Founder’s Perspective: Managing POP and Your Period
As part of our mission to help normalize the conversation about pelvic floor health, we're committed to sharing real stories of the ups and downs of POP. Period care can be a challenge, but there are things that can help. Read more about our founder's experience and learn some of her tips to help you prepare and care for yourself during your cycle.
I woke up on a Tuesday morning and realized that I had started my period. This was my first period since having my second baby, and it had been about 18+ months since having my last period and using period products. I shuffled around my bathroom drawer to see what I had at the house. I found a handful of tampons with different absorbency levels (light, regular and super) and a few panty liners. My panty liner stash had dwindled because my toddler likes to take them out of their wrapper and stick them in places in the bathroom.
I tried to put in a regular absorbency tampon and it was pushed right back out. I tried another one. The same thing happened again. I sat there feeling frustrated and like I did not have time to figure this out, as my 9 month old baby was awake and ready for me to go get her. The idea of having to buy a bunch of products to test out felt overwhelming, especially when every box comes with 40+ items that may not work. I used the panty liner as a temporary solution, knowing it wouldn’t last long but at least it would allow me to carry on with my day.
As I was nursing my baby, I looked up our blog post on Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Periods to refresh my memory on some of the options. In that moment, I wished that I had tried out options sooner and had them ready to go for when this time came rather than scrambling to get something that worked.
I remembered a trick I used the last time I had my period and decided to give that a try. Once I got the kids out the door and on their way to school, I laid on my back on my bathroom floor with my knees bent and my feet flat. I inhaled to relax my pelvic floor and tried inserting the tampon in this position. When I stood up, I was careful to manage the pressure on my pelvic floor. This was successful! The tampon stayed in as I moved around.
I felt so relieved, but I knew that POP is not always predictable and consistent so I would need to have alternative options in case the tampon did not stay in. It’s also not always feasible to lay down to insert a tampon, and I won’t always be at my house when I am on my period. I needed to have other options.
I continued to research and look for other helpful options to manage my period. I read that shorter tampons sometimes work, and that sport tampons can work. My light absorbency tampons were shorter and I ordered a box of Playtex Sport tampons in regular absorbency. I planned to try out period underwear and buy some pads to have at the house as back ups for the future.
Here is a high-level breakdown of how my days went during this cycle:
- Tampon came out everytime I used the restroom.
- Since I worked from home most of the day, I was able to lie down to insert my tampon each time. This worked well.
- I ordered a box of sport tampons to try because of the way they expand to see if that may work better.
- I tried a super absorbency to see how that felt and it came out much more quickly than the regular and was uncomfortable to wear.
- Tried a light absorbency tampon. This stayed better than the regular and felt better during the day, but it did require me to change it more often.
- I had to go into the office today, which felt stressful because I did not have period products other than tampons at the house. I made it work with tampons and did not have major issues. Between that and pumping, it was a lot to manage on top of my regular work day.
- At the end of the day, I ran out of the light absorbency tampons and tried using one of the super absorbency tampons that I had to see if that size worked any better. It did not! It was pretty uncomfortable to wear and turned sideways almost immediately and put pressure on my vaginal canal. I took that out within a few minutes.
- The box of sport tampons that I ordered came in so I got to give those a try. They were pretty similar to the regular absorbency tampons I had been using. I could see where they could work well for someone so they are worth trying. I was able to wear those pretty comfortably until my period was over.
- I struggled on this day. I did a strength workout in the evening after the kids went to bed. Between my POP symptoms being worse while I was on my period, it being the end of the day, and having just done a strength workout where I likely did not manage my body pressure well, my prolapse was feeling really heavy and a lot of the tissue was visible. After my workout, I spent about 15 minutes just sitting on the toilet crying and feeling hopeless. The hormone shift did not help anything.
- By the end of my cycle, things felt easier. I was not having to worry about leaking through and I did not have to be very active those days. I reflected on the past few days and what I would like to do differently next time.
Things I will do differently next time:
- Invest in at least one pair of period underwear to try as my primary method of period care, or at least to have as a backup option. I am going to give Knix period underwear a try for my first pair (not sponsored).
- I will make sure to have options other than tampons available (pads and period underwear) so that if tampons are not working at all or for the particular activity that I am doing, I can try something else. I will also have multiple tampon types available (light and regular) so I can adjust as needed.
Things that helped me:
- Remember that prolapse symptoms can feel worse during your cycle.
- If you are trying to insert a tampon, try laying down on your back or try putting it in while sitting on the toilet, but stand up before removing the applicator.
- A peri bottle works really well to help clean tender vaginal tissue. The Frida Mom Upside Down Peri Bottle is my favorite (not sponsored), but poking a hole in the lid of a plastic water bottle will also work.
- Know that you are not alone. This feels hard because it is hard. You can do this and there are people going through similar situations as you who can also do this.
I share this story so that hopefully you can feel less alone in your journey with POP and all of its ups and downs, and maybe have a few ideas to help when you need period products that work well with your POP.
**Medical Disclaimer: This post is intended to provide information and resources only. This post or any of the information contained within should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment, or advice. Always seek the guidance of your qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your healthcare, conditions, and recommended treatment.