Hey ‘Charles’, or is it ‘Aunt Flow’, or just a ‘friend’ that comes ‘that time of the month’ and has a shark bite to it – aka ‘shark week’. Whatever our pet names or not, our periods present with a hello that can’t be ignored. So what’s out there to catch our ‘Aunt flow’? No period stigma included!
Periods and the evolution of pads
Sanitary pads are the bomb for many of us. Capturing ‘golloops’ of blood during our flow many of us are definitely thankful for.
Pad use has been referred to as early as the 10th century. What seems to have been consistent was the use of strips or folded old cloth or rags to catch the flow. Often referred to back then and even still by our Mum’s as being ‘on the rags’. But cloth pads are still used by girls today whether by choice or not.
When the price of disposable pads is expensive relative to where you live, girls tend to use cloth ones. Even resorting to having to use creative ways, apparently with mud and soil to capture aunt flow, which may not always be clean and safe.
It is girls living in the developing world that have to be the most creative. Girls that use washable and reusable cloth pads by choice do so apparently for comfort reasons, with thoughts to our mother earth and their environment impact and even for health reasons.
Back in the days
The first disposable pads were invented or started to build momentum around the time of the first world-war. Absorbent bandages were first used to stop bleeding for soldier’s wounds. The nifty nurses began using these wood pulp like bandages to catch their ‘nightingale’ flow during their time of caring for these soldiers. They were cheap and easily obtainable.
The first pads off the production line were made of cotton wool and fitted into a girdle or belt like contraption that you would wear to help things from slipping. Not until the 80s did someone invent the sticky strip at the bottom of the pad so that this girdle/belt thingy could be done away with.
They’ve come a long way! From bulky days of where girls talk about feeling like they were wearing a nappy. Or when you walked along with clicking sounds from the plastic moving in your knickers.
These days there are the napkin like wings that hug the crutch of your knickers, which definitely help with keeping them free of blood stains! Overnight ones that reach beyond your bum crack ready to capture your menstrual night flow.
Or are you the towel on the bed type of girl to catch those drips that manage to creep out onto your sheets?
Whatever your need or preference there are options to please. Panty liners, ultra-thin ones, regulars to super-maxi’s there and of course those wing panty/knicker huggers. You may get to know your cycle, about when your heaviest days and lighter days will be, or maybe your cycle isn’t that easy to predict.
It is a privilege for us girls that we can be presented with a choice and we can talk about what we prefer and don’t prefer. You might prefer tampons ……
The tampon rise
Talk of tampons has been around for thousands of years too. Used even way back in 150 BC by Egyptian women! It was not until the 1940s that mass commercial production of this bleeding plug was developed for us girlies. Now some come with applicators, and others needing just our fingers. The tampon strings attached are definitely a necessity that help us pull them out when there at their absorbent capacity.
Many of us have horror stories to tell about the tricky business of working out of just how and what size of tampon to insert up your vagina. Getting the angle right for a ‘just stick it up there’ tampon can make the slightest difference with being comfortable or not.
Mums, friends and big sisters chip in with their pointers. The biggest thing is just to work out what you’re comfortable with and what works best for you.
Switching between pads and tampons maybe be a practical step when it comes to things like swimming and beach adventures. Then again you may just be a tampon girl through and through.
Did you say cups?
Have you heard the latest in ‘menstrual cups’, yes, cups that catch your flow? A little revolution in thoughts to saving money and caring for the environment. They are made of soft, flexible material that you fold up and insert inside your vagina so it opens up.
Cups are being used by many girls now for ease of use. For convenience, helps you save money as they are designed and made for long term use. Definitely environmentally friendly, as you won’t be throwing away tampons or pads, and clogging up our landfills.
There are health benefits as they leave our vaginal microbiome balance in place whereas tampons absorb all our vaginal fluids by default.
They can hold up to three times more flow than tampons. They have less odour because the blood being caught in the cup is not being exposed to the air like it does for Tampons and pads.
If cups will be your thing and you’ve found the right brand that suits, you shouldn’t even notice it’s there – comfy. Cups can stay in for up to 12 hours which is really useful for overnight as well as being action friendly, with no wings, strings and leaks.
A few cons – They have been known to be a bit messy when you empty them though! In the shower might be best or at the very least you need access to clean running water. Insertion and fitting of cups will require practice, trial and sorting out which ones work for you best.
Do we get onto the latest with talk about bleeding freely, or not? There has been a revolution in new products where entire knickers capture our blood flows. Made of materials that are anti-microbial, they keep moisture away from our bits by absorbing all our blood flow. They contain odours and are amazingly leak resistant. Definitely no nappy feels so it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in your own blood. Sounds too good to be true?
After bleeding freely on these wonderful undergarments you throw them in a cold wash and ‘Voila’ – ready for another flow for another month. Like pads and tampons they come in different shapes sizes and capacities. They hold for those heavy days and not so heavy ones. We’re not sure how well they work but reviews indicate they’re pretty good. A few of our Team members can certainly vouch for them. They’re certainly a fancy and comfy advancement that we think can only get better!
It’s a pain…..
It’s important to mention that if there’s one thing most of us do know, it’s that period pain is the pits. While some girls just experience a dull ache in the base of their stomach. For others the pain is intense and exhausting. It can come along with other symptoms like sweating, hormonal headaches and nausea.
Period pain can be different for different women. If you experience severe pain along with those other symptoms, and your period is very heavy, it may be a good idea to ask a doc to check it out!
Many of us have generally grown accustomed to wearing a pad when we start to use them for our periods. If any of you have actually experienced leaking pee when you laugh, sneeze, cough or exercise, reaching for what we’re familiar with doesn’t really cut it in this case! Lets just say that period pads are in most cases not designed to hold urine. So you really should be buying a liner/pad for if you are experiencing this.
But the biggest thing we have to say here at Go Against The Flow is that bladder leakage or incontinence is not normal! Far from it! So if you’re experiencing it in any shape or form then take a look at our helpful tools here to help you work out whether you need help or not! If you’re keen to talk to someone then you can always take the plunge and call our National Continence Helpline. Our supportive and experienced Health Professionals know heaps about symptoms to look out for and can advise or direct you onto further help near to where you live if you need it!
A little note here to those that want to bleed freely lately, we suggest you pick your time and place. Making a statement while sitting on your great aunt’s white linen couch might not win you friends.
We’re all for making statements here at Go Against The Flow, but we do like to do things on the practical side too and hope that we’ve presented some great choices out there, getting to know your flow, working out what works best for you and letting you know that we trust you to figure out what’s right for you.