I was one of those pre-teens concerned about breaking my hymen when I should have been more worried about damaging my eardrums.
Having gone to Catholic school, our “sex education” was actually abstinence education – and that’s pretty loose use of the word “education”. It might be more accurate to say something like “fear mongering” or “learning via shaming”. To the school’s credit, there was a section on our changing bodies and the horrors of sexually transmitted diseases – but nothing about how to prevent those diseases except for “don’t have sex”.
One particularly scary concept was the possibility of “breaking” my hymen. We were warned that this could happen not just through sex, but also by horseback riding, physical activities like ballet or gymnastics, or using a tampon instead of a pad. Fueling the fear further was the terminology. “Breaking” is such a violent word. I didn’t want to break anything down there, so I heeded the warning.
A few years later, with easier access to the internet, I learned that the hymen cannot in fact be “broken” – only stretched. (I also learned that I shouldn’t be listening to music with the volume at 100, but it was too late for that. I now have normal hearing, but I’m on the “low side of normal”.) Even so, my first attempt at using a tampon was uncomfortable, and ultimately unsuccessful. The plastic applicator felt strange, and I struggled with getting it where it needed to be. I gave up and went back to pads.
In my early 20s, I tried using a menstrual cup. It was a big adjustment, and I freaked out the first time I had to remove it. If it’s securely in there, that means that the suction is in effect and you put it in correctly. It also means that you have to brace yourself when it’s time to take it out. For a minute, it didn’t budge, and I was terrified that it would be stuck up there forever. One mild panic attack and a lot of fiddling later, I got it out. I still do think that a menstrual cup is a fantastic alternative to pads. However, I didn’t end up using mine every cycle – mostly just when swimming.
On our trip to Boracay last year, my tracking app estimated I’d get my period on our last day there. I packed a few pads and thought, no worries, I’ll just do all the beach-related activities the first few days. Surprise! It started right after we checked in to our hotel. Rude.
We made a quick run to the nearest drugstore and I was pleasantly surprised to find tampons for sale. I had figured out how to use a menstrual cup, surely a tampon should be less intimidating than it was when I was 13. I picked up a box and we headed back to the room.
These tampons, a product of Nala Woman, were different from the ones I had tried more than a decade previously. The applicator was cardboard, not plastic. And the end of the applicator was rounded. I got it in in one go – no discomfort or awkward fiddling. I used them throughout the trip – walking around, taking a day tour all around the island, swimming, and even parasailing – and didn’t have any leaking.
Another thing about Nala tampons is, because the applicator is cardboard, they’re more environmentally friendly than other products. All of the materials are organic and biodegradable. They’re also hypoallergenic, which means they’re safe for sensitive skin and won’t cause itching or irritation.
Nala also offers pads and pantyliners, all of which are also biodegradable and hypoallergenic. They even have a convenient subscription program where you can get yours delivered to you regularly.
My hymen and my eardrums are definitely not what they once were, but that’s alright. I’m happy to have the information and products I didn’t before – as everyone should, because period cramps are enough of a pain on their own.
Learn more about Nala on their website, and check them out on Facebook and Instagram.
Looking for even more eco-friendly feminine products? Check out my post on reusable cotton panty liners by Hibla Manila.