Menstruation Station; the importance of intimate and sexual health!

So, if you have me on other social media, you’ve more than likely seen at lease one post where I’m promoting the importance of regular STD screening and how easy, confidential, and often free it is. Naturally, I’ve decided to write a post about it!

This post is going to get really bloody TMI, by the way, so enjoy!

I have been incredibly lucky. After starting contraception (the implant, which I personally recommend but I am one of the few it works really well for – PLEASE do as much research as you can before deciding on any form of long term contraception!), my periods vanished. I haven’t had to think about buying sanitary products or accidental leakage for more than three years. It was bliss.

Until it wasn’t. A month ago, I had my first period in almost four years. I’ve never been one for tampons, and luckily I still had some pads that had been lying in my drawer for God knows how long, so I didn’t ruin too many pieces of nice underwear.

I 100% had forgotten how uncomfortable they were. Before, my flow was always light, and rarely lasted more than three days. This one was a heavy flow, lasting around 8 days – I was very scared for a moment thinking I was about to have four year’s worth of blood in one go. It was a genuine fear, as irrational as it sounds when thinking back…

Now, for about a year, I have been wanting to buy a menstrual cup. They’re environmentally friendly, financially friendly, safe for your body, and have great reviews. But, since I wasn’t having periods, I never bothered to purchase one. So, naturally, I grasped this period induced opportunity, and invested in a menstrual cup – I don’t know if my body will carry on having periods regularly, or if it was a one-off, but now, I am prepared.

There are a lot of options out there, but in the end, I settled for the Evo Cup. It was something like two cups for around £14.50, so I was pretty pleased. What could go wrong?

Turns out, a LOT can go wrong. Let me start by saying that it’s a great product, I love it, and I’m so glad I have them now to use – but I felt like a deer learning to walk for the first time, or Bambi on ice (I’ve never seen Bambi). I have used a tampon once in my entire life, and I wasn’t a fan, so I was kind of going in blind with the whole insertion thing. Plus, it’s a cup. Thank Odin it came with an insertion guide (not that it helped me).

Insertion and Removal? a bloody business.

Took me about 30 minutes to get that baby in. And even then I wasn’t even sure it was in correct, it felt weird, and I was super paranoid about leakage (a fear that was completely unnecessary, they are leak proof! But not spill proof…) Removing the cup is another story in itself. Unfortunately, the stem on my cups are a bit too short, and so gripping them for removal was really difficult. And slippery, which… led to me spilling the cup. All over the bathroom floor. So, yeah. That happened. (And it happened again, at a date’s house, after I even had to ask her to help me remove it… and somehow we have an 8th date!)

Despite these, the cup is fantastic. I can’t imagine myself ever going back to the ‘traditional’ sanitary products, and I thoroughly recommend that you ditch those, too, for the good of your vagina, the environment, and your wallet.

Now onto what others might call the real gross section: STD’s. In 2017 420,000 cases of STD’s were diagnosed in the UK. (Source)

Again, I’ve been incredibly lucky – even times when I’ve forgotten to use protection, I’ve remained clean – and I know this, because I do regular STD testing. Regular tests are so, so important if you partake in hook up culture or have more than one sexual partner or have unprotected sex regularly, or even if you have protected sex! Nothing is 100%, remember. Splits or slips happen.

Did you know some STDs (like chlamydia and gonorrhoea) can have no symptoms, but actually dangerously affect your fertility? That’s just one of the many reasons you should get tested regularly! And if you’re a friend of mine, and I find out that you don’t get tested regularly or don’t use protection, I have and will order test kits directly to your door.

Another fact: STD’s can be transmitted almost anywhere – mouth, vagina, anus, penis. Some STD’s can also be passed to children during childbirth, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. So even if you had no fertility issues, there could still be serious future complications. Long story short, regular testing is super, super important, and super, super easy.

If you live in Aberystwyth, the Hywel Dda University Health Board offer free home testing kits through Frisky Wales for chlamydia and gonorrhoea that they post to you, and which you free post back to them – no cost, no need to go to a post office (seriously, just whack it in the red box), and no “embarrassing” appointments. I use “” because, seriously, sexual health is nothing to be embarrassed about. Safe sex is sexy.

If you go to a clinic, these check-ups are also often free! With the bonus of you being able to ask any questions you have, or even get some free condoms. The practitioners in the new Aber clinic next to Padarn are lovely and reassuring; the doctor on my first appointment there told me she’s seen so many different genitals of all varying shapes, colours, states, etc, that really, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. For my first in-person screening, it was an absolutely delightful experience.

Now, if you’re from Birmingham and don’t wish to travel to a clinic (the only walk-in clinic I personally know of is underground in Boots in Birmingham City Centre), Umbrella Healthcare provide free postal testing kits. These kits are better than those provided by Hywel Dda as they also contain tests for HIV and syphilis. Again, these are completely free! They even posted my kit down to me in Aber.

With all of these services, the results come through by text – and you only have to go to a clinic if you need treatment for any reason.

If you’ve never been tested, I hope reading this encourages you to. Or encourages you to tell me so that I can send a postal kit to your door, no biggie.

Remember, safe sex is best sex!

Some more information on myths and facts about STDs can be found at the following links:

Stanford Children’s Health

Family Planning Association

Let’s Get Checked

 

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