Do you want to know how to work when you are on your period?
How to avoid the mess and to prevent your clients from knowing?
This information sheet contains:
- What is a sponge?
- How to use a sponge
- How to take a sponge out
- I cannot get the sponge out
- Oh no! The client knows!
- Healthy and safety tips
- Questions, answers and other information
What is a sponge?
A sponge is used to stop the blood coming out of your body when you are working.
There are different brands and types of sponges. For example, Beppy, Sax, Hygenica, etc. They come in different shapes and sizes.
They are normally individually wrapped and sterile for single use only. Some come already lubricated for easy and comfortable use. A sponge can be used for up to 8 hours depending on how heavy your period is.
Sponges don’t always work for everyone And it can depend on how heavy your period is.
You can get these sponges online, from Respect Inc and some Needle and Syringe Programs (NSPs).
Types of sponges that are not recommended:
Sea sponges are from the ocean and you can buy them at chemist, pharmacy or supermarket. It is not recommended because some are not clean or safe to use inside of your vagina. This is because they are:
- not clean; and
- may have bits of dirt, sand and seashells in them. Sea sponges can scratch the inside of your vagina, leave bits inside and scratch or tear the condom.
These sponges are sold in a plastic wrap or loose in a big container.
Lots of older workers have used sea sponges with no ill effects, but there are safer choices available.
A Diaphragm can be fitted by you or your doctor. They come in different sizes. They fit inside your vagina and cover the cervix wall. You only have to wear it when you need to. If you use it when you have your period, you’ll need to change it every four hours.
Possible risks of using diaphragm:
- Some people are allergic to rubber or the liquid that kills off sperms.
- There can be slippage or discomfort if they’re not fitted properly.
- If you put on or lose weight (5kg or more), you’ll need to get a new one fitted.
Some workers use an unrolled tampon and put it inside the vagina to cover the cervix wall. This is not the best choice because the cotton can be pushed up under the cervix wall. This makes it hard to get it out. If pieces of cotton are left inside, it can cause an infection.
A cut-up bit of your household cleaning sponge is not clean and may not be safe to use inside of your vagina. This is because:
- It has unnatural colouring ingredients
- It may not cover or fit inside of your vagina
- It may be rough that it can cause damage inside of your vagina
- It may break the condom
Some workers clean the sponge by boiling it in hot water or heat it up in the microwave. Some have no side effects from using this approach. Keep in mind that this practice can also wear away the quality of the material.
How to use a sponge
1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
2. Take the sponge out of its packaging.
3. Wet the sponge with either water or lube (if it’s not lubed).
4. Squeeze excess liquid out of the sponge.
5. Put the sponge inside as if you are putting in a tampon. Squeeze the sponge to make it as small and narrow like a tampon size. You can squat down or lift up one leg while standing up.
6. Push it up inside your vagina to the same area you normally put your tampon. Try to make it sit across your cervix wall.
7. Once you have put the sponge in, wash your hands with soap and water again.
How to take a sponge out
When taking a sponge out, it is best to be calm, relaxed and comfortable.
With one finger
- Get into a comfortable position. You can squat down or stand up and lift up one leg.
- Gently and slowly slip your finger into your vagina. Be careful not to scratch the insides.
- Hook your middle finger around the side of the sponge to scoop it out.
With two fingers
Repeat step 1 and 2 and use your middle finger and thumb fingers like they are a pair of tweezers.
Note: Do this in a tiled area (e.g. bathroom, toilet, bathtub), because some blood will come out when you pull the sponge out. Otherwise, put a towel underneath to catch the leaking blood.
I cannot get the sponge out
Cannot reach it? It’s slippery? Cannot get a firm hold of it?
- Breathe deeply, slowly and relax: When you are tense, you will tighten up. This will make it harder to remove the sponge.
- Change positions:
● Stand up with one leg up.
● Squat down over the floor or on the toilet. If you are squatting, squat down more or curl up forward.
● Straighten and relax your back or lean back gently and push (tilt) your pelvis or hips forward. This will straighten the vagina pathway instead of it being curved.
● Push the muscles down there like you are pushing a baby out.
- Ask someone you trust and know what they are doing to help you get it out.
- Do not attempt to insert tools such as tweezers.
- See a general practitioner (GP). The general practitioner uses a medical tong and a speculum to open the vagina and remove the sponge.
Healthy and safety tips
- Douching is when you use water to flush something out of your vagina or anus. This is not recommended because it can upset the pH balance of your vagina and there’s a good chance you will drip more blood everywhere.
- Do not reuse sponges. They are for 8 hours of use, once only.
- Using more than one sponge at a time can be uncomfortable.
- Do not leave them in the vagina for a very long period of time. Up to eight hours is fine, depending on how heavy is your period. Leaving them for longer can make you ill or cause an infection. If you feel discomfort, remove it straight away.
- Before you put the sponge in, make sure there isn’t too much lube or water on the sponge. Otherwise the sponge will not soak up the blood.
- It is not recommended to tie a string or dental floss around the sponge.
- Not let the sponge do its job and the sponge will not soak up the blood.
- It can break the sponge when you pull it out.
- The string can break when you pull it out.
- The string may get pushed deeper inside the vagina.
Here are some helpful tips to avoid clients noticing:
- Use black condoms.
- When the client removes his penis from you, put your hand over the condom with tissue and remove it quickly. With the tissue (or wet wipes), you can wipe around his penis and balls in case they leak out.
- If a client notices the blood on the condom, you can say it’s your red lipstick (same colour).
Oh no! The client knows!
For some clients, it is a turn-off to find out that you are working on your period and they will freak out at the sight of blood. . Some clients can feel the sponge inside you and others will think it’s your cervix wall.
If the clients seems bothered try apologising and pretending that you didn’t realise by saying:
- “Oops, I’m so sorry hun.”
- “I didn’t expect this to happen.”
- “Looks like my period came early.”
If they get upset and turned off, you could:
- Offer massage and hand relief instead
- Some workers offer an anal service instead
Questions, answers and other information
Can you sleep with a sponge in?
Yes, you can sleep with a sponge in, so overnight jobs are not a problem. Once you wake up, remove the sponge as soon as possible. A sponge containing blood for a long period of time can create infection.
Can you go to the toilet without removing the sponge?
Yes, you can. Going to the toilet with your sponge is safe and will stay inside of you. The sponge sits deep inside, away from the opening of the the vagina and the anus.
Can you re-use a sponge?
No, sponges are for single use (8 hours) only. Using cleaning products on sponges or boiling them can make them break apart and can cause infection.
What if you don’t want to use a sponge?
Many workers take the day off when they are on their period. Contraception is also available to help regulate, stop or at least reduce your period. Check with your GP for suitable contraception.
A note on sponges
Sponges have not been tested as 100% safe to be used inside the vagina. Respect Inc sells these sponges because we want to provide the safest sponges available.
All material in this information sheet is provided for your information only and may not be construed as legal, medical or health advice or instruction.