I’m excited to begin this blog at a moment when I’m really enjoying being a woman. As a doula and childbirth educator, I find myself thinking about my body and what it’s doing on a very regular basis. In thinking about what the focus of this blog is, I’ve decided to dedicate the first post to menstruation.
There’s so little that we understand about what happens to our bodies during menstruation from our uterine contractions (cramps) to the blood flow.
I recently made the switch from tampons to The Diva Cup, and it’s been a life-changing move for me. I’m more aware of my vagina (more about the vagina later), cervix, and the amount of blood that my body releases in a 5-8 hour time span.
So what is The Diva Cup (TDC)? It’s a menstrual cup that’s inserted into the vagina, and caps the cervix so it can catch the menstrual blood and uterine lining. With super tampons, I would need to change every two hours. I was under the impression that I had an extremely heavy flow, and was even concerned that my flow was abnormal. I thought that for the 3-5 days that I menstruate there was a continuous flow of blood being released from my uterus. After switching to TDC I realized just how little I knew about my own flow. I’m actually not a heavy bleeder, I have a clearer sense of the color of my blood (important!) and my cervix isn’t a cracked floodgate.
The female body is such an ironically taboo subject in the U.S. We can show off our bodies, but we can’t talk about them. Men can scratch their balls in public until the cows come home, and women are made to feel dirty for simply being curious about our goodies – not to mention taking a mirror and checking her out, or heaven forbid touch her outside of bathing. So let’s get back to some basics:
The vagina is actually inside of our bodies; it’s the birth canal. What we typically call the vagina is our vulva.
The cervix is the passageway into/out of the uterus. In terms of menstruation, I like to think of the cervix as a faucet that’s leaking my blood and lining. Now, if we think of putting a tampon into the vagina it sits at the mouth of the cervix (depending on the position of your uterus and how your cervix tilts, which changes daily, the tampon may or may not work correctly). If the cervix is a faucet, let’s think of the tampon as a finger trying to plug the faucet. Go ahead and try it in your sink! Now understand why tampons can be so leaky and not completely absorbant like in the commercials. Unlike that funky blue liquid, menstrual blood has a totally different consistency that’s not as easily absorbed. That’s another reason why I love TDC, it’s the cup under a faucet catching the liquid and not a finger trying to plug it.
So, after the rant here is my plea: love menstruation. Love your uterus and vagina, and thank the universe for each menstrual contraction you feel. Take a moment to read and fall in love with The Red Tent, and keep an eye out for herbal remedies for menstrual discomfort.