Menses Preparedness

(Sorry folks. It had to be addressed eventually.) This will either be the worst article you’ve read from me, or, if you’re female, it may be one of the best. menses-preparation-TampaxLadies, exactly what do you intend to do during a prolonged emergency survival situation when you’re not able to obtain feminine products which you’ve grown accustomed to? I admit, I’m storing loads of these kinds of products, but frankly, I’m intending to use feminine pads as bandages, if necessary.

Keeping in mind that sanitation is critical to the health of everyone around you, and the fact that a hot running water shower won’t come easily, I think it’s important that women take alternative options into consideration in dealing with their menses. Realize that the comfort and care of a female during this period of time may not be isolated solely to experienced women. If you are the mother of a young daughter who happens to enter this phase of her life during a survival situation, it can be pretty traumatic if she has to do so the way the pioneers handled it. (ie: stuffing rags, ergo the term we hear sometimes today, “on the rag.”) So what are your options? Well, you can store a lot of feminine pads and tampons and take up a lot of valuable space in your storage. Or you can plan on doing it the pioneer way by ripping strips of rags to use in lieu of a tampon and constantly change them, thus using lots of fuel and water to sanitize them. Or you can use a menstrual cup.

DivaCup photo c/o gladrags.com

DivaCup photo c/o gladrags.com

A menstrual cup resembles a diaphragm. It is reusable and easy to sanitize with some potable water and a mild soap. They are about 2 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter. The good ones are made of a soft plastic silicon for comfort. (Beware of those made with latex!) They are inserted much like a tampon would be and they collect the menses flow. They do not absorb the flow. Unlike tampons, there have been no reports of Toxic Shock Syndrome associated with their use. A menstrual cup can even be left in place for 12 hours on light flow days without any adverse consequences. You should plan on having one menstrual cup per year per person—contrary to what the advertisements say about using one for 10 years. I definitely would NOT plan on relying on that statement. A menstrual cup should not be used for any other purpose and it should not be shared with any other person after use. The cost of a quality menstrual cup is about $35-$40. Frankly, considering the cost of feminine pads and tampons, it’s no wonder menstrual cups are used regularly in many European countries. I recommend the DivaCuptm.  It has extensive benefits vs. more generic and less researched brands and it does not contain any latex or nitrosamine. You can obtain them easily at drugstore.com where there have been times when I’ve seen great discounts there for any item you purchase. Ok. Well, now that I’ve gotten that topic out of the way, tune in for less “icky” topics. :) Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter here To see our upcoming event schedule, click here Check out our inhome-course programs Subscribe to Preparedness Pro today and never miss a thing! For any questions or comments on this article, please leave a comment on the blog site so that everyone can benefit! Copyright Protected 2009, Preparedness Pro and Kellene. All Rights Reserved. No portion of any content on this site may be duplicated, transferred, copied, or published without written permission from the author. However, you are welcome to provide a link to the content on your site or in your written works.

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Comments

I don't even like using tampons so I'm not sure I could try a diva cup. It looks so...BIG. But I do stockpile pads when they go on sale.

I'm learning some interesting things on this topic as well. We'll have to exchange notes. :-)

HI,

Good advice. Our 560,000 family member group has been constructing feminine hygiene pads for some time now. These have virtually eliminated most vulvular infections and many STD driven chancre eruptions.

Diapers (infant through adult) and bed protectors will surely become an issue. I discovered this caring for Grandparents at home, hospicing family members at home and on the job at the hospital.

I so completely believe many of us will be caring for a family member who is incontinent/diarhea etc., that I am preaching to get reusable diapers/plastic overpants in all sizes and reusable bed protectors. These are hugely expensive through hospital supply stores, but much cheaper on ebay through several companies.
Some of us are now constructing our own.

We are learning that we need to keep a seperate white barrell tumbler washer (Emergency Essentials/Lehman's etc..) or any homemade setup (like wash plunger in a bucket) to keep these clean and to help us control against infectious disease spread. (4 of our members got Swine Flu and found out quickly how important it is to learn about controlling against ID spread.)

Recently, we went through hundreds of disposable adult diapers in caring for a family member with C-diff infection. WOW!
I will never, ever, depend on disposables again. I am betting there will soon be no insurance help in getting this expensive needful stuff....

My mother is elderly and has incontinence issues. She gets hers by the box through mail order. Far cheaper. It's the most economical way.

Ha! I love that you addressed this -- very brave (of course we expect that from you!). What is funny is when I became a "prepper" this was the very first thing I thought about. After some research and information gathering, I took care of this right away ;-) It also just makes sense, financially and environmentally.

My wife switched to a Diva cup about a year ago when our local food cooperative had a 50% off sale on them. She loves it and says she would never go back to tampons.

You're funny, Amber.
Yes, the environmental impact that used feminine products have is astouding! It's estimated (by folks who have nothing better to do I suppose) that over 77,000 used tampons were disgarded on the side of the road last year! ugh!

I've actually switched to fabric pads. With care taken the sanitation should be fine, and they are more comfortable by far.

I switched to using the Diva cup several months ago and I wish I'd done it sooner. And although the manufacturer is careful not to make these claims, after a few months, I noticed a marked decreased in the intensity and duration of cramps. I'm another convert that will never go back to tampons.

Our local health food store carries them. I believe the price was $39.95. Even at that price, it paid for itself within the first three months.

Thanks, Kellene! Very good info. Do they sell these at regular grocery stores?

I've seen them on Amazon, divacup.com, drugstore.com and at some health food stores--but not run of the mill grocery stores.

I love my DivaCup. I was bad about leaving a tampon in longer that I should and was worried about TSS. I love that you can leave the DivaCup in and not have to worry about that.

I've heard people complain about some minor leakage at first but I never had any trouble with mine. I've had it for about 2 years now and I would ever think of going back to the alternative.

Reminds me of an old farmer joke.
The old farmer had a horse that got tore up by a barbed wire fence. He ran to the house for some bandages but nothing was big enough. So he grabbed one of his wife's "napkins". Well it worked great, so he goes to his pharmacist and asks for some sanitary napkins. The pharmacist ask what size? and the ole farmer says big enough for a 6 inch gash.

Actually "rags" should never be used like a tampon. If you are going the fabric route, they should be used as a sanitary napkin. Cloth menstrual pads are no more hassle to use and sanitize than cloth diapers. Very easy and very comfortable, especially if you have cramping issues that are exacerbated by "insertion" menstrual products.

A quick internet search for "cloth menstrual pads" will bring up many pre-made options. And if you are so inclined, there are scads of free patterns for those of us who like to sew. Definitely worth a look when you start researching the subject for preparedness purposes.

My daughter uses the Diva cup and loves it! Now she is trying to convince her two sisters to try it, too.

Yup, you're right, Shannon. We've come a long ways in that regard, thank goodness!

Ok. YOu all have convinced me that I need to try this for "all the time" rather than to just have on hand for an emergency. Thanks!

Thanks for the article Kellene. I've got several women in my life who will likely have to be included in my preps and this subject has come up....as a guy I was a little less than enthusiastic about doing the research though. Thanks for making it easy for me!

I have talked and talked about this in RS and get strange reactions. When I have read what goes first in a disaster situation, this is one of first items that get snatched up! Right in there with diapers.

I would suggest that if this put away for emergencies, it is tried to make sure that it will work for the potential user. Not everyone can keep a tampon in place and there could be the same problem with these cups. It is such a good idea, it would be great space wise!

This is a very practical idea and I had never heard of a diva cup until I read this article!

Well, according to the comments on here, I'm willing to try them NOW instead of later. I can't believe that I haven't yet. After all, I'm all about "experimentation" when times are good rather then when they are tough.

It took me a couple of years to get the hang of cups and get them to work with no leaking. I started out with the Diva, but would encourage people to try other brands as well. I ended up with the Mooncup. In the last 5 years, since I bought my Diva, there has been an explosion of brands.

Why do you think a cup will last only a year? From my research on message boards, most dedicated cup users seem to think this is a ploy on the part of the Diva company to get people to spend more. I'm certainly in favor of having a backup, but I think the cup itself will last much longer than a year.

They also have disposable ones called Instead softcups if someone doesn't like the idea of reusing it...and you can find coupons for them to make them more affordable.

Wow, this is amazing. I have two young girls and told my mom, I just may start stocking up on Midol, pads, tampons and chocolate! And salty foods. I so do not look forward to the days a head of me when my girls and I all share that time. I also just saw the Diva Cup at REI! As I stood there, I thought, hmmm perhaps I should try this. Because it just may save me a ton of money. I stock up now at Costco on tampons and pads. Liners and lite tampons from WalMart b/c I have found one brand that works for me the best. But, as my girls are getting older, I think I will start having different options for all of us. Also looking to stock up on natural ways to relieve the mood swings for all of us. I have a book on presure point therapy to help relieve the mood swings. Some days it works for me, others not so much. I get very very very moody and I feel it coming and try not to let it overwhelm me. Great article.

Hi, Just wanted to share my experience with the Softcup. I have a tilted cervix and found that it did not work well for me. Leakage was a HUGE issue because of my tilted cervix. I am in perimenopause so my period is irregular, sometimes 17 - 20 apart and intensely heavy the first 3 days or so, then tapers off to almost nothing for the remaining 4 - 5 days. During my heavy times I have to wear an ULTRA tampon and a heavy duty pad! Anyone having the same problems and have used the Diva cup? Would be very interested to hear from them about this. I don't want to spend the extra money on something that would not work if the Softcup has not worked. Thanks!

With issues like yours I would suggest that you not make matters worse inside by using chemical tampons and pads, rather I'd only use the all cotton, unbleached options instead.

For women with very heavy flows, a menstrual cup may not be an effective solution.

However, in a pinch, toilet paper (if you have lots stocked up) can make do in a pinch, something I learned when caught at school without a spare pad as a teenager.

Also, I recommend to add to medicined cabintes raspberry leaf tea. I can also personally recommend a foreign medication called Buscopan (available in many European countries) that is a medicine for GI distress and menstrual cramps. I discovered it when I was in Italy and my period started and I was doubled over in pain - OTC in most European countries. Combined with an NSAI medicine like Aleive or Motrin, the combination of the two was the most effective thing I ever tried and none of the drowsiness I experienced when I was using some of my emergency codeine (left over from oral surgery) . Just as effective as prescription pain killers with no drowsiness or affecting my ability to drive (since you don't want to drive if youre on codeine).

If I can recommend one thing (beyond prepping with extra pads and menstrual cups) it would be to buy some Buscopan via the Internet and stock up on Motrin/Alieve and use that for painful days during your cycle. Being doubled over in pain and useless is not a good thing in a survival situation.

I can tell you from experience as a endometriosis sufferer with heavy cycles, the Diva cup works just fine for heavy days.

I have used the Diva Cup for a year and a half now. I chose to do so for environmental reasons before I even considered prepping issues. Usually it is no problem, but occasional it hurts so I use a fabric pad on those days. I also occasionally have a very heavy flow where it would leak if I wasn't taking care of it every couple of hours, but even so I would recommend it. It just means changing your lifestyle a bit, but you save a ton of money and know you have an option if you suddenly weren't able to afford the traditional options or in SHTF scenarios. Anyone out there making the fabric pads? There is a group that has chapters that make pads for girls in third world countries who have to miss school when on their menses or get infections in order to not miss school or get abused! It's: http://www.daysforgirls.org/chapters#!home/mainPage

See, in my world, I never use a tampon for longer than 2 hours so I'd never use the Diva cup for longer than that either.

I'm post-menopause, so I don't need anything for me, but I do keep sanitary napkins in the house for family & guests who may need them. However, I would also like to point out that sanitary napkins have other uses as well. In addition to using them as bandages (as mentioned in an earlier post) their superior absorbancy is excellent for spills of liquids you want to clean up quickly (like, say knocking a bleach bottle over). In fact, I kept them on hand and used them twice when I was teaching chemistry for accidental acid spills. (They are sold by chemical companies as absorbent pads for ten times the price!) Because they are designed not to leak through, you can soak up the spill and still pick up the pad without the liquid touching your hands. They're also great for cleaning up drink spills in the car quickly and with a little vinegar and water, minipads do a great job at cleaning glass and mirrors without leaving lint. Additionally, my sons have used the thin pantiliner pads as underwear protection during bouts of diarrhea (began as a necessity when I didn't have a clothes washer). They are so useful that I would love to see the "sanitary" taken out of their name along with the "only for females" stigma. (My husband agrees they are useful, but won't use them because of this.) In a survival scenario, I would use, wash and reuse rags for most cleaning purposes, but the pads would be useful to absorb spills of liquids I wouldn't want in my "washer" bucket.

Ok, one question, do you recommend model 1 or model 2 for a woman who is over 30, but never had any children? The directions are mildly unclear. I believe model 2 would be best, but am unsure. Just wanna make absolutely sure before making the purchase.:) Thanks,
K

I'd actually call the company and ask them. That's their specialty.

Ok, I will. Just wondered if you had encountered that question yet. Thank you for your time:)
K

Alternatives will be very important when the economy collapses and hyperinflation causes pads and tampons to be too expensive for most women to afford. Thanks for addressing this before the fact .... :-)

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