This week, the Sweethome (previously) tackles the question of finding the best menstrual cup for a first-time user to try out. With menstrual cups (previously) quickly increasing in popularity from relatively unknown status, it can be difficult to figure out what models to try and what size your vagina even is, so the article includes some helpful tips on guesstimating size and cervix height. Cups don't work for everyone and there's definitely a learning curve, so making sure to start with a model that's probably not completely the wrong size can be surprisingly important! Of course, testing out cups in an evidence-based way meant designing an artificial vagina to keep things consistent--which turned out to be a bit more difficult than previously expected.
In 1937 actress Leona W. Chalmers filed a remarkable application at the Philadelphia branch of the United States Patent Office: a funnel-shaped receptacle of vulcanized rubber inserted low into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid, rather than soak it up like a Kotex pad did. This invention was later sold as the Tasette, but it never gained commercial success though it had a few devotees. It wasn't until 50 years later that a similar device called The Keeper emerged. We have now entered the age of the menstrual cup, with multiple brands easily purchased online and in stores like Whole Foods, and reviews and comparisons on YouTube and blogs in every corner of the internet. But why did it take so long for them to become mainstream?
The first rule of menstruation etiquette is you don’t talk about menstruation, particularly to men. If you must discuss your period you do so quietly and euphemistically. When you’re surfing the crimson wave and have to go to the bathroom, you make sure your period paraphernalia is carefully concealed so people remain clueless about your condition. The biggest breach of menstrual etiquette, however, is leaking in public. [more inside]
Remember those period belts from Are You There God, It's Me Margaret? What did they feel like to wear? Did they actually work all that well? What did women use to catch blood, anyway, before adhesive pads and tampons became de rigueur? Turns out that keeping thick cotton pads in place was something of a problem, inspiring a parade of belts, "sanitary shields", and even suspenders. Of course, all of these were originally designed to work with the default style of women's underwear until the 1930s: crotchless. [more inside]
Period pain can be “as bad as a heart attack.” So why aren’t we researching how to treat it? [Via.] [more inside]
Kiran Gandhi has attracted a certain amount of attention for running the London Marathon while menstruating without using a tampon, pad or otherwise "cleaning up" her period. Meanwhile, in Nepal, menstruation is dirty, and a menstruating girl is a powerful, polluting thing. A thing to be feared and shunned. [more inside]
Jessica Gentile has compiled a brief-but-interesting listicle for Pitchfork: “Songs about PMS and Periods”
Mary Putnam Jacobi challenged Clarke’s thinly veiled justification for discrimination with 232 pages of hard numbers, charts, and analysis. She gathered survey results covering a woman’s monthly pain, cycle length, daily exercise, and education along with physiological indicators like pulse, rectal temperature, and ounces of urine. To really bring her argument home, Jacobi had test subjects undergo muscle strength tests before, during, and after menstruation. The paper was almost painfully evenhanded. Her scientific method-supported mic drop: “There is nothing in the nature of menstruation to imply the necessity, or even the desirability, of rest.”
Rainbo: First Blood. Dawn of the Red. Wonder Womban. What do these puns have in common? Well, they're all monikers for different styles of Period Panties, humorously allusive undergarments intended to be donned during the wearer's menstrual cycle.
But is the stereotype of premenstrual aggression empowering or invalidating of female emotion? And why on earth are we still afraid of periods? [more inside]
But is the stereotype of premenstrual aggression empowering or invalidating of female emotion? And why on earth are we still afraid of periods? [more inside]
"Couldn’t we come up with some nano “woombas” to suck up a couple of ounces of blood every month?" asks Kaleigh Rogers. Where, oh where, are our flashy, hi-tech menstruation solutions? After a hundred years of tampons, is it time to paint Silicon Valley red and develop some uterine upgrades?
"Today, most American adults can call up some memory of sex ed in their school, whether it was watching corny menstruation movies or seeing their school nurse demonstrate putting a condom on a banana. The movies, in particular, tend to stick in our minds. Screening films at school to teach kids how babies are made has always been a touchy issue, particularly for people who fear such knowledge will steer their children toward sexual behavior. But sex education actually has its roots in moralizing: American sex-ed films emerged from concerns that social morals and the family structure were breaking down." — Slut-Shaming, Eugenics, and Donald Duck: The Scandalous History of Sex-Ed Movies
Previously, Hello Flo, created this hilarious video about spunky young girls at summer camp and then First Moon Party, a celebration of a young woman's first period, which she fakes with glittery red nail polish on a pad, so desperate is she to begin menstruation. And now, another feminine hygiene product gets in on the image of powerful young women who menstruate by asking what it means to say someone does something "like a girl." Yes, I kick like a girl, and that's a good thing. [more inside]
First Moon Party A new ad from Hello Flo, a tampon subscription service.
Dr. Suzanne Sadedin answers the question "What is the evolutionary or biological purpose of having periods?" on Quora with the best type of science-based storytelling.
What is life like when having your period puts your health at risk and means you are shunned by society? Rose George reports from Nepal and Bangladesh on menstrual taboos.: Blood speak [more inside]
"I will be honest," says Muruganantham. "I would not even use it to clean my scooter." The incredible and funny story of a man who set out to change the way sanitary pads are viewed and made in India.
Approximately 176 million women and girls worldwide suffer from endometriosis; 8.5 million in North America alone. Associated costs of the disease are estimated to be a staggering $22 billion annually. The pain can be debilitating and infertility is a common outcome. Yet after decades of research, the jury is still out on what causes it, and many doctors still don't even know when they should be looking for it. Now, a group of researchers at MIT have taken a new approach, one with a characteristic engineering slant.
Advertising about menstruation has often emphasized the down side - the inconveniences that "feminine products" can save women from. They have also often focused on body-shaming - suggesting that ideally, no one should know you're even using them. Until now - a menstruation-related ad for HelloFlo, a company that sends tampons delivered to your door, regularly, when you need them. It is voiced and acted by a spunky young girl, who is not embarrassed but flamboyantly and splendidly proud of having her period.
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
Not only are OB tampons back in stores but OB would like to apologize to everyone for their temporary absence. Personally. Link to video, does not autoplay. [more inside]
When Arunachalam Muruganantham hit a wall in his research on creating a sanitary napkin for poor women, he decided to do what most men typically wouldn’t dream of. He wore one himself--for a whole week. [...] It resulted in endless derision and almost destroyed his family. But no one is laughing at him anymore, as the sanitary napkin-making machine he went on to create is transforming the lives of rural women across India.An Indian Inventor Disrupts The Period Industry. [more inside]
Camp Cranky is a virtual sleepaway camp intended by its creators, actors Liane Balaban and Vanessa Matsui, to be a safe space for young girls to hear personal stories about first periods, learn about the biology of menstruation, read poems about periods (musician Leslie Feist and actress Emma Thompson each contribute), and learn about various menstrual products. Readers can also donate to Huru International, which sends menstrual supplies to girls in need in Kenya. Camp Cranky is the first phase in what will eventually be Crankytown [the name comes from a Feist poem], a site where women of all ages can discuss menstruation and menopause. The project is a part of the National Film Board and Studio XX's First Person Digital Program. [more inside]
Over Christmas, Johnson & Johnson decided to stop carrying their popular brand of o.b. tampons. This elicited an immediate and frenzied response from women who used the product. Told that their tampon of choice was permanently discontinued, ladies took to eBay and other outlets to get the last few boxes. In a turnaround, however, J&J is now claiming they were experiencing a "temporary supply interruption". To everyone's relief, the product will soon be back in stores.
The Menstruation Machine: an invention created by artist Hiromi Ozaki. "As a female designer I had one big problem I wanted to solve. "It’s 2010, so why are humans still menstruating?" "Fitted with a blood dispensing mechanism and lower-abdomen-stimulating electrodes, the Menstruation Machine is a device which simulates the pain and bleeding of an average 5 day menstruation process of a human (As a female designer I have done my best to simulate my own, at least)." Also: Menstruation Machine - Takashi's Take is a music video about a boy ‘Takashi’, who builds the menstruation machine in an attempt to dress up as a female, biologically as well as aesthetically, to fulfill his desire to understand what it might feel like to be a truely 'girly' girl. He determinedly wears the machine to hang out with his kawaii friend in Tokyo, but…"
FloJuggler: Track periods of one or more girls. Seriously. The site's FAQ if you're wondering why you'd want to use such a service.
After decades of selling tampons and "sanitary products" with ads containing nebulous, euphemistic images and language, Kotex launched a new product line, 'U by Kotex' and a 'Declaration of Real Talk Campaign' to encourage girls and women to speak about menstruation without embarrassment. Ironically, their ad was rejected by the major US television networks for mentioning the word 'vagina'. Here's the 'safe for the viewing public' version. / YT channel. [more inside]
"May God close your horable museum." Because I can't believe this has never been the subject of a full post here before, although it keeps popping up in comments: The Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health. The inimitable Harry Finley has assembled a dizzying and oddly comprehensive site. It may be a bit much to take in one go (dilute, dilute, OK?), but you might dip in at: menstrual slapping; patent medicines; facts of life booklets; the Little Doozee; pre-twentieth century menstrual products and practices; Lysol douching, yay and nay; or the tour of the museum inside Harry's house (now closed). Also: cats, because Harry likes cats.
PMSbuddy.com is a free service created with a single goal in mind: to keep you aware of when your wife, girlfriend, mother[!], sister, daughter, or any other women in your life are closing in on "that time of the month" - when things can get intense for what may seem to be no reason at all.
Scientists have discovered that "endometrial regenerative cells" (ERC's) -- in other words, human menstrual blood -- contains stem cells. ERC-derived stem cells seem to have a number of superior traits to both bone marrow derived and umbilical cord derived stem cells, the previous gold standards: they can give rise to a variety of different cell lines without differentiation, they multiply more quickly than other stem cells, they are able to replicate more times without adversely mutating, and they apparently do not need to be closely genetically matched to the recipient. Now some women have even begun banking their menstrual blood to preserve their stem cells through a company called "C'Elle: Your Monthly Miracle" -- check out their FAQ and online video. This follows last May's announcement that menstrual blood derived cells can pretty much cure Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy in mice, a disease for which there is no current therapeutic treatment available.
She was attracting the lesbian vampires, but she's back in the saddle again. Still, she can't churn the butter today because Communists have invaded the summer house Aunt Flo is visiting. And Flo can't go swimming because of the crimson tide .
Near Ovulation, Your Cheatin' Heart Will Tell on You "New research from UCLA and the University of New Mexico suggests that members of "the gentler sex" may have evolved to cheat on their mates during the most fertile part of their cycle — but only when those mates are less sexually attractive than other men."
What the co-inventor of the Pill didn't know about menstruation can endanger women's health: "The passion and urgency that animated the birth-control debates of the sixties are now a memory. John Rock still matters, though, for the simple reason that in the course of reconciling his church and his work he made an error. It was not a deliberate error. It became manifest only after his death, and through scientific advances he could not have anticipated. But because that mistake shaped the way he thought about the Pill--about what it was, and how it worked, and most of all what it meant--and because John Rock was one of those responsible for the way the Pill came into the world, his error has colored the way people have thought about contraception ever since."
"Urban Armor," or "kickass alternative menstrual gear." Project of a "fight the power" type activist-feminist movement against industrial distortions of menstrual culture. (No surprise, I suppose, that I saw links to this on flyers at an art college.) Previous MeFi discussion on "menstrual culture" here. And when the monthly flow has ceased, other forms of kickass alternative gear are available.
The Tampon Thread - ok, boyz, think you know enough about tampons? Bet you didn't know about this utterly humiliating application! There's both an art and a science involved in tampons. You really can't say you know tampons until you've gotten hands on with them, perhaps even worn a few out in public. Come on guys, take the plunge and you too can experience that fresh feeling! (Oh wait, and these tampons - you say they vibrate?)
Menstrual Art: Vanessa Tiegs uses her livejournal and her own, uh "natural" paint supply to make some pretty cool paintings. (via fullofnothing)
My intention in making paintings using my menstrual blood is to create beauty from something that most people would rather avoid. I consider my paintings as personal and political images presenting a positive and celebratory attitude toward menstruation.
Aunt Flo has left the building! "A new drug being developed would eliminate menstruation altogether, while still allowing women to get pregnant. Another drug would eliminate both periods and pregnancy." Stock in companies that sell white jeans set to skyrocket, while sales of red and white patterned bedsheets plummet! On a more serious note, how much easier will this make it to plan adventurous vacations, honeymoons, and doctor's appointments? How much easier would life be if you never, ever had to think about having a period again?