Tuesday, 18 April 2017
We have come such a long way when it comes to talking periods and sanpro. Let's start with the word, SANPRO (short for sanitary protection) is nice and simple and can be used on daytime Radio 4 without many batted eyelids. We'll not bother with the discussion of sanitaryness and protectionability, that can happen later. I'm just glad we have a word that can be used in conversation. Although other words like period and tampon are even getting bandied about now.
I finally found out at the age of only 42 about different shapes of tampons and which one might actually work for me, because it finally occurred to me to ask my Mum. Since then I've chatted about it with a friend, and nothing dreadful happened. I should note that I have a degree in Women's Studies, and was a Women's Officer at University. I can discuss lots of things about sex with no bother, but periods have been full of unmentionables.
I do mean unmentionable. When, as a teen, I started my periods once at my Dad's house, with nothing to use, I asked him to nip to the corner shop and getting me some towels, but he told me that men didn't buy things like that, so I concocted a wodge of toilet roll and rustled my way there. If I ran out while out and about (as I often did, especially as a teen), I'd tell a friend that I'd started and ask if they had anything, praying they'd understand what I was getting at. Generally they did, because they were used to things being unmentionable themselves!
But now my husband can buy Sanpro, and of course women have periods and I don't hide it from my kids. One day the adverts will be way more realistic and not bang on about visits from Aunt Flo, with strange women pouring test tubes of blue liquid all over the place. But I suspect the adverts won't be telling you about something else - Washable Sanpro.
When I was at Uni one of my lecturers was a former nun who went on at length about the misery of being a novice and having to collect all the 'rags' which the sisters would use for their period, to wash them. We all said 'ieuuu', and it did seem kind of medieval, and far removed from our modern, clean lives. But actually, isn't it much nicer to just bung something in the wash and use it again rather than getting bins full of manky dried blood? Back then I knew about mooncups (which I didn't fancy, alhough I hear good things), but the only washable towels I saw were ugly and frankly looked like the bad old bulky towels which I'd hated.
If you've got kids you'll know that washable nappies have got a million times better than they were in the good old days in recent years with breathable fabrics which deter liquids passing through, and with super absorbent bamboo, cloth nappies are not the nightmare they used to be.
Some clever mums used the same fabric technology to make washable sanitary towels which are comfortable, easily washed, and absorbent. You can even get them for urinary accidents, if your pelvic floor isn't all it could be.
Good things are, of course, the environmental stuff - less rubbish, less plastic etc. But also it's good for you. I'm never sure that the stories you hear about the chemicals in sanitary towels are true, but I can definitely say that cloth towels are far more comfortable - there is no sticky strip to come unstrung and give you a waxing, and you don't get any pubes pulled out by getting weirdly sucked into the woven top.
You can get really boring looking washable sanitary towels, but I'm a big fan of supporting small businesses by buying funky looking designs which I actually look forward to wearing. They generally cost about £8 each, but you can use them again and again. They're easy to wash. I plonk them in a little tub of cold water when they're used, to help release any stain, and then stick them in the next wash at 30 or 40 (with no conditioner). Then I dry them on a drying rack. It takes about 24 hours for them to dry.
I wasn't sure how they'd get on with a weekend away, but had my period over a weekend in St Andrews, and just collected them up in a washbag, and then cold watered and washed them when I got home. Good as new (nearly, one of them got a bit stained, but that was mostly white).
I have discovered that lots of people don't know about washable sanitary towels, and how easy they are to use so I'm sharing this post, and I reckon you might want to try one, so I'm going to give you some links to where I get my favourites. Watch out though - they can be really comfy and really funky, and I know some people end up collecting them!
People make lots of different shapes and sizes. For your first one you should probably measure your favourite disposable towel and get something a similar size. I would recommend trying a few different shapes rather than getting a load in one size from one supplier. You might also want a little purse for your bag/coat pocket - it's got a waterproof lining too so you can put a spare towel in and use it to transport a used one home.
Here's where to look:
Earthwise Girls - Lots of stuff from lots of suppliers under one webpage, including Angelpadz and other cloth towels, mooncups (little cups you use instead of tampons), and more.
Angelpadz - My favourite creator of cloth towels. They share my obsessions with foxes and trees, plus they made my cute little ghostie pad purse.
Crafty Mrs B - I found Crafty Mrs B on Etsy. She uses such cute fabrics, I've got the kaleidoscope clouds one. Gorgeous, and so nice to support a home business.
***Nobody has given me any free stuff or paid me for this blog post, although I'd be happy to accept freebies to try out new things.***