Because there shouldn’t be anything shameful about it.
Rafting the red river ain’t no joyride.
Men. They really are strange. The way they make decisions, their behavior, what they pay attention to and how they go about things makes the female mind boggle! Take menstruation for example. What is it about women’s periods that freaks them out and has them running for the nearest exit?
For example, if you are chatting on the phone to a friend or have your BFF over for coffee, a sure-fire way to stop any man from eavesdropping on your conversation is to throw in the topic of your menstrual cycle. It’s like female Kryptonite! They’ve overheard the word period and they leave the vicinity faster than Superman on a mission. (Tip: Don’t forget to use this one to your advantage!)
Then there’s buying feminine hygiene products for female partners. This is possibly the one incidence whereby gay men are envied by heterosexual males. If your fella is like most of his comrades, this is the one request he could probably do without.
Yes, he will need to walk into the shop and find his way to the feminine hygiene section. Challenge number one. Once there, he will likely be completely overwhelmed when he is instantly confronted with – a wall of feminine hygiene options. Pure horror for the average bloke. Super, regular, flow related, wings, no wings; all of which he knows nothing about. Challenge number two.
Although preferred products are usually neatly placed in her section of the bathroom cabinet – which is shared and he actually opens each day – he chooses not to see them. This is a man skill learned and passed down through generations with utter perfection. The products are there but the connection between his eyes and brain are severed when it comes to anything related to feminine hygiene. (Tip: This is where to hide your own private collection of sex toys because he’ll never see them!)
Back to challenge number two. Men can go either one of two ways when it comes to selecting tampons for their lady. If a man chooses a super-sized product, he has done so with his anatomy is mind. During the selection process, he has come to the assumption that the size of the tampon reflects how endowed he believes he is. If he can fit inside that vagina, it must need a super-sized tampon. Yes, ladies, that’s the logic!
If the man selects the regular or smaller variety, he has done so with her anatomy in mind. These products have been selected because he wants to believe her lady bits, are too small for super-sized products. The thought of his lady using super-sized tampons is a concept he just doesn’t want to envisage. Once again, male logic at work. How on earth was the wheel or electricity ever invented?
Whatever rationale he uses to make the selection; he then finds his way to the checkout. Challenge number three. Some men feel a bit awkward about this. The big question is why? Everyone knows the product isn’t for him. Not unless he’s hiding a vagina in his pants! Maybe there lies the fear?
Despite all men knowing that women bleed once a month, it’s not something the vast majority want to delve into any further. Why any man would want to become a gynecologist is a pure mystery. Maybe they have a defective male gene, assume women visiting the gynecologist aren’t menstruating or something along those lines. Remember, we are dealing with male logic and decision making, so who knows, and most of these men would say women are strange!
Sadly, schools and even some parents fail to provide the proper sanitary advice to girls. It is unsurprising then that many adult women still don’t know the basics of feminine hygiene. Not to fear – SHESAID has your back! Follow these basic tips for healthy and happy lady parts.
How to wash ‘down there’
The vagina is self cleaning, therefore putting strong chemical soaps will throw off the natural acidity of your lady parts, which can lead to bacterial infections. You shouldn’t need to wash with more than water, but if you do, stick to using pH-balanced products for this sensitive area and under no circumstances should you clean inside the vagina.
While a very mild smell can be normal, it shouldn’t be noticeable to other people or through clothing. However, if the smell is strong you should see a doctor.
Let it breathe
While wearing jeans or tight trousers shouldn’t make that much of a difference, if you have been wearing them all day, perhaps change into something lighter when you get home. The area is naturally moist anyway, and it doesn’t like to be kept it cramped, clammy confines all day. Similarly, check the material of your underwear. Your panties should be cotton or cotton-lined for optimal breathing!
You should know this by now! But if you missed this vital lesson in personal hygiene – always wipe front to back after using the toilet. Always. You don’t want the dirt from your rear being wiped into your sensitive area.
That time of the month
Clean with mild soaps more often during menstruation. If you’re using tampons, read the instructions provided with your product and change when required – do not leave a tampon in for more than four hours. Leaving your tampon in can encourage the growth of bacteria or lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome. Similarly, change other sanitary products every 2-3 hours.
I lived most of my adult life unaware that the menstrual cup exists. Then one day I was browsing an online cloth nappies shop and I got drawn into the mama cloth section. Amongst the pretty designs I found an unusual looking object labelled as a menstrual cup. I hesitated for a while, but my curiosity got the better of me. I decided to try it and I’ve never looked back.
What’s a menstrual cup?
In case you’re wondering what on earth I am talking about, the menstrual cup is exactly what it sounds like – a soft cup made of silicon or rubber, which sits in the lower part of the vagina and collects the menstrual fluid. It’s inserted manually, similarly to tampons, and it needs to be emptied, washed and re-inserted every so often (3-4 hours on heavy flow days and up to 12 hours after that). Between periods you disinfect it, usually by boiling.
Why would you want to give it a try?
- It’s a cheaper feminine hygiene option than tampons or pads. You only buy it once and with proper care (if you don’t leave it in a pot of boiling water and forget about it), it should last several years.
- There’s less waste, which makes it more environmentally friendly.
- You can use it while swimming and exercising.
- Like tampons, you can’t see it from the outside.
- Unlike tampons, its use has not been associated with toxic shock syndrome.
- It needs to be emptied less often than you’d need to change a tampon or a pad. For those of us with heavy period it’s a blessing – I was only too happy to give up the two-hourly trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night and reclaim my sleep.
- You don’t have to worry about running out of pads or tampons when you most need them. I’m not the only one who always forgets to buy them, right?
If you’re wondering which cup to get, I’ve tried the Lunette and the Mooncup (after I burned my Lunette), and they’re both excellent. You can get menstrual cups online and they cost around $25-60.
Image by Michelle Tribe via Flickr.com
By Tatiana Apostolova