Working on Your Period

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Menstrual Sponges

Menstrual sponges come in sterile packs and are manufactured, so there is less chance of vaginal irritation or infection than there is with sea sponges. There are different brands of sponges available such as Beppy sponges or Joy Division soft tampons. Wet (pre-lubed) and sponges are available. Check with your local sex worker organisation for affordable sources of these sponges.  To insert the sponge first wash hands thoroughly. After taking the sponge out of the packet and wet with water or lube (if it isn’t already). Squeeze out excess liquid. Squeeze the sponge to make it smaller and insert inside your vagina as you would a tampon, trying to place it near the wall of your cervix. To take sponge out, squat and relax your muscles while you gently slip two fingers inside your vagina. Once you feel the sponge, hook your fingers around it to hold and gently remove sponge. There are further detailed and illustrated instructions on this website from Respect Inc. These sponges can be left in for up to eight hours, depending on your menstrual flow. Most manufacturers recommend that you do not leave a sponge in for longer than eight hours, due to the risks associated with toxic shock syndrome.

Sea sponges

Many sex workers use sea sponges (made from living organisms) when menstruating. Sea sponges are not sterile and often have small bits of sea debris in them, such as sand and grit, which can cause tears and scratches in your vagina, increasing your risk of contracting an STI or BBV. Currently there are far better and safer alternatives available that you can easily buy.

However, if you still would like to use a sea sponge make sure you choose a good quality sponge with tight holes so that you don’t have to cut it. Additionally, make sure you check the sponge before purchase so you can detect shell pieces. Boil the sponge before use. Applying some water-based lubricant to the sponge will make it easier to insert and remove. Rinse thoroughly after each client and dispose of the sea sponge at the end of the shift. If the sponge is difficult to remove, squat right down in a shower cubicle or bathtub, this will shorten the length of your vagina and allow you to reach further. Push down using your pelvic muscles. If you still can’t reach the sponge, don’t panic; try a warm bath to relax your muscles and use lubricant to assist. Eventually, even the most stubborn sponge will fill up with blood, making it heavier and therefore easier to find and remove.

Dish sponges

Some workers choose to use a cut up dish sponge. While there are safer alternatives available, if you choose to use a dish sponge you can boil it in water first to ensure it is as clean as possible. Wait for it to cool down and insert like any other sponge.

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