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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.

I’m pretty sure my dad and I never talked about periods. Like, ever. We still don’t (and I’m okay with that), although we did take this photo with Cuterus together a few years back at a GladRags party! My dad and I may not talk about menstruation, but he is 100% behind my period business endeavors. Thanks, Dad!

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In honor of Father’s Day, we asked our Facebook followers to share their favorite dad + period story. Here are some of our favorites (there were SO many good ones):

“The first time I ever had menstrual cramps, I was 15 (I had been irregular and spotty for a couple of years before that). I woke up in the middle of the night and thought my appendix was about to burst. I crawled across the house to my parents’ room. My mom said, “It’s just cramps. Go back to bed.” (I realized later we must have been ‘lined up’, so that’s how she would have known.) My dad got out of bed, got me the heating pad and some ibuprofen, helped me back to bed, and sat up with me until I could fall asleep again. Then he just went to work. He took being a father very seriously, and I will always be grateful.” – Amanda

“My first period happened on a trip to New Orleans when I was 13 while driving there. We stopped at a hotel near Memphis for the night. When I announced it to my parents my dad ordered margaritas at dinner to celebrate. I really wished that a.) I could have had one, and b.) he hadn’t announced it to our waitress.” – Kathleen

“The day after I got my period I went to a birthday party where we went swimming. That night, in and out of sleep, I heard my dad come into my room a few times and put his hand on my forehead (I was not sick). Finally, on one of his many trips, I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he was checking to make sure I was ok, as sometimes tampons can absorb water and make you feel bad.

Even though the risk of me acquiring toxic shock syndrome from a chlorinated pool was seriously impossible, looking back on it now the gesture seriously warms my heart. My dad has always been a worrywart, and I’m sure he read about tampons and toxic shock syndrome once and tossed and turned all night long at the thought of me getting sick. Even though his worries seemed irritating at the time, I now realize he does what he does because he loves my sisters and I so much. He is a really good dad!” – Jennifer

“I’ll never forget this: The first time I got my period in school (5th grade), the nurse called home and was letting me leave school. My parents weren’t home so she left a message on the answering machine. A short while later, I was told my dad was there to pick me up. YES! MY DAD! Completely and utterly mortified, my dad started teasing me as we walked to the car.” – Tiffany

“Got my first period summer after 6th grade. Sister and mom were not home. My dad waited outside the bathroom door, calling in periodically with concern ‘you okay?’ and ‘need help?’. Thanks dad. I miss you!” – Kristin

“When my dad had to start buying me tampons, he got frustrated after like, two months and just bought two of the biggest economy packs of tampons he could find so he didn’t have to go back to get more. I only had a period every 2-3 months so they actually lasted me from age 13 to about age 19.” – Veronica

“When I got my period for the first time I was at my dads house for the weekend which was in a very small town and 3 hours from home and my mom. The grocery store and all other businesses were closed. My dad called the owner of the very small grocery store. He met us doen there and let us in. My dad and the owner both stopped at the end of the aisle and pointed down to the pads and tampons. I think my dad said something like “just get whatever you need”. I was on my own!! I was so embarrassed but those two grown men seemed just as embarrassed!! I’m sure every person in that small town heard about it. I will never forget that!” – Jennie

The story below sparked a discussion about what dark purposes one might have for menstrual supplies. I’m still convinced that her menstruating mama just wanted some alone time:

“I remember that when I was really little, when my father would run to the store to pick up pads for my mother, my mother would insist I go too. Like I was proof he actually had a lady at home, and wasn’t just stockpiling menstrual supplies for some dark purpose.” – Saundra

“My dad was a single parent so when I got my first period he was the only one there to explain it all to me. He took me to the store to get some pads but when he walked into the aisle he was blown away by all the choices. He asked me what I needed. I had no idea. So my dad randomly grabbed a few boxes of tampons and pads and we left. After we got home he laid everything out on the table and started trying to explain it to me. He got a glass of water down and tried to tell me how tampons work. He shot the tampon out of the applicator into the water where it swelled up quickly. My dad looked horrified and said “that looks like it hurts”. He then called his mom and had her come and explain it all. Good try Dad!”  – Angela

And a bonus Dad story from George:

“I grew up in a house with my Mom and 4 sisters. I had a vague situational awareness of this subject. At around 12 I realized that the linen closet held a couple of boxes of things that were meant for my Mom and older sisters. Bored one day I explored these boxes and was intrigued, especially by the box of what looked liked torpedoes to me. Torpedoes were launched by submarines so I decided to employ the nearest body of water, the bathroom across the hall. When the content of the torpedo exploded and bloomed in the toilette I was amazed and continued to launch a volley that would have taken out every U-Boat lurking the oceans of the world.

When the supply ran out, I moved on to exploration of other mundane household items I knew nothing about. That night, there was a level of distress among Mom and elder sisters. Apparently synched up by proximity, they all realized at once that they were out of product!

Dad was sent on a supply run, the usual milk, bread…and something muttered by Mom which seemed to irritate him. He turned and looked at me. I had forgotten about the afternoon battle in the toilette, but had the feeling I had done something wrong. Dad told me we were going to the local Bohack’s supermarket for some things. When we pulled into the parking lot, he explained that he would wait in the car and I would fetch the items, not unusual. What was unusual, when giving me the list of items he included “get yourself a candy bar or something”…..? That just never happened! We were not a wealthy family by any means and extra was not in our vocabulary…..He followed with one last item. “Get a box of those lady things for your mother”.

I sat a moment trying to decipher his cryptic message realizing his expression said no questioning…with no clue I had to ask. Before I got the question out he said “ask a lady clerk” and shoved me out of the car. I gathered the items, spent a moment choosing my reward but still had not gotten the “lady” things. I had gleaned from his discomfort it was something to be modest about and approached the lady clerk cautiously.

As I explained in whispers and blush, she quickly caught on and escorted me to a section previously unknown to me in an aisle I had never been. She made some seemingly random inquiries to narrow the search leaving me baffled until she described what sounded like the torpedoes to me. My crimson face must have lit up and she pulled a box from the shelf. We proceeded to check out. I suspect she smiled through the entire transaction, but I can’t be sure. I could no longer make eye contact with her, the source of my shame unclear. I returned to the car.

Dad asked if I had gotten “everything”. I replied that I thought so, and told him I had gotten 2 candy bars, a serious breach of contract, and challenged his obvious annoyed stare with a steely return of my own. He hesitated, then drove home. I suppose the lady clerk was correct in her choice as I never heard another word about it. I no longer cruised the family toilette torpedoing the enemy however.”

Tell us your best story in the comments!

 

 

We’re experiencing our first heat wave here in Portland, so it appears that summer has arrived early! Fortunately, using cloth pads and menstrual cups in the summer is simple, and even better than their disposable counterparts. Read on to find out why reusables are perfect for the dog days of summer!

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1. Cloth is breathable; plastic isn’t.

Chafing, heat rash, and odors can all be caused by hot moisture that’s trapped in place by plastic. 100% cotton pads like GladRags allow for plenty of breathability, so they’re more comfortable on sweltering days.

2. Menstrual cups don’t bloat like tampons when you swim.

The first time I used a tampon, it was because I was on vacation and really wanted to go swimming in the hotel pool. My mom warned me that when I removed my tampon after swimming, it would look gross and different than normal. She was right — anyone who has gone swimming knows that tampons look freaky after you go swimming! Menstrual cups are a much better alternative, since they collect your flow rather than absorbing it… and all the pool/lake/ocean water, too.

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3. Sunshine naturally fights stains and disinfects.

Want to give a boost to your cloth pad laundry? Hang your GladRags on the line to dry in the sun! They’ll be fresh as a summer breeze with no added fragrance, plus the sunshine will help bleach out any stains.

4. Menstrual cups = no strings attached.

Want to wear that itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini? Go for it, girl. Your Moon Cup has no strings attached, and can last for up to 12 hours so you can spend more time on the beach and less time in the bathroom.

5. You’re always ready with zero waste supplies

Whether you’re traveling in a foreign country or camping in a national park, having your own supplies can make life a lot easier! If you’re out in the wilderness, having washable products helps you avoid having to pack out used tampons. And, for the record, the bears can not “smell the menstruation!

Personally, my GladRags and Moon Cup have traveled all over the place with me — from visiting family in Puerto Rico where I dried them on a clothesline in a jungle, to a road trip through the American Southwest where I just stashed them in a wet bag until we got back, to spending Thanksgiving at my sister’s place in California. Where have GladRags been?

Absorbently yours,

Tracy

 

Not to brag, but I’m pretty proud of GladRags this year – we celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day twice! By day, we were coffee-fueled cloth pad crusaders reaching out to curious college students. By night, we were period party hostesses with a Moon Cup in one hand and a mason jar of bubbly in the other.

We kicked off the day by setting up a table on the Portland State University campus. Our bright red tablecloth and Cuterus were hard to miss, but the big draw was our sign urging people to “ditch the disposables.” The concept was simple: trade in a disposable pad or tampon for a free color Pantyliner of your choice!

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At events like this, we always get a range of reactions; some people are weirded out, others are confused and curious, and some are already super excited. I find it so rewarding to talk to everyone, no matter what their initial outlook. Chatting with people who already use GladRags or are eager to try them is such a verbal high-five (and yes, sometimes we actually high-five).

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People who have never heard of GladRags or reusable menstrual products in general may start out skeptical, but whether they walk away with a sticker or with a brand-new Pantyliner, we know we’ve given them something important to think about. One highlight for me was the guy who wondered if he should pick up a Pantyliner for his girlfriend or whether it would be “crossing a line”. Needless to say, we all convinced him that it was a GREAT idea! Part of Menstrual Hygiene Day is trying to erase those negative lines that society has drawn and that many people find difficult to avoid or cross.

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Our second celebration was at Palace, a local shop that carries clothing, jewelry, beauty products, and home accessories, whose atmosphere is both elegant and cozy. We got to display a selection of our wares alongside those of Portland Apothecary, who brought some of their great moon-time products like Bath Tea and Cramp Ease Herbal Extract. The party was a hit, and not just because we all got to roam around Palace sipping champagne and eating chocolate!

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Tracy spoke about the importance of Menstrual Hygiene Day, highlighting the importance of breaking down the taboos surrounding women’s bodies. Many of us shared period stories (that we jotted down on pad-shaped notecards, of course), either from our own lives or passed along from friends. It was great to watch people get more and more comfortable with sharing their experiences, past misconceptions, and funny anecdotes.

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I am honored to have been part of two wonderful events where we got to speak honestly about menstruation, our bodies, and what it means to open up and have these conversations. I hope that everyone we started a dialogue with on Menstrual Hygiene Day will be inspired to have similar norm-shaking, body-celebrating and lady-empowering conversations with people in their own lives!

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Our newest print is arriving May 29th, and we need your help choosing a name for it! Simply comment on this blog post with your ideas, and we’ll pick our favorite–the winner will receive a GladRags Day Pad in this print as soon as it arrives. Feel free to submit as many names as you’d like! We’ll pick the winner on the 29th, and make this print available for purchase shortly after.

Not feeling inspired? Make sure you’re following us on Facebook for another chance to win, no creativity required :)

postpartum facts

I consider myself to have a pretty solid understanding of the human reproductive system, and especially how women’s bodies work. But! There are a few things I only came to know when I started working in reusable menstrual products (since I’ve yet to produce, grow and birth out my own tiny human). These 3 things blew my mind:

1. Postpartum bleeding. 

A baby and the placenta: that was my understanding of what came out of the vagina at the ultimate climactic, birthing moment of pregnancy. But it doesn’t end there, folks! After delivering the placenta, your body (which has drastically increased its blood supply during pregnancy) continues to bleed. And bleed. And bleed. Part of this blood comes from the blood vessels which held the placenta in place; the rest is lochia, which is a mixture of the remaining blood, uterine lining, and mucus. The flow of lochia lasts anywhere from three to six weeks!

2. How nipples work.

There’s not just one tube that predictably drips out milk, guys. It’s more like a showerhead. (I just said this aloud in the GladRags office and one individual who shall remain nameless gasped, “WHAAAT?!” and crossed her arms across her chest.) Breastmilk can drip slowly, or shoot out with uncontrollable force.

3. Pee happens.

This one isn’t limited just to women who have given birth. Light urinary leakage (aka stress incontinence) will happen to many women throughout their lifetimes and isn’t always attributed to childbirth. However, having a tiny human pressing on your bladder/urethra (and then the stress of pushing said tiny human out of your vagina) can definitely be a contributing factor! Sneezing, coughing, laughing, running, yoga, trampolining, yeah … drip drip drip!

Why don’t we talk about these things? If I hadn’t started working at GladRags back in 2009, would I not have learned about postpartum bleeding until it happened to me? How scary it must be to not know what is happening to your body. Let’s make women’s bodies–and the many strange and wonderful things they do!–be a topic of conversation this month. And, to celebrate Pregnancy Awareness Month, save 15% on the following items at GladRags.com from today through 5/24:

For postpartum bleeding:

For leaky boobs:

Putting the “pee” in “pantyliner”:

I really want to know: what most surprised you about pregnancy or postpartum? Tell me in the comments!

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During the month of April, we challenged you to share #onesmallchange you’ve made to help create a healthier, happier planet. You blew us away with your submissions! From reusable cotton makeup removers to bike riding and composting kitchen waste to stainless steel straws, together we’re making a big impact!

The contest is over (we gave away a reusable cotton pantyliner every of the month, and our ambassadors were entered to win Cloth Pad Sampler Kits), but we hope you’ll continue making more and more choices that change our world for the better! We were inspired by your passion to be good stewards of this earth, and hope that your momentum continues. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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The gorgeous sunlight soon hid behind dark, looming clouds.  The Kenyan nurse kept looking nervously at the darkening sky and then shooting me shaky smiles, trying to tell me in very broken English that a storm was coming.

I didn’t panic immediately.  I had no idea what time it was, but we would be swooped up by the giant steel bird at any moment, right?  Right. Because I was very poorly prepared to spend the night in the mountains where I could barely communicate with anyone about my bleeding uterus.  I could hold my pee for another 12 hours. Skipping a few meals was not even a little bit of a problem.  I had enough clean water for 24 hours if I rationed well. But I couldn’t figure out a way around The Tampon Problem.

The sky started spitting on us and we heard the helicopter whirring in the distance.  The nurse and I packed up quickly, made the short hike back to the clearing just in time to meet the helicopter.  The pilot got out, threw our bags in the luggage compartment, dumped out all of our drinking water, and we were zipping through the air two minutes later trying to outrun the imminent storm.

Read Carrie’s full story on her blog at Our Stable Table… (Seriously. This may be the most epic period story you’ll ever read. AND there’s a giveaway! Check it out!)

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Menstrual Hygiene Day is May 28th

May 28th, 2014 marked the first annual Menstrual Hygiene Day. Celebrations were held all over the world, from India to Uganda to Germany to right here in Portland, Oregon. We held our own event at a local feminist bookstore, where we screened the film Monthlies and held a group discussion about periods–check out photos from our event here!

We celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day because menstruation matters. Why? Because every girl deserves to go to school, even when she’s on her period. Because every woman deserves to live free from shame. Because menstruation is part of the process that creates life. Why wouldn’t menstruation matter?

And yet, we so rarely talk about menstruation! Maybe in hushed tones, in the ladies’ room, when we ask a stranger for a tampon. Or shyly, to our mothers, when we start our cycles and need supplies. Maybe it’s time we speak up.

This May 28th, we invite you to host a gathering in your community to celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day with us. The way you celebrate will be unique to your community, but we’ve collected some ideas for you below. We hope you’ll announce your event on the official Menstrual Hygiene Day website and get in touch with us to let us know what you’re up to. Make sure to take photos at your event and tag them #gladragspads on social so we can see them!

Not up for hosting? Help a friend make the switch to cloth pads. When you spend $20 on GladRags.com for yourself, we’ll include a free GladRags pantyliner for you to pass on to someone in your community. Just enter coupon code MHDAY during the month of May to redeem your pantyliner.

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Get Involved

  • Use #menstruationmatters on social media and start the conversation about why periods are important.
  • Host a gathering and use these handy 28+ conversation starters to get a dialogue going! Pro tip: start by establishing some boundaries that help participants feel safe sharing. Creating a judgment-free space — and assuring participants that their viewpoints will be treated respectfully by all — goes a long way in having an engaging discussion.
  • Share the Menstrual Hygiene Day infographic (see below) on social media to educate your friends about why menstruation matters.
  • Download activity guides and templates here and here.
  • Follow GladRags on Pinterest for boards and pins to motivate, inspire, and share.
  • Official GladRags Ambassadors can contact us for demo products, door prizes, stickers, etc for their event once they have a confirmed guest list with a minimum of 8 attendees.

MH DAY infographics

In my mind, our cycles are like well-worn paths through time and space. The moon circles the earth. Seasons follow one another. Tides come in and recede, yin transforms to yang. Each month our bodies reflect these natural rhythms.

Our cycles are one of the top indicators of overall health. For the most part, things flow smoothly. When they don’t, most of us reach for our old friend ibuprofen–hey, I’ve done it myself from time to time! But I’ve learned over the years that by engaging with my cycle I develop this amazing relationship with it.

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Showing my body the honor and reverence it deserves have helped me heal my cycle beyond measure. Here are the top thirteen ways I give back to myself every month:

1. Create a special place for yourself. This could be an altar dedicated to your moon time, a quiet corner of your home with a comfortable chair, or a place outdoors. Whatever it is, make it yours and return to it each month. Use it as you will: you can sit quietly, journal, meditate, enjoy a cup of your favorite herbal tea… whatever you need to do! By creating this space that you return to monthly, you send a subtle message that when you are in this space, it is “you” time.

2. Follow your cycle with a calendar. Engage in the entirety of your cycle: learn how long it is and how many days you bleed. How do you feel when you are ovulating or just after your period ends? Over time, this gives you insight into your unique cycle. You won’t have surprises month after month, and you’ll gain insight into how to shift what needs shifting.

3. Keep yourself warm. According to Chinese Medical Theory, when we are bleeding our blood moves deeper into our bodies and then begins to flow, leaving our outermost layers more exposed. Cover up! Try wearing a red scarf or hat. Focused heat on your lower back or abdomen can help ease cramps as well.

4. Take a gentle walk in the woods or other favorite outdoor spot….by yourself! This one kills two birds with one stone: you get some much-needed alone time to relax, reflect and just be, and the gentle exercise keeps your Qi flowing smoothly.

5. Eat healthy, nourishing meals. You may try to incorporate some red foods. Or (bonus points!) cook yourself up a big pot of something BEFORE you start bleeding. This way you can take it easy and take care of yourself all at once.

6. Notice how you think and feel about your bleeding time. Do you love it? Hate it? Would you just rather not think of it at all? Where did these feelings come from?

7. Return your blood to the earth. Our monthly blood is full of nutrients and stem cells that plants and microbes love. This is an opportunity for you to consciously give to the nutrient cycle. You can soak your reusable cloth pads in a jar of water and use that water for your garden or houseplants, or simply empty your menstrual cup into a container that you use to water plants.

8. Use this as a time of self-reflection. Is there anything you need to let go of?

9. Look at the big picture. Notice how you feel throughout your cycle. Take time for self care BEFORE you need it.

10. Get some rest. Your body is doing some intense work. Not only are you experiencing a blood loss but Qi moves the blood. Allow space for both to replenish.

11. Look at the moon. What phase is it in? Was it in this phase the last time you bled?

12. Give thanks. You experience an amazing microcosmic representation of the unending cycles of birth, growth, death and rebirth! Inside your body! You bleed–without getting sick and dying! Your monthly bleeding represents you ability to create new life, or whatever creative endeavor you like.

13. Just be.

About the author of this post:

martha eden

Martha is a Chinese herbalist and woman’s health educator. She draws on a background in Chinese medicine and ecology to give woman the information they need to heal them selves. Martha started www.jade-circle.net as a resource for women to find the information they need to connect with their innate beings.

 

 

Happy Earth Day!

Our annual Earth Day Sale starts today: pick up any of the fabulously eco-friendly items on GladRags.com by Monday at midnight and automatically get these discounts applied to your cart:

$5 OFF orders of $40
$10 OFF orders over $75
$20 OFF orders over $150

SHOP EARTH DAY SALE ►

Win a Pantyliner

We’re giving away a pantyliner every day this month! Just make #onesmallchange to build a healthier world, then share it on social. Full giveaway details on the GladRags blog. Here are a few of our favorite submissions so far (your posts don’t have to be this cute, but it sure doesn’t hurt!):

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Celebrate our Planet

We’re spending part of today volunteering with C.R.O.P.S. (Community Reaps Our Produce and Shares), an organic farm built on vacant land owned by the county. We’ll be helping with weeding and harvesting the produce that is donated to the Oregon Food Bank by this community farm. Follow us on Instagram to see us getting muddy for a good cause, and leave us a blog comment to tell us what you’re doing this Earth Day!