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Your Red River: A Beginner’s Guide to Menstruation

Sad Brown Bear - Beginner's Guide to Menstruation
Written by Julia Eden

All around the world, women are learning how to take care of themselves with very little, and being punished for their biology. This pervasive attitude is not okay. In honor of Menstrual Hygiene (awareness and improvement) Day, welcome to our Beginner’s Guide to Menstruation. To find out more information and to lend your support to the cause, please visit the dedicated website.

The Beginner’s Guide to Menstruation

Periods are nuts. They make life, but they also make you crazy. Pretty much every woman ever born into our species has had them at some point in her life, yet the concept is shrouded in mystery – and always has been.

When I began researching this article, I became so incensed at the subjugation women have experienced throughout time, and even into modern day, that I wrote another article just about that. This article is my articulated scream at the world. We shouldn’t have to suffer in silence, judged for a natural process we have no control over.

But the fact remains that once we are enraged and primed to action against this injustice, we still have to clean it up. And we need to keep that clean-up as earth-friendly as possible.

Modern “Equipment” Breakdown

Let’s start with the sad facts of modern disposable sanitary products:

  • They are full of chemicals; many deemed “unsafe” by watch-groups
  • They are usually entirely or mostly made from synthetic fibers which don’t break down in landfills
  • The synthetic materials and chemicals used in manufacture as well as final product are known to cause irritation
  • Smells that you associate with your period are likely caused by the products used rather than your natural body chemistry

Switching your monthly routine to more sustainable options will not just help by keeping waste out of landfills, it can also substantially cut down on virgin material use, help bring education and resources to women in need, support local business, avert disease, and save bunnies.

Ok. I admit it might not save bunnies, but it sure feels like it will.

Padding The Truth

Hannah pad pouch and reusable pads napkins - Beginner's Guide to Menstruation

The hannahpad pouch and reusable pads, because shouldn’t everything be pretty?

When it comes to pads, the comfort of bulk almost feels worth the cost to the Earth. Luckily there are options just as comfortable but without the guilt. Reusable pads are easily washed and last forever, and with a ton of brands making them, you can get specific about your needs. They come in all kinds of sizes, patterns, and materials, so make sure to browse around for the ones that get you excited. Hesta Organic can get you started if you’re in the US; otherwise, Hannahpad is making biodegradable options in Korea, and Tree Hugger has you covered in Canada.

Get Up In There

Lunette cups menstrual silicone products - Beginner's Guide to Menstruation

Lunette menstrual cups for a healthier you.

If you’re used to tampons, but would prefer something a little more reusable, perhaps it’s time to check out the cups. The Diva Cup, Blossom Cup, and Lunette will get you started. Made of high-grade medical silicone, these reusable cups take a little getting used to and may require a couple of tries to find the right size and fit, but once you nail it, your monthly visitor is well taken care of for years to come.

I Know There’s A Sushi Joke Here Somewhere…

The Ritual Moon Kit with Rose Nectar - Beginner's Guide to Menstruation

The Ritual Moon Kit with Rose Nectar

If you’re ready to mix it up, get a little experimental, have some fun with flow, you can’t do better than a sponge. As in the sea creature. These guys were designed to live in moist environments (heh heh heh heh) which makes them a perfect natural solution. Check out Holy Sponge! to learn more, and I swear the Bleedin’ Babes in charge will have you excited for your next period in no time.

All In One

Panty Prop First Period Kit - Beginner's Guide to Menstruation

From Panty Prop, a sneak peak at the fun color selection offered in their First Period Kit.

Why have products on hand when you can just work your moon times into your wardrobe? Companies like Thinx and Panty Prop have you covered with specially developed lines of underwear designed to contain all kinds of leaks, from those “is it today?” days, to the more intense, “oh yeah, that’s totes it!” moments.

Turning On Auto Pilot

This is L. Our Movement - Beginner's Guide to Menstruation

The L. Movement starts with you.

Nowadays there are even menstruation subscription services. Lola and L. feature pads, tampons, liners, and even condoms made with the environment in mind. Fully customizable plans mean you can just set it and forget it. Never get caught in the frantic “find another female” game again.

Do Not Restore Default Settings

The instantly recognizable branding of Natracare - Beginner's Guide to Menstruation

The instantly recognizable branding of Natracare

If none of the options above work for you, do not fret, you can still be a socially conscious consumer! Natracare makes a line of pads and tampons that are so natural they’re compostable. Using organic cotton, the products are made responsibly, without the use of toxins or synthetics, for one less worry during a time that is inexorably stressful.

Wrap It Up

My biggest piece of advice to you is: don’t be scared. I know trying new products is intimidating, mostly because you have to venture into the world in untested gear, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t plan on a sudden switch over, instead add items gradually, building up a new cache over several months. Always carry backups just in case (until you’re used to the new stuff). And double check the return policies – most of these companies know they’re asking you to try something unfamiliar and will set rules that let you do so, worry free.

Thanks so much for joining us for this Beginner’s Guide to Menstruation! To read more about periods, taboos, and all things #femaleempowerment don’t forget to check out our companion piece.

And make sure to find local events in your neighborhood for Menstrual Hygiene Day, May 28th, so you can help break the silence on silent shedding.


About the author

Julia Eden

With a passion born in rivers, Julia Eden has spent the last decade crusading for the environment. Educated in fashion design and English Literature, and skilled in dance, she is dedicated to finding the information needed to live a new and better life. While not quite a Luddite, she would very much like to live in a cave with a wolf and an internet connection.

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