Period panties, PMS coaches, flow trackers, menstrual brownies: Cosmo goes on an adventure through the wild wilderness (and still-developing science) of the new period lifestyle.
When it comes to my period, I’m distinctly uncool and uninformed. I may be extremely up on the political goings-on regarding the reproductive rights of people with uteruses as a whole, but my own fallopian tubes? I’m kind of a dodo bird. My flow is always a bit of a surprise-like, “Oh shit, you again!” followed by, “I’m not pregnant! Good job, Laura!”-and then a waiting game until the whole terrible thing is over. I get most of my pads and tampons from free places like the gym or The Wing-or from my upstairs neighbor, who’s always shocked by my lack of preparedness. Other times, I just pick up a box of whatever’s on sale at the drugstore (along with some expired Easter candy).
But while I was busy paying no attention, period products went all bougie and aspirational. Nowadays, at least according to the ads I see on the subway for minimalist absorbent panties, periods are a lifestyle. So when my editor asked me to try some of the new ways to contain my monthly gift (barf) and take care of it in an adultlike fashion, I agreed. I would become Laura of House Uterine Lining Shedding, the First of Trying a Shit-ton of Menstrual Wellness Products, Queen of the Flow, Protector of the Pads, the Khaleesi of Her Motherfucking Period. Or something.
The first day of my period always hits me like a ton of bloody bricks. It’s like the Red Wedding down there and not in the cool TV way where you don’t have to deal with the cleanup. (Yes, can you tell I just finished Game of Thrones?)
I put on my Bellabeat ($99, bellabeat.com), which looks like a leaf-shaped pendant but is actually a wellness and period tracker that keeps tabs on things like your steps, sleep, water consumption, and meditation habits. After using it for a bit, I think this app knows my downstairs area better than my husband does. (JK, my husband is great and definitely knows where my clitoris is!)
Then I grab an organic cotton tampon from my EasyPeriod.ca supply ($9 per monthly box of 16 tampons, EasyPeriod.ca), hop on the toilet, and slide it in, expecting its organic-ness to feel baby soft. Alas, it feels...like a regular old tampon. To alleviate my cramps, I bust out a bottle of Lola organic essential oil ($28, MyLola.com), a mix of chamomile, geranium, lavender, and lemongrass that’s supposed to ease pain. I follow the instructions to rub it on my belly as I grab a Moon Cycle Bakery sweet-potato brownie with chocolate chips ($5, MoonCycleBakery.com), which has magical properties like omega-3 fatty acids that are meant to help calm the beast. I attempt to eat it like a delicate princess. Instead, I devour it like a sea witch. It’s fucking delicious, and hey! This chocolate treat is for my health.
Now that I’m all set up, I decide to be Period Proud (™, me) and head into the world. At my local coffee shop, I get a high five from the barista, who asks me where I got the “Anything you can do, I can do bleeding” shirt ($28, FoodPeriod.com) I’m wearing and confides that she, too, is currently bleeding. When I turn around, a man asks me what my top means and I tell him, “It means I’m currently bloodletting from my vagina and I’m still standing. Bow down.” Chew on that, buddy! I normally wouldn’t be so tits-out with a total stranger, but the top empowers me. I head home with an oat milk café au lait and a newfound respect for the power and majesty of the female form.
I treat myself to a Food Period bar made from raw seeds in specific combos that supposedly help regulate hormones ($75 for two 14-bar boxes, FoodPeriod.com). The snacks come in two varieties, one for the first part of your cycle and one for the second. I like them but what I really want is like 17 pieces of store-bought milk chocolate-you know, the shit that makes you feel really great on your period. I haul ass to Whole Foods and buy a giant slice of chocolate cake and a Kombucha. It’s all about balance.
Before bed, I wash my face with some Knours face products (from $4, Knours.net), which are meant to help with gnarly period-related breakouts. My face feels tingly and refreshed, although it’s too early to tell whether it works any better than my normal Sunday Riley skincare regimen.
My flow’s calming down, and I switch to Thinx panties (from $24, shethinx.com), which look like normal underwear but have a lining that’s supposed to capture your blood. I’m skeptical, but it’s a light day and they work just fine. But even though they don’t feel wet, I can’t shake the thought that I’m sitting in a pool of my own secretions. Halfway through the day, I switch them out for organic tampons.
That night, my husband and I have sex using disposable discs ($15 for a one-month supply, flexfits.com) that promise a less messy period sex. Putting in the discs takes a little practice (it’s not super natural to stick a plastic ring in your cooch), but I successfully conquer the challenge after ruining one and reading the directions five times. The device does what it promises, and things aren’t messy at all-you can practically eat dinner off our bed when we finish (if you’re a very gross person).
My period gets spotty by day four-what can I say, I’m blessed with that short flow!-and I decide to go ham and use all my items at once. I eat my bars and brownies, roll that oil all over my body, apply a Knours face mask, and put in a tampon and slip on some Thinx, all while wearing my tracker-necklace. I feel like I have some control over what’s happening to my body, even if it’s an illusion. Also, I am exhausted. At 4 p.m. I sit down, play Super Mario Party, and pass out.
Okay, so I’m more confident than ever that my body is a fabulous and unique wonder that only I (and my trusty gyno) should be making decisions about. But constant period hacking could wear a girl out, and I, for one, need a happy medium between knowing literally nothing about my cycle and bankrupting myself to make it a more spiritual experience.
I sit on my couch and check in with my body, wondering if all this work has made my period less hellish than my last one. And the answer is…maybe. It’s definitely more stressful-having to log my activity and rub on lotions and potions and eat mandatory brownies got me feeling some kinda fuzzy-headed way. I go to bed wearing my organic subscription tampon, dreaming of simpler times when I just stuffed a wad of toilet paper down there and called it a day.
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