GladRags/Keepers Inc., 2267 N. Interstate Avenue, Portland, OR 97227 (U.S.A.)
phone: (503) 282-0436 or 800-799-4523, Fax: (503) 284-9883
Okay, I'm as skeptical as the next woman, but when I went sailing this summer, my period began the day we set out for three days of racing on a boat with no privacy or "facilities" and rather than deal with all the fuss and muss under these circumstances I simply asked my body, politely, to hold off for three days and I stopped bleeding until the end of the regatta at which point everything proceeded normally.
I have some good news about Instead. I called the old New York office, finally, hoping that there might be some more information.
There was a message saying that Ultrafem had been bought by another company but that Instead was still being distributed by Ultrafem in Missoula until the new company got production and distribution underway. Anyone can call the toll free number and order by mail: 877-367-9636 (or 406-542-3185). The minimum order is three 24-count boxes, but any Instead devotee won't mind buying that much! It's about $24, including shipping. Apparently, they are also now shipping again to their previous distributors, like CVS and other drug stores. I'm really glad I called, and relieved that Instead isn't making a total disappearing act.
Hope this helps some of your readers.
I don't know if you've already found this, but the company's [the company that bought the Instead menstrual cup] full name is Akcess Pacific Group LLC and their Web site is http://www.akcesspacific.com/ -- there's nothing there at the moment. I'm one of the Instead converts.
Unfortunately I figured it out too late!
I came across the Instead menstrual cups over a year ago. I had never seen or heard any advertising for this product -- I simply came across it in the grocery store! I ABSOLUTELY ADORE this product. It only took two tries to get the knack of what I was to do and felt that I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. I have a small and tipped uterus and although I was concerned at first as to whether the cup would fit properly, stay in place, move, be difficult to remove, and if I would feel it (like I do with tampons -- even the "teenage" sizes). NO PROBLEM!
As a classroom teacher I don't get much of a chance to run to the washroom as I can't leave the students alone (for legal ramifications) . . . using the Instead cup lets me not worry about leakage, seepage and that constant feeling that I'm wet (unlike pads). As far as Instead being inconvenient when in public washrooms, it just takes a little forethought -- wash hands well before going to the stall and simply be organized. I never have a problem, it just takes a minute or two longer than if you weren't menstruating.
I swear by this product. I have never been able to feel so totally uninhibited. A real extra is the fact that you can have sex while using the product. Neither my partner nor I have a problem with engaging in sexual activity while I'm menstruating but the cup certainly adds to continued pleasure without having to make sexual concessions.
Cost sometimes is a concern -- pads and tampons are cheaper -- but if I budget just right, I'm never without Instead.
Dear Harry Finley,
I'm just checking out your Web site through AOL's on-line info on women's health/menstruation/recommended site. I first heard of your museum by watching Under Wraps on TVO (TV Ontario, public broadcast station) last year, near the same time I was taking a menstruation workshop here in Toronto. The course was titled "Looking forward to your next period? Here's how." The woman who runs the course is now about to finish a book and get it published.
I think your museum is so cool. I'm only beginning to fully appreciate myself how much menstruation is still, in 1998, a taboo topic, right up there with mental illness. I'm fascinated by the fact that despite all the forward thinking, "true" feminist women out there (like the above mentioned woman running the workshop), it took a man to get it together and organize a "freak show" (I mean that in a joking way). I'm a little surprised that running a museum exclusively involving "herstory" (feminism for history), hasn't improved your love life [!]. I've always thought that the best boyfriends I've ever had have been the ones with the most sisters, particularly ones they're close to. I hypothesized that these guys "just understand" because they've been conditioned by so many other influential women in their lives. Too bad that the research and curation of "women's things" doesn't seem to rub off in quite the same way a sister would! [See And a Letter From Your MUM, towards the bottom of this page, for some insight.]
Since watching Under Wraps, taking the menstruation workshop, having surgery for suspected endometriosis, being the center feature of a shimanic healing circle, and generally struggling every month with excruciating menstrual pain, I've come to a few current conclusions which I freely share.
1) The capitalist world has no place for a woman who "just needs a day off once a month." No work=no productivity=no money, regardless of ANY inner wisdom which might occur at that time.
2) Menstruation and menstrual problems are a grossly under- researched topic in the medical field. I have discovered several ob/gyn doctors who were so surprisingly under-read, that I was recommending BASIC books to them like "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" by Christiane Northrup. And sad but unfortunately true, most doctors today would STILL rather prescribe a pill for a menstrual problem instead of researching and testing to discover the cause. Or even worse, the doctor will say that "it's all in your head, dear," or "you're just under a lot of stress"!! I hate that! Would a guy get that response if he was complaining of recurring pain in his testes??!! I DON'T THINK SO!! And don't even get me started about the medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth!! [What a topic! It deserves its own Web site.]
3) I'm not surprised at all that most people/women don't even know about the rag system, which has probably been used since the time humans have spun cloth to make clothes. That's the end result of those historical ads you've posted on your site. Ninety-nine percent of the women I know just go "huh?" when I tell them I use the Many Moons cloth pads.
4) Of all the employers I've ever had whom I've had to explain that "I have to go home NOW as I've just puked by guts out in the bathroom and my menstrual cramps are so bad I can barely stand up," the MOST sympathetic have ALWAYS been men. Maybe because they've simply never been there, and have to take my word (as well as their sisters' and wives') for it.
5) I encourage you to challenge your museum patrons that, after viewing your creation, to use "menstruation" or "period" in every-day language.
After all, it happens/will happen/has happened to just over half the world's population for up to a week out of every month, making it WAY more common than the common cold.
Keep up the fine work - you're shattering the image of a huge taboo subject, which is appreciated more than I could ever express!
Dear MUM Visitors,
Just an hour ago, while constructing this Columbus Day update, I reread an e-mail from Kathleen O'Grady suggesting that I scan a Bible chapter - Leviticus 15, or the fifteenth chapter of the Third Book of Moses - to put with her exchange of e-mail with a writer from Purdue University for a new page about religion and menstruation.
I knew I had a Bible stashed in the piles of drawings, books and Zip drives in the Sears metal racks next to me; I see it every time I start to straighten the mess up. I took it from a stack of my father's things after he died eight years ago.
The Bible formed a lump under a box of Staples envelopes and computer catalogs and I happily extracted it. It lacked a cover, and I read a blue-ink inscription on the top, browning page: "Mother from Marybelle [my mother's favorite of four sisters - Mom, the youngest, had no brothers - and who all had names beginning with "M"]," and then, in another hand, in pencil, "To Marjorie [my mother] when I am gone." Aunt Marybelle wrote "June 24th, 1924" in the top right corner of the page.
Startled, I stopped working on the page you are now reading and started looking at the dozens of poems and articles someone, probably Mom and her mother, cut from newspapers and magazines and saved between the pages. I saw some photos, including a reddening but good Polaroid of my mother and father, and my high school graduation photo, and some letters and notes.
I read a letter from my mother to her mother. The letterhead was The Germantown Hospital, located, I believe, outside Philadelphia; I knew Mom had been a student nurse, as had all her sisters, and I think this was where she had studied.
Mom had copied out a poem for my grandmother, who died when I was two or three, and mailed it to her with this note:
Mother, I love this poem.
It makes me think of you when your father died and you and your sister were left alone & sent out among your relatives. [I had never known this]. Especially the last line I like ["He who wears strength must ever walk alone." Mom penciled a line under the first five words and two under "ever walk alone."].
My Mom herself grieved to death five years after muscular dystrophy killed my little brother, Jim, when he was 21. She had nursed him since he was three, when a doctor diagnosed the genetic disease. He told Mom that she had given her youngest child the gene for this always-fatal illness, a fact that wore her out, just as it had killed my brother. She had "walked alone" and she was lonely indeed, in spite of her religion and family.
In an article about tampons in the Village Voice, in 1994, (see the end of this item) the reporter noted that I displayed no family photos in my house. That's because much of my past is too painful for me to set up reminders on tables and walls, and because I store everything clearly, but away, in my memory anyhow.
I am an old bachelor, and most of those who remain of my distant family find this museum shameful, and me shameless. One prominent member said I disgraced the family name - and worse. MUM's not something I created not knowing the snares, but I underestimated the terror it evokes.
My family now is cats, two indoor and six outside; a mama cat parked her kittens under a bush in my backyard six weeks back and left them eight days ago. Today, after this update, I hope to finish the first of two feral cat shelters for them and neighborhood wanderers who drop in. Hm, I could keep them in the museum in cold weather, and maybe they could get used to the two furry guys already here in the rest of the house . . . . [They are now, August 1999, my permanent housemates, after a neighbor threatened to kill them. The last time I saw Minnie, an irascible, beautiful tomcat, was the day before I had a coronary angioplasty, in early May, 1999; he was outside, and I'm sure he's dead. I miss him very much. That leaves seven cats.]
Now I must put my other family back into the Bible, if I can, and get this page done.
(Read the FAQ for more on why I started the museum, as well as about my family, and my idea of the future museum. And read Karen Houppert's Village Voice article, a good one [and read about her valuable book The Curse, an expansion of the article], and look at the new page about religion and menstruation. Oh, see and read [bottom of the page] about my cats - also about the family of five plus two that shares my house.)
Irregular menses identify women at high risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which exists in 6-10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is a major cause of infertility and is linked to diabetes.