TMI of the Month (Halloween Special) – PERIODS & BLOOD & GORE

Hello my little deathlings.

Welcome to the gynaecological equivalent of a Simpsons Halloween Special. Ye be warned, this particular post is read at your own peril. Seriously, there will be many an English pound put in the Vagina Jar here. (May numerous tributes be made to the imminent extinction of said English pound, whenever Spandau Ballet’s Gold is drunkenly bellowed at a karaoke. You’re indestructible.) Back to the horror story though…

THIS IS ABOUT PERIODS.

Though in all Hallows honesty, for a modern culture prone to fetishizing blood in cinema, games, Autumnal décor and I daresay lipsticks, you would think that a completely natural and healthy procedure of monthly bloodloss would be a perfectly acceptable topic of discussion. To be thrown around a dinner table as casually as a debate over the merits of Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd. (Particularly if the main course is pie, haha cannibalism.)

So what in blazes am I talking about? Basically, consider this TMI of the Month a declaration of independence: I, Rosie, have given up tampons. BYE BITCHES. As a follow up to my previous post (a review of the UK ‘Mooncup’) it is with the lightest of hearts and the heaviest of flows that I relinquish my need to subscribe to a product that is, in my opinion, a very woman-unfriendly product. That might be an ugly phrase but I honestly don’t know how else to put it…tampons are just, not nice. The fact that they absorb everything in their path, not just blood but your own natural fluids. The vagina has an incredible self-maintaining eco system that does not in any way benefit from shoving inside something highly absorbent and laden with bleach and chemicals. Said chemicals which don’t have to be explicitly stated by the likes of Procter & Gamble, as we’re dealing with a ‘medical’ product here, so don’t worry guys. Except about the TSS thing. Let’s get real menstruating people, Toxic Shock Syndrome continues to be this spectre of horror that governs the frequency of our tampon changes. Incidentally, removing a BASICALLY DRY tampon happens to be one of the most appalling moments in an average female day…it’s like you’re dragging a stiff pillowcase out of there, just no. ‘Luxury’ items should feel like silk. To me, this feels like abuse. Which I have tolerated for the majority of my menstruating life. So why not wear a pad? For me, remarkably, disposable pads feel worse, just immensely uncomfortable. It’s the idea as well that everything is so virginally white and labelled as sanitary as if it has been completely cleansed of bacteria (it hasn’t), or merely propagated in a supermarket aisle as feminine wear as if it were a collection of dusky pashminas nestled in a dwindling orchard. The constant euphemisms, the avoidance of discussing what is actually happening to our bodies, the extract-of-Smurf liquid that is delicately poured onto towels in Bodyform adverts…it does not sit right with me. It does not a jot. So I made the transition…to MENSTRUAL CUPS!

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The Mooncup was a very logical solution to this discomfort, and I am so incredibly happy that I persevered with it, and have now settled into a routine that is infinitely better for my body and my current level of cynicism. I can say with confidence that I will not go back to tampons, unless perhaps under very rare circumstances I am in a situation where cleanliness is compromised. Even then, there are ways around it. What I hope to achieve from this declaration of independence, is discussion. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT PERIODS. They need to be talked about, not hushhushed into submission so that the stigma of shame and uncleanliness continues to be circulated worldwide. Periods are here to stay, and they may not be particularly enjoyable, lawd knows the pain can be unbearable at times, but they are a completely normal, safe, clean procedure. If you can handle Episode 9 of the third season of Game of Thrones, you can cope with this discussion. So here you go, if this in any way interests you – and I think if you’ve read this far you must be at least morbidly curious – this is my updated period routine, in all its bloody glory.

*Vincent Price laughter fades into the ominous slam of a creaking door*

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Here we have it, the contents of my Period Drawer. Utterly terrifying, isn’t it? How can you look at those penguins with their scarves and not feel like you’re looking into the face of the bubonic plague of 1356? In all honesty, this feels like I am merely sharing a photo of quite adorable underwear, which in reality, is what it is. This is my reusable stash, everything I need for the next 5-10 years of periods. (I should state at this moment that because I am on the combined pill, currently I do not have periods in the technical sense, but rather ‘withdrawal bleeds’. But because of the consistent change of hormones in my break week, the physical effects are nigh-on identical. So for the purposes of this post, I will refer to them as periods.)

I imagine that if you are not experienced with reusable menstrual products, you probably have some questions. You may think this idea strange and unusual.

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Realistically I feel it would be impossible for me to condense everything about this transition to RUMPs (reusable menstrual products) into one neat post – therefore I invite you all to ask me anything, anything at all, I promise I will answer honestly. I want to promote this concept as much as possible, mainly because I simply was not aware of this idea at all, until a couple of years ago. That it is possible to have a sustainable period. That it’s possible to save yourself from drastically buying tampons each month, and constantly worrying that there might not be a bin in a bathroom when you have to chain-shove onto the next one. That I can look after my body and be in control of what comes into contact with my vagina. I still have the option to protect myself internally (menstrual cups) and externally (cloth menstrual pads)…the only difference is that I clean these products, and then use them again the next month. They are not being hastily shipped off to landfill in frilly perfumed plastic bags to rot for the next hundred years. They are mine to look after, and I can take them anywhere I go. Still sounds scary?

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Well folks, meet my Mooncup.

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Yes this has been in my vagina. But then again, so have a lot of things, so let’s not discriminate on that basis. (Joke.) As an object, yes it looks a little odd, but it has completely changed the experience of my periods. Everything feels so much cleaner, more natural, more manageable. It’s made of medical-grade silicone, therefore resistant to the growth of bacteria. You don’t have to change it anywhere near as often as a tampon – you can even wear it for up to 12 hours! You just insert it (I would recommend using lube but it’s by no means essential), go about your day as normal, then take it out, rinse it out, use a scent-free natural soap or a specifically designed menstrual cup wash to give it a more thorough cleanse if you so wish, then you pop it back in and you’re good to go. At the end of your period, boil it in a designated pan for 6 minutes, leave it to dry, preferably on a sunny windowsill if possible to reduce staining, and that’s it. There is, as previously stated, a learning curve with this procedure. But on reflection, there was definitely a learning curve with using tampons and pads…this is just a more worthwhile cause, in my humble opinion. If anything, you become so much more familiar with your body. Until I used a Mooncup, I had no idea how high my cervix was, I had never checked. I mean it’s not a measurement I necessarily want tattooed on my wrist, but it’s nonetheless interesting to learn new things about a body you’ve lived with your entire existence. Definitely give this a go.

Everything else you see, is merely to accessorise for extra comfort. For several periods I managed perfectly well with just my Mooncup, literally just that. Lubeless and linerless in most instances, it was an almost Instagrammably minimalist period experience. The initial investment was around £21.99 – you can buy Mooncups in Boots, but there is a veritable rainbow of product variations out there, I will link some below and hopefully you can find one that suits you. With minimal comparison but much research I would say that the Mooncup has a rather prominent rim, and is maybe not the easiest option for someone who does not want to get down & dirty with the inner workings of their vagina. I still managed it though, and now I absolutely love it.

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(Well not that much.) There are softer cups out there, along with different lengths, shapes, stems, colours etc. The extras that I own are merely for ‘back-up’, as I used to wear a tampon with a pantyliner in days of yore in case of leakage – damn that grim length of string that collected blood on an otherwise dry tampon – nowadays I will opt for a menstrual cup, with a light cloth liner just in case. During the night I will either wear my Mooncup alone, or just wear a night cloth pad, as they all come in different lengths and core absorbencies. (Did I mention they just clip around your underwear with little poppers? The fleece backing stops them from sliding around. And when you want to store them for cleaning, you can fold them up into tiny discreet squares. Piece of cake. Red Velvet Cake?) I cannot express at this point, just how comfortable these things are. Just the softest material, and they feel no different to my underwear. Period underwear is also an option, I would be very intrigued to try sometime in the future – I do have something along these lines, which is the green checked shorts you see above – they have a thin absorbent backing which stops any potential leakages in their tracks, and they honestly just feel like pyjama shorts. The level of period comfort may have peaked here. As well as the sheer damned satisfaction of feeling in utter control of the bloodflow.

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Other additions to my collection, which have built up comfortably over the past few months, include delicate little ‘cup spots’, which are simply little rounds of cloth to keep your menstrual cup on by the sink post-cleaning, perhaps while leaving it overnight. The blue pouch is from EcoFemme, a wonderful company that specialises in organic materials and a ‘Pad for Pad’ ethic, involving supplying a pad for a person in need whenever one is purchased. The pouch is simply for transporting clean pads around if I think I will need to change one in public, which is extremely rare. I also keep a couple of wet bags for storage of used pads until I go to clean them (I will go into cleaning procedures in a separate post, though that’s not to suggest they are in any way difficult or unmanageable!) The lube was an additional purchase, but I mean it’s never a bad thing to have lying around the house is it? Lube it up, baby. I would recommend to be sparing with it, however, as it can be a slippery procedure and a tad messy sometimes.

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In essence, all of my cutesy accessories can be boiled down into one very eco-friendly product, which is the menstrual cup. The beautiful simplicity of merely collecting your blood in a tiny cup and flushing it away, could not be more appealing to me. In no way do I find it disgusting, or unsanitary. On the contrary, this awakening has opened my eyes to the grimness of disposable products. I remember reading a statistic that between 10,000-15,000 tampons/pads are used in the average woman’s menstruating lifetime. Where are they now? In our oceans, on our beaches, in our landfill. This can’t go on. You must be thinking that I have been possessed by some hippy spirit. All I can say is that, sometimes we should listen to the hippies, because they care about the Earth, and their bodies. I don’t believe I can start a revolution, but I really hope that if you have read this then you will at least consider trying it out. Please ask me any questions you may have. The grimmer, the better! Doesn’t everyone love a bit of gore, deep down? The art of the menstrual cup may be one that takes a few cycles to adapt to, but once it’s mastered it is definitely worth it. Don’t be perturbed when you have the inevitable scare of not being able to reach the stem upon removal and considering all manner of tools to attempt to retrieve it manually.

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I expect a reasonable amount of backlash to my declarations here, but I welcome them. I also welcome the idea of battling taboos, and rethinking our own social stigmas in an effort to reach for the greater good. To those who may think that reusable products are disgusting or unsanitary, I will simply say this. Look at your underwear. Surely I cannot be the only person who has had to hastily shove them back on post-sex? So what do I do with said underwear, covered in all manner of joyful substances? I wash them, and I wear them again. If you get a little blood on your underwear in an underestimated-flow scenario, and heaven forbid a stain, what do you do? You wash them, and wear them again. Sex toys, you cannot tell me you only use them once and then dispose of them? Obviously there are exceptions to this theme (before anyone mentions condoms) but the fact is, there are all of these wonderful products out there that are designed to be reused, over and over, for up to 10 years. They do involve an initial investment, but think about how much your body and the environment will benefit from it. Can you not even deem it possible to give this idea ago?

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Now this blog has become much longer than I ever intended, and I haven’t even scratched the surface…but I will close here, and I hope it has at least made you think about your options. If discretion is your utmost priority, there are ways of going about it that still involve reusable products. Don’t doubt yourself, you can do it! As a final farewell to my disposables, I will leave my trusty box of tampons in the bathroom at work – as I said before, I still don’t think they are a very friendly product, but nevertheless I don’t wish to just throw them away, and hopefully someone in need will be able to use them. Goodbye my lover, goodbye my friend.

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If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you for your interest. I will leave a few links below to more information on the subject, and sites to buy products from if you want to give them a go. And if you do decide to give them a go, tell people about it!! Think of it as one of the amazing hurdles you will conquer in 2017. (Incidentally if you are my boyfriend and have read this in its entirety, I salute you.)

How to use the Mooncup

Precious Stars Reusable Menstrual Products

No More Taboo

Eco Dreams

Honour Your Flow

Telegraph Article: Fluffy Vagina Blankets

 

Until the next divulgence of intimate details!

Rosie

x

 

 

 

 

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TMI of the Month! (Mooncup Review)

WARNING: Graphic vagina-based content. I would only read this if you’re interested in getting a Mooncup. Or are curious and not averse to period chatter.

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On a daily basis I struggle to communicate everyday normalities to people. In a combative effort to force myself into sharing information, once a month(ish) I bring forth what I call my TMI of the Month. It branches into oversharing, but is always based on the things I believe should be talked about more often, in theory. So this month’s offering is a hearty review of a well-known brand of menstrual cup: the Mooncup.

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SHALL WE BEGIN?

Quite a long time ago I purchased one of these odd little wonders from Boots, for I think £21.99 or thereabouts. I’d noticed a poster for one on the back of a toilet door, and the idea quite appealed to me. In a terrifying and medically invasive sort of way. The whole process just sounded so much healthier for my body, and significantly less wasteful than a disposable period kit. Unboxing revealed a larger-than-anticipated silicone cup, and I immediately questioned how this would ever sit comfortably inside my body. Post-sanitisation I attempted to pop it in, using the ‘push-down’ fold. Remarkably (for my level of general dexterity), it felt absolutely fine. Getting it to pop open, I found very difficult. Removal was a tad more unnerving, as unfortunately, as you’re pulling it out all the bloody thing wants to do is pop open, which created quite a sharp pain at the point of exit. I was perturbed, and thought surely tampons/pads are just the easier option. I tried it a few more times on and off, but I never really felt 100% confident with this new-fangled system.

[MANY YEARS LATER]

This weekend just passed, I decided to give it another whirl. My Mooncup and I were going to have to bond, like a full-on Ed Sheeran drunken weekend of intimacy bond. I am so sick of tampons, and the grating feeling of somehow having to shove this dry cylindrical clump of cotton into yourself upon changing. So with a tampon and pad-less weekend in store, I boiled the cup once more and gave it a solid go. The results? I am 99% sure that I am now converted.

FRIDAY (Little Elvis Day One) – Okay so the popping open thing. What I was waiting for was a quite satisfyingly timed POP once I had delicately placed the cup in its appropriate nesting area (which is quite low in the vagina, much lower than a tampon). What I got was silence, and as I felt around the base of the cup I realised that one side was still dipped inwards. Balls. I tried to wiggle it around a bit with my finger and thumb, twisting the night away in my bathroom, but it wasn’t having it.  This went on for a while, and soreness dictated my next move as I was feeling the effects of a five finger death punch. With a weakened sigh I decided to leave it in for half an hour and then try again. Whilst doing some stretches I felt what can only be described as a THUNK in my vagina. What the fuck. Initially forgetting that the cup was present, it suddenly dawned on me that this was the magical pop I had been waiting for, and I hurriedly checked to confirm this. Hurrah! All subsequent insertions have therefore been sealed with deadly vagina magic, using my muscles to kind of ‘clench’ it in place, if that makes sense. It may sound bizarre but you do what you gotta do, I’ve taken to touching my toes once I’ve popped it back in and this seems to help a lot. Signed, sealed, delivered. Let’s begin my Mooncup adventures. Some time later, as I’m walking around the house I keep feeling a little pinch. It’s pretty irritating. Back for another bathroom consultation (oh the horrors you have witnessed, bathroom walls) I discover the source of the problem – the stem is poking me. I had read about this, and learned that you are encouraged to cut the stem to fit your body. Not wanting to dispose of my lifeline before I’ve mastered the process, I cut off two rings, and found that fitted much better. Still in reachable distance, and no poking to speak of. No feeling whatsoever, really. It’s so strange, you look at it and think that it will be cumbersome and stocky, which surely can’t be pleasant in such a small area. Little confession, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “Jeez you would not expect a whole cup to be in there.” Like it’s a Sports Direct mug.

SATURDAY (Little Elvis Day Two) – I had to be up early for work, and last night I bravely made the decision to overnight this business, and we slept together for the first time. Not a stranger to researching horror stories, I had unfortunately read many an account of menstrual cups going for a little wander into town as you sleep and becoming nigh-on impossible to remove in the morning. Obviously it can’t go missing entirely, but apparently they have a tendency to wriggle up a little further than you’re used to comfortably reaching. Safe to say I was quite anxious, and all any medical professional tells you when they’re reaching inside you is to not be anxious, as that will not help. Thankfully, when I reached up expecting a vast cavern of nothingness (well, not vast), I felt the reassuring stem in its usual place, and tugged it out. I find the best way to do this is to use the stem to get a good grip on the base of the cup, squeeze it, then sort of walk it out, a little bit at a time. I still get the slight pain as it comes out entirely but I’m getting used to it now, it’s much milder than I’d originally gauged. There is also, a bit of a squelch upon breaking the seal, which I am not a huge fan of, but I’m sure we’ve all had these moments and chosen to nervously laugh it off. What overshadows this moment is the downright fascination of your period itself. I think it’s kind of wonderful that you can actively measure how much blood you lose while you’re menstruating. It can’t be just me? I had to resist the urge to hold the cup up and offer a toast to the human body. Cheers!

Anyway, so once I had given it a good clean, it was time to go back in for a bit of a test: A 7 hour shift at work. One of the most appealing prospects of the Mooncup is that you can leave it in for these longer stints, which is so much longer than a tampon (more like 3-4 hours). As it sits so low and is simply held in place by your muscles, there’s nothing pushing bacteria up against the cervix. It’s much more organic, and doesn’t absorb any of your natural fluids. No Toxic Shock Syndrome up in this house, let me tell you. I prepared myself accordingly, for a potential change, and potential shifting. I wore a thin reusable liner as a backup just in case of any issues, and I did have the tiniest bit of leakage, like a couple of miniscule spots. So perhaps that’s something I need to work on, but it didn’t bother me at all. With regards to emptying the cup, I was faced with what is definitely one of the downsides: public toilets. The only sink I would feel comfortable washing my cup in is my own, and as such I’d taken it upon myself to bring a little ‘kit’ with me – a small bottle of water, to rinse the cup ever so slightly from where I sit, and some natural handwash to give my hands a more thorough clean and scrub afterwards. It was a bit fiddly, but the change was pretty unnecessary for me, as the cup was nowhere near full. Tampon habits just keep creeping back in. I had worn it overnight and yielded a small capacity too, so the changing frequency I find has lessened dramatically. Medical-graded silicone is thankfully a material that does not harbour bacteria, so it is perfectly fine to let it work its magic for longer than tampons or pads. Marvellous! And to those who may consider the public changing gross, admittedly it is a tad awkward, but the procedure is no more invasive than using a non-applicator tampon. You also collect five hippy points for every correct removal/insertion.

SUNDAY (Little Elvis Day Three) – Getting used to this now, almost arrogantly so. I was also a tad hungover, the kind where you are still drunkenly dizzy so my manual skills were also compromised. The temptation is to move around quite a bit to put it to the ultimate test. I don’t go swimming so I can’t offer advice on how one would fare underwater, but I did do a fair bit of stretching and pilates. Expecting issues when I bent over or squatted to pick something up, but thankfully everything stayed in place. I say everything like its a full orchestra, but I have to keep reminding myself of the simplicity of the situation. I bleed, the cup collects it all, and I flush it down the toilet. It’s not being soaked up by cotton, or sitting outside of your body on a pad for hours, its just blood being collected inside your body. How can I not approve? One of the odd feelings I did not expect was slight disappointment upon removal, when the cup is generally 1/8th full.

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On reflection I think it’s because you feel like you lose so much more, the pain and ibuprofen-induced weakness seems to exacerbate the pitiful amount I actually lose each month. But as I say, with little markers on the side of the cup it is remarkably interesting to measure how much blood you lose in a whole period. I’m aware of how graphic I’m being, but if there are any gentlemen here under the impression that we bleed a blue Kool-Aid substance as is depicted on sanitary pad adverts, then I am sorry to say we do not, but wouldn’t that be canny.

MONDAY (Little Elvis Day Four) – It seems this has been the shortest period of all time, as I’m down to drops at the moment, so it is time to retire my Mooncup until its next appearance. All you do to complete the process is boil it for approximately 6 minutes (in a designated pan!) – then leave it to dry, and store it in the cute little cotton bag it comes with. It might be time to reassess the contents of my period drawer, as there are all sorts of tampon paraphernalia in there that I will probably rarely use. I do want to keep some in case a) I want something super quick and I’m not in the most sanitary environment, such as a festival, or b) if a person with a vagina is visiting my house and is in need. But overall, I hope to commit to the cup for each subsequent period. They last for years and years, so no further sanitary-wear purchases are necessary. In summary: How nice!

I would definitely recommend this product. As you saw in my adventures, there is a bonding process. I never thought I would take to it after my first go, but I persevered and now I actually feel a fondness for this new system. Initially yes, it’s quite expensive, but it is an investment. Also a cheeky way of evading the tampon tax. For my last couple of menstruating days, when there’s just a minimal amount of blood, I will probably use my trusty washable liners, or perhaps invest in the Thinx underwear. But I think the cup will be my main port of call. A couple of people have spoken to me about it after I mentioned it on a previous blog, claiming it was weird and disgusting. I understand that it’s different, and an odd idea to get used to, but I don’t really see how tampons or pads are any less intimate? You’re gonna see some blood any which way you go about it. Yes, you do have to get a little more acquainted with your vagina, but anyone who has one or has been in the vicinity of one, should be at least a bit familiar with it? If you’re not I encourage you to go out for a drink together, they are pretty cool things. With regards to cleaning, I imagine its something I will get used to and find mundane a few periods along the line. So if you’ve made it through this lengthy review, I urge you to give it a go. There are all sorts of brands, some softer cups, some in various adorable colours, some with rounded stems for minimal pokage. All you need is one, and that one will be your little mascot as your womb does its thing. How to naturally counteract the feeling of dragon claws churning up your insides however, is something I’m still working on.

 

Until the next TMI of the Month!

Rosie

x

TMI of the Month! (March Edition) – P&P, or Periods and the Pill

Hello my lovelies!

It’s time for another healthy dose of Too Much Information. Today I just wanted to have a little chat about my experience on the combined oral contraceptive pill, which I’ve been taking for four years now. When I first spoke to my doctor about going on the pill, I was popping in for antibiotics to deal with a rogue water infection. He was a tad condescending and asked about my job, my hobbies, if I had a partner, how much spare income I’d say I had – and then followed up with “So how would you feel RIGHT NOW if you found out you were pregnant? Right now.” “I would feel…not great?” “Exactly.”

So after some discussion of my options, and a healthy discussion on the risk of blood clots, he put me on the combined pill known as Microgynon 30. Containing ethinylestradiol and levonorgestrel (synthetic versions of the natural sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone), this has been the basis of my pill-consuming life for a good three years.

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Largely, it’s been a good experience. To break it down:

  • PERIODS

I’m not going to beat about the bush, my periods have been infinitely more manageable. They used to be routinely heavy, very painful, and a bit of a battle for a good 6 days each round, with a final lighter day to finish it off. I would struggle to keep on top of tampon changes and live in fear of “The Leak”. Thank you to all of my friends who have been there for me to check the back of my skirt for unfortunate mishaps. There’s nothing more terrifying than the strong suspicion that your period armour has failed, and the boundaries have been breached. (Once at a wedding party, Christ.) Since the pill, my first period was much lighter, still pretty painful, but noticeably different. All subsequent periods (I should start referring to these as breakthrough bleeds) settled out into a very easy-going light flow, painful every few months but generally wonderful. Hypersensitivity in pre-menstrual stages however, remains just as horrific.

  • BODY CHANGES

I was informed that some side-effects such as weight gain may follow. I probably have gained weight in that time but I think it’s mainly down to my love of cheese, more than anything. My skin has stayed the same (always a magical combination of dry/oily/blemished), but what has definitely changed is boob size. A definite cup-up and the need to buy a whole new hoard of bras. It’s not a problem for me other than having to form a makeshift hoist with my forearms when I run up the stairs sometimes.

  • MOOD CHANGES

These have been my nemeses. I’ve always been a very anxious person, awkward and guilt-ridden. And about a year prior to starting the pill, I started having irregular panic attacks. I do not know where they came from or why they would be triggered, but they incited a vicious circle of fear, which probably encouraged them. A few months after taking the pill, I had an immense bout of them, and all I could conclude is that when I felt out of my comfort zone or was unaccustomed with my physical environment, they would come on, or even the pre-feeling of breathlessness which I sometimes found worse, as it could last for so long (or what felt like so long). Thankfully I have very understanding friends and family, and a most understanding partner. At the time he would talk me through these moments and ask me to focus on something, when my mind was concocting all sorts of worst-case scenarios. I also started to have horrendous mood swings, more than I’d ever had before. I would feel so bitter, terrified and uncooperative. I still have ‘down’ moments these days but to nowhere near the same extent – it was an incredibly poisonous feeling, as though I wanted to sabotage everything I had worked for. To this day I do not know whether to chalk my moodswings down to coincidence, or the reshuffling of my hormones.

 

One day I called my doctor to request another batch of pills, and I was informed that they would be switching over to “Rigevidon”, supposedly the same pill (well, containing the same ingredients), just under a different name.

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The only difference I feel after levelling out on Rigevidon, is that the days of the week are printed on the back instead of the front, where you pop the pill from. How silly!

 

I’m not recommending the pill by any means, when it all comes down to it this is a process of filling your body with synthetic hormones and overriding your menstrual cycle. It is a most unnatural experience and there are of course, side effects. I’ve considered other options however, and decided that this is the route I want to take at this time in my life, when I don’t particularly want any children in the next few years and I hope to stay with my partner. I try to take my pill at the same time every day, and if I’ve ever ventured beyond the 12-hour window then I’ve either been immensely careful, let my partner know, or used other forms of contraception. This is not something I wish to trifle with. In essence, I’m currently happy with my contraception, but I am still very aware that this is against the natural flow of my body. But then again, the natural flow of my body may want me to produce children on a regular basis and that is simply not my cup of tea. For now I take the synthetic route. I am very grateful to live in an age where contraception is a viable and free option for me, though having debuted in 1960, it is still a project in its infancy. Do the increased risks of cervical/breast cancer, migraines, higher blood pressure, infertility, blood clotting and strokes scare me? They certainly do. The quick blood pressure test and height/weight analysis every 6 months does little to calm my nerves on that front, but its a start. I honestly don’t know where I go from here. Should I have listened to my body as it threw increased panic my way and simply reverted to condoms? What will be will be? Also a scary prospect.

So how do you address contraception, and your body’s needs? I’m interested to hear stories of other methods, and the way the body responds to them. Until next time.

Rosie

x

 

TMI of the Month (February Edition): Hair Removal!

 

 

Hello my lovelies.

Here it is again, the TMI of the Month! Now, if this is something that interests you, then you may consider yourself part of the TMI fanbase, and we welcome you with open, slightly sweaty hugs. The more of us who discuss and indulge in the less glamorous aspects of the human body, and are partial to a cheeky spot-squeezing story or two, the more we can embrace these grim details as something to be marvelled at and applauded. Let us not flee in revulsion but grin maniacally at each other as we share this common disgustingness. Beautiful, magical disgustingness.

In today’s edition, there’s not a vagina in sight I’m sorry to say. In fact we will be talking about HAIR REMOVAL, which in hindsight is kind of vagina-related in parts, so let us put a pound in the vagina jar anyway. So what is there to talk about – in short it’s a rundown of how I’m feeling about the whole hair-removal game and how I go about tackling it, from the perspective of a woman in her 20s, living largely in the modern world.

Without delving too far into the past, it’s certainly  interesting to monitor the ever-changing trends of our natural bodily decoration. Elle Magazine did a canny little article on the history of hair removal, which is definitely worth a flick through. (See below)

History of Hair Removal

It made me think about the many motivations to rid ourselves of our hair. Some for practicality, some to shape our assets in various ways, or to draw attention to or away from our body parts. The over-arching message from vintage advertisements however, seems to be one of pure shame.

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Curiously enough, this particular shame seems to be gender-neutral at certain points in history, and for various reasons. As women’s hemlines become shorter and their sleeves disappear, what lies beneath is labelled as “unsightly”, and for a gentlemen to be dapper and respectable, a clean shave is the only acceptable option, if he wants to please his lady. Have no fear though, for as chance would have it there are products available to buy continuously, which will fix this natural unsightliness!

MARKETING!

And so, in the dips and peaks of what has essentially become a fashion industry, what kind of ideals are established now, in 2017? Well, looking at how far we’ve come…

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…you can argue that the messages are the same. If you follow the current rules then you will be MANLY AS FUCK (or womanly/goddessly as fuck), and you will most certainly get laid. Sexuality and hair maintenance go hand-in-hand.

Having looked at this, I find that I am part of the marketing system. Since I was 12, I have opted to remove a lot of my bodily hair. At 11, I was aware of adverts for razors and waxing kits but considered them “Woman’s Business”, and something not to be trifled with until one’s 30s, surely. But it suddenly became a part of my life following a hockey lesson at school, during which one of my female classmates looked at me in horror after we’d crashed into each other, and declared: “How hairy are your legs?!” I felt red-hot with shame, and immediately sought about acquiring a razor (hastily acquired from a pack of disposables, also known as handy flesh-slicers.) How could I have let this slide? I was incredibly behind in the pack. I recall a maths lesson a year on, in which one of my male friends started joking about my arms, saying I was as hairy as a grizzly bear. I threw my school photo in the bin, as I looked in despair at my humongously bushy eyebrows. With my new shame-lenses on, I looked monstrous. My shame-razoring soon branched out to my entire arms, my bikini line, that middle seam at the back of my thighs that I find so hard to reach, the tiny little patch at the top of my feet that would please the locals in Hobbiton. It all had to go. There were standards to be met, and I had many more years of schooling to endure.

Since then I have had a strong love-hate relationship with hair removal. I considered it necessary then, to avoid mockery, and now I consider it as part of my cleaning routine. I don’t question its relevance. I am not aiming to prove a point to someone by adhering to their standards, because these days I feel like I have opened my eyes to a new level of acceptance. There are many women campaigning nowadays for hairiness to be entirely optional, and I hear their statement and think that it’s certainly empowering, but not one I have adopted as mantra. Many years on from my hockey lesson, I have certainly had days, or weeks, when I haven’t bothered or cared enough to shave my legs, in relationships or out. Sometimes it’s too cold. Sometimes I have eczema flare-ups on my ankles and I can’t bear the thought of taking a razor to damaged flesh. Sometimes I’ve sliced open my knee and then considered myself unfit to wield such a weapon. But generally, most-of-the-time, I feel the need to remove this hair, despite it being a massive annoyance, often painful and added shower-time.

Not being parts of my body that are on display consistently (barring deep summer days), who am I trying to please? Am I trying to evoke sexual openness? I hope that as a 27 year old woman, I am not being horrendously naïve in saying that nowadays, I am doing it for me. Perhaps I am simply brainwashed by the media, but by-and-large, I enjoy taking care of myself. I consider it a calming indulgence to smooth on Dream Cream and Lush dusting powders onto my legs after a shower. I find it oddly satisfying to pluck my eyebrows, granted they’re not particularly neat. I epilate my legs and wax my bikini line – not at all fun at the time, but it’s a standard I have put on level with a haircut. It’s my choice to do it, I don’t feel obliged, but I feel regimented and calm with it. My partner has never criticised my fuzzy arms or occasionally prickly legs as he has never criticised what I choose to wear; it is my body, and this is how I’ve deemed it to be decorated. I’m lucky enough to have the time and tools to do so. All entirely superficial isn’t it? Well perhaps, but anything we can reclaim is something to be celebrated. If your fuzz is your armour, by all means fuzz it up. If you like to shave your bikini line into the coastal pattern of your local beach, or a Chinese dragon, then by all means, do it. I’m not sure what I hoped to accomplish in this post, if only to offer a friendly hand to my former self, and say that everything’s okay.

This post is dedicated to the little soft hair that I found the other week, near the side of my boob. It’s not quite under my arm, so it’s definitely in boob territory.

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Until the next TMI of the month!

Rosie

x

 

 

TMI of the Month! Smear Test

Back again!

I know you all missed TMI of the month. I do enjoy the dainty little bullet journal spreads and low-level heart to hearts, but in reality, my true passion lies in sharing intimate and overly graphic details with you guys. Let’s give the people what they want. So in honour of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, I would like to have a little chat about my first smear test, which I had about a year ago. Y’all ready for this?

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Firstly, let’s consider some facts – which I have blatantly lifted from the website for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, but the truth stands:

  • Every day in the UK 9 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer
  • 3 women lose their lives from the disease every day
  • Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35
  • 75% of cervical cancers are prevented by cervical screening (smear tests)
  • However 1 in 4 women do not attend this potentially life-saving test

All are immensely concerning, but the most concerning for me is the last fact. 1 in 4 women do not attend this potentially life-saving test, which you’re invited to take every three years from the age of 25 in the UK. This is bonkers! It’s an opportunity to check and see if everything is okay and if any action needs to be taken, before anything serious develops. So why do you think so many women are not booking their appointments? I can offer my own thoughts as I put off this very test for a full year, as I was 26 when I finally took it upon myself. I received my letter a couple of months before my 25th birthday, and I kept it in my bedside drawer with my underwear and tampons, and would tentatively re-read it each time my period came around. (Side-note: Everyone should have a vagina drawer. Treat yo vagina!)

I think what intimidated me the most was the ‘unknown’ element to the procedure, as I had never been examined down there before, and all the paranoia-induced questions it provoked in my own daft head. What’s a speculum? Let’s Google it. Oh God that looks huge. Medieval. I’ve definitely seen a torture device of that description in that museum exhibit last year. What if I’m on my period? What if I start my period while I’m there? There’ll be a person I do not know poking around between my legs and scraping my cervix with a toolkit, I’m really not cool with this. Why do they have to use the word “smear”? Does anybody enjoy that word? Is it considered uncouth to ask for more lube if things start to hurt? Is there an international non-verbal symbol for more lube?

Yep. I was quite the fool. But this is what I do, I always imagine worst case scenarios, and they terrify me. What terrified me more however, was the stories I kept hearing about cervical cancer not being caught quickly enough. I also watched a doctor having her smear test live on TV and it looked remarkably uneventful, in comparison to the nightmare I had created in my own head. So I bit the bullet, putting it off would do me no good, it was time to call the doctors’ office. Regardless of the results of the cervical screening, going as early as possible gives you the best possible chance of catching signs of any abnormalities EARLY and then going on to take the necessary actions. Isn’t that so much more promising than a tiny moment of awkwardness?

Honestly, the whole procedure was an absolute piece of cake, I regret absolutely nothing. Making the appointment was very straightforward, and when I showed up I felt an unexpected boost of confidence. I was taking an important step towards looking after my health, and I should be proud of this. I wore a skater dress and tennis shoes (easy to whip up and slip off, wink wink), and I felt ready. When I reached the examination room I saw the door was already open, and I had a slight moment of panic when I thought that perhaps they might just leave it open all the time. This moment was immediately halted when I met the nurse, who closed the door and was lovely and chatty and had a very calming Zen-like air of “I’ve seen more vaginas than you can shake a stick at, and honestly I give no fucks, so don’t worry about a thing chick.”

She told me to remove everything from my lower half as she pottered around the room, and there was a sort of tissue-paper sheet to put over my knees. I was thankful for my decision to wear a skater dress too, much less exposed. Then I had to sort of put my heels to my bum and let my legs fall apart (feeling glamorous AF), and she calmly told me everything that was going to happen. The speculum will go in, and sort of hold open the vagina, and a small brush will be used to collect cell samples. The speculum bit felt understandably a bit weird, but not a massively different feeling to putting a tampon in to be honest, and not cold or painful at all. The brush bit, I did not feel. I was not aware of it happening until she told me it was. (It was sort of a side note to her asking me if I was going anywhere on holiday this year. So where are you taking your vagina this year? How about Budapest?) Then an ever-so-slightly uncomfortable removal, and boom it was done. She packed everything up accordingly as I got dressed, she told me what to expect (a letter in about a fortnight explaining the lab results – and not to fret if abnormalities are found, it does not mean instant cancer.) We had the post-awkwardness chat of “Yeah so that happened!”, and I was on my way. Now this is just my personal experience, but here’s a link below to cover all the bases and questions I haven’t covered.

Cervical Screening – NHS

I hope this little chat has been somewhat enlightening, and if you were on the fence about booking your appointment, or your 25th birthday is approaching and you are nervous, I really hope that this will encourage you to make the phone call, because it’s one of the easiest and painless procedures you’ll go through to look after your health. Please book it as soon as you can, and be proud of yourself for doing so. Tick it off your to-do list for the year. And afterwards, I encourage you to treat your vagina to some damn nice underwear, and hey how about a vanilla latte? (please consume orally).

Rosie

x

TMI of the Month: Festive Lingerie (Blogmas Day Two)

 

Merry Blogmas Day Two!

It is perhaps fair to say that adulting at this time of year can often centre on stress. So many bills, so little time to organise, will the heating fail us, and so on. As such I think it’s so important to look after ourselves and give each other a chance to relax, and enjoy all aspects of Christmas. That may involve looking festively fierce underneath your many woollen layers. As such, for your visual delight I have compiled a little Christmas treat, in the form of a Seasonal Lingerie Lookbook. Hopefully it will inspire some of you to treat yourself, or treat a loved one, to a damn good time. Whether you like them to enjoy with a partner or without, on you or on the floor, it’s entirely a matter of self-care.

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Now as much as Alison Brie carried off the whole “Kinky Mrs Claus” look in a Community special (oh Alison), I’m trying to steer from these particular tracks in favour of less traditional fayre. Beyond item one, I’m going for less 1980s fluffy snow peaks and crushed velvet, more bows and trinkets and charming reds/greens. I don’t want to say “classier” as it can’t really be juxtaposed with “crotchless”…but you get the idea. Ho ho ho!

2016 Festive Lingerie Lookbook

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  1. Hips & Curves: Red Velvet Knickers $2.98

    Now let’s get the Mrs Claus look out of the way! I thought this was a cute and slightly more subtle take on the traditional Christmas lingerie look. They are essentially comfy boyshorts. The description reads “Visions of more than sugarplums will dance in his (or her) head when you arrive in these!” And for double risqué points, they are of course crotchless.

 

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2. Bedtime Flirt: Sweetheart Lace Teddy £33.95

Ranging from a size 6-16, versatile for all year round, this is a gorgeous teddy. I love the belted satin detail without the harshness of corsetry, and it is so easy to wear under anything.

3. Sparkling Strawberry: Emerald/Black Balconette Bra Set £56.25

Balconette bras are my downfall, they are not the warmest or most supportive, but tehy are so damn beautiful. Again, not specifically Christmassy, but if you mix and match some red accessories into the ensemble then you have INSTANT XMAS. Now this is at the higher end of the price bracket, but I think that the technique here is to vow to wear it as often as you can in order to garner maximum value for money. I doubt there will be many complaints. Merry Bettie Pagemas!

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4. Sparkling Strawberry: Savoir Faire Wine Lace Teddy £37.35

If you look past the alarmingly doll-like face of the model, this teddy is stunning. The satin bow is always a nice touch, and the lace would complement stockings of any colour. Imagine yourself lounging around the house in this, sipping mulled wine on Christmas Eve. Doesn’t really matter if you spill it.

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5. Sparkling Strawberry: Satin Bow Babydoll £44.40

The last of the sparkling strawberries, I picked this obscenely expensive babydoll because of the kind of adorable boob bow-tie. Also, babydolls are very forgiving if you have issues exposing your stomach. But sometimes you have to abandon practicality for novelty – not classy, but so inviting. The Spirit of Christmas Boobs would approve heartily.

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6. Glitter and the Moon: Red Satin Rose French Knickers £28

For vintage appeal, I had to share these very charming French knickers. Or are they shorts? I don’t know. The embroidery adds a touch of darling to the whole look, and the fact that they can transcend bellybutton heights is an added bonus.

7. Ann Summers: Tie-Side Festive Knickers £10

Speaking of darling, who can resist candy stripes? And classless slogans? And ruffles? Be still my Tacky Winter Wonderland heart. You can’t really go far wrong with Ann Summers lingerie, there’s always a slightly cutesy side to things that makes everything more everyday and accessible. I will refer to these as the You Go Glen Coco Knickers.

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8. Agent Provocateur: Astra Stockings in Champagne & Red £25

I will never be able to afford anything from Agent Provocateur. Not even the stockings. But it won’t stop me leering at how delicate and generally fabulous everything is.

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10: Ann Summers: Barely-There Bow Briefs £10

Definitely not practical but look at the little bow! Adorable. Cheekiness of the utmost festivity. Even if your Outfit Of the Day is this and this alone, it is totally worth it. Also whoever this model is, teach me your ways as your skin is that of a goddess, perfect porcelain.

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11. Dollhouse Bettie: Satin Lace Hipflask Garter £34.48

Tis the season to be merry! And personally I wouldn’t object to having a personal supply of spiced rum with me at all times. Well, whatever takes your fancy really. Just not Baileys. Incidentally this range is full of vintage delights, please check it out if that’s your cup of tea.

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12. Esty: Gaia Embroidered Cuffs with Detachable Chain £25.99

Butt!!! Sorry I’m such a child. Anyway, how beautiful are these? They’ve got cosy Winter nights written all over them. Or Summer, Spring, Autumn, a Tuesday morning…

1499estylingerievelvetgarterupto24thigh13. Esty: Green Velvet Garter £14.99

And finally! There’s something slightly regal about this garter, something of a 1920s debased royalty vibe. Whatever floats your boat, but it’s just so pretty and versatile. And this is the key message I wish to convey in this decadent little list, that you can wear these anytime, for anyone or no one. I think it gives you a little slice of power to know that underneath your Christmas jumper, you’ve got a whole load of sparkle and tease going on.

 

Until the next day of Blogmas!

Rosie

x

 

TMI of the Month – My Time of the Month!

I urge you to read no further if the topic of periods is not something you wish to venture boldly into at this present moment. Not that it is disgusting (I would describe it more as a tad grim from time to time), or something we shouldn’t discuss, or a basis of knowledge only available to females – but I consider this topic vaguely under the branch of TMI, and what do you know, it’s time for the TMI of the Month. Let the bloodbath begin. (No further blood references will follow, I promise.)

I’m just going to discuss my “routine” of sorts, in short the products and tools (tools? maybe not) that I use during my time of the month. Perhaps this is a strange thing to discuss, but the main idea is that I am leaning more towards processes that are better for my body and better for the world, and I would like to urge others to think about this. I feel that these days there is a heavy focus on the disposability of products, that the evidence of our reproductive systems doing their thing must be concealed. Which is fair enough, and I generally operate on a 60% versus 40% balance, the former being looking towards reusable products and the latter being disposable, organic products. It’s entirely down to personal preference, as above all I think we can all agree that a certain degree of comfort is sought when you’re struggling with cramps and headaches. Similarly we are not always able to stick to reusable products without compromising hygiene or general transportation, for instance if you’re travelling. The cost is also a significant factor, as for a lot of women these products are required on a monthly basis – though I won’t delve into menstrual products being taxed as non-essential luxury items in the UK, as I feel that’s for another post. What I want to focus on is the products I currently use, listed in no particular order. The frequency of use depends entirely on my circumstances at the time. All of these have been researched and collated over time, as this is (clearly) important to me, and I should specify that since committing to the contraceptive pill I have been largely blessed with slightly lighter and less painful periods than before.

  1. Organic Tampons (disposable)

I have a weird relationship with tampons because at their very core, I am not keen on the idea of putting something absorbent into a part of my body that is not designed to be dry! And yet I have relied on them for so many years simply because they make me feel so much cleaner, if that makes any sense? It feels strange to continuously buy something that I don’t necessarily agree with, but they are admittedly so easy and quick to use, that it’s hard for me to “give them up”. So as a transitional move, in recent months I have discovered two companies that promote the idea of a ‘chemical-free’ period. There are obviously many more, but these are the ones I have purchased from. The first is Cottons, based in Melbourne (I buy mine from Boots), who have traded bleaching for oxygen-cleansing and push the idea of finding out what your tampons are made with, and the impact they can have on your body. The second is TOTM, who offer similarly biodegradable, 100% cotton, chemical-free and hypoallergenic products, and they also offer one-off purchases or a subscription service if it suits you, delivered in packages slender enough to fit through your letterbox. They are admittedly pricey at roughly £2.95 a box for 14 non-applicator tampons, though UK delivery is free if you buy two products or more. My usage of tampons has become less of a reliance, and more of a “I’m going out for the day, and things are getting heavy – I want a quick and easy way of addressing my period, with minimal stress on my body.”

2. Menstrual Pads (reusable)

At the risk of TMI-ing all over the place, I really hate disposable pads, they just do not feel comfortable to me, in the slightest. So I did a little research, and discovered reusable menstrual pads. The two companies I have purchased from over the years are Honour Your Flow, and Luxury Moon. They both supply organic cloth/wool/fleece pads of all shapes, sizes and absorbencies, which are, if possible, made from fairly traded natural materials. To me they are extremely comfortable, never itchy or prone to shifting around, and obviously easy to use. They are expensive, but definitely an investment, as they last for as long as you take care of them. The cleaning process is something that may scare people away, but it doesn’t bother me at all. There’s always the option of just putting them in the washing machine (avoiding fabric conditioner as it meddles with the absorbency), and the tumble dryer fluffs them up a treat. I don’t really need any of the heavy-flow ones, but it was a very easy transition to switch from small disposable liners to these. Honour Your Flow also sell wash bags and “moon purses” (for ease of transportation), reusable make-up pads which are fab, and all sorts of other goodies. If you don’t approve of them, at the very least you can say these pads are kind of hippy-cute? Insert “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die” reference.

3. Mooncup (reusable)

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Like all of the best things in life, I first discovered the dawning age of the Mooncup on the back of a toilet cubicle door. At the age of 19, I had never heard of such witchcraft in all my days. I finally plucked up the courage to try one about a year later, and I am still on the fence about whether I can commit to it more. First of all, it’s intimidating. Second of all, I was in a bit of a blind panic as to whether I was ever going to be able to retrieve it once it had gone past the point of no return. In assessment of these worries post-trials, I can say that there is a bit of a learning curve, or at least there was for me. But once this is mastered (after a very long hiatus I’m willing to try it again), it is a fantastic product. To distil everything that we have established necessary during our menstrual cycle into one handy-dandy silicone product, well that’s just lovely isn’t it? It lasts for years and years, and the cleaning process is very simple – you can either boil it for 5-7ish minutes (though I recommend buying a small pan specifically for this process!), or you put it in a sterilising solution such as Milton’s tablets (generally used for baby bottles and such.) The only major flaw for me is the pressure of being in a public toilet, it’s a changing process that I wouldn’t want to rush or be anything less than highly sanitised. But again, we all have different preferences and our needs can change, so I would definitely consider it if you want to look after yourself, and the environment.

I would like to say before closing that I am by no means an expert in any of these products, nor a purveyor of wholly organic lifestyles. This is just my personal experience, and it is subject to adjustment. Does anybody have a rave product review or recommendation on this topic?

Contrary-wise to specifically menstrual-based products, I think above all to establish a comfortable setting for myself on a particularly painful day, I like to indulge in one of my favourite comfort foods, that is vanilla shortbread dipped in Nutella, which is the buttery biscuit base of heaven. And if that’s all you take from this post (if you have read this far), well then I urge you to treat yo ‘self.

Until next time (of the month!)

Rosie

x