MUSEUM OF MENSTRUATION AND WOMEN'S HEALTH
New this week (in addition to the letters, etc.,
Would you stop menstruating if you could? (New contributions)
Words and expressions
about menstruation: Britain: on; Nigeria: Doing time, clock; U.S.A.: Charlie, girl flu, having your pixies (or, the pixies
have come), I have my full stop, I'm bleeding all over western North Carolina,
injured reserves, monthly issue, smoking a White Owl
What did women do about menstruation in
Migrane study at Emory University needs
Researchers at the Emory University School of Nursing are conducting
an Internet-based study looking at the experience of migraines in women
between the ages of 40 and 55. The study includes completion of online
questionnaires and participation in an online discussion group with other
women who also have headaches. For more information, please visit the study
Web site at http://www.sph.emory.edu/migraine,
or call the research phone line at 404-712-8558.
Thanks so much.
Conference for menstrual educators: Weaving the
This is a reminder of the upcoming conference: Weaving the Red Web:
Creating Community, Collaboration and Economic Well-Being among Bay Area
(and beyond) Menstrual Educators. The conference will be held on Friday,
April 11th and Saturday, April 12th, 2003 at the Women's Building in San
Francisco. The registration fee is $50. If you have not already registered,
please do so as soon as possible - space is limited!
You can register and get more information about the conference at www.theredweb.org. We now have online
registration and credit card payment capability.
Please help us by passing this email on to any woman you know who may
be interested in attending or becoming part of our Web.
Blessings to you all,
Kelly Rose Mason, Anna Yang, Helynna Brooke and Tamara Slayton, Women
of The Red Web Project
Article about menstrual cups in the New York Times
Illustration © 2000 Harry Finley
The excellent "Menstrual Cups, at Age 66, Begin to Make Up for
Lost Time," by Donald G. McNeil Jr., appeared in the Science Times
section of the February 4, 2003 newspaper. [You can retrieve the article
from the Times Web site.]
I liked seeing an authoritative, main-stream publication write about
this important help for women; they seldom do. The article, which discusses
The Keeper and Instead, quotes menstrual products safety expert Dr. Philip
Tierno, Jr., who is a MUM board member, and others (including me), and basically
is very positive about cups.
But contrary to the photo cut line, the picture of The Keeper cup in
the article sure looks as if it came from this MUM site (here),
not from Health Keeper Inc.
Read a short and incomplete history of menstrual cups here.
Buy Instead at http://www.softcup.com
and at some drug stores in the U.S.A., and The Keeper at http://www.thekeeperinc.com,
among many Web sites. And there is now the silicone (British) Mooncup, similar
in shape to the Keeper, at http://www.mooncup.co.uk
Letters to your MUM
Can you help these children?
Hello. I work with "low income" and "at risk" youth
in Sacramento, California. Recently we've been made aware of an issue with
our girls - they aren't being educated or supported about the changes going
on in their bodies. Additionally, they are coming to school without the
necessary products to take care of themselves. I am just hoping you may
have some resources that our nonprofit would be able to take advantage
of. Of course, like any nonprofit, we have very little money but a great
need to educate and equip our girls during this important and delicate
time in their lives. Thanks so much!
Tahoe/Colonial Collaborative for Healthy Children
5959 8th Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95820
"When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion" - African
Manufacturers! Make "Sneeze Pads"!
There are literally millions of us older American women who need a
"sneeze/cough" pad. Due to dropped bladders which affects so
many older women it is a real problem when you cough or sneeze and wet
yourself. It is uncontrollable. We need a pad a little longer than a panty
liner but thicker to keep our outer clothes dry when this occurs. It should
be like a panty liner to adhere to the panty yet approximately a half inch
thick for comfort as it is different from menstruation where 24 hour protection
is needed as with our problem it is a "may/may not" need situation.
The production of this product would be a godsend to millions of elderly
This is the only e-mail site I found to make my suggestion. Hopefully,
you have the connections to get to the proper manufacturers. I suggest
you call it "Sneeze Pad" as that tells it all to women with the
What do the Japanese use?
[This Canadian writer contributed an opinion to the Would
you stop menstruating
if you could? page - it begins with "Of course not"
- and I asked her about Japanese usage, since her address was in Japan.
Here's her reply.]
I have never heard or read about any use of menstrual cups in Japan,
but this may just due to my lack of knowledge on the subject.
I found some information on the percentage of tampon usage in Japan.
According to Unicharm, one of the major tampon manufacturers in Japan,
out of all tampon users represent 30 percent all tampon and pad users,
about half of the percentage of users in the U.S.A. They attribute this
to (1) the lack of information on tampons and a resistance to placing something
inside the body, (2) distrust based on failed attempts at usage such as
when the body is too tense and therefore the tampon cannot be inserted
or when the user has not been able to insert the tampon into its correct
As you note in your e-mail, tampon usage is far less common in Japan
(and I imagine the same holds true for much of Asia). Drug stores here
carry a wide array of pads, but only one or two brands of tampons. Some
bulletin boards I came across claimed that Japanese pads (called "napkins")
were the most functional in the world and featured complaints about North
American pads. Japanese pads can certainly claim to be the most varied,
with options including day/night, heavy/light (absorbency), winged, gathered,
and ones with paper undies attached. Someone has catalogued many of the
different brands in a Sanitary Napkin Library: http://anzu.sakura.ne.jp/~nap/napkin/library.htm
She was a test subject for, probably, Rely tampon
Rely tampon - part of box, at left - was a very absorbent tampon that
appeared in the late 1970s in America and was associated with deaths and
illness from toxic shock syndrome - as have been other tampons. This TSS
tragedy inspired changes in the way tampons were made, used and advertised.
In my college days, I lived in a household of nurses and nursing students.
We learned of a way to earn some extra money: a medical study of a new
brand of tampon. We went to our indoctrination sessions, received our diaries,
learned how to chart them, used our issued "pads only" for two
months. Had two internals [vaginal examinations] every month on specific
days of our cycles (I think day 4-7, preferably not menstruating; and maybe
We were to keep examiners ignorant of what product we were using. We
were divided into two groups and after about four months switched to the
other group. The tampons came in plain boxes and wrappers, but one in our
group for the first session obviously had a basic non-deodorant tampon.
Yes, we pledged to faithfully record the use of each tampon, time/date/hour/minute
of insertion/comfort of insertion/date/time of removal/comfort/leakage/cramps,
etc. But before we tried one of the obviously newfangled ones we decided
to observe one - and fudge one diary just a little. We were honest, but
not total fools, we thought. We filled a (probably six-ounce) Dixie [paper]
cup with water and let the tampon take a dive. After a short time we lifted
it out; it contained all of the water and did not drip.
It looked like a good thing to us, but we did decide to follow the
advice that the dispensers gave us and used a regular absorbency tampon
instead of a super as we were accustomed too.
Mostly nurses participated in the program, and participants were found
by word of mouth, so many of the women went to school, work, lived and
or spent time together. One time I went in for an internal and the clinical
and diary investigators were exhausted.
Something like 90 percent of the participants were being seen for the
two internals during two five-day time periods per month. That's when I
came to understand menstrual drift - or synchrony.
I once had a boyfriend who told me he thought all girls had their period
at the same time; all the girls from the local girls college did. I laughed
at him at the time, but in retrospect . . . . [The expression menstrual drift is new to me; I had only heard of synchrony. Read more about synchrony
here. Drift reminds me of the expression menstrual wave, and both are monosyllabic
words of Anglo-Saxon origin, in contrast to the classical origins of "synchrony,"
which makes it more "scientific"; read more about "menstrual
A couple of years later I started hearing radio spots about women dying
from using Rely tampon. I was really frightened. I had signed my rights
away. I have not been so free to use my body for science since then.
One of my former roommates ran out and bought cases of Rely before
it was pulled from the shelves. We knew that a plus absorbency could only
be used when the Hoover dam was breaking. And that you wanted the tampon
full enough not to stick when withdrawing. The general public was not at
all trained how to use it. And we are better off without it.
I am environment-and public-health oriented. I gave up absorbent crystal
"thin"pads and diapers, and dioxin tampons. I use sea sponges
[examples here], a water resistant (PUL) holder
that wraps around underwear and holds cloth pads under a strip of clear
elastic. I find cheese cloth washes and dries quickly and I only need about
four 1/2-1 yard lengths. My teenage daughter thinks this is really gross,
and laughs because I buy her "veggie" pads and tampons. I don't
want her to have all the years of dioxin and chemical exposure I have had.
Back in my college days I was fitted for a diaphragm by my roommate
(the one who bought cases of Rely) and told to use it to control menses
during sex - and anytime I wanted real security. I found It dislodged whenever
I had a BM [bowel movement], and in later years it blocked my urinary tract
causing recurrent kidney infections. "Today Sponge" worked better
for BC [birth control] and for sex without kidney infections. Instructions
said not to use it during menses, but I figured that just meant don't leave
it in eight hours or you may get TSS. I didn't need to leave it in eight
hours if I was menstruating. I guess it went off the market in USA but
may return soon. I hope so.
[After I asked her some questions, she added the following.]
I'm sure it was Rely (small crystal-filled "stay-dry liner,"
squishy gel beads upon Dixie cup saturation). The research took place at
Albany Medical Center. [One of the early public test areas for the commercial
tampon - maybe the only test area - was Rochester, also in the state of
New York.] The study could have started in summer, 1977. I think I remember
going to the "Altamont Fair" during one of the beginning "pad-only
months" which were used to allow our vaginal area to recover from
whatever product we previously used. I don't think I have retained any
paperwork regarding the study, but I think there were approximately 250
subjects. Most of the nurses worked at AMCH; two of my roommates did, one
in an obstetrics-related clinic. "Menstrual
drift" was the term I heard at the time and therefore have
always used. Synchrony seems to express the thought well, but I like the
idea of "drift," allowing some individual effect of cycle length
and life events [I like the word, too]. I am a person with very regular
28-day cycles, have birthed fraternal twins, and have been told I would
probably be one of the 1 percent failure rate for birth control pills.
Friends with histories of irregular cycles become
regular when spending time with me and have irregular cycles needing a
physician's intervention when relocated to another city. [!]
New Web site address for artist
I was wondering if you would take a moment of your time to review the
paintings displayed on my site. The focus of my work is to celebrate, inspire,
heal and empower women. Through my works, I attempt to redefine Western
femininity by reinterpreting and revitalizing aspects of female embodiment
to give them new positive meaning. My philosophical outlook is Humanist/Womanist.
I emphasize the personal worth of the individual through her beauty, intellect,
strength, emotional, instinctual and intuitive qualities, as the central
importance of human values, as opposed to specific religious or cultural
beliefs. Through my images I create a new dialogue about female sexuality,
reproduction and self worth. The figures are iconographic, representing
an all inclusive, universal woman. My work contains a wealth of information
about feminism, women's issues, health, psychology, history, legend, myth
and spiritual beliefs, all of which have been interpreted by and created
from the perspective of a female artist in the 21st century. However, this
said, I feel the impact and intention of my art is reduced by being spoken
-- what my art expresses cannot be translated into mere words. I hope you
will stop by for a visit to see for yourself and hopefully consider adding
my site to your Links section. I plan to add a link to your site as soon
as my web tech gets in gear. My site is still a work in progress - I am
adding a lot more written information that I think could be very inspirational
and useful to your viewers. One example of this is the information I plan
to include about Endometriosis in the Hysterikos Gallery which is a series
of paintings based on the Uterus. Thank you for your time and consideration.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Amy E. Fraser
Website Description: Amy E. Fraser's provocative, colorful images evoke
intense emotion. These powerful paintings boldly express intimate and often
painful views of the female experience. Ancient iconography is re-envisioned
to depict modern womanhood from a fresh feminist perspective. The focus
of the work is to celebrate, inspire and empower women.
Men! You can't live with them, you can't live without them
I was viewing your site and wondered if you had any information on
men wearing maxi pads to show empathy for their significant other while
on their period?
She disagrees with some information about the Wiccan religion on this
Continuing my browsing of your fascinating site, I came across your
page [here] with the Celtic religion letters,
and would like to add my two cents.
I agree with Ms. Nicholson [below] that Joanne's commentary [below]
(though I believe is largely quoting D.J. Conway) is not substantially
accurate. I am a long time follower of Wicca, and readily acknowledge that
it is a modern religion.
What neither Joanne nor Ms. Nicholson comment on is that Wiccan practices
today (particularly among Dianic Wiccans) include a focus on menstruation.
A woman's menstrual cycle is considered to echo the cycle of the moon,
tying women's energy closely to the Maiden/Mother/Crone cycle of the Goddess.
A wide of variety of practices have sprung up around this connection, to
celebrate and honor it.
For example, some Wiccan women practice a voluntary seclusion at the
time of menses, seeing it as a time for inward contemplation and self focus,
to focus on renewal for the coming month. Others mark the occasion with
special rituals, often including releasing regrets of the past month or
workings for what one wishes to see born in one's life in the next cycle.
A girl's first menses is celebrated in many traditions, often with
the presentation of a bracelet or necklace with beads that can be moved
to track her cycle. Some of these pieces of jewelry are quite remarkable,
with crimson crystals to mark the days of menses, and often a blue or green
bead to mark the likely time of ovulation. Depending on the tradition,
ritual tools may be gifted at first menses, such as chalices and cauldrons,
which represent the woman's genitals and womb.
Menopause is similarly honored, seen as marking a woman's ascent to
Crone-hood, the age of wisdom from experience. The Crone aspect of the
Goddess is seen as the keeper of knowledge, the guardian of secrets and
the bringer of the death without which there could be no rebirth. Depending
on the woman, Cronings may range from symbolic funerals for one's fertility
to ecstatic celebrations of the freedom that experience brings from social
and mental bonds.
In addition, there are many beliefs regarding menses that Wiccans consider
on a regular basis - a woman on her Moondays is often thought to be better
at magicks of divination and closure, while at the time of ovulation women
have a greater power for the energies of creation and summoning. Wiccan
women who garden will often take their cycle into account when planning
planting and harvesting, or may consider it inappropriate to harvest certain
plants thought to have magickal properties at the opposing point in their
Indeed, one of the challenges faced by Wicca today is how to develop
traditions and practices of coming of age for men, since the cycle of a
man's life is so less clearly defined and tied to the Goddess and God.
"Let's get One Thong Straight"
Hi. Thought you might appreciate this. I liked your table at Vaginapalooza
at University of Delaware a couple of years ago. http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=15065
[I just again had a table there last week, something I always enjoy.]
Actress in menstrual products ad?
Somewhere I saw an old magazine ad (early 1980s) for Maxi Thins. The
model was now actress Jamie Gertz [at left, who debuted with Tom Cruise
in Endless Love, 1981]. I think I found the ad in a book. I bet you can
find it in one of the books you list. [See some books about menstruation
in English and German.]
[See other well-known people in menstrual
The PMS & PMDD Web site
I am the owner/author of a new Web site called The
PMS & PMDD Website
While browsing the internet doing some research, I happened across
I was very impressed with the content on your site and did not hesitate
to add a Web link on my splash page to mum.org. If you are interested in
linking to my site, please feel free to check it out. If you decide not
to link, this is ok anyway, your site is great! :) Thank you for the different,
informative and humorous angle to an age-old female malady.
© 2008 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute
any of the work on
this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the
author. Please report suspected violations to firstname.lastname@example.org
Canadian site for women's health news and information
I am writing to tell you about an important online women's health resource
that I think would be an appropriate link for your site.
The Canadian Women's Health Network
(www.cwhn.ca) is a national non-profit organization. Our Web site is one
of the premier Canadian portals to resources, news, and information about
Our site offers:
· Breaking women's health news
· Thousands of heath articles and information organized by subject
· Links to women's health resources around the globe
· National and International conference and event listings
· Access to women's health resources through our searchable
database of more than 1600 organizations, 2400 published resources, 250
specialists, and 200 projects.
· Much, much more!
Most of the information and links on our site are suitable for health
consumers in both Canada and the U.S. Our site includes Frequently Asked
Questions on a wide range of sexual health topics, including this one about
talking with daughters about menstruation http://www.cwhn.ca/resources/faq/periods.html.
I also encourage you to post a link to our sister organization, The Centres of Excellence for Women's Health
(www.centres.ca). Their Web site provides online access to many publications
and research bulletins about women,s health.
Thank you for your help in keeping the Women's Health Movement connected
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Julia P. Allen
Canadian Women's Health Network
Gloria Steinem's "If men Could Menstruate" - in Spanish
[A Spanish teacher of English in Spain challenged her students to
translate Gloria Steinem's famous and funny essay - here,
in English - into Spanish.]
Thanks for including the link!
There's an address change:
Here you get directly to the translation and there's a link to the
English version. People asked if I did the translation, and as I wrote
what things I didn't know (cultural bits) some peeps have sent some information,
like people from Znet in Spanish.
The exercise I proposed students and teachers was imitating the writing
and adapting to the Spanish context. Nobody has sent anything yet, mostly
because G.S.'s text is SO GOOD!
Naturopathic physician in Irvine, California
I am a naturopathic physician in Irvine, California and 75 percent
of my patients are those with female problems. I wonder if you could be
good enough to check me out on
and link my Web page to your Web site for the benefit of the wide female
Thanks in advance,
Alex Strande, ND, Ph.D.
Canadian TV film about menstruation Under Wraps now called Menstruation:
Breaking the Silence and for sale
Read more about it - it includes this
museum (when it was in my house) and many interesting people associated
publically with menstruation. Individual Americans can buy the video by
Films for the Humanities
P.O. Box 2053
Princeton, NJ 08543-2053
Toll free order line: 1-800-257-5126
Canadians purchase it through the National Film Board of Canada.
Did your mother slap you when you had your
If so, Lana Thompson wants to hear
The approximately 4000 items of this museum will go to Australia's largest
museum . . .
if I die before establishing the Museum of Menstruation and Women's
Health as a permanent public display in the United States (read more of
my plans here). I have had coronary angioplasty;
I have heart disease related to that which killed all six of my parents
and grandparents (some when young), according to the foremost Johns Hopkins
lipids specialist. The professor told me I would be a "very sick person"
if I were not a vegetarian since I cannot tolerate any of the medications
available. Almost two years ago I debated the concept of the museum on
American national television ("Moral Court," Fox Network) and
MUM board member Miki Walsh (see the board),
who was in the audience at Warner Brothers studios in Hollywood, said I
looked like a zombie - it was the insomnia-inducing effect of the cholesterol
And almost two years ago Megan Hicks, curator of medicine at Australia's
Powerhouse Museum, the country's largest, in Sydney, visited MUM (see her
and read about the visit). She described her
creation of an exhibit about the history of contraception that traveled
Australia; because of the subject many people had objected to it before
it started and predicted its failure. But it was a great success!
The museum would have a good home.
I'm trying to establish myself as a painter (see
some of my paintings)
in order to retire from my present job to give myself the time to get this
museum into a public place and on display permanently (at least much of
it); it's impossible to do now because of the time my present job requires.
An Australian e-mailed me about this:
Wow, the response to the museum, if it were set up in Australia, would
be so varied. You'd have some people rejoicing about it and others totally
opposing it (we have some yobbos here who think menstruation is "dirty"
and all that other rubbish). I reckon it would be great to have it here.
Imagine all the school projects! It might make a lot of younger women happier
about menstruating, too. I'd go check it out (and take my boyfriend too)
Hey, are you related to Karen Finley, the performance artist?? [Not
that I know of, and she hasn't claimed me!]
Don't eliminate the ten Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau of the
Department of Labor
The Bush Administration is planning to propose, in next year's budget,
to eliminate the ten Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau of the Department
of Labor. This decision signals the Administration's intent to dismantle
the only federal agency specifically mandated to represent the needs of
women in the paid work force.
Established in 1920, the Women's Bureau plays a critical function in
helping women become aware of their legal rights in the workplace and guiding
them to appropriate enforcement agencies for help. The Regional Offices
take the lead on the issues that working women care about the most - training
for higher paying jobs and non-traditional employment, enforcing laws against
pay discrimination, and helping businesses create successful child-care
and other family-friendly policies, to name only a few initiatives.
The Regional Offices have achieved real results for wage-earning women
for eighty-one years, especially for those who have low incomes or language
barriers. The one-on-one assistance provided at the Regional Offices cannot
be replaced by a Web site or an electronic voice mail system maintained
You can take action on this issue today! Go to http://capwiz.com/nwlc/home/
to write to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and tell her you care about
keeping the Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau in operation. You can
also let E. Mitchell Daniels, Jr., Director of the Office of Management
and Budget, know how you feel about this. You can write a letter of your
own or use one we've prepared for you.
If you find this information useful, be sure to forward this alert
to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up to receive
Email Action Alerts from the National Women's Law Center at www.nwlc.org/email.
I'm decreasing the frequency of the updates to
make time for figuring out how to earn an income
I can retire from my graphics job in July, 2002, and I must if I want
to continue developing the site and museum, because of the time involved.
But I can't live on the retirement income, so I must find a way to earn
enough to support myself. I'm working on some ideas now, and I need the
only spare time I have, the time I do these updates on weekends. So, starting
December 2001, I will update this site once a month rather than weekly.
Book about menstruation published in Spain
The Spanish journalist who contributed some words
to this site last year and wrote about this museum (MUM) in the Madrid
newspaper "El País" just co-authored with her daughter
a book about menstruation (cover at left).
She writes, in part,
Dear Harry Finley,
As I told you, my daughter (Clara de Cominges) and I have written a
book (called "El tabú") about menstruation, which
is the first one to be published in Spain about that subject. The
book - it talks about the MUM - is coming out at the end of March and I
just said to the publisher, Editorial Planeta, to contact you and send
you some pages from it and the cover as well. I'm sure that it will be
interesting to you to have some information about the book that I
hope has enough sense of humour to be understood anywhere. Thank
you for your interest and help.
If you need anything else, please let me know.
Belen Lopez, the editor of nonfiction at Planeta, adds that "Margarita,
more than 50 years old, and Clara, 20, expose their own experiences about
menstruation with a sensational sense of humour." (publisher's
My guess is that Spaniards will regard the cover as risqué,
as many Americans would. And the book, too. But, let's celebrate!
I earlier mentioned that Procter & Gamble
was trying to change attitudes in the Spanish-speaking Americas to
get more women to use tampons, specifically Tampax - a hard sell.
Compare this cover with the box cover for the Canadian television video
about menstruation, Under Wraps, and the second
An American network is now developing a program about menstruation
for a popular cable channel; some folks from the network visited me recently
to borrow material.
And this museum lent historical tampons and ads
for a television program in Spain last year.
Now, if I could only read Spanish! (I'm a former German teacher.)
Money and this site
I, Harry Finley, creator of the museum and site and the "I"
of the narrative here, receive no money for any products or services on
this site. Sometimes people donate items to the museum.
All expenses for the site come out of my pocket, where my salary from
my job as a graphic designer is deposited.
What happens when you visit this site?
For now, a search engine service will tell me who visits this site,
although I don't know in what detail yet. I am not taking names - it's something
that comes with the service, which I'm testing to see if it makes it easier
for you to locate information on this large site.
In any case, I'm not giving away or selling names of visitors and you
won't receive anything from me; you won't get a "cookie." I feel
the same way most of you do when you visit a site: I
want to be anonymous! Leave me alone!
Help Wanted: This Museum Needs a
Public Official For Its Board of Directors
Your MUM is doing the paper work necessary to become eligible to receive
support from foundations as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. To achieve
this status, it helps to have a American public official - an elected or
appointed official of the government, federal, state or local - on its board of directors.
What public official out there
will support a museum for the worldwide culture of
women's health and menstruation?
Eventually I would also like to entice people experienced in the law,
finances and fund raising to the board.
Do You Have Irregular Menses?
If so, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome
[and here's a support association for it].
Jane Newman, Clinical Research Coordinator at Brigham
and Women's Hospital, Harvard University School of Medicine, asked
me to tell you that
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.
Learn more about current
research on PCOS at Brigham and Women's
Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University
- or contact Jane Newman.
If you have fewer than six
periods a year, you may be eligible to participate
in the study!