Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dealing With Aunt Flo?: The Important (And Helpful) Stuff Nobody Likes To Talk About

Every once in a while I get the urge to talk about a "yucky" topic. Why? Because it's fun to see peoples' reaction. I can't see faces over the internet but imagining my fellow readers' expressions is just as entertaining, if not more so. And lucky you, today is one of those days. If you're a woman, you might be able to relate to today's topic. If you're a man, you may not want to read any further. Or maybe you do, so you'll know how to help your woman out once a month. She'll totally love you for it. Seriously. 

Okay, today's guest of honor: the wave - the crimson one. It's Aunt Flo (though ever since Progressive commercials came out this name has taken on a whole new meaning). I'm gonna divide this post into two sections - Part 1: dealing with Flo's physical pain; and Part 2: keeping Flo sanitary. 

PART 1: THOSE DARNED CRAMPS
Cramps can be mild to severe in different people. Mines used to make me nauseated and dizzy and turn my lips blue. I once stopped mid-hike up a mountain and laid down on the rocks alongside the trail for two hours and told my buddies to go ahead without me while I stayed back groaning the entire time. Everybody passing by thought I was some weird crazy person. I did the same thing on a bench at a random bus stop while walking home for the same reason. I'm sure I creeped a bunch of people out and was the reason why nobody waited at that bus stop the whole time I was there. Sorry :( Then I discovered some easy ways to deal with the pain: 

1. Well, there's the curl up in a ball and cry method that I had been doing:

2. Or you can pop some Midol or whatever NSAID/painkiller you normally use. I now keep a couple of Advil or Aleve handy at all times and take it at the first sign of a period, before the cramps get bad. Because once you're a wincing mess nothing will feel helpful.

3. It's a good idea to find out how your body reacts to caffeine while on your period (be aware that some Midol varieties have caffeine in 'em). I know for me it makes everything feel worse since it's a diuretic. Which brings me to my next point:
I cannot stress how important it is to increase your water intake before and during your period. If you've ever gone running and forgot to bring along some water you know how easy it is to cramp up especially if it's hot out. The same goes for menstrual cramps. Dehydration can predispose you to cramping.

4. On a related note, remember to keep your electrolytes in balance. Dehydration is often associated with a high sodium:water ratio. Sodium kicks off the muscle contraction process, and too much of it means lots of muscle contractions. Potassium basically does the opposite and relaxes muscles, so keep those electrolyte levels in check! Bananas might help.

5. You can also keep busy to get your mind off of those pesky cramps. I find that sitting still and thinking about it just exacerbates the pain so I'll try to keep moving and strike up conversations with anybody and everybody. Everyone else thinks you're incredibly friendly and you alleviate your pain. Everybody's happy.

6. This last point requires some professional assistance and may not be for everybody, but you know what finally ended my sick days at home due to cramps? Birth control pills. It prevents ovulation which subsequently gets rid of most of the ovulation-related stuff that goes on in the uterus - including muscle contractions. Yay! If you're trying to conceive you obviously wouldn't go this route, but any combination of the above tips (except #1) will work just fine.

PART 2: SANITATION
Now that you've got a handle on period pains, you need something to keep you, er, clean. Pads are fine, but on heavy days they can get a bit...messy. I personally prefer tampons on those days because it makes me feel a lot cleaner. 

Call me spoiled, but I grew up on tampons with applicators. I'm pretty sure the generation before me didn't have this luxury and their tampons looked much like the one I'm writing about today, but I try to do my part in keeping the earth clean so I thought I'd give o.b. Tampons a whirl courtesy of Smiley360.  o.b.'s tampons don't have the non-biodegradable plastic applicator so they're a bit more ecofriendly than their encased counterparts. In fact, I think this brand has always been applicator-free ever since their inception 50 years ago. I've seen the o.b. boxes at the store but always made a beeline to my favorite brand and never bothered to actually stop and take a look at what other brands are out there. Then these showed up at my door and I was really thrilled with the amount of stuff that was packed into the tiny little shipping box:

Cute little travel case
That's two boxes of regular absorbency tampons (18 ct. each) and one box of super absorbency (18 ct). Also included was a discreet carrying case so you can keep some in your purse, as well as TEN coupons for a free box! Of course I don't need 180 tampons on top of what I already have so these will hopefully finds its way to other women in need as soon as I figure out a way to hand them out without sounding totally inappropriate.

As I had no previous experience with applicator-less tampons, I wasn't totally sure what they looked like. After seeing that each box contained 18 tampons my first question was, How do so many of them fit in that itty bitty box??! This is how:
They're tiny. About the size of my pinky, maybe smaller. My next question was regarding application: Hoowww?? Yep, listen to that common sense voice and use your finger to make a pocket on the end and proceed.

My final verdict? I'm gonna try doing this without sounding overly graphic. I had no idea tampons were so...rough. Yikes. Application-wise, it's umm...not as sanitary as what I'm used to - there's nothing separating you and...you. That means your hands may get a bit messy under *ahem* certain circumstances. And you have to make sure you get it in there good or else it'll feel like you're walking with a stick up your $@#*&%. Regarding absorbency, I think it's comparable to other brands but I never got to test it out in all its full-on glory, if you know what I mean.

So here you go, the pros and cons of o.b.'s non-applicator tampons:
Pros:
ecofriendly design
discreetly fits in a purse
absorbency is comparable to other brands

Cons:
uncomfortable application
messier application
uncomfortable if not inserted correctly

Would I recommend it? Umm, at this point probably not. I try to be earth-friendly when I can, but I gave this three tries and all three times were rather unpleasant experiences. Application was just way too uncomfortable for me. If you've got a vag of steel then maybe, but I think I'm way too spoiled by sleek plastic. Maybe there's a technique I'm not aware of. I've got 51 more tries to figure it out. Click here to get your own free box of o.b. tampons. I hope you have better luck with it than I did!


Note: This post contains referral links. I received samples of o.b. Tampons complimentary from Smiley360 for testing purposes. This post reflects my honest opinions about this product.

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