I’ve spoken and written quite a bit about my vaginismus, a symptom which causes an involuntary muscle spasm during penetration, quite a bit over the past few years. My inability to successfully insert or wear a tampon is simultaneously linked to my diagnosis. I never knew, until recently, that the two could possibly be connected and that my fear of tampons was probably due to anxiety, muscle spasms, and an underlying fear of insertion. I would sweat, feel light-headed, and worst of all, nauseous when attempting this rite of passage.
Like vaginismus, there is virtually no research or scientific explanation as to why some of us simply cannot insert a tampon, and it’s more common than you think. After some time and many years of dealing with my monthly flow, I decided that opting out of tampons is totally and overwhelmingly okay.
As a young girl, just a few years into my period, I was shamed because I chose sanitary pads over tampons.
“Oh my god, are you serious?!”, said one friend.
“How do you do it?” asked another.
“It’s like wearing a diaper!” they all screeched with the same intonation in their voices.
When you’re trying to figure out your own body at 12 years old, having your period while feeling dirty and outed is quite possibly the worst thing ever. By chance, my body didn’t give a damn, and I had no choice but to opt out of tampons, which in turn, has allowed me to not give a damn what anyone else thinks.
In my adult life, I pretty much receive the same response, but with more skepticism. Fellow peers probably think, “Bless her heart” as they jump in the water wearing their easy breezy tampons and I, miserable and hot, sit in the sand in my spongy diaper.
All jokes aside, I do trust my body, and in time, tampons may be in my future. But for now, I am not going to force anything inside if it isn’t welcome. The conversations and admittance to wearing pads that I have had with tampon-wearers is honestly more brutal than the actual experience of wearing my pad. Maybe I’m a creature of habit, maybe I’m just sensitive to what my body doesn’t like, but whatever the case, Always pads will forever sit pretty in my bathroom cabinet.
At 25, I am more comfortable with my choice and more in tune with my body than I was as a young girl beginning puberty. After having boundless health issues with my cervix, birth control, and sex life, I really listen to what my vagina says to me, and I don’t believe that I should be shamed into thinking otherwise. Online, when googling the topic, I found an article titled, “Am I lame for not wearing tampons?” It’s baffling to me that deciding what is comfortable for you has become a popularity contest. Since when did choosing pads or tampons make you a cool kid? It’s okay to pick out your tampon and it’s okay for me to unwrap my pad — I will gladly make my own choice every time.
Luckily, we have alternatives to dealing with our menstrual cycles. Pads versus tampons isn’t the only conversation we need to be having. From Diva Cups, to Thinx panties, the sky is the limit when deciding on your weapon of choice. I’m just here to remind you that no matter what your decision is, your cycle should never be a subject of shame or bullying.
Choosing what is right for you, and listening to your body, is the proper and healthy way to conquer your period, period.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.