Writing by Sophie Rose // photograph by Oana Cristina
Or an especially embarrassing one, or really an especially anything one.
But we’ve all got one, and this is mine.
It was January 2007. I was weeks away from turning 13, and had been in a bad mood all day. I have to attribute that to the persistent stomach pain I was feeling; I’d never experienced anything like that before. A constant, almost-but-not-quite debilitating ache in my lower gut. It wasn’t alarming enough that I told anyone about it – I just let it affect my mood. I was being kind of a jerk to my family, grumpy and snippy as we ate dinner. At some point during the meal I went to the bathroom and found a coin sized circle of blood in my underwear.
My very first, fleeting thought was a sober confidence in my fate: I was in the final throes of life. Death was imminent. Then my brain took over – this must be my period. I’d learned about it in The Care and Keeping of You book, and from my mom. I shuffled back to the doorway of the dining room, and asked my mum to come talk to me.
I stood in the hallway with her and I remember leaning in and whispering
I think I just got my period
And her eyes went wide and her mouth went wide and she said “Oh, honey!”
She went to get me a pad and after dinner, went out and bought ice cream. She made me a huge sundae, in one of our big salad bowls, and brought it to me in my room (a special treat; eating in my room was usually not allowed).
I was surprised to have gotten my period; none of my friends had so far. My mom reminded me that this meant I was now biologically able to have children, and what that meant – a sex talk, not my first, and not my last. I rolled my eyes with an exasperated “Mooooommm,” short for “Mooooommm, I don’t have boobs, I’m awkwardly tall for my age, no boys are interested in me, you don’t have to worry about me having sex,” and it’s true: I wouldn’t have my first kiss for another four years.
I started shaving my legs and armpits. After all, I was an *adult* now. I quickly weaned myself off of pads, not liking feeling like I was wetting myself, and grudgingly adjusted to tampons.
But I hated them. For years and years.
The way they sometimes hurt, if they got wedged up the wrong way. The always-there worry of Toxic Shock Syndrome, the knowledge that I couldn’t sleep a whole night through without having to set an alarm to get up and change it.
I’d heard of “Diva Cups” pretty early on in my teens, but not in any viable sort of context. I heard of them only in the context of – the punchlines of jokes – something gross – difficult to understand – impossible to ever purchase or use without an extensive tutorial beforehand – in short, they were intimidating.
And then. A few years ago. Hundreds of cycles of tampon woes later. An influencer I was following on Instagram posted about a menstrual cup. And it looked…pretty. This muted sea-glass blue. And it looked small, and almost manageable? And she gave a promo code, so I decided to order it, and man, did it change my life.
Now I’m a certified cup convert. There are several reasons for this: one, my wallet feels a delicious ounce or two heavier, not needing to buy a pack of tampons every month. Two, it’s better for the environment than disposable sanitary items. Three, it’s better for my body – I don’t have to worry about TSS, and the cup only needs to be removed once every twelve hours, instead of once every five to seven.
It may not be your thing, but I highly recommend you at least give it a try. Save yourself some money and some anxiety! And help save the planet!