work in the public restrooms, no more hiding tampons or pads, no more leaks, no more hassle. By the time I made it to my last period before our trip, I was secretly looking forward to having my period so I could use my DivaCup! I felt like an expert.

When we were out of the US, I wanted to have my period in Dubai, simply because the bathrooms were more like the ones here and I thought I would be more comfortable having it there. Mother Nature decided otherwise. I had my period while we were in India. There were things about the bathroom at B’s parents’ house that were not what I was used to, but because of my DivaCup, having my period in a third world country was not even stressful at all. As long as I don’t have any health issues that keep me from using it, I will always wear my DivaCup during my period. I firmly believe that all women should get over the awkwardness of their own bodies and try it. My husband even is excited about my DivaCup. He thinks it is the best thing for periods. If you are a woman and you have access to the DivaCup, or a different brand of menstrual cup, please try it! If you are a brave man who is still reading (I’m impressed!) and you know any women who struggle through their periods (let’s be honest, we all struggle sometimes), tell them about it!

Seriously though, this thing is great! I love my DivaCup!