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To Being Grown Up

The first time I found out about cloth pad was when I was 13 Years old. I overheard a conversation between a neighbor and my mother. It went along the lines of

AuntieSadhna kab badi hui? Aapne bataya nahi? (When did Sadhna grow up? You didn’t tell me?)

Mummy: Arre 3 mahine ho gaye. (It has been 3 months)

AuntieKaun sa pad istemaal kar rahi hai? (Which sanitary napkin is she using?)

Mummy: Abhi to stayfree use kar rahi hai. Mujhe to pata nahi kaun sa accha hai to wahi le liya. (Right now she’s using stayfree. I don’t know which one is good so we tried it)

Auntie: Kyun? Aap kya istemaal karte ho? (Why? Which one do you use?)

Mummy: Main to kapda hi istemaal karti hoon. (I use Cloth pads only)

AuntieArre aajkal bhi koi kapda istemaal karta hai? Bada jhanjhat hai use dhone mein. Disposable napkin istemaal karo! Whisper accha hota hai. (Who uses cloth pads these days? It is very difficult to clean. Start using disposable napkins. Whisper is good.

Mummy: (Looking slightly embarrassed) Accha agli baar try karti hoon. (I will try next time)

In my home the conversations about menstruation were limited to buying pads and disposing used ones. I was taught to be an unnoticeable bleeder. I learnt two things that day:

  1. My mom had been using cloth pads all my life and I never saw one. Where did she dry them? How ignorant am I?
  2. Cloth pads are messy and unhygienic. Nobody uses them unless they can’t afford disposable sanitary napkins.

12 years later, my highly educated and aware self had already become an expert at using menstrual cups with back-up eco-femme panty-liners. Gone were the days of messy, stinky disposable sanitary napkins. I felt liberated. I no longer had to be careful during periods and I was not contributing to the pollution caused by disposables. I was converting disposable pad users into cup users. Enlightenment attained!

But.

My enlightenment bubble burst one month with a yeast infection. I knew if I used the cup before the infection cleared, I could get fungal spores on the cup. What now? Switch back to the plastic white pads temporarily? How could I? Crisis!

Being part of the amazing Sustainable Menstruation India (SMI) group on Facebook helped. I went through all old posts to educate myself about cloth pads. I wanted to see if I can manage the mess. The questions I had on my mind ranged from “how to maintain the hygiene” to “will I get time to clean them with my 9 to 5 schedule?”

Then I realized that plenty of women had mastered the use of cloth pads and solutions to each one of my problems were only a click away. If I can spend half an hour oiling my hair and washing them, can’t I spend 15 minutes washing the pads? No more excuses. I decided to give it a try!

I ordered Shomota pads (which are great by the way) and with all the tips and tricks shared by the lovely women on Facebook, I have been successfully using them for the past 3 months. Yes it takes more work than the disposables and cups but I can invest that time and effort to keep my vagina happy and the waste landfills a little less crowded!

From the day when I believed that cloth pads are regressive and cheap alternatives for poor people, to the day when I see the wisdom in being eco-friendly by using cloth pads, I can finally say that my neighbor auntie would be happy to know that I have grown up.

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