July 25, 2008

Vulvodynia and Your Period: Not a Pleasant Combination

Just Another Bitch In Heat

There is no woman alive who enjoys having her period, but for someone suffering from vulvodynia, it can be much worse. It's difficult to find sanitary products that don't cause irritation and pain; and you have to use something.

There are plenty of days when I go without panties. It's much more comfortable, but I don't have that option when Aunt Flow pays me a visit. Obviously, panties alone are not enough keep my pink from turning red. Gross, I know.

I used to use Always with Wings, and long before I knew the pain of vulvodynia, my skin would get so irritated. I would break out into rashes, but I thought that was the way it had to be.

I started using tampons young and I learned quickly that Tampax is the most uncomfortable female product on the market. If there isn't enough fluid to keep a Tampax tampon moist, it rubs against the inside of you like sand paper. The worst part is trying to take a dry tampon out. It's like intentionally giving yourself ropeburn.

OB's with applicator are the way to go, but their not available everywhere, and frankly, I want an applicator. I don't want to walk out of the stall in my office bathroom and look like I just left a crime scene!

As my vulvodynia got worse, my choices grew more and more limited. My skin would become inflamed I used a tampon for too long. But if I just used pads, the excessive moisture would cause me to develope a yeast infection.

What could be better than closing out your period with a raging yeast infection?

A few months back, when I was searching the web for information on vulvodynia, I stumbled across Glad Rags. At first, I thought the website was a joke. The name is a little vulgar, even for me. I decided to give the product a try and I've been pleased. Glad Rags are reusable cotton pads that allow your skin to breathe. They're a little bulky, but so much easier on my hatchet wound. On their website, they even have a testimonial section from women with vulvodynia.

Now, Glad Rags are my first choice. But, if I'm expelling a great deal of baby juice, I use a tampon. While the tampon is more painful, and there's a greater chance I'm going to cause a flare, I just find the whole experience so disgusting that I'd rather deal with some pain than feel like I've sprung a leak.

It's never pleasant to have your period, especially with vulvdoynia, but I've found a way to make it slightly less miserable.


lora said...

My gyn told me that Always are the worst thing that anyone can use! (Also, fyi- Luvs diapers are made by the same company using the same materials and glue. poor babies)

I used Always too. I used to be okay with Tampax, but these past few months were SO incredibly painful that I was thinking of switching to those expensive non-bleached kinds and Whole Foods, etc. I've thought about Glad Rags, but didn't know anyone who used them, and I hate buying anything that I don't have endorsement for!

Finally, I like the Instead Cups and I hear the Diva Cups are good too. You can google both products.

Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

natracare makes disposable pads and tampons that are not too uncomfortable.

I appreciate your blog, by the way; there is so little support and info out there for us vulvodynia sufferers


Anonymous said...

I used to use a menstrual cup, but the Interstitial Cystitis put an end to that. These days the IC isn't too bad, but the vulvodynia keeps flaring up around my period, so it's still not much of an option. If you can tolerate them, though, they are fantastic things. They don't dry you out or deposit weird chemicals, and as long as you don't use a silicone-based lube with a silicone cup, you can also use your choice of lube/gel.whatever for added comfort (e.g. I like aloe vera). There are lots of brands on the market these days, so it can be worth finding one that is the right size and softness for you, as well as thinking about whether the sticky-out bit for removal is comfortable enough (some have a stem which you cut, some have a ball which I hear is more comfortable).

Anyway, since the IC put an end to that, I have been using cloth pads. I found Glad Rags to be poor quality, to be honest. My preferred brand is Luna Wolf, though sadly she has now ceased trading. It is very much worth looking around at the different types of pads on the market as they come in such different designs. You can also get unbleached, organic pads, which for some women will be a priority.

I also recommend looking into different ways to clean your cup/pads, as there are quite a variety out there. Some will be more convenient for you than others, and more to the point, some are less likely to cause irritation than others. I went for the baby bottle sterilising fluid myself for the cup (very dilute bleach), and for my pads I use dry pailing. They are left dry in a container, then soaked for an hour in cold water with some oxygen bleach (often sold for cleaning cloth nappies), and a bit of eco-friendly, low-chemical stain remover applied to any stains that remain after that, before being tossed in the washing machine with a very plain detergent.

Anonymous said...

I noticed you said that the glad rags were a bit bulky, look into lunapads. I use them. I don't find them to be bulky at all. I have had vulvodynia for about 3 years now and I went through the same struggle trying to find something besides regular pads.

Jade Graham said...

These products are wonderful environmentally-friendly versions of the tampons and pads you would find at your local drugstore. menstrual cups

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poor little dogs. this really is a horrific disease

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