Diary of a Diva: Period Care Insight from a Nurse Diva

As a nurse, my schedule varies from 8 to 10 hour shifts throughout the day, on call overnight to the dreaded 24 hour weekend blocks.

Pink stethoscopeAlthough my job is demanding on my time, it’s also very rewarding. And since discovering The DivaCup, I find I focus less on timing my product changes and more on my work.

I started my period when I was nine, long before any of my friends and by the time everyone else started their cycles, I was the go to girl for information on tampons and pads. If someone had a surprise they always knew that I had a stock pile in my locker. I even taught most of my friends how to use tampons. Some girls had no idea about anatomy and so in order to teach them how to use a tampon, we`d look up the menstrual cycle and vaginal health in a book before actually giving the product a try. Thank goodness we had a good library. I guess my training as a nurse started early on in grade school.

The first few years of learning to deal with my period were awful. I was lucky to make it through a two hour class without having to run out. If I was playing sports or running around, I had even less time to get to the loo. I never stayed away from home on my period. It was too risky. The amount of underwear I went through in high middle school was shocking. I ruined everything. I also wouldn’t travel when I was on my period because on a long trip the bathrooms were too far apart. I would stay over at people’s houses, and wake up in a panic with leaking. I wish so much that I had discovered The DivaCup in high school. That would have saved me a lot of embarrassment.

By the time I got to college I had worked out a system. I would go to bed about 11 o’clock or midnight, then set my alarm for 5 or 6 am. That way I would hopefully catch the leaking before it started. Even then there were some pretty embarrassing moments. Especially in college when you have shared bathrooms and you have to walk all the way down the hall as fast as possible without anyone seeing you.

I was introduced to The DivaCup while in nursing school. A friend of a friend was traveling from America, and had been living in South East Asia. She said that she was so confident with The DivaCup that she slept naked. I have never been that confident ever when I’m on my period!

My initial reaction to the idea of a menstrual cup?

Although I was training to be a nurse, I thought it sounded a little weird and gross and didn’t think much of it for a few months. For years I was “dealing” with my cycle with pads and tampons and although a big hassle, they were familiar to me. I was worried about experiencing even more problems and accidents and was not sure I was up for the challenge.

But knowing all I did about The DivaCup and going through another rough month of period care I decided to give it a try. I figured it could not be any worse than what I was already using.

As a student, paying for the cup was a bit of an investment, especially for something I was not sure I would like. Yet, after doing a bit of calculating I realized I would only have to use it for three months and it would not be any different than what I was already paying for period care supplies. So I got one and gave it three months; which is about how long it took me to get used to using it.

It was a little fiddly for a month or so but the fact that I could go places and have a life was so great. Not to mention sleeping without interruption. As a nurse you do not always get to pick and choose when you can sleep. Our schedules change constantly and we need to sleep when we can in order to do our jobs well.

The DivaCup gives me the freedom to get the job done with one less thing to worry about. When I am assisting in a difficult surgery the last thing I need to be thinking about is if I’m going to start leaking. I also do not always get to just run to the loo when nature calls.

I recommend The DivaCup to all women, especially the women who run on someone else’s time. I only have to empty the cup a few times a day and find it very easy to use and comfortable, it makes caring for my period at work (and home or out with friends) simple!

The peace of mind is priceless.

When there is an emergency at the hospital you can easily lose track of time. Hours can pass, but with The DivaCup you do not need to worry about leaks and product changes every 4 to 8 hours. It is so nice because unlike tampons, with The DivaCup I can really focus on what is most important, my patients. I can face the challenges of night shift, being on call and long standing hours in surgery, without worrying about timing my bathroom breaks or running back to my locker for extra product.

I am always recommending (and will continue to recommend) The DivaCup to my colleagues and hope that they too can experience the same freedom I enjoy each month.

Candace Derrick, Nursing Diva

Candace-Name-TagCandace is a registered nurse who grew up in California, USA, and now lives and works on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia. She received her Bachelors of Nursing from Avondale College, Australia in 2006 and has been enjoying her work as a surgical (theatre) nurse ever since. She loves living walking distance from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

 

Diva Reading List Part 1: Puberty and The Menstrual Cycle

With today’s online archives, open texts and search tools, young women do not need to look very far to find answers to questions that were once hidden in anatomy textbooks.

Knowledge about puberty and the menstrual cycle abound in online spaces! Some are true, some, riddled with age-old taboos while others still may be a little too progressive for young readers.

Yet, although online sources are easily accessible, a good book about growing up, puberty and menstruation is something every girl should have. And the books available to young women today have come a long way in the last twenty years!

Much of what I learned as a young girl about my period came from my mother and older sister and while they did their best, I still had so many questions left unanswered. My junior high teacher made puberty sound horrible and by high school we basically memorized and knew the definitions to all the parts of our reproductive system and were routinely told about our options for “protection”, none of which included reusable options.

This post was inspired by a fascinating panel I attended at the biennial conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, which focused on menstrual health education and resources.

While we can all look things up online, it is nice to have a tangible resource on hand for those not so easy questions. It is also great to be able to pass this resource on to friends and family members who may not have someone to talk to about all the changes they are experiencing.

The following is a list of books that are great for parents and young women to explore. Each book covers a myriad of topics related to puberty and menstruation and offers some unique insight for women of all ages.

The Period Book: Everything you don’t want to ask (but need to know) by Karen Gravelle & Jennifer Gravelle

Period BookThis book is loaded with lots of helpful information and imagery for girls of all ages. Topics include anatomy, cycle charting, product options, body image and even a section that speaks about vaginal care. The Period Book is definitely a resource we would recommend for younger girls, but we would ask for just one small change: that it include a section about reusable options like The DivaCup! This inclusion could truly make this a book about everything you don’t want to ask (but need to know).

 

 

Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen’s Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body by Toni Weschler, MPH

Cycle SavvyI’m partial to Toni Weschler`s Cycle Savvy, simply because I found Weschler’s Taking Control of Your Fertility to be a great resource to me over the past few years. I just wish Cycle Savvy was available when I was 15! We would recommend this book to girls who are looking for an in-depth look at the menstrual cycle and those who are interested in learning how to chart their cycle. The book details how to monitor and evaluate cycle symptoms and it does so through humor, honest testimony and narratives that make you feel… normal.

 

 

Body Drama by Nancy Amanda Redd

Body DramaBody Drama has lots to say about all those things that come with puberty including breast health, skin changes, body shape and of course your period. Redd does an excellent job of showing how unique women are; done through both serious and humorous tones. Difference is not abnormal, but normal and difference is what is celebrated in Body Drama. This book is a great resource for teen girls (and their mothers, aunts, or older sisters) and one they will probably look to throughout their life.

 

 

Girls Guide to Becoming a Teen by Amy B. Middleman & Kate Gruenwald Pfeifer

Girls GuideWhile most teens will experience much of what is discussed in this handbook, girls who are under 13 may also find this book beneficial. This book explores all aspects of puberty, drawing attention to a few areas most girls do not often learn about like height changes, changes in your hair, healthy diets, eating disorders and how to cope with emotions. Simple, yet informative, this handbook’s chapter layout allows parents and teachers to pick and choose areas that are suitable for specific age categories.

 

While there are many books to draw from these were a few we found to be very helpful for girls and women of all ages. One main critique of these books is that they do not discuss reusable options like The DivaCup nor do they touch on any of the health concerns related to disposable options. Our hope at the Diva office is that as dialog about the menstrual cycle becomes more widely accepted, and as more and more resources become available, information about reusable options will be included.

Do you have a book you`d recommend to a young woman looking for answers about puberty and her period? Share you titles with the Diva Community today!