On the 25th June, exactly 319 days after HB was born (or 10 months and 15 days), my period returned. I’d always known this time would arrive, especially since I’d cut down breast-feeding quite a lot. My thoughts were mixed.
Not having a period (and knowing that it’s not a sign that a) you’re pregnant or b) ill) feels quite exciting. In a thrilling, slightly naughty way that you get when you skive off school (or how I imagine it would feel to skive off school, I was a total nerd with a massive monobrow). However, there was always part of me who was convinced that it was make a sudden appearance when I least expected it and I’d find myself in public (of course), holding a baby, in a nightmare scenario when I’d be for once in my life wearing something light coloured (my usual wardrobe is very much filled with dark colours) and an unmistakeable dark stain is spreading uncontrollably.
For that sole reason, I’ve been wearing pantyliners every since HB came along. To be specific Always pantyliners (occasionally Bodyform when I couldn’t find Always). Why Always? Because I’d always worn them. I also used to work for them but that is another story.
I had an inkling my period would turn up when on Saturday evening I noticed a darkish stain on my liner. But I shrugged it off – I already had other things to occupy my mind. The next morning, as I was leaving the house to get to a CoreBar taster, I went for a last wee and there it (she?) was. Fun times. When you’ve not had a period for 319 days, all your sanitary products tend to get hidden away so it took a good few minutes to work out what I needed (pad or tampon?) However, I re-discovered my stash, loaded up my bag and changed my leggings into my new red ones from Acai Activewear (good timing!). JUST IN CASE.
Because I wasn’t sure whether my period would jump straight in with an appearance and be all like I’M BAAAAACK and be a crazy wild dripping tap, or shuffle in unobstrusively, I wasn’t taking any chances and wore a tampon (Tampax) and a pad (Always).
Even before I got pregnant, I’d been having a rethink of the products I was using every week and whether I could improve on them. The first victim of this was my deodorant. I had been doing work with a Mums & Babies skincare company and investigating the different ingredients that went into our toiletries. There have been rumours circulating since the 1960’s that the aluminium compounds in popular deodorants could contribute to Alzheimers. And that deodorant could increase the chances of breast-cancer as a couple of studies suggested that patients with breast cancer had aluminium deposits in the tissue and pointed the finger at deodorants. However, there haven’t yet been any studies which have proved these and deodorants are considered safe. For me, however, this wasn’t good enough. The fact that the way the aluminium works is by essentially plugging the sweat pores to prevent you sweating feels unnatural. And I’m not really a sweaty person. So I first transitioned to Salt of the Earth rock deodorant (which was also really handy for the 3.5 months travelling I did) and have more recently moved onto Aurelia cream deodorant which uses mostly botanicals and essential oils. Whilst I do often wonder whether I actually need deodorant in the first place (I’m not really a stinky sweaty person unless I’m nervous or stressed), I find comfort in this, even though it’s on the expensive side.
That was my first change! I’ve since swapped my shampoo and conditioner brand and had a brief but unsuccessful attempt to persuade my husband to move onto natural toothpaste (I’m still looking for a toothpaste which tastes minty but has no SLS or fluoride in so if you have any recommendations please leave them in the comments below!) Now that my period has returned and also coupled with the fact that I won an Instagram competition (you can see my winning comment on the post) for a fab BE KINDER TO YOUR VAGINA bag and goodies from TOTM (Time of the Month) I’ve also been making changes to the sanitary products I use.
I’ve not used the TOTM products before but they’ll definitely be put to the test later this month. I was given the Medium absorption non-applicator tampons (£2.95 for 12 which works out at roughly 25p each and unlike the majority of high-street brands, only uses one ingredient – organic cotton. Now what totally blows my mind is that sanitary pad brands aren’t required by law to state the number of ingredients used. So the fanny pads and stick-em-ups that you’ve got in your cupboard right now may have any number of ingredients in, some which are actively bad for your body. If I take my normal compact tampon, I would guess it’s made from plastic (the applicator) and cotton. And that’s it. Apparently, these products could also contain the remnants of bleach, dyes, perfumes (for those who like a fragrant fanny – WHY…?!!!) and finishing agents. Of course, they may not, but until ingredient disclosure is required, then the possibility is there.
Another thing which I didn’t know (and which also kind of freaked me out) is that the inside of your vagina (or fou fou, or jewel or whatever strange and crazy name you want to call it), is one of the most absorbent parts of your body, so it could be subject to all kinds of crazy chemicals in your tampons.
TOTM state that their products are made of non-GM organic cotton, are free from pesticides, chemical fertilisers, perfume and chlorine bleach and also won’t leave any fibres behind, which can apparently happen with other products. This can irritate the vaginal walls.
Whilst I don’t believe that tampons are definitely the way forward to being ‘kinder to your vagina’, I am keen to try these out; small steps and all that. We’re lucky that we live in a world with lots of choices (or is it just confusing?) and this is most likely going to be one part of my journey into making more health-conscious choices. I’ve been thinking about trying out the mooncup (for environmental reasons mostly, although curiosity is definitely part of it), although ever since someone told me a story about her coming home and finding her drunk husband and friends doing shots from it, I’m wondering whether it’s such a good idea.