Slightly off topic/TMI: I introduced my 93 year old grandmother to the idea of the menstrual cup in conversation. She was absolutely appalled at the thought but then followed it up by saying that her mother had taught her that it was bad for your internal health to take a bath OR wash your hair during your period. I casually informed her that people even have sex during their periods now. She was horrified at that. I was horrified that she had gone days without bathing on her period. We both had a good laugh.
You might mention to your grandmother that, per Wikipedia, menstrual cups are only a decade younger than she is (patented 1932). :)
I love my menstrual cup! I use a DivaCup, but I haven't tried others. There is DEFINITELY a learning curve, but once I got through that I was home free.
For those who have not
noticed an improvement in horrible cramping and excessive bleeding since switching to cups:
I had horrible, horrible cramps through age 20 or 21. Bad enough to cause vomiting, bad enough that I was delirious once. Just nasty stuff. I had irregular, long periods (sometimes heavy bleeding for multiple weeks), and enough blood on my heaviest days that I was going through an overnight pad every hour or so. (I tried using tampons three times, but everything about them was painful, so I used just pads for years.)
I was sick of the expense of these infinite pads, so I started looking online for anything cheaper. That was how I found menstrual cups. I only knew of the rubber Keeper and silicone DivaCup brands at the time, and I've seen what happens with old rubber bands, so I went with the silicone DivaCup. I started being able to go an entire 1.5 hours between bathroom breaks on heavy days before a leak/overflow (using the cup with a pad as backup), which was something I could never do with pads.
Gradually, over the next year or so, my periods decreased significantly. The pain was still really bad, but not to the degree that I was vomiting. I could go four hours between emptying the cup on heavy days. I was eventually able to make it halfway through the night without a leak, but I couldn't sleep in without consequences.
Once my flow had decreased to this degree, a year or two later I thought it would be safe to use a folded handkerchief as backup instead of a pad (thinking I could save money). Success! After cutting out commercial bleached pads and liners entirely, my period has decreased to the point where I can go an entire night without getting up AND sleep in with only a folded hanky as backup (though it rarely sees more than a few drops). My cramps are down to the point where they are MUCH more easily controlled with lots of ibuprofen. I no longer have to call out of work for cramps.
I really think something in the process to make the disposables leaves behind chemicals that leech into your body through the soft tissues and make your period worse. My life is so much easier now. I don't think it is simple aging that has cleared up my period issues, as my mother's only got worse over the years (culminating in a hysterectomy) and the same for my little sister.
So, for anyone who is suffering, try cutting out the bleached disposables for six months. It made such a change in my life. Switching to cups is only half the battle if you are still using disposable pads and liners as backup.