So how do you deal with your monthly visitor? (a.k.a. Aunt Flo, your monthlies, that time of the month, bleeds, your period.)
If you’ve had your period for years, that may sound like a stupid question. But there are as many options for dealing with your period as there are euphemisms to describe it - maybe more.
So here they are, in list form, with pros and cons thrown in for good measure.
1. Pads - Probably what your mother handed you when you got your period the first time around. There are so many types of pads out there: thick, thin, wings, no wings, short, long. Which ones you’ll prefer depends a lot on your body, and how heavy your period is. Pros: easy to use, easy to tell when they need to be changed, and non-intrusive. Cons: Hard to ignore, often messy. Top brands: Always, Bodyform, Cottons.
2. Tampons - There are two main categories of tampons - applicator and non-applicator. Pros: easy to use - after those requisite awkward first couple of tries, that is. They’re comfortable, clean and, unlike with pads, you can put a tampon in, and almost completely forget that you have your period. They’re great for swimming, the beach and showering while on your period. Cons: potential (however slight) for toxic shock syndrome. Some women are uncomfortable inserting something inside themselves. Top brands: Tampax, OB, Cottons, Lil-lets, Moxie.
3. The cup - A flexible and reusable rubber or silicone cup that you insert during your period. It can be left in for several hours until it fills up, then emptied into the toilet, washed and reinserted. Pros: easy to use, comfortable, safe. And its biggest selling point: it can be reused for years, making it the most eco-friendly option for dealing with your period. Cons: particularly in public bathrooms, washing the cup out might prove a bit of a challenge. Top brands: the Mooncup, the Keeper, Diva Cup.
4. Panty liners - Super thin, more flexible version of pads. Pros: Great for using with tampons if your period is particularly heavy and you’re afraid of leaks, or at the end of your period, when flow is light. Cons: only for times when your flow is particularly light. Top brands: Bodyform, Always, Moxie. News: Bodyform has just released a new range of liners called Bodyform Natural containing chamomile and aloe vera extracts, which have calming properties and are particularly good at neutralising odours. The liners are extra-absorbant, soft, and have long wings to keep them in place as your body moves around.
5. Hormonal birth control - Sick and tired of getting your period each month? Talk to your doctor about the various methods of hormonal birth control out there (certain pills and injections) that would allow you to stop having a monthly period. Opt to get your period four times a year, or not at all. Pros: not having to deal with your period every month! Cons: some women don’t like the idea of taking hormones regularly.