Holy Sponge Menstrual Sponges: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love My Period
In the fifteen years I’ve been bleeding, I mostly used tampons and didn’t think much about how I was hurting the environment or my poor body with bleached rayon and who knows what else.
My menstrual cycle was an afterthought, an annoyance I pretended didn’t exist for the three weeks each month that I’m not actively bleeding or PMSing.
While visiting Homestead Apothecary in Temescal Alley last summer, friendly shop owner Nic Weinstein told me about his store’s new product: menstrual sea sponges. I’d already embraced the Oakland queer hippie lifestyle of woo, astrology, magic and herbs, why not start sticking sea sponges inside myself, too? I signed up for a menstrual sponge workshop, part of Homestead’s Yoni Series.
So what does one learn at a menstrual sponge workshop? We were greeted by Holy Sponge founders and couple Janeen Singer and Daniela Fernandez. I was first awed by their fabulous jewelry and badass haircuts, then charmed by their warmth, kindness and self-identification as menstrual activists. About a dozen women crowded into the in-ter-face gallery in Temescal Alley and we introduced ourselves by sharing our menstrual challenges, which included cramps, shame, irregularity and ambivalence.
Janeen told us that the first time she used menstrual sponges, she had a revelation: “It’s like a spa for my pussy.” Daniela talked about how she soaks her sponge in really hot water and it’s like having an internal heating pad directly on your cervix. We learned about the social history of menstruation and the impact of tampons and pads on the environment. As a queer woman with no desire to bear children, I’ve never felt connected to or very interested in my menstrual cycle. But Janeen & Daniela opened my eyes to their Oakland hippie goddess ways when they said, “When women bleed during their menstrual cycles, we are shedding our month’s unexpressed stored-up toxins, stress, and emotional baggage.” These women honored and embraced their cycles and after this workshop, I was also ready to embrace my dumb, stupid, annoying, inconvenient, bloody bleeding.
Nothing has ever made me excited for my period, but I left the workshop willing my body to bleed. I started the next day and eagerly tried my new sponge. Try is the key word here, as no matter what I did I couldn’t make it work. I desperately emailed Janeen and she responded immediately, inviting me to hand-pick a new sponge. I picked a smaller, softer one and became an instant convert.
So how exactly does a menstrual sea sponge work? You soak the sponge in hot water until it’s saturated, wring it out, roll it up and insert it high up in your vagina against your cervix. Though it’s slightly more complicated than inserting a tampon, it feels much better inside you. To remove, relax, breathe, work those Kegels and do a little digging inside yourself with a finger or two to pull it out. Rinse in the sink and re-insert. In between cycles, sanitize with boiling water and tea tree oil. My cramps have lessened since using sponges (Daniel wasn’t kidding about the internal heating pad), I kind-of-sort-of-almost look forward to bleeding now, and not to go too sappy-hippie on you all, but I feel more connected to my body, specifically to my vagina and all the wonderful things it does. Thank you, vagina, I appreciate you!
I’m on my eighth cycle with the sponges now and I will never go back. If you want to try out these life-changing sponges for yourself and your vagina, get yourself a Holy Sponge Ritual Kit. It contains two sponges, tea tree oil to sanitize, and sage to cleanse, heal and ritualize. Pop over to Homestead Apothecary in Temescal Alley, 486 49th St #C in Oakland or visit Holy Sponge’s etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HolySponge And look for an upcoming interview with Janeen Singer, founder of Holy Sponge, in Wear Your Voice!