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May 17, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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Caitlin Dunham: Women’s Rights Officer

One morning, when I was about 12, I looked down and realised that oh shit, Aunty Rose had arrived. After thinking I was dying, my mother screaming hysterically about her baby being a woman while my stepdad got supplies, I got used to the idea and now it is yet another hindrance us women have to deal with.

If you get your first period at 12 and stop when you’re 45, you’ll have around 396 periods a lifetime. If you use a box of $5 tampons per period, that alone is $1980. That’s not including panty liners, pads and painkillers. Australia has a luxury tax on sanitary items. LUXURY? SERIOUSLY?

144 condoms are $3 on prescription. Dental dams are $1 each from the Prostitutes’ Collective. Women invariably end up paying through the nose for basic necessities.

While there’s not much we can do about contraception to avoid STDs, we can do something about not paying for sanitary items. Firstly, try a mooncup/divacup. They’re a silicon cup, with a small tail and holes around the top rim to provide suction. They come in different sizes and are available from Commonsense Organics on Wakefield Street. They’re $52.50, it’ll last you a lifetime (hopefully) and is reusable. They also contain no bleach which will help balance the pH in your vagina.

Secondly, you can make cloth pads. While these sound gross, they’re actually not. They’re flannel on the outside, with polar fleece to absorb the blood and a layer of water-resistant material to stop seepage. Patterns can be found on the internet and take about an hour to make (quicker if you’re sewing savvy and own a sewing machine). Once you’re done, rinse it with COLD water and throw it in the wash.

One that makes me feel a little iffy is the use of sea sponges. They need to be properly sanitised before use and are a living animal – not very vegetarian friendly. But they hold about 40 grams of blood and are probably the most comfortable option as they feel like the inside of the vaginal wall. As long as they are boiled after each use and don’t rip inside you, they can last for about 4 months.

Whatever you decide, just know you don’t have to spend lots of money on something you need. As long as you’re not grossed out by reusing something you’ve egged on, that is.

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