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Women across the globe have started reconnecting with their menstrual cycles and one way is celebrating hen their daughter has their first period, called a menarche’. When there are so many opportunities to focus on the negative aspect of our natural fertility cycle, taking the time to celebrate the miracle and power of being a woman is important for your physical, emotional and spirit/soul level self.
We recently created a bridging ceremony for our local red tent to welcome newly initiated women into the sisterhood. This is the program that we offer.
Red Ribbon Bridging Ceremony – Place a wide red ribbon on the ground. We placed our’s at the entry way into the ceremonial space. (This can be done whether inside or outside.) Place everyone who has already begun menstruating inside the ceremonial space and the virgin girls outside the ceremonial space.
While the initiated is on the “virgin” side of the ribbon explain to her how, as a Goddess, she has 3 representations within herself. Before her menarche her dominant presence was as the maiden. The Maiden is the young goddess from birth to menarche: learning, growing, striving, and searching. She is Persephone/Kore, and her spirit is also present in “virgin goddesses” such as Artemis/Diana or Athena. She is independent, willful, impulsive, vivacious, and aggressive. Connecting with the Maiden Goddess provides energy for undertaking a new venture, helps us assert our autonomy, and helps us summon resources and seek out what we need.
Next, I like to mention something about the sisters she has to lean on for support and ask questions. To use her matriarchal tribe to learn, grow and experience both the “positive” and “negative” aspects of womanhood as a sisterhood. After you have shared the sacredness your community with her, invite her to step over the red ribbon and into the sisterhood.
Finally, explain to her that now that she has started her menarche her dominant presence will be the mother until she no longer has anymore moon cycles. The Mother is the goddess from menarche to menopause: governing, creating, nourishing, sustaining. She is Demeter, Hera, Gaia. Although her energy can be expressed through physically giving birth and raising children, the term “Mother” should not be taken so literally as to appear limiting. The Mother Goddess is woman (or man) at maturity, with the experience, energy, and inclination to undertake large-scale and long-term endeavors, to manage resources and relationships, to promote positive change in others. This concludes our bridging ceremony.
We then invite our newest sister to sit on her throne and eat a chocolate bar while her elders create a crown of flowers on her head. We present her with a new journal and have all her new sisters write blessings in it for her while her mother paints her toes red.
I hope this has inspired you to create a special moment with your loved ones when they start menstruating. We perform our ceremonies during our red tent temple gatherings, every sister who is at our tent is already menstruating and we already journal at every gathering. Our ceremony has been created to fit within an already established sacred time together. You may need to alter slightly if there are other girls there for the ceremony who have not experienced their moon time yet. Use your own fertile energy and get creative with what resonates with you and fits the personality of the newest sister.
Although, I already knew about all these option, and I was still shocked when I actually wrote them all down and counted. Nine, say it with me, ” nine options” ladies!! No one is saying we need to start having a menstrual party and loving our moon time but isn’t it exciting to have options? Just remember, there are going to be pros and cons to every one.
My personal experience started with tampons. When switching to a hard cup, I noticed no more cramping, constipation or odor. I didn’t realize it was the product that made that “period smell” and not my actual menses. When I started transitioning I had to use tampons the first two nights, because my flow is so heavy. I have heard people say it is impossible to overflow the cup and alas it is. You can overflow your cup if you are one of those women who flows a lot or if you have a weak pelvic floor. I was a combo of both, one by nature and the other due to multiple births. By doing my due diligence with my postpartum pelvic care, I have been able to finally wear my cup all night, but I better change it as soon as I stand and gravity takes over, or else nature wins over every time. I am looking forward to trying the Thinx panties and seeing if they will be a great alternative for evening backup protection.
This article from Mercola explains in detail why a conventional method may be convenient and easy, but may not necessarily be in our best interest. For the most part, you are choosing cheap up front with long term expense and waist or expensive up front with long term investment but a little “unconventional” for 2015. Or, like me, you could run middle of the road and use a combination of more than one option.
So without further ado, here are 9 ways you can experience your monthly moon time~
Tampons, Cups & Sponges
Conventional Disposable Tampons – a “plug” of cotton inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood. Tampons are one of the most marketed forms used by women. They are convenient, popular, inexpensive up front and because they are absorbing the blood internally, have a “clean” feeling. Downsides would be cost over time, landfill repercussions, risk of TSS, and the material is made with bleached, GMO cotton.
Organic Disposable Tampons – for the woman who prefers the convenience of a tampon but does not like the idea of bleach and GMO cotton in her reproductive system. Pros include familiarity with product due to the conventional counterpart and zero chemicals used in making the product but it still has the risk of TSS, is costly, and contributes to landfill waist.
Hard Menstrual Cup – made of a “hard” medical grade silicone, it can be purchased latex or latex free. I did some math and figured out that the cup holds the equivalent of an ultra tampons absorbency without the risk of TSS. When inserted into the vagina, it forms a suction ring around the cervix and catches the menstrual flow, rather than absorbing it. There are many different brands and it may take purchasing a couple to find the right fit but in the long run they are way cheaper than disposable options. Positives to using a cup are not needing to keep tampons with you wherever you go, reduction/ some say zero risk of TSS, the same “clean” feeling as using a tampon, and cost over time. Negatives are cost up front and not always having access to rinse in a public bathroom.
Soft Menstrual Cups – similar to a hard cup, these are made out of a plastic “bag” material. There is a hard ring at the top to hold it in place. Positives include reduction/ zero TSS, same “clean” feeling as a hard cup and tampon, ability to have sex while wearing the cup. Negatives include blood leaking when removing the ring, not cost effective over time, lack of access for rinsing in public bathrooms.
Menstrual Sponge – a sea sponge that is inserted and used like a tampon. You can tie a string around it if you want to be able to remove like a standard tampon or you can remove normally like an OB tampon. Positives are a combo of cup and tampon options. It is reusable and nicer to the environment like a hard cup and it absorbs like a tampon (which is familiar). Negatives would include the possibility of needing to rinse in a public bathroom and the risk of TSS. It really depends on the size of your sponge but on average they hold the same amount as your hard cup or an ultra tampon. This has me wondering how safe it is for TSS if you are suppose to use the lowest absorbency possible. I did a little research and although I didn’t find anything linking to the absorbency of the sponge, I did find this article talking about the possibility of tiny sponge fragments staying behind and causing TSS that way.
Pads & Panties-
Conventional Disposable Pads – are worn inside a woman’s panties to absorb menstrual flow as it leaves the body. This option is most popular with girls starting their period, before becoming sexually active and for people who don’t like the idea of inserting anything into their vagina. Conventional pads are often made of plastics, cotton and chemicals. Some people experience chronic bladder or yeast infections from the materials used in conventional pads and there is always the continued cost and landfill to consider.
Organic Disposable Pads – Work exactly like conventional pads, except they are made from organic materials. They need to be changed more often due to less absorbency but reduce your exposure to chemicals.
Cloth Pads/ Liners – an absorbent cloth insert that works similar to a cloth diaper (for babies). You would wash between your cycles. You would want a “stash”, just like diapering. Some things to consider with cloth pads are the expense up front but cost effective in the long run. Some women sew their own cloth, which is pretty awesome. They also reduce waste in the environment; reduce chemicals on your reproductive area; reduce yeast infections and irritation by reducing the exposure to chemicals.
Menstrual Panties – an absorbent panty that works similar to a cloth pad but theoretically has more coverage.
There is a new menstrual panty on the market called Thinx. My first thought when I saw this was personal; the possibility of making it through the night during the first 2 days of my cycle without leaking all over the place. My second thought was ease of use for postpartum mama’s. There is a lot going on those first few days and leak control usually ends up looking like a Depends panty. My third; I hope they start offering them in young girl sizes. I think my daughter would really appreciate a set when she starts her period. The idea of having coverage without feeling like you are wearing a diaper AND being able to absorb up to 2 tampons at a time is extremely appealing.
What is your preferred product for your menstrual cycle and why? I love my hard cup, with the occasional tampon, and a panty liner for protection. I am looking forward to ordering a pair of the panties and checking those out too.