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Menstrual Monday

Tell us a little about yourself. What do want our readers to know about you?

I am a 46 year-old mother of three teenagers. Morgan, Leo and Alex. 19, 16, 13. Despite their androgynous names, Leo is the only boy. For the past 10 years I have been a stay at home mother and have relished the opportunity to spend time with and really know my kids.

I consider myself a creative person and having children really helped release this through craftwork done together, from making scrapbooks, painting, modeling with clay (which my son shows a tremendous talent for and I believe may someday be a famous sculptor), and jewelry making. I live an active lifestyle and enjoy swimming, playing soccer with a local league of middle-aged women, gardening, and taking long walks with our dog.

I’m also an avid reader and find myself drawn to contemporary female fiction. The way I see it reading about another woman’s life creates a broader sense of understanding and empathy of the human condition. I like being transported through words and that reading is an active engagement of the mind and not passive like watching television or movies.

What is FEBY? How does it work?

Feby is an acronym (sort of) for Female Empowerment Bracelet. Basically, it is a calendar for the menstrual cycle in the form of a bracelet. The bracelet consists of 28 wooden beads with different colors in a determined sequence that follows the pattern of the average menstrual cycle. All a user has to do to determine what phase of the cycle she’s currently in is to pull the knot that holds the bracelet together through one bead in a clockwise direction and the color it rests before will be the day she is living that day.

The bracelet starts with 5 red beads signifying the days of an average woman’s period, and then flows into white (which represents neutrality or non-fertile), through a spectrum of pinks which symbolize ovulation and fertility and the brighter the pink the higher the chances she is ovulating, back to white for a few days before the 3 black beads which illustrate pre-menstrual syndrome, and then it’s back to red. Our tag line is “What to expect when you’re NOT expecting.”

Each bracelet comes with an information pamphlet that explains the different phases in greater detail, along with where the user can contact us through our website, facebook, twitter, pinterest and google-plus.

I have received some concern from women who don’t have an ‘average’ cycle and while it’s true that Feby won’t work for all women, it will work for most and I choose to concentrate on that positive. Also, it takes young women a few years to develop a regular pattern and even over the course of her life can vary from month to month based on personal factors like stress and overall health.

What inspired you to create FEBY?

I was inspired to create Feby when my eldest daughter was in grade 8 at the local public school and received some information in health class about her period and what to expect. Talking about it with her made me realize that she wasn’t being given quite enough information to fully understand the menstrual cycle, and it also occurred to me that nothing had really changed in all the years since I had the same class in the 70’s. Simply telling young women that they will be extremely fertile approximately 14 days after the first day of her period just didn’t seem enough.

I thought about all my friends in high school and college who got pregnant unintentionally and how that fact influenced the rest of their lives because they either had the child, gave the child up for adoption, or aborted the pregnancy, all which change the course of a life or leave permanent physical and emotional scars. Understanding their bodies and menstrual cycle is such an important lesson for women to learn and I struggled with how it could be taught more effectively.

I personally, could never take the birth control pill as it caused high blood pressure when I was a fit 21 year-old. I didn’t think it made much sense to take another pill which would treat the high blood pressure when I could just stop taking the pill that caused the problem in the first place.

As such I became very familiar with the roller coaster ride of surging hormones and have been charting my cycle for decades. I use that information along with research on the average cycle and noticed how many diagrams consist of 28 days in a circle which led me to think of creating a bracelet based on it.

It’s curious how ideas come together and at the time I was grappling with the idea for the bracelet, I was also reading “The Heroin Diaries” by Nikki Sixx and the book is different in that instead of just black and white there was also a lot of red on every page. That infused my decision to use those colours in the bracelet and the pink to denote fertility just seemed an obvious choice.I was also wrestling with the idea of how to denote the day the user is on. Ironically the full moon was shining so bright through my window it woke me up at the exact moment I thought of using the knot to be the indicator. I say ironic because the moon and women are linked in a profound way, especially concerning our cycles.

All this said we do not market Feby as a method of birth control but it does give the user a better understanding of their cycle position so it encourages them to make wise decisions based on that information.

What’s your background? What were you doing before FEBY?

I’m a college graduate who enjoyed much success as a travel agent for high-end corporate clients for 15 years. By the time the third baby came along though, my husband’s millwork company was doing quite well and we decided together that I should leave my job and focus on raising the children since most of my salary was going towards child care anyways. I had visions of becoming a mom who had the time to bake cookies, coach my kid’s soccer team, make handmade Hallowe’en costumes, and really know my children and enjoy their childhood to the best of my ability. I am very fortunate as I consider the relationship I have with my children to be solid and strong and I have no regrets about leaving my career for them. Now, however, they need me less but the travel industry has changed so much with the advent of the internet so I feel no inclination to return to that field.

I started Feby with the support of my family and a small loan from our bank and am dedicating the next chapter of my life to making it a profitable and meaningful company. My goal is to get Feby in as many hands as possible as I have full confidence in it and know it can positively impact many. It’s intriguing to me that in the process of creating and marketing a tool to empower women, I have not only empowered myself but all the lovely women who have tirelessly hand-beaded the bracelets with me and earned a fair wage for their work.

It looks like many FEBY fans are young girls just entering the first stages of womanhood. Do you remember your first period? What was it like?

You are right in that the FEBY bracelets seem to appeal most to young girls just learning about their menstrual cycle. Many have told me that the bracelet offers a fun way to learn and makes talking about a potentially uncomfortable topic easier.

I was lucky in that my own first period came at an age when I was eagerly anticipating its’ arrival and was fully prepared (mostly because of my aforementioned love of reading and learning on my own with the help of Judy Blume and my parents family health guide about what to expect). I had just turned 14 and it was the summer before high school so I felt more than ready for this momentous day to arrive.

Like most first periods though, it didn’t happen at the most opportune time. I was in the city with a friend watching Terry Fox as his Marathon of Hope passed through but had to leave our spot on the sidelines when I felt the unfamiliar trickle between my legs. I snuck into a nearby coffee shop and used their facilities and bought a 10 cent sanitary napkin for the dispenser in the lady’s room, and stuffed 2 more in my knapsack because I didn’t know how frequently I would need to change it. I managed to contain my new womanly situation and still saw my hero so for me, it was a wonderful day that I will always remember with a smile and I know how rare and fortunate that is.

For more information on FEBY and how you can purchase your own, visit www.feby.com!

Welcome to your one stop shop for menstrual art, news, science, and more!

  • Alternative menstrual products fan and all around cool blogger, RasingBoyChick, writes an in depth and thoughtful review of Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation.
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  • A student makes an amazing gingerbread and candy uterus model!  See photo to the right.  Learn more and see the the candy key here.
  • Simply Healthful has a great Moon Cup review.
  • Awesome blog post about the pros and cons of menstrual cups from Shuffled Pink. In summary: “Just do it, you big sissy.”
  • Do women living close to each other sync up their periods? Our favorite podcast, @MomStuffPodcast explores in a recent podcast why many believe this and what science shows.
  • Interesting article from Live Science on the most recent research on what happens to women during ovulation and how this may effect behavior.

Reviews and giveaways!

  • Win organic pantyliners from Sacred Bee and read her review here!

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  • “Menstruation Skateboards: some girls bleed more than once a month.”  An Austrian university student creates a fake skateboard brand that is both awesome and positively reframes menstruation.
  • A new study links early menstruation to a greater risk of asthma.

Here we are back from a bit of break to bring you the latest menstrual news, art, and more!

If your day is as busy as ours has been, take a quick time-out for this week’s Menstrual Monday.  We have a good mix of funny and informative links this week, so grab your coffee, make sure your boss isn’t looking, and take a minute to see what’s new in the world of menstruation!

  • Stayfree uses shirtless dudes to sell menstrual pad in their new viral marketing campaign.  Reactions are mixed: creepy? condescending? or totally hilarious?  You decide!

About GladRags:

  • Thanks to everyone who donated to our campaign for an orphanage in Nepal!  Learn more about the orphanage and our donation campaign here.
  • You can see the TigerMama crew sporting their new GladRags pins in the picture to the right! Want one of your own? Sign up to be a GladRags Guerrilla!
  • Ever wonder why your digestive system seems to get a little wonky around your peroid?  Dr. Sugar explains it all for you in this Q & A post.
  • Ashley reviews cloth pads and the Instead cup, and rates them according to comfort and effectiveness.  Find out which method she likes best at Domestic Chaos!
  • We recently learned about the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil House Parties from a GladRags user who hosted one at her home in Minnesota and contacted us for materials and coupons to share with her guests.  Stacy wrote, “This event is fun learning opportunity to inspire simple and eco-friendly lifestyle changes that will make a difference for our Earth.”  And of course, using GladRags is one of those easy changes that can help reduce our dependence on oil!  Check out Stacy’s pictures from her party (below) and let us know if you host an event of your own.

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