When asked how PA school is going so far, I am often tempted to describe it as that of an ongoing period, as I seem to always be irritable, crampy, and polka dotted with blemishes. If my new baseline is PMS, this means that my actual period reveals transformation into a true gremlin. The constant stress of school seems to amplify everything, so I need some real heavy duty strategies (and tampons) to make the ease of this week slightly less horrifying.
I will preface this by saying that I have the Paragard, which is the copper IUD. I’ve had it for about 5 years now, and while I love it in terms of birth control, it means my periods are long and they are heavy (more about that experience here). It also means that during periods of stress or transition (like this year), my periods aren’t always perfectly timed every month, since they’re not regulated by synthetic hormone intake. My schedule is just as annoying as my period, and my days are typically spent in class, then the library, with little time at home. So if I spontaneously get my period, I’m left scrambling asking friends and/or strangers for tampons, or (even more glamorous), crafting a wad from public bathroom toilet paper to serve as a temporary dam until I’m able to get home to my tampon stash.
When I’m so bogged down with the weight of chronic exams, every seemingly simple chore (e.g. buying tampons) seems as arduous as Everest. I am 26 years old, paying my own rent, car insurance, grocery bills, you name it, and yet I still can’t seem to get my period under control. So I’m leaning on the help of Athena Club for a monthly delivery of organic tampons.
While organic tampons may seem as dramatic and frivolous as the hottest new health trend (enter charcoal coconut water and adaptogen dusted crystals stage left), it’s honestly one of my first priorities when it comes to “green” lifestyle choices. Why? Tampons are, for lack of a better word, quite intimate. Vaginal tissue is incredibly fragile and permeable to irritants and the products we expose it to, and the lymphatic vessels in the vaginal walls allows for direct transfer of chemicals into the circulatory system. Because tampons are made of cotton, a crop often sprayed with pesticides, they may also contain dioxins and furans from the chlorine bleaching process. Dioxin is a toxic by-product of a chlorine-bleaching process used in the manufacture of paper products. Since dioxin is stored in fatty tissue, the effects of dioxin from various sources are cumulative and can be measured 20 to 30 years after exposure. Scented tampons carry the additional burden of unknown fragrance chemicals.
Admittedly, there isn’t a ton of research that has been performed on tampons – organic, or not. But given the simple anatomy and sensitivity of the vulva, it’s an easy decision for me to commit to organic tampons, especially if they can be delivered to me.
While I am no stranger to organic tampons, I understand the trepidation surrounding them, as some women have described the cardboard applicator as painful. Athena Club, in contrast, is a BPA-free plastic applicator, meaning ease of insertion. The length of the tampon itself is also shorter than other organic tampons I’ve tried, so I don’t have the special pleasure of having the tampon slide out every time I pee, in turn soaking the tampon, creating a lovely, damp pool of old urine in my underwear each time I go to the bathroom. Ah yes, the glory of womanhood. Hear me roar (read: groan and grumble).
There are some simple things that can be done to make the red week a little more green, and to quiet the groans and grumbles. And some gifts you can either treat yourself or a friend / loved one to when the cravings and cramping strike:
- organic tampon subscription service like Athena Club
- a heating pad
- make yourself some fresh ginger tea: 2 cups boiling water, 1 tsp fresh ground ginger, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tbsp honey, few dashes of cinnamon – blend and strain
- take ginger and turmeric supplements a few days before your period to lessen the severity of cramps
- Uber / Lyft coupons
- a huge, insulated lunch bag like this one to pack tons of period friendly foods – a whole post dedicated to that here
- gift certificate to a massage or chiropractor
- homemade gift certificate for your loved one to cash in a massage at any time
- gift certificate to Moon Cycle Bakery
- subscription to a meditation service like Headspace
- create a playlist of feminism themed podcasts:
- Women of the Hour
- I Want It that Way
- The History Chicks
- Call Your Girlfriend
Any tips you can offer up during the week when you’re feeling like a Pretty Moody Sistah?? Please share in the comments below!!
Thank you to Athena Club for sponsoring this post and creating such a rad product. I really love what you do. All in opinions in this post are my own.