Special Offer

Posts by Month

Menstruation

menstrual hygiene day

 

May 28th is the first annual Menstrual Hygiene Day and we’re celebrating by talking about why menstruation matters!

In Portland we’ll be screening the award-winning short film “Monthlies” and having an in-person discussion. If you’re in the neighborhood, we’d love to have you join us!

So what is Menstrual Hygiene Day? It’s a day to start the conversation about menstruation. It’s time to break down the taboos about this natural bodily process so we can start solving problems that women and girls around the world face every month–problems that aren’t talked about due to the shame and fear surrounding periods.

We think menstruation matters because…

Every woman deserves access to safe, healthy menstrual protection. — Tweet this!

Girls shouldn’t have to miss school simply because they can’t afford sanitary pads. — Tweet this!

Your period means your body is functioning just as it should! — Tweet this!

Women’s bodies should not be sources of shame or fear. — Tweet this!

Your cycle is an opportunity to connect with your body’s natural rhythms. — Tweet this!

More ways you can help celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day:

  • Use hashtag #menstruationmatters to tell the world why YOU think periods are important to talk about.
  • Donate to an organization like Days for Girls that provides reusable menstrual supplies to women in need.
  • Read our book A New Cycle to learn about healthier periods. Bonus points: be seen reading it in public!

a new cycle bookcover

In 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 Barbara Loomis, author of Chapter 2: Align thy Uteri!

Why is menstruation important?

Menstruation connects us to the rhythms of nature. It connects us to the moon cycle and to the seasonal microcosm within each of us. Everything in nature has a season of budding growth, bloom, letting go and then going deep into the roots. I see the menstrual phase as a time to go within, cleanse and restore. Plants and trees aren’t expected to bloom year round, they need time to replenish and restore, as do we. I see menstruation as my Winter within my month and ovulation as my Summer.

What inspired you to write your chapter?

I wrote about uterine alignment because that’s what I do, I align uteri and I teach women how to align their own uteri. As the great Maya Shaman, Don Elijio Panti once said, “The uterus is the woman’s center. If her uterus is not in proper position and good health, nothing in her life will be right. She will be as out of balance as her uterus.”

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

The first thing that comes to mind is when I just started my period. I reluctantly went to the corner store (which was also a liquor store BTW) to buy my first box of “sanitary napkins.” My heart sank when I saw two middle aged men hanging out at the check out counter reeking of booze and flirting with the cashier. I don’t know their names so I’ll call the guys Jerk and Dumb A** Jerk. I wandering around the 200 sq. foot store, hoping they would leave, but I could tell they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So, I walked up to the counter with my big box of Maxi pads. The pads were so big back then that the box was about as tall as I was (or at least that’s how I remember it). Dumb A** Jerk looked at the big box of pads and then looked me up and down and said, “smells like fish in here!” All three of them (female cashier included) busted out laughing as I fumbled for my cash.

I felt shame and intense anger at a time when I should have celebrated the sacredness and power of being a woman. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the sacredness of my cycle until my mid twenties. To this day, I believe the shame and anger contributed to my intense mood swings and menstrual cramps. Obviously, we can’t control the ignorance of others, but we can help young women feel empowered and positive about menstruation. This is one of the reasons why I do what I do. And why I send my nieces congratulations gift packs at menarche. Things to include in a menarche gift pack: a hand written note of congratulations and support (welcome to the club!), GladRags, chocolate (real chocolate) and a period book written for girls explaining all the things they want to know about puberty but are afraid to ask. A celebration dinner or ceremony would also be nice if you live near them. …and a gift certificate for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lessons (oh, if I only knew Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when I walked in the convenience store back in 1985!).

What kind of menstrual protection do you use?

I use GladRags! I’ve used them for a couple of years now. I feel more connected to my flow since I’ve been using them. I can actually feel when my uterus sheds my menstrual blood. It’s different than a cramp, it doesn’t hurt at all, its just unobstructed flow like nature intended. It feels like a release rather than the resistance I felt with tampons. It’s interesting how I feel at ease when my uterus is at ease, if she’s cranky and has to work against an obstruction, I’m cranky and nothing in my life flows. I’m not saying tampons cause physical obstruction (although in some situations they might), but tampons felt like an energetic obstruction to me. Aunt Flow needs to flow!

barbaraBarbara Loomis is a Restorative ExerciseTM specialist and certified practitioner and educator of the Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® as well as a Chi Nei Tsang and Visceral ManipulationTM practitioner. She combines abdominal therapies with Restorative ExerciseTM for reproductive and digestive health. Want to bring a workshop to your area or find out more about Barbara’s services? Visit nurturance.net, or find helpful reproductive and alignment information on her blog.

Did you know there’s a crazy variety of ways you can fold your menstrual cup? If you’re having trouble inserting your cup, try switching up your folding technique to one of these:

  • The C Fold: fold your cup in half, then fold it in half again so the rim looks like the letter C.
  • The Punch Down Fold: Use one finger to push part of the rim into the base of the cup, then pinch the sides together for a slimmer way to insert your menstrual cup.
  • The 7 Fold: Fold your cup in half, then fold one corner down to touch the base of the cup.

Need a visual? Check out Meagan’s video tutorial, which includes an “expert-level” folding technique!

Which fold is your go-to? Have you invented your own tried and true technique? Comment and let us know!

Ladies, let’s get real. Menstrual cups are revolutionary and a wonderful way to balance your carbon footprint in the right direction, but after a few years they can start to look more lump of coal rather than diamond. Due to the pH environment of the vagina, many women experience staining of their menstrual cups, no matter how clean it is. There are many DIY methods on the internet utilized by women to re-sparkle their cups, but many silicone cup manufacturers don’t recommend anything beyond a gentle soap and perhaps occasional boiling. I decided to risk one of my original menstrual cups on a popular stain removal method using something you probably already have in your medicine cabinet: 3% hydrogen peroxide!

My Lunette Diana (sadly, a limited edition color of the classic Lunette cup) came into my life a lively pop of spring green, but after 5 years had settled into more of a river-bottom, rusty green. Since it’s just a back-up cup these days, I was willing to risk it in an attempt for color rejuvenation… for science! Speaking of science, I referenced this Chemical Compatibility chart which allows you to select a material and chemical and see their compatibility under different environments. Seeing that silicone has an “Excellent” rating with Hydrogen Peroxide at the 10% strength, I was put more at ease with my little experiment because I only had HP at 3% and was going to be diluting it even further with plain old tap water.

After cleaning - it matches this spider plant!

It matches this spider plant!

My materials? A clean mason jar with lid, Hydrogen Peroxide 3%, and my dingy cup. I popped my Diana into the jar, filled the jar halfway with hydrogen peroxide, filled it the rest of the way with tap water, then placed the lid onto my jar loosely. This was left on my kitchen counter overnight. The next morning, I emptied the jar and rinsed off my Diana – my beautiful, sparkling, spring green Diana! I was amazed at how thorough the soak was. It even got the tiny suction holes along the rim!

After-

Another after shot, featuring a view of PDX

So that is why I’m totally OK with showing you my 5-year-old Lunette. Not all cup manufacturers recommend using this method of stain-removal, so please only do so at your own risk (and do NOT use this with the natural gum rubber Keeper Cup–it can cause corrosion)! I personally won’t use this method of cleansing often as I’m confident in the simplicity of gentle soap and water, but it’s nice to know that it worked well for old, stubborn stains.

Have you ever used a controversial stain-removal method on your cup? What’s your favorite cleanser to use? Are you one of the lucky ones whose cups don’t stain at all?

Until next time!

Absorbently yours,

Meagan

About the author of this post:

meagan b gladragsA menstrual cup user for five years, Meagan has been converting other women to reusable menstrual products since 2009. Occasionally accompanied to the office by her two pugs, she has been known to carry over twelve tubes of lipstick in her purse at one time. Outside of the GladRags office, she can be found infusing bourbon and practicing her enviable make-up skills.

glorious

Wonder why people assume
That blood always means pain?
Sometimes, it’s a celebration:
I don’t cringe at the sight of red,
Nor crawl into a ball and weep

When I get my periods…
I break into a merry,
Merry song, Drink to my very own good health,
And dance my way to the bed;
It’s a monthly reminder,
That my body needs Attention – love, care & rest;

It’s a philosophical reminder
That the same vagina
Through which
My baby will pop out one day
Is now running bedding trials;
It’s a glorious reminder
Of my femininity,
My purpose,
My identity,
My life,
And lives there after…

This post originally appeared on the Menstrupedia blog.

About the author of this post:

MaheMaheshwari Lakshmanan is a wannabe poet, when she is not a wannabe stoic.

If you’re new to cloth menstrual pads, you may think that washing them is difficult or complicated. Quite the opposite! Cloth pads are simple to care for, and once you’ve got your routine going, you’ll hardly notice the few extra minutes it takes to care for them.

Here’s a step by step list for caring for your cloth pads:

1. Presoak

organic cloth pad laundry kit

You can either drop your pads into a soaking container as you finish wearing them (just change the soaking waterdaily), or wait until the end of your cycle to do a presoak. Adding a dash of a natural enzyme cleaner will help fight discoloration or odor. Soaking helps prevent staining, but is not necessary as far as cleaning your pads. Don’t mind some staining? Skip this step!

2. Wash on cold

About 90% of the energy used for a load of laundry is to heat the water, so choosing a cold cycle is the best option in terms of efficiency. It’s also the best choice for your cloth menstrual pads: hot water will set in stains, shrink your pads, and ultimately shorten their lifespan. Cold water wash is all around better for all of your laundry!

You can add your cloth menstrual pads in with other laundry items, too, like towels or sheets; no need for a separate load. If you feel squeamish about washing your pads with other items, just make sure to select a small load on your washing machine so you don’t waste water!

3. Use a natural laundry soap

Most people can use their regular laundry detergent for their pads. Just make sure its free of bleach and fabric softener, which can both shorten the life of your pads and decrease their absorbency. It’s a good idea to choose a fragrance free option as well.

4. Dry on low or line dry

The dryer is the biggest culprit when it comes to shrinking clothing and shortening its lifespan. Make sure to choose a low setting for your GladRags in order to keep them around for many years! You can also choose to hang dry if you live in a place where they will dry promptly.

5. Put them away til next month!

Store your GladRags in a clean, dry area until it’s time to use them again. A basket in the closet, or even just a corner of your sock drawer works just fine.

For more in-depth examples of how to launder your reusable menstrual pads, check out the videos below! How do you keep your pads squeaky clean? Tell us in the comments!

My-mothers-reaction-on-my-first-periods

I was ten. It was the Parents-Teacher Meeting Day in my school and I was quite excited since I had topped a class test. I was sure I was my English teacher’s favorite in the class (much to the chagrin of others and yes I feel a tad ashamed to admit – I was that kind of a student).I knew therefore, that my parents had ample reason to be proud of me that day.

 It was a regular school day, and the meeting was supposed to take place after 2 pm. I was unusually jumpy in the morning but by lunch time, I realized I had an acute pain in my stomach. My legs were strangely wobbly and I felt very weak. It was as if someone was punching my insides. I had never felt drowsy in school before, and this in itself was quite strange since I was always known to be an athletic, energetic student who never stopped talking in class. My lower body felt numb and I found it difficult to concentrate in class. My teacher noticed me squirming in my chair and asked me what the matter was, but I couldn’t speak up as I really didn’t know what was happening to my body. After the last class for the day which was the Art class, I found the teacher staring at me. I had never really liked her before as she was very domineering and hated my clay work but she was acting very weird even by her standards. I was glad when the class was over and ran out. I had to meet my parents.

By the time my parents came to my classroom for the meeting, I was extremely tired. I had been so excited for the teacher’s comments, but somehow I couldn’t concentrate while she was praising me. My head was feeling dizzy and my stomach ache grew worse by the hour!

After the meeting, I found my parents whispering to each other. My mother approached me carefully and said, “Beta, do one thing. Go to the restroom and check your panty. If you find it’s soiled by blood, do not panic. Just come out and we shall take you home.” This freaked me out.

Was I unwell? Why was I bleeding? And from there? That’s where I pee from! No wonder the horrible art teacher was staring! Silly, wretched creature!

When I went to the restroom, I found that my white skirt had been completely stained .I felt like crying. It was my favorite school skirt! I hated the grey skirt we wore on the weekdays. I always felt that the white uniform was much better. Imagine my horror when I saw it completely ruined by the red blot. During the ride home, my mother and father kept reassuring me about how it was normal and how it happened to every girl. Of course what they didn’t tell me then was that it only happens to girls with a uterus (What if a girl/woman has her uterus removed?). Maybe they felt that the time was not right. I was already frightened by then and had started crying.

When I came home, my mother quietly took me to my parents’ room and took out from the closet, what I later found out, were some sanitary napkins. She gently explained how I should use them. She smiled at me, kissed my forehead and in calming tones said, “You are a woman now. Do not be scared. It’s a part of life. If you have any queries, I am there for you. I love you.”

I will always remember these words and somehow, they have been etched in my memory forever. At night, my mother gave me warm milk with haldi and sang me a lullaby, which I quite frankly loved although I felt that it was embarrassing since I wasn’t a small child anymore. The stomach ache, she explained did not really originate from the stomach but from the uterus. She drew me a diagram and explained how the menstrual cycle worked. I wailed and said, “So, that means that I’ll be leaking blood every month till I am in my late 40s?”

My mother smiled and kissed my hand

“It’s a gift, sweetheart. Be proud of your body. This means if you wish to be a mother someday, you can be one. Isn’t it simply fascinating?”

Yes. It is. Even now, after 14 years since my menarche, I still feel fascinated by how it works out so perfectly. I know that as a feminist I am not supposed to be so attached to my body and essentialize my womanhood by my genitals, uterus, menstruation and the like, but I feel very empowered when I menstruate. Although there is unrelenting physical discomfort, I make sure that I eat what I call comfort food, rest a lot and drink plenty of green tea. More importantly, I don’t crib about it. I love my body and having said that, I am sure I would continue to love it post my menopause as well. That’s why, in a way, I can never understand the shame teenage girls feel when they menstruate. That’s mostly because my Ma made things easier for me and was there for me to share my anxiety and problems with.

We, as a society, have a culture of silence where menstruation is seen as something that is dirty and something that should be kept a secret. My mother made sure that this did not affect me. Personally too, I disagree with this attitude and I feel that the more you talk about menstrual issues, the more powerful you feel as it helps remove fears and shame, particularly from the minds of girls who just begin menstruating. Additionally, it aids in increasing awareness about the different menstrual products available in the market which in a way, demystifies the whole phenomenon.

So to all you ladies out there, happy menstruating!

This post originally appeared on the Menstrupedia blog.

About the author of this post:

AindrilaAindrila is an I.T. engineer and has worked with an MNC . After realizing that Corporate world was not for her, she quite her job and worked as a volunteer for a few organizations. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Women Studies from T.I.S.S. Mumbai. Aindrila has a passion for poetry and she plans to publish her creations someday. Shewishes to make a positive difference in people’s lives and believes that a person needs to do what makes him/her truly happy. Following her bliss is her life’s ultimate goal.

While others live tweet the Academy Awards, here at GladRags we prefer to document our first experiences with various menstrual products. Read on for Meagan’s experience trying out the Long Pantyliner for the first time! 

8:00 am: Me and my first Long Pantyliner (in the Galapagos print, for those curious), ready to take on the day! I love the protection that my Moon Cup and GladRags Pantyliners provide during the day, so I’ve finally added the Long Pantyliner to my arsenal! We’ll see if it’s right for me when I’m out and about, doing my thang.

long pantyliner vs regular pantyliner

Long Pantyliner & regular Pantyliner in Moon Over Manhattan

10:00 am: Two hours into wear and I keep forgetting my Long Pantyliner is there. I’m only lightly spotting, so I expect my pad to last the work day. So far, so dry! It works surprisingly well with my VS Flawless Hiphugger underwear which is made of super-thin, flimsy material that doesn’t play nicely with the thicker Day and Night Pads.

2:00 pm: Still going strong! The extended length of the Long Pantyliner is hardly noticeable and it feels like I’m just wearing a normal Pantyliner (which I find to be incredibly unobtrusive!).

3:30 pm: OK, I can definitely say that I am a fan of the Long Pantyliner! It’s the perfect in-between when considering the original Pantyliner and an insert-less Day Pad. On my lightest days, I can see this being a good option to make it through an 8-hour shift with even more confidence given the longer surface area. Surely this would be good for daily general discharge as well. One in every color, please!

About the author of this post:

meagan b gladragsA menstrual cup user for five years, Meagan has been converting other women to reusable menstrual products since 2009. Occasionally accompanied to the office by her two pugs, she has been known to carry over twelve tubes of lipstick in her purse at one time. Outside of the GladRags office, she can be found infusing bourbon and practicing her enviable make-up skills.

uhohSo you got your new menstrual cup, waited patiently for your period to start, figured out how to insert it (thanks, YouTube videos!) and now… it’s leaking! Before you give up, remember the first time you used a tampon. Did you get it right on the very first try? Probably not. Trying something new–especially something so personal!–can be scary, especially as an adult. Cut yourself some slack, pour yourself a glass of wine, and read on for my top tips for those new to reusable menstrual cups.

1. The pop

When you insert a menstrual cup, you need to make sure that it’s popped completely open once its inside your body. Some women can feel the “pop” and some women can’t. You may need to run your finger around the inside of your cup while it’s inserted to see if it feels completely open and round, or slightly smushed or flat on one side. If it feels a little flat, you’ll need to reposition or reinsert the cup.

2. The shimmy

This helps if your cup is flattened or if it’s simply not quite in the right position. To perform the shimmy, grip the base of the cup (or the stem) between your thumb and forefinger and gently wiggle the cup back and forth to help your cup find its perfect position in your body.

3. The twist

The twist can be a bit controversial in that it is super helpful for some, while simply impossible for others. It’s worth a try or two if you’re new to the world of menstrual cups. Just grab the base of your cup and rotate it gently within your body. Some women are able to give it a full turn, while others manage just a slight twist. Either way, it can help your new menstrual cup form a seal and prevent leaks.

Overall, the most important thing is to relax and remind yourself that it’s totally normal to need some time to adjust to a new menstrual product! While you get used to it, just make sure to wear a pantyliner as a back-up (and maybe keep those skin-tight white jeggings in the closet for a few days).

If you need some personalized support, feel free to get in touch with us to ask questions! We’re more than happy to help you get through the learning curve of switching to a menstrual cup.

About the author of this post:

tracy is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. In her free time, she likes to read, travel, practice yoga, and hang out with her cats.

 

Let’s-break-the-vicious-circle-of-menstrual-tabboo1

“Today I learnt something new at school. Periods. Momma says I’m a big girl now. I should be careful and should not talk about it in front of Papa and my brother. I should also sit with my legs close together and behave properly.”

These are some of the eternal statements that young girls usually get to hear from their mothers. I don’t really remember the story of my first menses, but there were a few taboos that I found unacceptable even back then as a teenager and upon which I would now like to throw some light.

I find it very problematic that most mothers don’t discuss menstruation with their daughters before they begin to menstruate. This discussion always takes place after the shock and for a girl between the ages of 10-14 years or even younger, it really does come as a shock to see their favourite dress stained with blood one fine day all of a sudden. Some might even think that they are sick or have hurt themselves ‘in the place where they pee from’. Yes, that’s what it is called. I have had experiences of mothers either pointing downwards or using the phrase above but never really explaining things the right way.

Then there is the school which plays its part in further hushing up the topic and creating more confusion in the minds of young girls and majorly in boys as well. I remember when we once had a seminar on menses when I was in the seventh grade. Mine hadn’t started yet, but I had a vague idea about them. While the boys were sent out to play, the girls were made to gather around in a room where they were introduced to menstruation and sanitary napkins for the first time. As expected later, the girls were all giggly and the boys were seen strutting around, hinting that they knew what it was all about and additionally shouting out the names of popular sanitary napkin companies in order to embarrass the girls. Schools really do a great job in messing up young girls and boys in this regard because instead of having a co-ed seminar and focusing on sensitising the topic, they go for the most convenient route they can find, which is by segregation.

I also remember that during the first few years of menstruating was when other girls and I were taught to keep this hushed up so that this was not even mentioned in front of fathers, uncles, brothers, elders and such. Again, this kind of attitude just reinforces the fact that menstruation is something to be embarrassed about and should be kept a secret. Or the time when you go to buy a packet of sanitary napkins, the discomfort you feel when you tell the man standing there that you need Whisper Ultra which is then compounded by the fact that he in turn puts it into a black polythene bag so that nobody should see what a girl is carrying because it is considered to be a shameful act. In the later years that follow, boys again make fun of girls which further forces them to go further inside their shells.

Sadly, there are still a lot of women and not just middle-aged mothers and elderly grandmothers but also many educated women who still contribute to the tabooing of menstruation and the process of shaming and embarrassing young girls on its account. We still do not take our ability to menstruate as a source of pride.

On this note, I would like to end my take on people’s attitude towards menstruation and the taboos surrounding it and would additionally like to recommend Gloria Steinem’s If Men Could Menstruate for a hearty laugh and for taking pride in your monthly struggle.

This post originally appeared on the Menstrupedia blog.

About the author of this post:

Japleen-PasrichaJapleen Pasricha is a feminist and a German research scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. An aspiring educator and activist, Japleeen is very interested in Gender Studies and wishes to work with a women’s organisation someday. She firmly believes that she can and will bring about a change. She blogs hereand also has a page on feminism to boot.