Getting your period is simultaneously no big deal and a huge hassle. The crimson tide can stain your sheets, wreck your skin, cost you money, and leave you bloated and cranky. All on a monthly basis.
Recently, I figured out a couple tricks that make my period way less annoying.
SOLUTION 1: USE AN APP TO TRACK YOUR CYCLE
I use Glow, a free period and fertility tracking app. Truthfully, I’m not a Glow loyalist--the app is pretty obviously geared toward women who are trying to get pregnant, which I’m not. (They should make a period-only version called Flow). I ignore 90% of the app’s functionality.
That said, it’s really useful for predicting PMS. In the week before my period, I experience anxiety, gloominess, hostility, hatefulness, and/or tearful fragility. When I’m really moody, I check my Glow account so I can figure out if these feelings are “real” or just a hormonal typhoon. I have a policy of not making big, impulsive decisions during my PMS time. (If I didn’t have this policy, I’d be jobless, friendless, and single).
Knowing when you’re going to get your period can also work as a reminder to exercise a bit more (it helps with cramps), take extra good care of your face, and do whatever else you need to do to prepare.
Note: This system won’t work perfectly if your period is irregular, or just decides to go rogue one month. Check in with your body and trust what it’s telling you.
SOLUTION 2: LUNAPANTIES AND A MENSTRUAL CUP
Cost: about $90
I tried to use non-disposable menstrual options when I was in my early 20s but it did not work, partly because I had very little privacy. (For example, I didn't have a private bathroom at work.) Recently, though, I decided to give it another try. I first made the choice from an environmental point of view. But once I tried it, I realized that I’d found the solution to my number one period hassle: never having enough pads and tampons.
Once you get used to it, the Diva Cup will be your new best friend. Seriously. Once you have a Diva Cup in the house, you’ll never need to make an emergency tampon run again.
A menstrual cup is worn internally, like a tampon. It collects your menstrual fluid instead of absorbing it. It’s not big, but it can hold one ounce of fluid (about twice as much as a the average heavy-flow tampon). You can wear it for up to 12 hours. To change it, just remove it, pour it out, and wash it with mild soap. Then put it back in for another 12 hours.
Tips on using the Diva Cup:
- Start by sleeping with it. If you’re paranoid at first, pair it with the Lunapanties (more on those below).
- Be patient. Learning to use tampons isn’t easy either, but lots of people learn to do it.
- Once you’ve inserted the cup, resist the urge to fiddle with it. Because it doesn’t absorb moisture like a tampon, your vulva won’t be all dried out by it. You might feel like it’s leaking when it’s not.
- Relax. Seriously, it makes a huge difference.
The Diva Cup has a learning curve that can be off-putting, but it’s worth the effort. It takes up so little space--and it won’t get ruined in your bag like tampons do.
The maker of lunapanties, Lunapads, describes them as “performance underwear.” Basically, they’re sturdy, full-coverage underwear with an absorbent padded crotch. You can add optional inserts to make them more absorbent.
I bought mine in black, so they’ll never look stained. They’re imperceptible in a laundry basket--you’d have to look pretty hard to see that they’re not regular underwear. I also bought a waterproof zippered pouch in case I need to change the insert during the day. (If anyone ever pick-pockets me, I hope they grab this pouch instead of my wallet.)
I use Lunapanties for my light or medium days, since my heavy days are basically the elevator scene from The Shining. They’re particularly great for those times when you think you might get your period but aren't sure. Three pairs gets me through my period if I do laundry once.
I bought the Diva Cup and three pairs of Lunapanties as a kit from Lunapads.com. Yes, it was a lot of cash to pay up front, but these options will last for years. (Remember, you’ll only wear the Luna Panties a few times each month, especially if you get on the Diva Cup train). All in all, the cost is much less of a gamble than high-end skin care. If you get your period each month, wouldn't you want to make it more comfortable and less annoying?
- Would you try reusable menstrual options?
- What are your period lifehacks?
- Does anyone have tips for PMS, or general moodiness?