My periods have always been painful. They’d often force me to miss school, university or work, and if I was caught out in the middle of town I’d been known to lie down for an hour or two in a cubicle of a public toilet.
I got my period on the second week of my honeymoon on a remote island, and I remember feeling scared one night that there was no hospital on the island, because I was in far too much pain for comfort. So they were really no picnic to begin with.
But one month, out of nowhere, on Day 2 of my period I was suddenly gripped with the worst pain I’d ever felt, and I remained in a state of complete agony for the next two days. My husband had to rescue me from work and help me to bed. I couldn’t stand up straight. I couldn’t walk without holding onto things. It was quite scary.
At this stage my periods were longer than they used to be too: I’d gone from five day to eight day periods. So I did some neurotic late night googling, and canvassed opinions from friends, and also went to a proper doctor. It looked to all concerned like I had endometriosis maybe.
This struck terror into my heart, because I know that endo is a leading cause of infertility and know all about how awful endo can be and the havoc it can wreak not only on one’s organs but one’s quality of life.
I was booked for an ultrasound at the hospital, to rule out other things before we considered a laporoscopy, and was sent on my way.
I refused prescription pain relief because it’s not recommended for women who are trying for a baby. This was a major act of selflessness on behalf of a child that for all I know may never so much as implant itself in my uterus.
My next period was even worse, and definitely the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life. My Irish parents-in-law were staying with us at the time. I spent three days in bed, unable to move. Even writhing was out of the question, it hurt too much to writhe. I couldn’t eat or sit up. Also, and I’ll be frank here, both peeing and pooping were a crucifixion. (If you’re wondering how I got to the toilet if I couldn’t move, picture the gait of a bewildered, broken-limbed salamander who is crying profusely because everyone it ever loved is dead).
This experience pretty much sealed the deal: I clearly had endometriosis. On the fourth day I shuffled downstairs and promptly burst into tears in front of said parents-in-law when they asked how I was. It was humiliating and I still shudder to think of it.
I saw the doctor again, submitted to an internal exam, discussed the probability of me having endometriosis, and was put on a waiting list for a gynecologist. Fun times.
Then something amazing happened. I saw a thread on a forum about the pros and pros (okay, some people thought there were cons) of REUSABLE CLOTH PADS.
It had never occurred to me that people did this anymore or that it was possible, but as soon as I heard about them I knew they were for me.
I didn’t have any qualms at all, I just wanted them in my life. And then when I saw how pretty they were I could not have been more SOLD.
So I bought a whole load of different types, and waited in trepidation for my period, of which now I lived in mortal dread. I’d also read some people saying on a couple of forums that their periods became lighter and/or less painful after they switched. I didn’t expect that to work for me because of how extreme my pain had become, but a small part of me hoped.
So ‘the witch’ came.
Day 1 is usually pretty okay, so I remained in the brace position, petrified.
Day 2 came, and I pushed up to 1 on the pain scale, so took an ibuprofen and then I was fine. That evening I went for a hill walk.
Day 3 came, no pain. Only light bleeding. Took a walk in the woods.
Day 4, I climbed a mountain and jogged back down in 2 hours. I WAS CURED!
I was also just slack-jawed with amazement at the transformation, as was my husband. A month ago he’d been mopping my barely conscious brow and telling me not to walk towards the light. I was so gobsmacked, flabbergasted, pole-axed, that I knew I had to start a blog about it and start researching how this could have happened.
How and why were the disposable pads I was using causing me such extreme suffering? How is this possible? And more importantly, how is it allowed?
Always (and other companies too), have a lot to answer for: they still won’t tell us what they put into their pads, but it is a cocktail of chemicals that include dioxins, crude oil plastics, perfumes or ‘odor neutralizers’, and other horrible things that, naturally, get tested on innocent animals first 🙁 I don’t know why my periods suddenly got so much worse, but frankly they had Always been awful (pun intended).
My first period using cloth pads was the first period that ever felt okay. I was able to go about my daily life, climb a mountain, and film myself doing handstands in my underwear, just like I normally would (and yes, I normally do this. I can hold a handstand for a really long time!).
Cloth pads have been life-changing! So I started a blog, which aims to promote the use of disposable pads, for health, environmental, and awesomeness reasons, and to spread awareness about the dangers of disposable sanitary products such as Always pads and Tampax, and to put pressure on the companies involved to be more open about the chemicals they put into them. I think a lot of other girls and women out there would benefit from knowing about cloth pads, and I want to spread the word so that as many people as possible no that, if they’re suffering every month and don’t know why, switching to cloth pads (or I hear good things about moon cups too) might just save them.
Thanks for reading!