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use-reusables-in-public

One of the most common fears about ditching disposables is how you manage your period while out and about. Fortunately, using reusables in public is just as convenient! We asked our followers on Facebook to share their best advice for changing reusable menstrual products in a public restroom. Here are our favorite tips:

How to use a menstrual cup in a public restroom:

“I have a stash of gynecological wipes like at the OBGYN for cleaning yourself before giving a urine sample that I carry in my purse to just wipe out my cup thoroughly before reinserting. It makes it very simple, I don’t have to leave the stall!: – Veronica

“Use TP to absorb the fluid in a cup – if you just pour it in the toilet, it might take 3-4 flushes to get all the residue to disappear.” – Kristi

“For my cup, at home and in public, I have a small squeeze bottle that I fill with water and squirt it all over (into the toilet) to get all the major stuff off, then I wipe it with a clean paper towel (cause tp breaks apart too easily). Not as quick as a wet wipe, but much less money, less chemicals and about as much waste.” – Shannon

“Have never experienced this because with the cup I only change it twice a day, morning and night. Once when I wake up and once when I go to bed.” – Kaylin

How to change cloth pads in a public restroom:

“I just take my purse or backpack (whichever I am carrying) with me. I have a little pouch for my pads in it; clean pads on one side and dirty pads on the other.” – Kitra

“Wet bag with clean pads inside with a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide inside my purse. Take the dirty pad off, squirt it with hydrogen peroxide, fold it, snap it and put in the wet bag. Rinse and soak when home.” – Jocelyn

“For cloth pads, I have a make up bag to put my soiled pads in and another color make up bag for clean ones.” – Nicole

Share your tips in the comments!

SexPeriodAnswers

On Thursday, we co-hosted a Twitter party with sexperts Heather Corinna of Scarleteen and Erika Moen of Oh Joy Sex Toy. Our highly informative (and frequently laugh-out-loud funny) #SexPeriod chat focused on how menstruators and their partners feel about period sex. Read on for a recap of our chat!

1. Sex with a partner and/or masturbation while on your period: great, gross, or just oh-whatever?

Most of our Twitter partiers agree: getting down with some sexy times during menstruation definitely helps with cramps. Some feel a little lower libido than usual, but for the most part it was a unanimous YES to this question (especially if you put down a towel first).

2. How have your sexual partners handled your period, or you theirs?

While one tweeter once had a young man tell her she was disgusting for wanting to have sex while on her period, a surprising number of partners couldn’t care less about a little extra lubrication! Way to go, non-menstruators.

3. Do you feel more or less sexy — or the same — whatever “sexy” means for you, when menstruating?

Aside from the cramps, bloating, constipation, and period zits, you’re feeling super sexy when you’re on the rag! And nothing’s sexier than a partner who soothes you during a particular bad bout of PMS.

4. Who finds their cycle influences your desire for sex? And how?

Some people find their desire is higher because they’re less afraid of accidental pregnancy. Others’ libidos drop due to hormonal impacts. In our Twitter party, many menstruators reported feeling most aroused the week leading up to their periods or when they were ovulating.

5. Do any of you feel any pressure to suppress periods (if that’s not what you’d want, ideally), especially when it comes to sex?

Most of us have skipped periods using hormonal birth control at least once, particularly when we were younger. Reasons included: long-distance partners coming to visit, staying at a significant others’ home and not wanting to stain their sheets, general convenience, or to avoid painful periods. Pro tip: if you’re going to skip a period, keep your OBGYN in the loop and always use a condom for back-up.

6. Why do you think people who treat or think of menses so differently than other body fluids do?

This question got responses ranging from blood is GROSS to societal fears of women’s bodies. Gloria Steinem’s famous essay If Men Could Menstruate was cited as an example of how menstruation might be viewed differently if men were the ones with periods… and then quickly devolved into a competition of who could fill their menstrual cup faster.

More questions & answers from our #SexPeriod chat participants:

Q: I’ve heard if you avoid sugar during/before shark week cramps aren’t so bad. Anyone know if this is true?

  • “Definitely helps me! And eating right in general.”

Q: Anyone noticed a heavier flow since going hormone free? Things haven’t been this messy since I was a teenager, or had a baby!

  • “My period got heavier and cramps worse when I got my copper (no hormones) IUD inserted”
  • “I’ve had the opposite! After stopping hormonal bc my period has been super manageable.”
  • “My flow was really heavy before my IUD”

Q: I’m hoping for some sex toy conversation because I am a sex toy n00b.

  • “I’d say definitely use non-porous toys or a porous toy with a condom, or there might be staining, etc”
  • “Some folks earlier were asking about periods and sex toys: easy to clean as usual, or just cover with a condom for ease!”

And of course, no menstrual discussion is complete without a few funny period stories:

  • Favorite ex-boyf period sex story: After we banged on a HEAVY flow day, he didn’t have anything to clean up the massacre… So, he walked out in nothing but a condom, COVERED in blood, and told his roommates, “Guys… I… I killed her.” Epilogue: All of his roommates screamed and ran out, & he was free to leisurely walk into the kitchen for a roll of paper towels.
  • True story: The first time I got my period, my mom had JUST finished telling me about it. After, I had to pee, so I went to the bathroom, looked down, and said “Uh… Mom…? What do I do now that I started?”
  • Menstruation confession: I’ve always found my period to be embarrassing since when I started we were at Buffalo Wild Wings. And my mom got so excited that she shouted it out at my dad, 4 bros, and everyone watching football.
  • When I got my first period I didn’t realize it because the color was brown instead of red, so I assumed I sharted w/out realizing. And when it kept reappearing throughout the day I was like “HOW AM I WET FARTING WITHOUT FEELING IT???” panicked at my mom and she explained what was happening. And then my whole family took me out for a pizza dinner and hugged me.My dad was so proud of me, the memory of his smile and hug that night is my default mental image of him.

Major thanks to our pals Erika and Heather, and everyone who showed up to tweet about sex and periods! If you agree that everyone deserves quality sexuality education, please support Scarleteen with a donation. Knowledge is power!


Erika Moen is the co-creator and cartoonist behind Oh Joy Sex Toy, which is a weekly comic reviewing sex toys, sharing sex education, and generally promoting sex positivity. She is a queer, 16 year comics industry veteran, wife, and cat mom in Portland, Oregon. Be sure to check out her comic review of the Moon Cup and GladRags Pantyliners!

Heather Corinna is the founder of Scarleteen. She’s also an activist, writer, artist, teacher and community organizer. She has been widely recognized as a pioneer of both women’s and young adult sexuality information and education online, having brought inclusive, feminist, creative and comprehensive sexuality content to the web and beyond since 1997.

moon cup and pantyliner

This post is brought to you by Iris, one of our fabulous Campus Ambassadors and former GladRags intern. She wrote the below piece for her university’s newspaper. Thanks for spreading the word about reusable menstrual products, Iris! You rock!

Tampons are gross. So are maxi pads. They affect everyone living on this planet, regardless of sex or gender. Over the course of a lifetime, the average woman (it should be noted that not all women have periods, and not all people who have periods are women) will spend $3,500 on disposable menstrual products. That’s about 8,000 tampons or pads, generating mountains of bloody, disgusting waste that will sit in our landfills forever. Disposable menstrual products are made of wood pulp, with chemical additives and fragrances, and they contain (trace amounts of) a known carcinogen, dioxin, due to the bleaching process that they undergo.
Fortunately, there are alternatives! Sustainable, hygienic, comfortable, convenient, alternatives: reusable menstrual products. So keep reading, for yourself, your friends, your family, and your planet.

There are two main types of reusable menstrual products: menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads. Menstrual cups are the bomb. Made of medical-grade silicone; they go inside the vagina, like a tampon. You buy one, for about $30, once or maybe twice in your lifetime. They only need to be emptied 2-3 times a day. Unlike a tampon, they collect, rather than absorb, liquid. This greatly reduces the risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome), which comes from over-absorbent tampons drying out tissue and resulting in small tears that allow bacteria into the bloodstream. Similar to tampons, you can run, swim, bike, etc. with ease and comfort. They just need to be rinsed or wiped with toilet paper after being emptied, and then washed with hot, soapy water every month. There are a lot of urban legends and few sad but true stores of menstrual cups getting stuck inside of people. This shouldn’t ever happen. Menstrual cups do require a little practice, but they will come out with a little maneuvering.

Menstrual cups don’t work out for some people, with excuses ranging from, “I just can’t even”, to personal preferences, to medical conditions such as endometriosis. Luckily, there are always reusable cloth pads. These can be purchased in a wide variety of designs and pretty patterns/colors, or DIY sewn by hand. Unlike disposable pads, which have a plastic lining that traps odor and can lead to chafing and infection, they are breathable and supremely comfortable. They, are, contrary to popular belief, not difficult to keep clean; just rinse and then toss in the laundry.

All reusable menstrual products require a little more cleaning than their disposable counterparts. But ask yourself, which is really more disgusting? Having to deal with a little blood, or piling up foul, rotting disposables for someone else to deal with in the future?

Want to go buy some of these wonderful products? Check out Portland, OR based GladRags (gladrags.com) for a very helpful website with FAQs and a great selection of pads and cups.

10 ways to soothe menstrual cramps

We polled our Facebook followers to find out their favorite tricks for beating the PMS blues. Here are our top ten picks from their suggestions to keep your period from cramping your style.

1. A naturopath told me to take extra magnesium (a large amount is in very dark chocolate!)
2. Rub lavender essential oil on belly.
3. Earth mama angel baby monthly comfort tea. And a hot bath.
4. Heating pad, couch and a good movie!
5. Red raspberry leaf tea.
6. I like using Yogi tea; “Moon Cycle” gets rid of my cramps every time. Of course, I only get cramps if I eat chocolate, which is really hard to resist sometimes!
7. Vitamin B6. It helps pregnant women with morning sickness, so I decided to try it for my period “morning sickness” and cramping.
8. A glass of wine, the perfect muscle relaxant!
9. Heat. Either those heat patches or heating pad or hot bath. Relaxes the muscles.
10. My answer is a little naughty. (We’ll leave this one up to your imagination…)

What’s your go-to comfort remedy for when cramps get out of hand?

Halloween is just around the corner! If you’re still looking for the perfect costume, fear not: we’ve collected our top five favorite period themed costumes here for your inspiration…

 1. Feminine Protection

Bonus: it’s a great use for all those leftover disposable tampons you have now that you’ve switched to reusables.

2. Uterus (and other reproductive parts)

Your perfect last minute costume! Just wear all pink and hold your arms out like fallopian tubes.

3. Aunt Flo & a Box of Tampons

Don’t leave your partner out of the fun. Flip a coin to see who gets to be Aunt Flo and who has to be a box of disposables. We’d tell you to go as a menstrual cup/cloth pad instead, but let’s be honest: tampons are WAY scarier than reusables.

4. Reusables & Blood Droplet

Cloth pads and menstrual cups are soooo not spooky. Make sure to give your most serious metal face while wearing a costume like this, or people will just think you’re cute.

5. Vulva

You can spend the entire night correcting people: you’re not a vagina, you’re a vulva. This photo was shared with us by Doula Zoe, who won a costume contest with this masterpiece!

Not feeling inspired? Maybe this year you can just stay home and craft spooky little ghosts out of tampons…

Happy Halloween!

tales_womb

In preparation for Halloween, we asked our fans on Facebook to share their spooooookiest period-related story. Here are a few of our favorites: 

“I used to wear tampons until one time I was at the mall and I felt sticky stuff trickling down my leg. Period blood. My tampon fell out and I don’t even know where it went. I am a super heavy bleeder and this was a super sized tampon! So that sucked!” – Amy

“Mine actually started for the first time ever in the cemetery. We were playing in the cemetery when I felt it. Weird place to get it.” – Kristin

“When I was 12, my dad took me to the woods. It was hunting season and had snowed. I had my period and thankfully was wearing a pad so I got out and peed behind the truck. My flow was heavy, so the snow turned more red than yellow. I didn’t have any TP so I shook dry and pulled my pants up. My dad got back to the truck and we started to leave. As he’s turning around, he sees a bright red spot in the snow. He circles around looking for a blood trail. I never told him him it was me, but my Mom thought it was hilarious.” – Michelle

“I pretended to have PMS once in sixth grade to be “older” and “cool.”  After my embarrassing fit I got home only to see that I had, in fact, started my period during the hissy fit.” LauraAnn

“I got my period while in a paddleboat in my bathing suit in the middle of a lake. What a mess. My friend made me get out and swim beside the boat the whole way back.” Melanie

“I was 16 and grew up in a conservative church. I didn’t have a boyfriend, but was interested. My mom took me to an all boy’s choir event at our church that had boys as old as 18. I had it in my head that I could charm one of them while talking with them after the concert. Unfortunately it was a really heavy flow day for me and I only wore one pad, with no backups. I didn’t understand my own period at that point to have known better. On top of that I wore a WHITE skirt! By the time the concert was over, my mom and I stood up to applaud and she immediately noticed the whole back of my skirt was bright red. I could have crawled in a hole and died. My mom pulled herself up behind me, guided me by the waist and we left. Thank God she didn’t panic. That was I think the last time I ever wore white or anything light colored while on my period.” – Amanda

“When I was in high school I went to live with my dad. Well, when that time of the month came around I didn’t have any money and didn’t want to ask my dad or my mom (who I wasn’t speaking to) so I used mountains of TP as a makeshift pad (that I later flushed to hide from my dad) and clogged the toilet. That conversations with my dad about proper disposal and how I should have asked him for money for what I needed… most embarrassing thing ever.” – Michelle

“While babysitting, I was sitting on a little girls bunk bed and bled through my pants. I had to tell the mom. Thankfully none of the kids found out while I was watching them. I felt bad for the mom who had to deal with period sheets and telling the kids the sheet was no good. Before I learned to keep track of my cycle, I only wore black pants.” – Janice

“It started with white shorts and a cute boy. And ended with me practicing my cheerleader toe-touches and high jumps in front of him, not knowing my period had chosen that moment to show herself.” – Kelli.

We know that for some people, reusables can seem really scary at first. So once again, we asked our fans to share what they think is scarier still. Your responses horrified us (and some really grossed us out), too. Here are our top picks:

What’s scarier than blood from your own uterus getting on cloth pads?

1. Stepping on a slug with bare feet and it squishing between your toes!
2. The used condoms and tampons that used to wash off of our apartment building roof when it rained…
3. A landfill full of other people’s dirty disposable pads. Biohazard?!?
4. An 8 hour old tampon.
5. Chemicals near my vagina
6. Finding plastic tampon applicators on the beach – gross!
7. Vomit. Hair from the bath tub drain. Centipedes.
8. Stepping on dog poop your son didn’t scoop up in the yard…
9. Bleach up in my hoo-ha
10. Amtrak bathrooms
11. McDonald’s

What’s scarier (and far more likely) than a menstrual cup getting lost in your body?

1. “Period funk” smell from using tampons and disposable pads!
2. Waking up covered in millions of spiders… then jumping out of bed only to find the floor is covered in snakes!
3. Getting a contact stuck behind your eyelid
4. My son vomiting in my mouth
5. Daleks.
6. Not knowing my body well enough to know a menstrual cup can’t be lost in the vagina.
7. TSS!
8. The chemicals in tampons and disposable pads. And the community blood bin that everyone uses to put their disposables in.
9. Starting your period with no menstrual products on you.
10. Being eaten by a dinosaur.
11. Zombie apocalypse.

Comment with your own spooky-scary story about menstruation… we’re waiting anxiously by the campfire for your scariest tale from the womb!

period_gratitude

I originally titled this post “4 Reasons I Like my Period” but then realized that “like” is not exactly the right word in this situation. Do I really like the feeling of the mild cramps signaling my upcoming period? Do I like the deeper, more raw emotions I’ll inevitably experience each month? Not really, but I’m grateful for my period and all it brings. Here’s why.

1. My period makes me listen to my body.

When I treat my body poorly throughout the month, PMS symptoms worsen. Ate a bunch of sugar all month long? Hello, awful cramps. Didn’t get enough exercise? Here’s some bloating, enjoy. My body uses my period as a way to communicate with me–I just have to listen.

2. My period forces me to slow down.

I have a tendency to overbook myself, to bite off more than I can chew, to not say “no” to something even when I really need a break. My period reminds me that I need to practice self-care, especially during this time of the month. For tips on self-care during your menstrual cycle, read this post about reflection and ritual to honor your cycle.

3. My period makes me listen to my heart.

If something’s bothering me during the month, my menstrual emotions will force me to deal with it. Crying at the drop of a hat? There’s something deeper going on that can no longer be ignored. And that’s a good thing.

4. My period connects me with the cyclical nature of life.

What do the phases of the moon, the changing of the seasons, and menstruation have in common? They’re all cycles of rebirth and death, fallow and fertility, activity and introspection. How cool is it that our bodies follow the same natural rhythms? And: have you ever considered syncing your menstrual cycle to the moon?

How about you? Why are you grateful (or not) for your period?

 


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.

 

I took a poll on reusable cloth pads on my Facebook page. The comments I got were rather interesting. Some of my friends knew little or nothing about them. Some (especially men) sent me messages telling me this is a private issue and if I want to talk about it, I should call a meeting with the girls and women rather than posting it in public. Shouldn’t we talk of issues that affect us?

Menstruation is seen as women’s issue in my country. The men don’t involve themselves in this issue unless they are in the health sector or selling them. Its a taboo to talk about menstruation in public, when you raise the issue people shy away from contributing. They’d rather send a private message warning you not to post ”such issues” in public. When will we talk about issues that affect us, especially when girls miss five days of school because they cannot afford sanitary towels? Shouldn’t we talk about it? I believe talking creates an awareness and shows people there is a need and will be compelled to focus on dealing with the issue and help keep our girls in school.

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Teacher Esther and girls from Misyini Primary School

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Chief Ndoo accompanied us to Kivulu Primary School

What I have learned during my stay here in US is to speak out, create an awareness and not be afraid of what others think. I speak menstruation matters because I am concerned about the girls who miss school and am looking for a sustainable way to provide for them sanitary towels. People out there don’t know what is going on out there. People don’t know girls use unhygienic methods during their menstruation. Well, it’s about time I speak on their behalf and ask people to donate sanitary towels. To tell girls and women of the options that are out here, options that are safe, clean and sustainable. Let’s involve all stakeholders, leaders both men and women, to support our girls.

I like the way we talk about anything in GladRags, talking about periods is seen as normal. I must say at first I felt uneasy talking about periods at my workplace. Here people are open and won’t criticize, people respect your opinion.

So let’s start the conversation about menstruation matters till every girl and woman can afford sanitary towels, not just any but has a choice to choose that which is safe and healthy for them. Let’s make sure they live a stress free life any day of the month :)

Have A Lovely read!

Maureen


 

About the author of this post:

maureen

Maureen runs Donate A Pad Initiative, and is a Mandela Washington Fellow 2014, Young African Leader. She is passionate about empowering young girls to complete education and is a mentor. She loves telling her story to inspire people to reach out to their dreams and be more. “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”~Aldous Huxley

 

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 comes to us via the Society for Menstrual Research, one of our favorite sources for women’s health information. On the surface, the advertisement below for Kotex’s appears to be just like most other ads from the era–promising the “utmost daintiness of a person” who uses the product, featuring stylish women in lady-like dresses, et cetera–but thanks to the smart folks at SMR, we get to see another layer.

kotex nepenthe

 

Check out the name of the ship, printed on the the life saver hanging on the ship’s rail: Nepenthe. As the SMR points out, “nepenthe” is a literary nod to a magical potion that makes the user forget his woes (see: The Raven and The Odyssey for references to nepenthe) . These smart women appear to be setting sail on Kotex’s soft, deodorizing pads to forget their menstrual woes–really, to forget they’re on their periods at all.

What do you think of this advertisement? Should menstrual products make you forget about your period?


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.

 

Universal education is one of the millennial development goals set to be achieved in the world by 2015 — we have less than 500 days to go. According to UNICEF, there are 31 million girls of primary school age not enrolled in school. How can we achieve this goal when girls are not enrolled in school or drop out due to early child marriages and other cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), poverty, lack of school fees, sexual violence and lack of SANITARY TOWELS.

How can we achieve this goal when girls miss close to 5 days of school because they cannot afford sanitary towels? Girls from poor families use unhygienic methods during their menstruation such as old pieces of clothes, tissue papers, cotton wool, feathers, and old goat skins. Others end up engaging in transactional sex in order to get money to buy sanitary towels. This exposes the young girls to risks of getting HIV/AIDS and some end up pregnant, thus dropping out of school. There was a feature aired by citizen media in Kenya in 2013 showing the dire need of sanitary towels in rural Kenya. Sad how something that should be considered as a basic need is assumed to be a luxury.

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Pic courtesy of UNICEF

According to Ministry of Education in Kenya, there are 2.5 million girls aged between 9 and 18 years who need sanitary towels in Kenya. The government only caters for 568,925 girls from primary school (class 6-8) from 7,141 schools in 142 districts, which is only a fraction leaving out close to 2M girls who are in need, the demand is high.

Due to this gap I founded Donate a Pad initiative in December 2012 to try and help in my community. The initiative is mainly run from my salary and a monthly contribution from my best friend Mona Manani. Every month I buy sanitary towels and donate to 200 girls who cannot afford sanitary towels in the rural area in 9 schools in Kitui, Kenya. Basically girls who cannot afford sanitary towels miss school close to five days in a month hence affecting their performance and lower their self esteem hence affecting their confidence in school.

Donate A Pad ensures that the girls are in school by providing sanitary towels, their self esteem and dignity is restored. Since I started we have noticed the performance of the girls has improved and they are more confident. I also provide mentoring programs by connecting the girls with mentors to guide them through their education and career choice. The girls write to me sharing their dreams of what they want to be in future and how Donate A Pad is helping them in achieving their dreams. It’s so fulfilling to see girls excited about education. This inspires me to do what I do to make sure the girls are in school. No girl should miss school because they lack sanitary towels.

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Teacher Esther distributing the sanitary towels

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Chief Ndoo, Edna, Maureen and Kivulu Primary School with their Sanitary Towels.

So I have a plan in the near future of starting a manufacturing firm that will use agricultural waste materials such as banana fibers and papyrus to make affordable sanitary towels that will cater for the demand of sanitary towels as well as keep the girls in school. Am also doing a research on other sustainable alternative options such as cloth pads and menstrual cups that can be used to cater for this lack. We are also thinking of growth and soon we will be in Kisii, Meru, and Lesotho I will keep you posted as the plans unravel. Hopefully one day we will be able to donate to all the girls that need sanitary towels.

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Maureen at Makerere University displaying the biodegradable sanitary towels

As of now you can donate a pad and help keep a girl in class. Did you know with only KES 396 ($4.50) you can keep a girl in school for the whole year?

I believe if you educate a girl you educate the whole community, and Nelson Mandela summed it all by saying “Education is the only weapon we can use to change the world.” 

Have a lovely Read,

Maureen


About the author of this post:

maureen

Maureen runs Donate A Pad Initiative, and is a Mandela Washington Fellow 2014, Young African Leader. She is passionate about empowering young girls to complete education and is a mentor. She loves telling her story to inspire people to reach out to their dreams and be more. “There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”~Aldous Huxley