Tampon or Menstrual cup?

If you’re like me then the impromptu tampon shortage disoriented you sooner than you could replenish your OB stock. Also, if you’re like me, who likes to shop for things when I need them, you probably woke up, on your periods, made a call to order for your OB only to be told hizo ob siku hizi hatustock ( we no longer stock ob) which is quite the messy situation to be in both literally and figuratively.

I have used tampons for more than 5 years and I can tell you I’ve never wanted a different option. Most people go on and on about how they cannot fathom the insertion process or how it must feel weird walking around with something inside you or how they’d never use tampons ever in their life. These claims are not true. After insertion of the tampon, one does not feel a thing while conducting their daily activities also, before insertion of the tampon, one is allowed to lubricate it to easen the process in addition, the normal vaginal secretions help evade extreme discomfort during insertion. In hindsight, I never got around to liking the mundane sanitary towels – Always etcetera. I always felt like I was walking around wearing a pamper and the uneven pigmentation on the skin around the genitalia that results can cause one cosmetic issues. Other than that, I have nothing against sanitary towels but once you go the tampon way, there’s no turning back.

This is my preferred tampon for use(ob with a yellow streak) unlike its counterpart, ob with an orange streak which is usually a bit thicker hence more discomfort on attempted insertion. I’d recommend the ob with an orange streak for heavy flow, it works best. The oh with a yellow streak is comfortable and of average size that’s comfortable to insert and just like sanitary towels, you can get whichever suits your flow i.e. Heavy, normal flow

The strings stays outside the vagina after insertion for ease of removal.

Pads or Tampons?

Tampons ➡️➡️Menstrual cups?

I recall washing my hands after about an hour of tampon hunting in supermarkets and chemists after which I got on Jumia and searched menstrual cups. Most of the menstrual cups on Jumia are extremely affordable contrary to what you might be thinking but they are global items. We have menstrual cups being sold by recent startups in Kenya but they are yet to pick up in Kenya hence the pricing is ten fold more than the global option.

A menstrual cup is a product that is inserted into the vagina during menstruation. Its purpose is to prevent menstrual fluid (blood from uterine lining) from leaking onto clothes.

Unlike tampons and pads, cups collect menstrual fluid rather than absorbing it.

One cup is reusable for up to five years or more. This makes their long-term cost lower than that of disposable tampons or pads, though the initial cost is higher. Menstrual cups are also promoted as more practical and eco-friendly than pads and tampons. Given that the menstrual cup is reusable, its use greatly decreases the amount of waste generated from menstrual cycles, as there is no daily waste and the amount of discarded packaging decreases as well.

Most menstrual cup brands sell a smaller and a larger size.

Menstrual cups are sold colorless and translucent, but several brands also offer colored cups, such as pink or purple.

The use of menstrual cups is considered a safe option relative to other forms of menstrual hygiene.

Menstrual cups are the best option after tampons as highlighted above. Unlike tampons, Menstrual cups do not carry the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) which one of the major adverse effects of prolonged tampon wear(more than 8-12hrs) and can be life threatening if not treated promptly.

On Jumia,

BUY NOW

Delivery fee inclusive =538/=

If you pick it up yourself =338/=

The Kenyan menstrual cup goes for an average of 3000 Kenya shillings. After enquiry, Tuskys kisumu have their cups going for 2000 Kenya shilling. On Jumia one can always find discounts that being the one of the major merits of shopping on Jumia.

The Grace Cup =1999

Inclusive of delivery = 2199

BUY NOW

Without the delivery fee = 1999

We both know the choice I went for at the end.

Personally, I’d recommend use of a menstrual cup in the place of a tampon. The overall cost is cheaper albeit the initial cost can be high, reusable (you can use it for 3 upto 5 yrs) and just like the tampon, is it portable and depending on your flow, you can wear it for upto 12hrs!

Lastly, from experience, order yours early enough before your menses hit again! Pads can be very unreliable especially when you’re used to tampons!

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My Longcall Abortion

Here I was, lying in bed, thinking. What was I thinking about you ask? My unborn child.

It had been 11 weeks since my heart stopped beating after seeing those 2 lines streaked on the pregnancy test kit. To say I had been overwhelmed would be an understatement. The wave of emotions I felt in that minute that felt infinite must not have a term coined for them yet. It’s indescribable.

Pregnancy scares are so common that at some point methinks we deem it a positive pregnancy test near impossible. Yet here I was. 22, clueless on motherhood and pregnant. I did not have the luxury of supportive parents in fact, they chastened me when I opened up to me and straight up decided to leave me on my own. My so-called partner was in the wind.

Life has a wicked sense of humor indeed.

Like any other young pregnant female I had contemplated an abortion more than once. The days when the mornings were unbearable and the loneliness crushing. When school seemed like the least of my worries – I was going to be responsible for a human being for God’s sake! Lectures drifted through with me in a daze and in my mind a bleak future awaited for me. I had not the first clue on how I was going to raise this baby when it finally arrived but I chose my misery to be my consolation at that moment and it worked.

I remember waking up that morning groggy and pressed. I strolled to the ladies half awake. I had been constipated lately. Like everyone else, I tried to take upto 8 glasses a day but no, my bowels had a different story they wanted to tell. As I squat and hoped the constipation was gone, I felt a sudden lightness in my abdomen and something gushing out of me that didn’t feel like poop. I looked down instantly and almost fainted at what I saw. It was a fetus. My fetus. My baby. So tiny and gory. Had I just had a spontaneous abortion during a long call?! In that moment my constipation was the least of my worries. I rushed out of the loo the only thing on my mind being the hospital.

“Yours is a classic case of cervical incompetence,” the doctor said after all the investigations had been done.

“cervical what now?” I stuttered.

Cervical incompetence.

“What you need is a cervical cerclage operation in your subsequent pregnancies to avoid losing your pregnancy again,” he added.

When I heard surgery, my head began spinning. Was I going to die?

No need to worry. It’s a minor surgery and it will be over before you know it.” he said confidently which make my heart beat less faster.

Part of me felt relived having lost the impending responsibility but part of me wondered why what came natural to most women wasn’t so for me.

Was my body broken? Is what kept on ringing in my mind as I left the hospital. Was I ready to go back to the life before what I’d known the past 2 months? There was only one way to find out.

ACT ON MENSTRUATION WITHOUT HESITATION

This an article I wrote following a training on Menstrual heath Education that I attended in Kampala, Uganda starting 27th April to 1st May, 2015 that, unfortunately, never got published as anticipated.

The future of girls in East Africa remains bleak as many are dropping out of school due to, among others, menstrual related challenges. The society’s stereotypes inculcated in them pertaining menstruation being a curse, makes the girl child believe that their future is bleak the moment they spot blood on their underwear. In Uganda, 61% of girls admit to missing school due to their menstrual period, the numbers continue to soar with each passing moment of our ignorance and the statistics are bound to rocket if we do not act on menstruation without hesitation.

Irise International, a UK charity, organized a training on Menstrual Health Management at Entebbe in Uganda from 27th April to 1st May, 2015. An eye-opener for the Irise ambassadors who were in attendance and a reiteration of what we all know but take obvious. Providing education on menstrual hygiene is paramount. In order to break the silence and rise above the stigma, girls need to be enlightened on the normal physiological process they are bound to undergo; menstruation, because girls matter.

Light needs to be shed on the facts and the myths used by society to put the girl child down. In addition, men need to understand that menstrual hygiene management affects them directly because everyone is a product of a missed period however much they consider women “unclean creatures.” These beautiful, promising young girls should not be bashed, perturbed or miss opportunities because they are menstruating instead, we should empower the girl child to be bold and unshakable on matters concerning her menstruation cycle. Statements such as, “I cannot trust a creature that bleeds for five days and does not die” from our male counterparts are demeaning, disheartening and exposes men’s ignorance on this global phenomenon; menstruation.

The lack of clean water in some areas, sanitation and medical care has negative consequences, especially for the female members. Menstruating girls and women are forced to use mattresses, old cloths, drying them in moist places this, almost always lead to vaginal infections. This is because menstruation is a taboo issue and menstruating girls are flushed to open up about their menstruation.

In addition, there are different ways of relieving painful cramps and getting pregnant is not an effective method. Alternatively, one can take painkillers, exercise, place a warm water bottle on the stomach and incase of severe dysmenorrhea or menorrhagia, a health care should be contacted.

The constant emphasis on our patriarchal society is counterproductive since it takes two to tango. The facilitators of this training spiked my interest the most since they gave up their daily routine and commitments to come and echo how serious menstrual health education is to us and to our sisters, brothers, parents and friends. You can corroborate with me that most people expect a stipend even after offering to volunteer therefore, these facilitators are an inspiration to me and my fellow ambassadors and they should be to you too because if they can, why wouldn’t you?

Last but not least, this training in Entebbe, Kampala taught me many new skills for instance I was able to learn how voluminous effect one’s body language and choice of words has on a conversation. For instance, when trying to convince a chauvinistic, misogynistic set to win politician that women’s anatomy is not something to be used against them. Therefrom, this menstrual hygiene day, break the silence, become a superhero and help to ensure that no girl is ever held back by her period! Act on menstruation without hesitation by supporting friends, teaching others and keeping girls in school. Be your own super hero.

No, it does make you a woman

Bleeding four or days a month has absolutely nothing to do with being termed a fully grown woman or a woman for that matter.

Menstruating has, for long, been used as the pillar in defining womanhood. I beg to disagree. A young girl of 12 years begins her menstruation today(thanks to genetics and the foods we consume) and we call her a woman? In what aspect is she a woman? Menstruating means she can get pregnant, yes. But has it come to that? Reducing womanhood to the ability to conceive and bring life into this world?

My bleeding is not enough to enable you brand me a woman.

What could a 12 year old possibly know about being a woman? Close to nothing, I presume. If you told her she is a woman I am certain that she’d look up at you with big, round, cute, innocent eyes and blink in confusion because she cannot comprehend your insinuation. She knows not the first thing about making decisions, being assertive, thinking as a rational human being, leave alone as a woman.

A woman is the embodiment of strength. She is expected to be a career woman and be a mother. To be dominant at the workplace but submissive in the household. To be stern but kind. To shoulder other people’s troubles and still stay strong in her own. To be strong physically but not so strong that the men in her life feel insecure. To raise a bunch of children and still maintain her performance in the workplace. A woman can choose not to cry now because she needs to be assertive. She can choose what to do, say she gets pregnant and the partner forsakes her. A woman can raise a child. A woman can create a schedule that fits her and make it work. A woman can choose to be a career woman or a housewife. A woman can make her own decisions.

Can a 12 year old do these things?

Can she decipher that daddy was just angry, not at her, when he unintentionally raised his voice at her? No. She will cower in fear and confusion.

A woman is a person who is able to make sound decisions, stand by them, tell right from wrong, be a functional social being and a responsible member of society, one who can exist on her own.

So please, enough with telling girls they are women the moment they start having cramps. Its because of this thinking that some rapists think it justifiable to dehumanize a girl and rob her of her innocence.

Lets know what we mean by what we say and no, talk is not cheap.

Talk is powerful.