May Monthly Friend: Emily

Name: Emily Marie Ahtúnan
Age: 39
Hometown: East Coast – Mid Atlantic States
Current location: New England: Vermont
Occupation: I have an eclectic occupational history: from research assistant, writer, audio/visual assistant, student, social worker, behavioral consultant, disabled individual, photographer. I have a certain disdain for the question of “What do you do?” as it’s one of the first things we tend to ask any new acquaintance. My disdain arises from the cultural sense that we define ourselves by what it is we “do,” rather than who it is we are, at any given moment. When I meet someone, I want to know who they are, what makes them passionate, on fire … what brings that glimmer into their eyes when they speak of themselves and their lives. If you want to know who I am; you won’t find the answer in my occupation. Let’s have tea together and talk.

Interests: Nature, Photography, Birding, Writing, Art, Compassion, Green Living, Local eating, Cooking, Nurturing myself, others and our connection with the Natural World.
Dreams: To live more rurally again, in a small log cabin with my companion feline, completely surrounded by nature. Travel and, to always dream. To eventually make a living from my photography, art and writing.

How long have you used reusable menstrual products?:
Approximately 1 year.
Reason for making the switch to reusables: The main reason, initially, was an attempt to ease the discomfort (raging/debilitating pain is more like it) prior to and during my cycle. A GYN suspected that I had endometriosis and wanted to begin a pharmaceutical regiment that would put me into medical menopause. I wasn’t about to take that leap, so I began in earnest to investigate other options, which led me to resuables: GladRags and the DivaCup to be exact. Making that switch proved to be a huge success in more ways than one! Now, it’s health along with the environmental reasons to use GladRags and the Diva Cup. It’s also much easier on my budget too. Since making the switch, I can’t think of a reason not to; making the switch to reusables also provided me an opportunity to become more in touch with my cycle and my body. I’m much more at ease with myself, my cycle and talking more openly about it. Bonus, bonus, bonus – I dream that every woman will make the switch to reusables and find the joy (yes, joy) in using them.

Funny anecdotes, deep thoughts, or anything else you’d like to share: I have been going through some issues with my PAP smears, and happen to have a knitted uterus which I brought to a GYN appointment a year or so back. GYN bonus points: she also has a knitted uterus. Ladies, that may be a prerequisite question when looking for a GYN. I love my GYN! I had my knitted uterus in my backpack for the appointment, brought it home and put it on the kitchen table. The cat jumped on the kitchen table and grabbed my uterus in her mouth and ran off with it. Noticing she was running away with my uterus; I said “Come back here with my uterus!” If any of my neighbor’s heard me, well … how often have you shouted “Come back here with my uterus,” to your feline or to anyone – out loud? I only wish that I had my camera in hand as she trotted off …

  • Ginger (Nitzana Yah)

    So I presume that the problems with the endometriosis and other female problems such as pains and such with cycle went away with the switch to reusable protection. I have uterine fibroids and sometimes wonder if the disposables are one of many contributiong factors to the fibroids like the bleach and the dioxins and other chemicals in the disposables. I have some on the way for me I ordered Monday. I just hope I don’t have a problems with leaks and such since the fibroids do cause some heavy first days on cycle and also cause some problems with the bladder as well not that I like to admit any of that.

  • Emily

    @ Ginger: the pain has gone away entirely, but there is a marked improvement since switching to reusables. For the first 2-3 days of my period, I use both the cup and GladRags and empty the cup more frequently with heavier bleeding. The overnight GladRags are my first choice for my heaviest flow days, in addition to the cup. I hope you’re as satisfied as I am and that your pain decreases.

  • Ginger (Nitzana Yah)

    @ Emily thank you dear. I hope so too and I also was told something about endometriosis but never really given an actual diagnosis of it. I have 2 sets of 3 overnites coming to me I didn’t order a cup wasn’t sure how it would work for me with a tilted uterus and the fibroids so I am going to try the pads hopefully they will be enuff for me. I hate the leaks that happen I am worried that the cloth won’t absorb my flow enuff. I do plan on getting more if I need them I am sure I will. It’s just more of a pain for me because of the heavy cycle in the beginning don’t really have pain with my cycle sometimes I do get cramps though but not always. I am sure I will notice a hugh difference too I guess it’s normal to say I don’t really have pain but I suppose I will say I do after I switch and notice there is no longer any pain. That would be wonderful, period. Pardon the pun.

  • Ginger (Nitzana Yah)

    I just don’t want to end up with an instant medical menopause either and I know there are alternatives to surgery so I have done plenty of reseaching and detoxing is one great alternative to getting rid of fibroids and other toxins and stuff going on in our bodies and not using disposables anymore is one way to keep more toxins from continuing to enter. I love hearing stories of those who have switched it makes it easier for ppl to make the decision to switch esp. when they are not sure of something.

  • Cari

    For what it’s worth, I have ridiculously heavy flow the first day/night or two. I find that any leaks are much more manageable for me because any blood that does leak out goes straight down – not up the back or up the front like it would with a disposable pad. Much more discrete and easier to deal with.

  • Ginger (Nitzana Yah)

    @ Cari even when lying down or sleeping at nite? Thank you for the info.

  • Emily

    @Ginger: Correction: my pain has NOT gone away entirely. However, it’s minimal compared to what it was a year ago, before making the switch to reusables. From what I’ve read re: the cup (GladRags also sells these) women with a tilted uterus and fibroids use them comfortably. I can’t comment on solely using GladRags as I bought both at the same time and have used them together each cycle. It took me a few days to get used to the feel of the cup, now I can hardly tell I’m wearing it. I can also confidently say that even though my flow is very heavy the first few days of my cycle; the clots have diminished to the point of being non-existent – I totally attribute this to no longer using commercial tampons. I no longer get spotting and irritation during the month either, as I did when I was using disposables.
    As women, I also believe we are taught to minimize or negate our pain – I do it myself, still. And, I wholeheartedly agree with you, what I do or do not eat – and how much water I drink makes a huge difference not only during my cycle, but the entire month as well. I’m not a doctor, herbalist, nutritionist, etc … however, I completely support the idea that food, water, rest, exercise makes a difference! There are also teas, herbs, aroma therapy, massage oils (abdominal massage is wonderful!) that have proven to be beneficial as well. It’s all about what works best for you and your comfort level! I’m excited for you that you’re making the switch to GladRags and so glad to be having a discussion with you! Best!

  • Ginger (Nitzana Yah)

    @ Emily thanks so much for your input. I too am glad for the discussion w/u too!

  • Ginger (Nitzana Yah)

    Just got my gladrags out of the mailbox about an hour ago. Just got over my cycle so have to wait till next month to give them a try. Do the inserts go in overlapped or stacked in evenly and centered cause they don’t take up the whole width of the holder?

  • Emily

    Ginger,
    This link should take you to the FAQ on the GladRags website. The inserts go in stacked evenly, use 1 insert for a regular pad, 2 inserts for a maxi. YAY, you have your GladRags!
    Can’t wait to hear about your experience with them next month!

    http://www.gladrags.com/s-11-gladrags-pads-faq.aspx#FAQ1Det

  • Ginger (Nitzana Yah)

    @Emily~I think I got it, thanks! Yes and 3 inserts for a super maxi hopefully I won’t need to do that but we will see. I guess you can also wear them without an insert on very light days or as everyday liners too. But I would have to get a lot more for that purpose. I only got 6 overnites so I would need a lot more to do 3 inserts for heavy days and nites and of course the lighter days etc. I don’t even know how many I am going to need yet.

  • Nitzana Yah

    @Emily I am back and I am just now trying my gladrags overnites so I know there is going to be an adjustment period where i need to adjust them just right and get the amt of insert right and all that but I definitely am going to like the feel of them anyway well I don’t know how they are after they start to get wet but certainly feels much better than sposies as far as softness goes and not being irritating I am sure I will love them as much as any Gladrag users loves them. I will get back with you at the end of my cycle.

  • Emily

    @Nitzana: Congratulations! I remember having a time of adjustment as well – I think you’ll know by the end of your cycle, just like you said. Personally, I like the day pads for well, during the day! I definitely use the overnight GladRags during the first 2 days of my cycle overnight (sometimes along with a menstrual cup) and then comfortably switch to the smaller day pads. Personal preference and comfort. Can’t wait to hear what you think/feel after you use them. I remember too, having an adjustment to cleaning them, etc … now it is second hand and, like many other women have reported, it has allowed me to experience my cycle more and get more in touch and comfortable with my own body. What a great additional benefit to using GladRags! Talk soon, Emily

  • Nitzana Yah

    Well I liked them as far as comfort they felt great and soft and nearly unnoticeable. I did have a problem with a little leaking in the front don’t know if I didn’t have them placed properly or what but that was my heavy first days or if I just needed to change more often seemed like it was only in the front and nothing soaked in the middle or to the back of the insert so maybe I didn’t have them placed right but seems I did. My lighter days I did fine no leaking. Don’t know if day pads will do guess they would if I used 3 inserts instead of 2 and then the nite pads for nite time. I think I just need to get some more inserts to add to the nite holder for day and nite time use. Well all I have right now is 6 nite pads and the inserts that came with them. I will have to get more as I go along and can afford to buy them. Was hoping I could maybe sew my own. But then I would have to get the right material and figure out the thickness and all that and all that work sewing them and someone said I need a serger not always necessary some women say you don’t need a serger just to know how to do it by hand. Well maybe it would be easier just to buy more. Tell me what you have in your collection and how much of each. How long does your heavy days and nites last and then how many days of lighter days etc. If you don’t mind telling me or you could message me in private if you want.

  • Emily

    Yay! Yes, there’s a bit of an adjustment time to get the placement correct for your personal needs and flow. I just sent you a message … xoxoxo