You haven't lived until you've scrubbed your own viscera from beneath your fingernails at a mall.
I've never been good at having my period. My sex education was thorough and started when I was young. From the age of eight, I had a stash of pads and tiny sticks of deodorant at the ready for when the curse (and presumed stank) of the commencement of my reproductive capabilities kicked into high gear.
All that said, when I did get my period at age nine, I was pretty sure that I just hadn't wiped some sh*t off my ass properly and thought nothing of it. When I got a tummyache the following month and found a rusty trail in my jeans (then, as now, I reviled underwear), it took my mom finding them and being all "Dude, you got your period" for me to finally realize that I was full-on a woman with the responsibility of hiding the uterine lining that leaked monthly from my bang-hole.
It isn't something I've ever managed well. Women's bodies are different (I know, revelatory). So the idea that a bag of pads or a box of tampons is supposed to handle my monthly gush just as well as Angelina Jolie's is totally ridiculous.
I leak. I forget I've got a tampon in. There was the infamous "Oh my holy god I have three tampons in here" discovery during finals my senior year. There have been more mornings of me climbing out of bed and discovering more of the red stuff than that Hollywood producer did in The Godfather than I would care to recount.
I've tried Diva Cups and Instead Cups, and they just don't fit me correctly. Either that or I have a bizarrely shaped vagina and cervix, though as of yet, I've had no complaints. Wad of toilet paper jammed between my lips while on a road trip or diligent planning be damned, I'm going to ruin at least one pair of underwear every single month.
That's why I was curious about using the sponge. It's exactly what it sounds like: a sea sponge about the size of nectarine. It's totally adorable. I feel like you could use it to give an otter a luxurious sponge bath, but what you're supposed to do is jam it up your p*ssy, removing it as needed, ringing it out and popping it back up there until your flow goes.
The idea is that, because it's all natural, it's good for you. But I kept being all "Did a fish bang another fish on this sponge?" It's also supposed to hold a hell of a lot more than your average tampon, and that to me was the most exciting promise of the sponge.
I had to use a little lube to wedge the damn thing inside my person. I have never felt less sexy. Once the sponge is in place, you don't feel it. You definitely hear it, though.
I queefed my way around my apartment like my vagina had eaten a tin of beans by a campfire the night before. I didn't have it in for more than twenty minutes when I felt a rush of warm heat and knew that I had destroyed my pants.
I removed the sponge and rinsed it out, but it didn't seem that full. I assumed correctly that the leak was due to user error. I reinserted the sponge, pretending that I was giving birth to a baby but in reverse. This is not the sanitary product for you if you don't relish the idea of spending at least an hour a day with your entire hand up yourself like a puppet.
I read horror stories about removing the sponge, so I put it off for as long as I could. When it came time to uncork the bottle as it were, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the thing was to wrangle out of my insides.
If you're squeamish, this is not for you. If it sounds a little intense, some websites suggest tying a string to the sponge to make removal easier, but at that point it's just tampon it already.
Perhaps the only thing that keeps the sponge from being my new go-to menstrual companion is that it's so green. I love the environment, but I don't know that I love the environment enough to ring out a sponge of my own viscera every few hours at say, the sink of a nice restaurant. But hey, maybe you're into that.
I don't judge: I look at my poops every time before I flush the toilet. None of us is perfect.