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A blog from the women of GladRags and our customers too.

Discussions on menstruation, environmental living, women's health, relevant politics, and other interesting matters - we like to go with the flow around here.

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Menstruation throughout history has always fascinated me, in part because it’s kind of a mystery to us now. Since most history was recorded by men, there’s often no mention of periods or other lady-specific issues.

I recently stumbled across this blog post which explores menstruation in medieval times. Here are the highlights, for your reading pleasure:

  • Periods were referred to as your “flowers” — kind of sweet, isn’t it? Oddly, menstruation was also referred to in this euphemistic way even in medical texts.
  • Menstruating women carried nosegays and nutmeg to conceal any odors (remember: there were fewer baths in those days…)
  • One “proven” remedy for heavy flow: burn a toad in a pot, then wear the resulting powder in a pouch around your waist. Poor toadie.
  • The average onset of menopause appears to have been earlier than today, happening as early as the mid to late thirties. It’s thought that it was brought on by frequent child-bearing.
  • Periods were viewed as part of Eve’s curse by the church. Holy women often fasted, resulting in missed periods which were attributed to favor from God–rather than a nutrient deficiency.
  • Menstrual blood had “magical” properties, but it was an evil magic. It was thought that it (or the “menotoxins” inherent to the fluid) could give dogs rabies, render entire fields of crops barren, and make fruit fall from trees.
This poster describing the potential effects of menstruating women hangs in the GladRags office, where bread always fails to rise.

This poster describing the potential effects of menstruating women hangs in the GladRags office, where bread always fails to rise.

 The Menotoxin: Know Your Poison poster was created by the fabulous Laura Szumowski.


 

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

Every moon cycle I experience a kind of miracle. My body, which has ached and prepared and grown flush with expectancy, initiates a deep process of renewal. The days I spend bleeding are a vital part of my natural rhythm of rest and rejuvenation, and can be some of the most creative and illuminating days of my life.

reflection-and-ritual

In our culture we are often trained to see our moon time as a bothersome obligation. A biological issue that we must “deal with” rather than a deep transition that we can grow from and experience. We are expected to continue life as usual— jobs, responsibilities, chores— with very little recognition for the profundity of what is being experienced.

Traditionally, a woman’s moon was considered to be an exceptionally powerful time. In many cultures, women were expected to engage in deep rest and reflection while they were bleeding. In traditional Chinese medicine our moon was thought to bring about a time of release for other longstanding bodily illnesses or issues — an opportunity to energetically flush out imbalances. In other cultures this time was similarly respected and honored, and sometimes even revered as a sacred state of visioning. In some Native American tribes a woman’s moontime was thought to be a moment of far-reaching understanding. Bleeding women were supported to ‘vision’ for the community as a whole.

Garnet cave

Each time I bleed is unique. Sometimes its almost breezy—very little cramps or concerns or dark clouds— other times all I want is to curl up into a tight ball and practice breathing. Our cycles are incredibly sensitive; they can be affected by changes in diet, exercise, relationships, health and mental state. When I have a cycle that seems to be requiring a lot of energy I always step back and reflect— am I giving myself enough time in my day-to-day life to relax? What can I do to more deeply nourish myself and understand what is being communicated through my body’s cycle?

Every cycle I am called, yet again, to a space of loving examination: What about my life is feeding me? Which aspects of my career or relationships are nourishing? And what am I ready to let go of so I can clear the way for newness to reseed and grow?

Rituals for Rejuvenation

I read somewhere once that the root of the word ‘ritual’ comes from the Sanskrit word R’tu, which meant (among other things) menstrual. I’ve since taken this deeply to heart. I try every moontime to simply engage with and honor my cycle. I experience it. I interact with my body and mind, and make space for new wisdom to filter in. There are so many ways in which you can sink deeply into this time and create space for the transformation. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enact ritual during my moon:

hawthorn tea

1. Womb Massage

Giving myself the time to massage my womb space is one of the simplest joys (and comforts!) I know of during my moon time. Our wombs work hard…basically all the time. Every cycle our uterus builds an entire baby villa (a very lush residence indeed) and then tears the whole thing down. Spending even five minutes nurturing your womb space with loving attention can be dramatically healing.

What you’ll need: A carrier oil + essential oils

Infuse your carrier oil with a few drops of essential oils to nurture, soothe, and relieve some of the more powerful sensations of your moon. Coconut, sweet almond, jojoba and apricot kernel oil are all lovely carriers oils to use. If the oil is liquid at room temperature simply add 1-5 drops of essential oil per TBS of carrier oil. When using coconut oil you’ll need to slowly heat it on the stove. Set the heat at its lowest possible temperature. When the oil completely liquid, add your drops of essential oil and transfer into a cooler bowl. Warming up your oil can also add a rich depth of comfort to your experience. Just make sure to add your essential oils after you heat the carrier oil, to retain their full potency and power.

If you are looking to soothe cramps, select an essential oil that fits both your sensations and mood.

  • If you have hot, sharp cramps try cooling, antispasmodic essential oils like peppermint, lavender, pennyroyal, clary sage and basil.
  • If your cramps tend to feel more heavy, dragging and cold (these types of cramps are often relieved by heat) try more warming and stimulating essential oils like ginger, angelica root, and spikenard.
  • Not sure what type of cramps you have? Try closing your eyes and focusing on the sensation in your womb. What color do you see? Red, orange, or yellow can often mean hot cramps, whereas purple, blue or gray usually indicates colder cramps. Still not sure? Go with your nose. Close your eyes and smell a few different essential oils, let your body choose the best one for you.

winter bath

2. Baths

Bathing is a deeply comforting way to release the tensions of our day and invite realignment. Water is such a sacred ally for us on this earth. It is the building block of our very body, the essence that makes up our primary experience in this world. All of us spent the first months of our life as water babies, floating in the womb. Bathing can be a beautiful way to self-nurture during your moon. Bleeding often brings back that primal desire to be nurtured— we yearn to feel, once again, the simple comfort of our own inner wombs.

Intentionally preparing yourself a healing bath is a sacred way of signaling to yourself that you are taken care of. Take time to give your gratitude to the water and know that it has the power to cleanse and clear so many of the tangles left deep inside you.

Think about creating a sacred space around and within your bath. Put 10-20 drops of essential oil into the water before you step in to steam the room and scent the experience. Swirl a palm of coconut oil into your bath to nourish your skin and hair. Try floating bundles of rosemary or sage to remember the freshness that awaits you on the other side of your moon. Light candles, put on healing music, and let yourself steep. There is nothing more profoundly healing than a well-drawn bath.

Misty Garden

3. Giving Back

Our blood itself is sacred. Contained within that blood is everything that is needed to sustain and grow life. It is a precious gift. Giving my blood back to the earth is a vital part of my moontime practice. When I use cloth pads I always soak them in cold water immediately after use. After a few hours, the cloth lets go its darkness and the water turns a gorgeous ruby hue. Sometimes I bring that water out to my garden, and sing songs to the comfrey or growing basil leaves as I feed them. Green beings simply adore moonwater—it’s a fact. Our blood is so full of essential nutriments and nitrogen; moon-fed plants simply glow! Truth be told, I haven’t bought fertilizer for any of my houseplants in years. I feed them my blood every month and they are happy as can be. I nurture them just as they nurture me.

Quartz spiral

4. Letting go

Most moontimes I grapple with at least one dark cloud, a heavy thing, leggy and looming over me. It can be hard, sometimes, to feel like I have the space to breathe! Learning to let go has been a deep and profoundly relieving practice for me. Every moontime I focus my energy on one thing I would like to let go of in my life— whether it’s a belief, an outmoded relationship, negative thoughts about myself, an attachment to a certain outcome, or even my sometimes dangerous devotion to kettle chips (guilty). When you illuminate these things, and make the clear intention to release them with your blood, you create a profound flow of cleansing energy. The power of your intention can make that practice of letting go doubly strong. Your body hears you. Your spirit hears you. And you will begin that deep process of release.

No matter what your experience or history is with your moon, each new cycle in an opportunity to reinvent yourself from the inside out. Let’s all work together to redefine the ways in which we think about or relate to our blood, and create new moon communities marked by support, love, celebration and growth.


About the author of this post:

asia sulerAsia Suler is a writer, teacher and herbalist who lives amongst her gardens and large apothecary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC. She is the creator and concoctress of One Willow Apothecaries, an Appalachian-grown herbal company that offers lovingly handcrafted herbal medicines. Asia teaches at gatherings across the country and is blessed to work with people and plants, spirit and stones. Read more of her writing on her blog.

Image credits: Asia Suler 

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Before there were adhesive-backed disposables, there were…. belts. Some of our older readers may even remember using these! Even younger readers have likely heard of belted sanitary napkins from the coming-of-age classic Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.

This is an Australian ad from 1956, announcing the launch of Kotex belts in fashion-forward WHITE.

While I think I would be very, very grumpy if I had to wear a belt for my period, I kind of dig this ad. The packaging in the lower right looks so fancy and pretty!

Would you ever wear a Kotex belt? In white?

 


 

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

In honor of GladRags’ 21st birthday this weekend, here are 21 reasons to make the switch to reusable menstrual products. Thanks to everyone on Facebook who shared their reason–we had way more than 21 to choose from!

And, because we freaking love birthdays, we’re celebrating by giving away TWENTY-ONE Color Pantyliners Plus. Yep, it’s our birthday but we’re giving the presents this year. To enter, scroll down to the bottom of this post and follow the instructions in the widget. We’ll be picking three random winners per day for seven days!

Without further ado, here are (your) 21 reasons to make the switch:

1. Because they’re easy-breezy-beautiful.

When I open them in a public bathroom, the whole building doesn’t hear. They’re cute, too, and breathable (which helps cut down on feminine odors). I love my GladRags! – Amanda

2. Because a period is not something to be ashamed of.

Not being ashamed to deal with your menstrual cycle by washing your pads. – Santoki

3. Because comfort.

Comfort – tampons and disposable pads feel so gross. – Kelsy

4. Because MAGIC.

DivaCup use drastically shortens the length of my cycle (I don’t know why but it does) and helps minimize cramps and leakage. – Lacey

5. Because diaper rash is for babies (sorry, babies)

Helps decrease incidences of BV, yeast infections, and diaper rashes! – Kandace

6. Because disposables are gross.

I wanted to stop buying those stinky pads! Now I actually look forward to my period so I can use my cute pads! – Krystal

7. …REAL gross.

 …the desire to stop sticking tendrils of chemically treated cotton up my vagina… – D’Ann

8. …So is taking out the garbage.

I hate taking the trash out, and now I have to do it less often! – Amanda

9. Because ow.

No chafing. – Ginger

10. Because $$.

I have also saved a lot of money washing pads every month, instead of buying them at the store (especially since most pads nowadays are expensive). – Jessie

11. Because… did we mention they’re more comfortable?

They are SO SO SO much more comfortable. – Heather

12. Because the average woman uses 12,000 to 16,000 disposable pads, tampons, and pantyliners in her lifetime.

The environmental impact of disposables… 12 years now and no regrets! – Viki

13. Because (no) leaks.

My cup is so much more comfortable and reliable than tampons. I only need a back-up cloth pad on my heaviest day.  - Wendi

14. Because your body doesn’t smell bad, but disposable pads do.

The SMELL of disposables! YUK – Kris

15. Because what you put all up in your business matters.

Reducing chemicals and toxins exposure – Ang

16. Because we don’t want future generations to barf.

Picturing millions of disposable pads and tampons being preserved in landfills makes me nauseated. – Erin

17. Because companies like GladRags are owned and operated by women.

Not being afraid of my own body and stopping the use of harmful products portrayed as my only options, all of which are made by male owned/run companies. – Eliza

18. Because #KeepVulvasSafe needs to be a thing.

Keep Vulvas Safe from toxic chemicals that most commercial products use to make disposables. – Samantha

19. Because itching isn’t a normal side effect of your menstrual cycle.

I finally realized I was allergic to disposables, as I used to suffer from terrible vaginal itching. It’s gone since I made the switch. – Yvette

20. Because it’s a bummer to throw away a pad that hasn’t even been used.

I want to switch to reusable because my period is so light when I have it that it’s a waste of even pantyliners – Judith

21. Because win-win-win.

It’s the most economical, environmentally-friendly, and best for you when it comes to your period. It’s a triple win in my book! – Christiana

gladrags-birthday-21-giveaway

Remember playing “he loves me, he loves me not” on the playground with daisies? Well, we made a daisy that’s 100% lovely! Starting on July 27th, we’ll be plucking three Pantyliner Plus “petals” each day to send to three lucky winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

And the winner is… Bing it On! Honorable mention goes: “Chandler Bing Cherry” which made us laugh so, so hard.

cherries print

Love our latest print? Help us name it and you could win a GladRags Day Pad in this color! To enter, comment on this blog post with your suggestions (as many as you’d like!) by Friday, July 25th.

We’ll pick our favorite name on Friday AND add the print to the site–so even if you don’t win, you can still nab a cherry-print PantylinerDay Pad, or Night Pad on GladRags.com!

Please note: when commenting, you must log in or enter your email address when prompted — if you leave a comment as a ‘guest’ we won’t be able to contact you if you’ve won!

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

This week’s Period Piece was inspired by this reddit thread, titled “What’s something you didn’t realize for years members of the opposite sex do?” (link is NSFW, unless you work at GladRags), which was chock-full of confusion about the menstrual cycle. It brought back my own memories of middle school, and the rampant misconceptions boys had about how periods worked.

middle-school-myths

For example, I distinctly remember sitting in gym glass and talking about periods with a few friends. One boy said something about tampons that didn’t make sense, so we asked him to explain. “You know, ” he said. “When you pull the string, the tampon just shoots up in there, right?” He was beet red by the time we finished explaining that the string is not a trigger that propels the tampon forward.

Here’s a few of our favorite menstruation-related comments from reddit–sadly, some of these seem to have persisted LONG past middle school! We’d comment, but we can’t stop laughing:

  • “In my freshman year of college, one of my guy friends was horrified to hear that girls’ periods last a week. He thought we have symptoms for a week and then let all the period blood out at once- like going to the bathroom. He thought that pads and tampons were for if you knew you wouldn’t have enough time to go to the toilet to let it out.”
  • “Took me the longest time to figure out why laundry detergent ads bragged about getting out grass stains and blood. I’m like, you gotta hit the grass pretty hard to draw blood…”
  • “Until I was about a sophomore in HS, I didn’t know whether girls bled out of their vaginas or their nipples. Sex ed classes always said “privates” so I wasn’t sure which set. A reason that made me more confused was I saw my friend lean over and I saw some toilet paper/gauze looking stuff in her bra, so I thought she was on her period… guess she was just stuffing her bra.”
  • “I worked with a 25 year old gentleman, let’s call him Paul because that’s his real name, who believed every woman in the world had their period at the same time. When he told me this I burst out laughing because I imagined that he saw women’s period’s as a werewolf change brought on by a full moon or something.”
  • “My husband thought for years that cotton balls were a feminine hygiene product. I’m still vague on exactly how he thought we used them.”

What’s the silliest misconception you’ve heard or even believed about periods? Let us know in the comments!


About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

Hi! I’m Iris, and I’m interning at GladRags this summer. I just finished my freshman year at Willamette University in Salem, OR. I love running and spend most of time eating, sleeping, and figuring out what to do with my life.

I love GladRags. I love my Moon Cup. My period has become a much more pleasant, carefree experience since switching to reusables.

Here are some highlights:

  • I don’t need to count disposables before packing for trips, fret about running out, run to the store at inconvenient hours, etc.
  • I can take far fewer trips to the bathroom to change a pad or tampon
  • There is less smell and itchiness
  • My recurrent yeasty beasties have gone the way of the dodo
  • I have (necessarily) come to have a better relationship with my body and menstrual fluid
  • Taking out the trash after my period has become a ritual of less guilt and more pride
  • I’m now part of the elite crew of forward-thinking, body-loving women who know what’s up and have chosen to reuse

BONUS: the Moon Cup stays in place better than tampons when I’m running (hooray for suction).

GladRags sells some great products, but it’s more than that — it’s a great company, too. GladRags is a certified Benefit Corporation, a new kind of business that is required to focus not only on profit, but on social and environmental impact, accountability, and transparency. We might know that things like excessive pollution, child labor, slave labor, theft, unsafe working conditions, and lying to and misleading consumers and employees are wrong, but that doesn’t stop companies all over the world from doing these things.

That’s the biggest reason that I wanted to come intern at GladRags this summer. Everyday, we read news about how corrupt corporations are basically ruining our lives and our planet; it can be depressing. But GladRags is part of a new crop of companies that are changing the way they do business, and thereby changing the world. Benefit Corporations are certified by a nonprofit called B Lab. There is a 50+ page assessment that all B Corps go through to be certified and re-certified as a Benefit Corporation, which gives them a score in the areas of Governance, Workers, Community, and Environment, and an overall score.

I am currently working on a plan to make GladRags’ already great score a little greater. We are working on things like:

  • getting our new Advisory Board set up
  • making sure our suppliers follow our Code of Conduct to ensure safe, fair working conditions all the way down the supply chain
  • giving our employees the best possible feedback and guidance on their performance, career, and skills development
  • and finding better ways to get feedback from all of our stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, and our local community.

 

Iris DowdAbout the author of this post:
Iris Dowd runs Cross Country and Track and studies Politics and Economics at Willamette University in Salem, OR; she also loves playing with her dogs, cats, and chickens.

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Recently we stumbled upon a folder chock full of old publicity photos for GladRags… and they are AMAZING. Remember the days when you actually got film developed instead of just uploading the picture to your laptop? These were those days:

gladrags 90s 3gladrags 90s 2

I don’t know why some of these are in black and white… they’re only from the 90s! But I love those bottom left inserts on the top image: they look like Pendleton blankets! But by far my very favorite photo is this one:

gladrags 90s

The flowers, the glowy purple background, the cotton… it’s one of the few times where I’ve actually said out loud “I just can’t even.” I love it that much.

Were you a GladRags fan in the 90s? Were you born in the 90s? Comment and let us know! Meanwhile, we’re off to rock some brown lipstick and listen to the Spice Girls.

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

a new cycle bookcoverIn celebration of the launch of A New Cycle, our period-positive guide to a healthier period, we’re introducing you to the contributors! We hand-picked our favorite women’s health experts to write chapters for A New Cycle on their area of specialty. Read on to get know this week’s featured contributor, or click here get a free preview of the book when you sign up for our newsletter!

 

 

 

Meet Gabriela Delano-Stephens and Dr. Emily Lipinski, c0-authors of Chapter 4: Hormonal Balance for Less PMS and Chapter 6: Detoxification for Less PMS.

Why is menstruation important?

It is the basis of female fertility. It is a measure of health and vitality and it connects us with the rhythms of the earth and moon.

Why do women need to know about hormonal balance and detoxification?

With such a huge amount of toxins in our environment these days, our bodies are going into overdrive to maintain optimal detoxification pathways. Excess hormones are detoxified through the liver and colon and if these pathways are not clear hormones, that are no longer needed, can be re absorbed into the system, throwing off the delicate hormonal balance. This is why frequent detoxification is so important!

We believe it is important for woman to look and feel their best.  Hormones are at the core of the menstrual cycle physiology. Once a woman gains more knowledge about the changes taking place in her body each month it can be both empowering and enlightening.  Working toward achieving hormonal balance is an integral part of a woman’s health and wellness.

Do you have a personal story about menstruation you’d like to share?

Emily still remembers the day she first discovered she was a woman, and she felt terrified! She thought that it had come too soon (she was in grade 5). It was painful and very uncomfortable. Additionally, she felt embarrassed talking about it and kept her feelings and questions about her period to herself.

Once in her 20s, her cramps and pre-menstrual acne worsened. The oral birth control pill helped, but came with numerous side effects that she just wasn’t comfortable with. Throughout her life experience and education, she now realizes that although menstruation can be uncomfortable it brings womanhood, fertility and a cycle to connect us with the rhythms of the earth. Additionally, there are foods, herbs and vitamins that can significantly help woman with their menstrual cycles and there are many effective alternatives other than the birth control pill!

Looking back, Emily wishes that there was a resource or open database where she could learn more about the changes that take place in the female body find helpful tips and tricks on how to have a healthier period and balanced hormones. Periodmakeover.com was born out of both Gabriela’s and Emily’s desire to help women everywhere gain better understanding of their cycles and provide useful information to achieve hormonal balance.

What kind of menstrual protection do you use?

Gabriela always uses a DivaCup and, on occasion, GladRags. Emily uses GladRags or LunaPads and in a pinch will opt for organic cotton disposable pads.

emilylipinskiDr. Emily Lipinski, ND, HBSc, and Gabriela Delano-Stephens, RHN, BSc, of periodmakeover.com, are both food lovers and passionate about bringing the body back to health through natural remedies wherever possible. They started their website to bring awareness to women about the importance of attaining health through natural methods to balance hormones and reduce premenstrual symptoms.

Dr. Lipinski graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario, and is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors. She practices in the greater Toronto area. She strongly believes in addressing the root cause of a medical issue and using natural therapies either alone or in conjunction with conventional western medicine. She has a passion for women’s health, including premenstrual syndrome, menopause, and antiaging. She is committed to helping her patients feel great and look their best.

gabrieladelanostephensGabriela is a holistic nutritionist and loves many aspects of food, from growing food and preparing meals to knowing how it works in the body to create optimum health. She works with clients from around the world, helping them to achieve their health goals.

Gabriela is also passionate about yoga and is a certified yoga teacher. Yoga caught her attention with its power to calm the mind, heal the body, and release emotional tension as it taps into creative energy and allows us to transcend self-doubt.

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

 

There is so much fascinating stuff going on in this ad, I barely know where to start. This is one of the first ads for a disposable pad, so there’s lots of references about how much easier this disposable product is than its reusable counterparts. Granted, in those days no one had a washing machine or cute cloth pads with wings that snapped around their undergarments — when you were on the rag, you were literally on the rag.

I’m also loving their insistence on how scientific this new invention is, and how easy it is to buy: ready-wrapped! just ask the clerk! How different things must have been back then (see also: “women of the better classes have adopted it).

It’s really interesting too how they never say what the product is, but we all totally know. So tell us: do you fear losing your daintiness? at times?

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.