A chalice for my blood
I am just starting my third period using a new menstrual product called the Keeper. And I am celebrating!
Over the past few years I have slowly become less and less enamored with tampons. I love the convenience but the disadvantages, the ongoing expense, the drying effect on my vagina, the monthly contribution I make to landfill and forest degradation, not to mention the dangers of toxic shock and other concerns that are starting to come to light, have gradually weaned me away from a choice based purely on ease for me. My search for a more environmentally agreeable alternative in menstrual products led me to the Wemoon range of reusable menstrual pads and using these in turn started to reeducate me away from our cultural distaste for menstrual blood and the almost pathological need I seem to have inherited to hide it .. even from myself. Actually feeling the flow of my blood has become a pleasurable and relaxing thing for me now. Soaking my cloth pads and feeding the earth and my plants with this miraculous life giving nutrient has become an important part of my monthly ritual. And in honouring my blood and my womanliness rather trying to hide it, my sense of self worth and my connection with myself has increased.
At times however I still longed for the freedom of an internally worn menstrual product. I used sea sponges but my flow can be very heavy and the sponges could not cope for long. So I was delighted when I first read about the Keeper. It sounded great: a natural product made of soft gum rubber, with a life expectancy of 10 years, a small cup, internally worn to collect your menstrual blood, woman friendly, environmentally friendly and even purse friendly over it's lifespan. From reading the literature I found it a little difficult to understand exactly how I would insert it and to understand exactly how it would function but the 90 day money back guarantee clearly offered me enough time to test it out over two cycles and to discover if it was for me. I punched in my credit card and ordered.
The actuality of using a Keeper has far and away exceeded my expectations.
I thought it would be convenient but I didn't realize how convenient. Once you have a Keeper you have one single item to take care of all your menstrual needs. No searching for a fresh pad or tampon. No wondering 'Do I have enough to last me the evening/ the weekend/ the holiday?'. No desperate rush to the shops or frantic drying of a cloth pad with a hairdryer. No need even to take anything with you to the toilet. You just pull on the tab to gently remove your Keeper (squeezing the cup slightly to break the seal if necessary), empty it, rinse (or wipe if you are in a public toilet with no handbasin in the stall) and reinsert. I had no idea what weight off my mind it would be to have one simple item always there to reuse again and again.
I thought it would save time, but I had no idea how much time. Soaking and washing my cloth pads has been a valuable ritual for me but it takes time and energy and is often an unwelcome chore especially on those first few days of my period when I am already tired and slow. Using the Keeper still allows me to collect my blood and feed my plants with it's valuable nutrients, but there is no mess, no washing, no soaking buckets. My keeper is like a little chalice for my blood and it's easy accessibility has encouraged me to create my own fertility rituals for our land offering my blood to the earth in a gesture of thanks.
I thought it would be give me freedom but I had no idea how much freedom. My Keeper arrived towards the end of a cycle so I was able, as recommended in the instructions, to try it out first while my flow was quite light. It took a little while to get used to inserting it but quite soon I got the hang of it. You fold the cup lengthways once and then again and insert it into your vagina. Once you let go the Keeper unfurls and slides up forming a seal against your vaginal wall with it's rim. Once in place it felt a little odd for the first few times but now I can totally forget I am wearing it. And oh the delight of my first pad free night, and of being able to swim, do yoga and go naked on hot days no matter where in my cycle I am!
I still use my cloth pads at times, when I want to snuggle down and revel in my flow, and at night on the first days when my bleeding can be *very* heavy. But now I have the choice. And I generally choose my Keeper. The nature of the Keeper as a 'collector' not an 'absorber' means that I can still feel the let down of my blood while I am wearing it, which is for me an important point of connection with my womanliness.
For those women who use an applicator tampon you may find inserting the Keeper takes a little getting used to and for those women who are slightly squeamish about handling their menstrual blood (as I was), the Keeper will encourage you re-evaluate that conditioning. But the 90 day money back guarantee gives you three whole cycles to try it out, plenty of time to discover how it works for you. And you can get further support from the Keeper email list, provided by the manufacturers for women to discuss their use of the product or to ask questions.
For me the Keeper has been life changing. It has changed my attitude to my periods from one of dread to one of delight. I would love to encourage more women to try it out and to discover the empowerment of honouring and celebrating the gift of our menstrual blood.
For more information about the Keeper click here
To order your Keeper (with a 90 day money back guarantee) click here
To join the Keeper email list click here