The Ick Factor

Menstrual blood is icky, right? So obviously reusable menstrual products are gross, right? TRICK QUESTION! Menstrual blood isn’t gross, and neither are the reusable products that help keep us more comfortable on our cycles. Now, we understand why you might say, “You folks are bloody nuts!” and insist that the ick factor is legit. Fair enough. Please allow us to read your mind for a moment and see if we can’t change it.

red glitter that looks like sparkly menstrual blood in a menstrual cup in someone's hand

Blood…so much blood…

Having to separate your menstrual flow from the thing that caught it (like a cloth pad or menstrual cup), rather than being able to throw the whole works in the garbage, doesn’t mean you’ll get menstrual blood all over your hands. It is possible that some could get on your fingers (while removing your menstrual cup, for example), but that can happen with tampons and pads too. No big deal. Wash your hands. You’re going to anyway. If you have a heavy flow and think you’re at a higher risk for a Carrie-esque situation, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that reusables can better accommodate your abundance of menstrual blood than disposables. Plus, chances are, living with a heavier period means you’re more vigilant about changing your pad or tampon, and are used to being cautious and planning around your period a bit more. Those habits will serve you well when switching to reusables, since your instinct to check the situation down there more often will help you learn how frequently you need to change your pad or empty a menstrual cup. Concerned about leaking? Your cup overfloweth and then the whole world will knoweth?! Many people use their cloth pads and menstrual cups without a leak in sight – it just takes some patience and practice, the same as when learning how to use a tampon.

illustration of someone laying down with a menstrual cup inside

Myth: Your menstrual cup will overfloweth and the whole world will knoweth. Art credit @daniellepioliart.

My body is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

Sure, there are parts of us we can’t see without twisting ourselves into a pretzel. And sometimes our bodies do things we don’t understand. But getting to know your body and its natural functions can be really helpful. The better you know yourself, the more equipped you are to notice if something is off and needs looking into. Getting more comfortable understanding which are parts are where, and what they do, can be incredibly helpful for choosing and using menstrual products. Knowing that a menstrual cup sits beneath the cervix to catch the menstrual blood flow is one thing, but finding your own cervix and placing your cup with greater ease – that’s powerful!

menstrual blood mandala

menstrual blood mandala by @jasminea_carter

I’m never gonna NOT think this is gross!

Still squeamish or hesitant? We totally understand. It may take some time to come to embrace menstrual blood as beautiful and not icky, and while you may never choose to paint a mandala with your own menstrual blood, we feel quite confident that you’ll find a new appreciation and respect for the crazy cool ways our bodies function.

We took to social media to ask people what they thought when they first learned about reusable menstrual products. Turns out that even if someone’s first reaction was “hard pass,” they could still find themselves saying the complete opposite later on. Take Donna, who said “I thought it sounded like the grossest thing ever. Researched products for almost 10 years. I made the switch 1.5 yrs ago & now I wonder why I waited so long.” Or Imogen: “I laughed and said who on earth would consider using them. four years later i am in love with them and my menstrual cup and wouldn’t ever go back to disposables! 💎💜💙”

It’s worth considering what it means to think that period-related things are gross. Does that mean periods are inherently gross? That our bodies are? Those seem like outdated, patriarchal notions – the true ick factor!