Let’s Stop Hiding Aunt Flo… and Other Useful Period Talk
By Salma Bile
I vividly remember the day I got my first period. I was eleven; and it was a hot summer day. I was walking with my sisters when a sick feeling in my stomach became unbearable.
I initially attributed this to oodkac, canjeero, or shaah from my breakfast. I rushed to the nearest bathroom, a Jamba Juice around the corner, and discovered that aunt flo had finally come to visit. I sat in the stall alone, afraid and confused.
Periods are a taboo topic. Too often, menstruating women are seen as impure, dirty, and are shamed for something so natural. For the majority of my life, I menstruated in secret. As I’ve gotten older and entered the medical field as a prospective nurse, I have decided it was time to get real about my flow.
Like most women who menstruate, I have tried and researched a variety of products to keep my flow in check. As it turns out, most of these products are harmful:
Vaginas create a protective environment to ward off bacteria by regulating its pH. Tampons absorb more than just the blood and tissue the uterus sheds – they also absorb the natural secretions of your vaginal walls – disrupting the pH and leaving you more vulnerable to bacterial infections.
While pads are considered healthier, they can also cause skin irritation and infections.
So after years of discontentment with money wasted on disposable products, stained clothing and the discomfort of using pads, and environmental waste from these products, I decided to try out the menstrual cup and thinx underwear.
I FOUND THE TWO PRODUCTS TO BE REVOLUTIONARY!
The thinx underwear is moisture wicking with no leaking or residue, no smell, and it even has antimicrobial properties. They come in so many different styles that are both comfortable and cute! Gone are the days of wearing period-stained granny panties!
The menstrual cup I use is made of 100% medical grade silicon, which is about one of the safest thing one can insert into their body, when cleaned properly. Learning how to insert and remove the cup was not an easy feat, but I was determined to make it work because I wanted to make an otherwise miserable cycle, more comfortable for myself. I struggled a lot the first day, but I quickly learned and it became exponentially easier with each use. My only tip with the cup would be to follow the directions on the box, and most importantly squat and RELAX, RELAX, RELAX!
I used the underwear solo on my lighter flow days and used it with the cup on my heavier days. And I can happily report that I have never felt so comfortable while on my period.
The cup and thinx underwear are an amazing combination when used properly, and for the first time in my life, I actually forgot I was bleeding from my uterus.
We are so often inundated with tampon commercials that don’t tell the full story of how it adversely impacts our health. I say, take a chance and explore the period underwear and cups. Be sure to also put your friends and family on! If the mainstream health and beauty industry isn’t informing us of all our options, we need to fill that role. I can’t help but imagine how much better off women would be if we normalized the ‘period talk’ and promoted reproductive health in ways that benefit women of all ages and experiences.
This article is part of an ongoing series called Body by Black Femmes, which explores all things body – from positivity and affirmations to the more taboo and challenging issues impacting us.