This post is about, oof, that time of the month! Those five days (plus or minus) when everyone woman is reminded that she is, well, a woman. And being a woman means she suddenly has ‘feminine needs’. That is, she needs some thing to contain her menstrual cycle.
While this post is intended more for women, young and not so young, I think all men should also be aware that a woman’s menstrual cycle is a pain in the ass (not so much ass as stomach, legs, arms, and so on). Remember that Whisper ad that said ‘Have happy period’? Never have I felt a stronger urge to bash someone’s face in. Period.
This post is about some of the options available to a woman in India for her period.
The tried and tested method. This is what your Mum will always recommend. And in her eyes, Sanitary Napkins / Sanitary Towels / S.T.s have advanced so much over the years that there is no need to look elsewhere. Whisper with wings? With a sticky adhesive? What more could you ask for? I remember my mum and grand mum telling me about their times: cotton/cloth pads, special underwear, a string to tie it all together. Yikes. Luckily today we have lots of advancements.
Whisper Maxi Fit Regular: My first experience with periods and Whisper. These are much bulkier than Whisper Ultra (4x thicker in my opinion) and are probably slightly more absorbent than Ultra. However, not very comfortable. And more important, no wings! Wings are important unless you want to spend countless evenings doing laundry and crying ‘Out, damn spot!’
Whisper Max Fit Regular – L Wings are longer so less chances of stains, but more important, with wings! If you’re on your period, you need wings! No two ways about it.
Whisper Maxi Nights – XL Wings are for those nights with heavy bleeding. I am one of those poor souls who would bleed so heavily at night that I would invariable stain my underwear, clothes, sheets, mattress, everything. To be honest, this only stopped when I stopped using sanitary napkins in favour of tampons. Because of the shape of my body and the level of my bleeding, I would always stain myself when using STs. In fact, during my school days, I had to use several sanitary towels overlapping (different sizes). If one would overflow, at least there was a backup underneath where it would spill. It was awful.
I was introduced to Whisper Ultra Clean – L Wings in school by friends who called me an idiot for still using Whisper Maxi. Maxi, apparently was so last century. Well, I missed the boat. Whisper Ultra is a thousand times better than Maxi. It’s thinner, but still quite absorbent. No wetness. However, it does have a plasticy feel which jus doesn’t feel very nice down there. It’s the best sanitary napkin I’ve experienced. However, for my kind of flow, it just didn’t do enough.
Also available: Whisper Ultra Clean -XL Wings, Whisper Ultra Nights – XL Wings (30 Pads), Whisper Ultra Nights – XXXL Wings (3 Pads) — which are just variations of the same in different sizes (longer and wider).
Whisper Ultra Soft – XL Wings
I haven’t used Whisper Ultra Soft – XL Wings, but it sounds interested. Fluffy soft cotton instead of that horrible plastic they usually use. Thin like ultra, but a nicer finish. It’s got great reviews as well.
Never used Whisper Choice Ultra wings – Medium and I have no idea what the difference is.
I have never been a fan of Stayfree Secure. They are usually much bulkier than Whisper and leave you feeling very wet all day. I’m not sure how the newer versions are. Stayfree is usually much cheaper than Whisper.
Stayfree Dry Max All night
Have never used Stayfree Dry Max All Nights, so cannot comment. However, one reviewer on Amazon says it’s better than Whisper Ultra, so I would love to hear more comments!
These are for the days when your period is just about to begin or is tapering off. Thin sheets of cotton that can be stuck on to your panty and save you from any spotting worries.
Carefree super dry Panty Liners
Carefree Panty Liners are my favourite panty liners. Rs 85 for 20, so great value for money. It’s quite absorbent, so you don’t have to worry about anything seeping through. Sticks well and feels good (soft cotton). Definitely recommended.
Bella Panty Liners – Bellisima
I’ve tried BELLA PANTY BELLISSIMA once and ended up preferring Carefree. Bella Panty liners are much thicker — almost like a mini-sanitary napkins. It’s got different layers stuck together which is what makes it uncomfortable. Costs Rs 64 for 12 on Amazon.
I remember attending a sex-ed class in middle school where all the girls were ushered into the auditorium and all the boys were kicked out, much to their despair. A teacher began asking how many of you have had your period? Some older girls raised their hands, some younger girls pretended and raised their hands and everyone laughed and giggled. The teacher then spoke about periods and sanitary napkins and the reproductive process. After the session, the teacher asked if there were any questions. A senior, a girl in Class 8, raised her and asked: ‘Ma’am, what are tampons?’ The teacher blushed and said you shouldn’t use tampons till you get married. I’ll explain why later.’
Oh god. Can we please leave this silly India mindset that girls who use tampons lose their virginity/break their hymen? What difference does it make! It’s a functional need, not a freaking notion of purity. Ridiculousness.
I started using tampons only a few years ago and they revolutionised my life! No more leakage and spills. No more walking around with what felt like a pillow between my legs. No more worrying if my heavy bleeding was normal because I was staining everything! No more wasting tonnes of plastic and destroying the environment!
OB Tampons for Normal Flow
I love O.B Tampons For Normal Flow. They are great. They are so comfortable that I forget I even have them on. The yellow box (for normal flow) has 20 tampons for Rs 175 and are thinner than the heavy flow tampons. There is no plastic applicator so you have to use a finger to insert the tampon. It’s a little gross and takes some practice to get used to it, but when it does feel normal and comfortable it is just great.
OB Tampons for Heavy Flow
I use O.B Tampons For Heavy Flow – Super (10 Count) on the heavy days and I love them. They are thicker and more absorbent the OB for Normal flow. There are ten in a box for Rs 110. They shouldn’t be used when your flow is less because it will leave your vagina too dry.
Now, I have to confess it did take me a while to get used to tampons. I was scared about Toxic Shock Syndrome and so on. But if you are careful and change frequently enough, there is no problem.
I had heard about Menstrual Cups several years ago. The thought was strange. Fit a cup down there? How? How does it not leak? How does it fit? A cup!?
Anyway, at that time, no affordable menstrual cup was available in India. But times have changed! Just yesterday I ordered my first Menstrual Cup (hence, excuse my ignorance at this stage — still learning).
I ordered a pink M Alx Care 100% Silicone Reusable Soft Menstrual Cup for Rs 700 (even though MRP was Rs 1500). They are available in 2 sizes (M and L) and 5 colours. Some of the colours looked quite ghastly and the clear one looked too medical so I went for the pink – it was quite gentle. The box is quite ordinary and the instructions could be printed better. However, I chose this over the Silky Cup because the reviews were marginally better and a reviewer had given photographic instructions on her website using this product.
Comes in 3 different sizes (Silky Cup S for girls upto the age of 15, Silky Cup M for women upto the age of 30, Silky Cup L for those above 30). The packaging looks much better and it is slightly cheaper at present — Rs 550 (MRP Rs 1000). However, the shape is a little different — as in the stem doesn’t have grip like Alx, so I’m favouring Alx in terms of usability.
DivaCup are an American import and are quite expensive in India. Rs 2908! Youch.
Material: All menstrual cups are made from silicone and are reusable (for upto 15 years, some of them). You can wash them and boil them and reuse them month after month. No more plastic waste with sanitary napkins. No more spending money month after month. No more strange chemicals being inserted into your body. This was my one problem with tampons — a strange foreign body that absorbs all the natural excretions and leaves your vagina very dry.
Sizes: Regardless of brand, there are generally two variations of cups: Pre-childbirth (M) and post-childbirth (L). In India, they generally say unto 30 years and 30 years above to distinguish. I, to be honest, haven’t quite understood this. I think the age should be ignored (especially if you are in your thirties.) First go for the M one and if you are filling up very fast, then perhaps consider the L one. Some of the sites mention that if your body size is large, go for the L one, but that is very difficult to figure!
Comfort: I’ve worn the menstrual cup twice. I have to say, the first time I did not insert it properly so there was some leakage (didn’t open it out property). Luckily, i had an ST on for added protection, so no trouble. There was a little bit of discomfort initially, I think because of the suction that keeps the flow in place. But after that, I completely forgot about it. I had read other people who said they chopped of the stem because it was too long. I too thought it was too long for me, however, when I went to empty out the cup, I realised it was the perfect length. Just long enough for me to easily remove it. Update: On the next day, not sure why, the cup was terribly difficult to remove. Vacuum perhaps? Anyway, removed it and went back to a tampon for the time-being. I have to say, for those who haven’t worn tampons or are sexually-active, the cup will take some time to get used to!
Maintainance: The fact that you have to sterilize the cup before and after every use (in boiling water) is quite annoying. It is awkward, not something you just want to pop into the kitchen to do!
More updates coming up soon.
Qz.com has a very nice article on everything you need to know about menstruation, including the history and costs of period management products, as well as the social stigmas associated with menstruation in different societies. Love the small tagline: Blood natural! 🙂