I spent most of last week in bed with the flu, I also had my period.
I blogged about Dignity Dreams last week to share with you the good work they are doing in raising awareness and funds to support young girls remaining in Education by providing as many reusable and washable sanitary wear packs as possible.
I realised if I was to advertise and fundraise for Dignity Dreams, I should at least try out their packs.
As I've been house bound anyway, I thought it a good week to review this product. I'm at home so I don't have to worry about any leakage or carry used blood stained pads around with me in my hand bag. I did go out on Friday and used 2 pads while I was out. i was conscious of the used one in my bag and didn't feel too comfortable carrying it around with me, but it's the first time I've used them so I guess I'll get used to it.
Why would I worry about that anyway?
Well it's not very hygienic for starters in my opinion, it's summer and the pads might smell a little, I'd really not walk around with blood stained clothing if they did leak, I'd feel uncomfortable and self conscious all the time I was out. I didn't leak, but I did make more visits to the toilets than I would normally do.
Why would I feel that way? Is it because it's the way society has brought me up, or due to the way I have been brought up/ Is it because having your period is still a taboo subject?
No, for me it's about being clean and feeling clean. I wouldn't go out the house in a top that I spilt my breakfast on, I'd put a clean one on before leaving the house and if I did spill food down my top while I was out, I'd sponge it off.
I never wear light clothing when I am on my period and I always wear darker clothing and carry a pad with me a few days leading up to my period, just in case.
I'm fortunate, my periods arrive between every 25-28 days, so I know when I am due on, they only last for 4-5 days at the most, but they are very heavy and I do prefer to use sanitary pads rather than tampons.
Have I had any embarrassing moments? No not really, on occasions I've worn my jumper round my waist, as I've leaked a little, and I did have a funny moment in a supermarket in South Africa which you can read about here and still makes me chuckle.
But what would I do if I didn't have sanitary pads, if the choice was food for my daughter or sanitary pads for myself and my daughter?
Well I could use toilet paper? But if I lived in a township or an informal settlement, I probably wouldn't have running water, let alone a toilet. I could use some rag or material/old clothing. But I probably wouldn't have old clothing. I could use saw dust, newspaper, an old rag, grass. But I'm likely to get an infection and I couldn't really walk round like that could I. How would I manage a day at work, or a food shop, or sit in a classroom all day and concentrate on my education? I'd stay at home for a week every month, like I've done this week, but I've been at home because I have the flu, not because of my period.
Eventually women lose their job, young girls fall behind with their education and just give up attending school. THAT IS THE REALITY. Without an education the next generation don't change, don't get better jobs, earn more money, be able to afford sanitary pads and the cycle of poverty continues.
After a week using Dignity Dream sanitary wear I felt comfortable to go out for short times wearing one of their pads. I took spares with me and several zip lock bags to put soiled ones in. I also carried several pairs of disposable gloves with me. As I flushed the toilet, I rinsed the pad under the water. I rung it out, I popped it in the zip lock bag and put it in my handbag. I carried anti bacterial soap with me to clean my hands before leaving the toilet cubicle. I then washed my hands in hot soapy water.
When I got home I rubbed sunlight soap on the pads and hung them in the sun to dry, the sunlight and soap help to kill the bacteria, I then washed them by hand and hung them out to dry again. At the end of the week, even though I'd washed the pads by hand I put them through the washing machine, before storing them in the bathroom ready for next month.
I had the advantage of disposable gloves, hand sanitiser and a washing machine to use, which most women and young girls in South Africa don't have access to. I also hung the pads outside after the gardener had been in the mornings, but I didn't worry about hubby or my teenage son seeing them.
Periods are a way of life for nearly every woman on the planet, I've blogged about it, I don't keep sanitary pads out of sight in the bathroom, and I do keep a small supply in the guest toilet and bathroom as not everyone is keen to discuss their periods.
On a weekend away with hubby a few months after we got together I sent him out to purchase sanitary pads for me, he never made it to the local shop, as he asked the man on reception in the hotel for some instead.
If you would like to support this initiative please make a donation. firstname.lastname@example.org Each pack costs R150 or £7.50, or you can make a donation of any amount towards a pack. Please mark your donation DD as I'm also fundraising for other projects.