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::: workshop details :::
Be Rad, Make a Pad
In this workshop, participants will learn how to make their own reusable cloth menstrual pads and leave with an actual pad! While making the pads, there will be an opportunity for an informal discussion about the feminine hygiene industry and other alternative menstrual products.
Space: A room with tables and chairs. The number of these will depend upon the number of participants and the parameters of the space
Materials: Scissors, thread, flannel fabric, sewing machines, snaps, sewing needles, straight pins. We can discuss who will supply what. A 2-page hand-out will need to be photocopied for each participant which I can send in advance.
Time: 1-2 hours with sewing machines, 2 hours without.
Number of Participants: 1-25
This workshop will cover a brief history of the feminine hygiene industry, its hidden dangers, and the resistance that has been going on for the past 20 years. We will get to talk the various forms of activism and consumer resistance that exist to challenge this industry, making links to broader issues of sexism, environmental degradation and imperialism.
Space: A room with couches or chairs, preferably with a door that can be closed. Basically, we need a place for people to be comfortable.
Materials: A flip-chart or chalkboard is helpful. A 3-page hand-out will need to be photocopied for each participant which I can send in advance.
Time: 1-2 hours
Number of Participants: 2-?
This workshop will cover a brief history of The western health care industry and gynecology as a practice. Weꡑll then look at the ways that this affects peopleꡑs daily lives and what we can do to change it. There time given to discussion about the participantsꡑ own health issues, with a focus placed on the knowledge that everyone already has, and how to find better support resources. This workshop will use tools of popular education ? storytelling, drawing and small group work ? to shift perceptions about who and what constitutes a health care authority.
Space: A room with couches or chairs as well as space to move around. Preferably with a door that can be closed. Again, somewhere for people to get comfortable.
Materials: A flip-chart or chalkboard is helpful. A 4-page hand-out will need to be photocopied for each participant which I can send in advance.
Time: 1.5-3 hours
Number of Participants: 8-20
Cost for all Workshops
For organizations hosting events that have a working budget, we ask for an honourarium of $50-125 per workshop. If the host organization is without a budget, we ask that donations be collected at the door. All proceeds will go towards transportation and living costs for the tour. Any extra money will go towards future tours of the bloodsisters which are planned for Mexico and the east coast of Canada and the US.
Health & Enviro & Social Impacts
::: what every menstruating woman needs to know :::
Red Alert! Red Alert! Red Alert!
Toxic chemicals are contained in disposable products which are bleached with chlorine compounds. There is accumulating evidence that industrial uses of chlorine, including pulp and paper bleaching, releases toxic dioxins which bioaccumulate in the environment causing serious harm to wildlife.
Tampons and pads are often overpackaged and cause enormous waste.The average woman will go through about 10,000 pads or tampons in her life not to mention the millions of unnecessary plastic tampon applicators which wash up on beaches around the world and fill up landfills.
In addition to this ecological damage, there are also personal dangers caused by sanitary product use. Dioxin, a by-product of the chlorine bleaching process, has a number of serious health impacts: the effects of shredding rayon fibers from tampons in women's vaginas, the probable link between dioxin and endometriosis, the possibility of cervical cancer being linked to prolonged tampon use over many years, toxic shock syndrome, headaches and so on.
The Problem With Chlorine
All the major brands (Tampax, Playtex, O.B.) use the chlorine bleaching process to whiten their products. Aside from leaving behind minute quantities of toxic dioxins in the product and releasing dioxins into our rivers and waterways, there is absolutely no logical reason for bleaching sanitary products whiter than white. Tampons are not sterile.
All the major brands contain rayon which is a pulp product which can only be made through a chlorine or chlorinated compound bleaching process. Fibre loss from rayon has been traced as the probable cause of Toxic Shock Syndrome and has been shown to damage a woman's vagina by causing ulceration and a peeling of the mucous membrane. If one must use tampons, alternative products are available which are made from100% cotton and if bleached at all, it is with hydrogen peroxide which guarantees the product to be dioxin-free.
Facts from: "Stop the Whitewash" Campaign: a project of The WEED Foundation.
Menstrual Activism ::: building a hand-made revolt
Tell the major producers how you feel. Use the 1-800 number on the box of your product, or visit the Tampax web site (yes they do have one) and tell them what you think. Check out our page of related links.
Demand chlorine-free products. If your local store does not supply them, demand that they do.
Demand products with reduced packaging. Women buy 80% of all consumer goods and just about all menstrual products. That's a lot of clout. Use it.
Write letters to your government or MP asking for stricter control over menstrual products. Currently, they fall into a loophole where there is little regulation. Any company can put out their product without proper testing.
Tell your friends what you know and how you feel. Menstruation is a cool part of some woman's life. Don't hide it. Talk about it.
Switch to better, more ecological products. Chlorine-free disposables without applicators are available at most health food stores. These products shouldn't contain deodorants, perfumes and known irritants which interfere with the natural chemistry of a woman's body and which we do not need.
A better alternative is to buy or sew your own set of five to ten washable pads. They are easy to use, cute to look at, and comfortable. Just use them, soak them in cold water, and cold water wash them with your regular laundry. Making your own is pretty cool. We have patterns that you can try out or you can design your own. All you need is some soft natural cloth like cotton flannel. Cut it into the shape you like, perhaps based on the size the crotch part in your undies and sew. It's easy!
Other alternatives exist for women. Natural sea sponges can be bought at any pharmacy. Just attach some dental floss for a string. Dip it in boiling water to sterilise it, squeeze and insert as you would any tampon.
Another alternative is the menstrual cup. It is made from 100% natural rubber from the tropical rainforest. Insert it like a tampon and it catches your flow. Blood Sisters: Makers of Urban Armor sells the Keeper and funky reusable pads at reasonable prices. You can order on line. Check out our Urban-Armor section here.
zines ::: d.i.y. girlway style publications
This is a call for submissions for our next publication of RED ALERT! We want your stories, poetry, visuals, rants, jokes, comics, remedies, expressions and essays on your experiences of blood, stains, bitching, cycles, taboos, bed sheets, bloating, rituals, erotica, cramps, facts, teas, clots, cunts and lives.
We have great zines you can order. We have the last four back issues of Red Alert. They are full of amazing artistic, poetic and political responses to menstruation and herbal d.i.y. info. The first two also include patterns how to make your own pads. They rock as bathroom reading material for you and your guests.
We carry this wicked zine called Wives Tales out of Santa Cruz because it rocks so hard. It is a handy herbal gyno reference and we love her layout, style and approach. We also carry Hot Pantz which is a project that started in our home base city, Montreal many moons ago before we came on to the scene. It's a legendary d.i.y. girl way style herbal remedy women's health resource. It includes a great glossary of simple and accessible herbs, how to make your own tinctures as well as chalk full with womanly "problems" and their remedies.
We are now working with the Hot Pantz lady, Isabelle to get it out there. Are you interested in supporting our menstrual rebellion and getting some of our gear? You can order through Urban Armor. We have such a roster of kick ass girl health zines and other feminine protection for your turn of the century power. We are also looking for more to include and build our red zone coailition.
on the rag
::: how to make your own reusable pads :::
At long last, the pattern for making pads is up on-line! Print out the front and back side of the instructions, and the pattern. Then all you have to do is cut out the pattern, follow the instructions, and you will have your very own hand made pad! We are happy to distribute these patterns for free but all donations are appreciated and needed, as our only funding source is through urban-armor, where you can buy pads if you don't want to make them
Yours in the hand-made revolution
powerpads ::: click here to see the surprise images you may get on your pads!
Urban Armor has created stylish, fancy, washable cotton pads. Why should we dress our periods in pale, drab, boring colors? Let's celebrate and bust out in our fashionable, leopard print, Urban Armor Gear. We love the exciting edge we have created, using a variety of fabrics, colors and patterns that are fun to wear.
Plus, each power pad pouch comes with a removable towel fancied with a cool silkscreen design, a choice of images of "your feminine protector." Our "Rag Flag" is every girl's special, secret holder of super girl power. Check out our image gallery to see what you might find, as an emblem of revolution, tucked in your panties. It is only $9 dollars for one power pad with rag flag insert, but we offer deals for more than one that you should check out.
The Lowdown In Detail
Urban Armor Power Pads are shaped for the contours of the female body for a comfortable fit. Our design includes 'wings,' much like the 'wings' found on most disposable pads, that assures that the pad does not slip around during an active day.
Our wings are sewn out of soft, 100% cotton flannel, they wrap around the crotch of your undies, and fasten with a silver snap.
We offer fancy pads in terry towel for extra absorbancy or soft flannel for 'regular' to light flows. You can depend on changing your cloth pad as often you would your disposable one. If you are a regular tampon user, we recommend you try your first cloth pad at bedtime, or when you know you will be home, for a stretch of time, to get familiar and comfortable with your pad and flow.
Sizes: Queen Size and Regular
We have various lengths and thicknesses and are forever improving our designs (thanx to the guidance and advice of ladies who have used our gear over the years). We have long pads, 'Queen Size,' for super soakers and bedtime wear or shorter ones for the 'Regular' flowing kind of gal. Both are made out of terry towel which is more absorbant than flannel and comes in a variety of colors.
Our third design, the "Lily" pad, is designed for regular to lighter days. It is made out of soft flannel, in just one length and comes in variety of fabric prints: leopard print, space rockets, pink gingham, little kitties, sweet sheep and in solid burgundy and black. We want you to feel good about yourself, even sexy, during this time of the month with our new style of feminine protection.
Rag Flag Surprise
Inside the pad pouch is a removable extra layer of terry towel and flannel which we call the 'Rag Flag.' The 'Rag Flag' is easy to get to, to properly clean, as well as, versatile in absorbancy depending on your menstrual needs. You can add more layers of terry towel or flannel for super soaker days, or choose to not use the insert at all, on lighter days. To get extra Urban Armor Rag Flags its $4 bucks only. Each one has a unique design.
How To Take Care
Washing is pretty simple. It's a switch from trashing your disposables every month, but soon, you too will hopefully find that it becomes a part of your routine and ritual- another moment of making the decision to take care of your self and our environment.
You can choose to rinse out immediately under cold water after changing your pad. Or store in a close-tight bag and wash later. After the first rinse out, you can either hang it to dry, throw it in a washing machine, or throw in a bowl over night to soak.
This second technique really assures that you prevent stains. You can add a wee bit of vinegar or tea tree oil to your soaker bowl to disinfect your used pads. However, if you keep the soaking water pure, after you can feed your plants with a nourishing treat. But be reminded, if you choose a dark colored pad or do not care about seeing stains on your pad, you may find the simple rinse and hang to dry technique, the easiest.
If a woman purchases a Starter Kit, our Five Star Variety Pack, she receives a free larger draw-string bag that can store up to fifteen pads in her panty drawer and it's also good for travel. For only $40 dollars you get equipped with 3 regular pads, one Queen size and one Lily pad. Plus you get a free Hot Pantz zine and fancy bag.
For a larger kit, the Variety Pack, you get 9 power pads complete with Rag Flags, plus a free Hot Pantz zine and a fancy bag for $72 dollars.
If you're a menstrual rebel that wants to complete her cycle with power pad protection you may want to get our Baker's Dozen Special Deal. You get 13 pads for the price of 12, plus a free Hot Pantz zine and a fancy bag for $96. Cool!
our battlecry rant :::
Urban Armor is a cool handmade project that is dedicated to building safer, more comfortable and even fun protection for that time of the month. It is an act of resistance to corporate powers when you choose your Urban Armor. It is time to take our own protection into our own hands!
Because of the feminine hygiene's pervasive presence and coercive nature, it is difficult to imagine life without popping our tampons or throwing out our bloody plastic pads each month.
To consider using cloth pads disgusts most women who grew up with tampon dispensers and commercials fueling our embarrassment of our bodies. Multi-national giants have successfully saturated the "American," "Canadian," and "European" markets that it has become a given that a girl graduates into womanhood with the decision of what company she chooses as her "feminine protection."
Tampons suck. They suck. They suck. They suck. Physically. Environmentally. Economically. Not only are they designed to absorb your monthly flow, they also absorb all your other good juices that keep your little lady ecosystem healthy and in check.
Disposable pads suck, just as hard, except they don't suck us as dry, but instead, line our panties with plastic & chemicals, suffocating our vag while disturbing our flora. They also pile high to the sky in landfill sites and don't biodegrade.
Disposable protection only protects the mainstream feminine hygiene industry's profits, not our bodies. These corporations are not primarily concerned with the serious environmental ramifications, the health implications or the economic impact on women's lives.
Instead, major companies make money off of the promotion of shame, secrecy and the "inconvenience" of our bodies. Each time we throw away another tampon we uphold an economic system that heralds waste, trashes women's bodies, abuses workers in factories and destroys the environment.
They fill our landfill sites. They deplete our pockets. They trash our natural resources. They use toxic chemicals. They think we should smell like baby powder. They feed corporate power. They colonize cultures. They monopolize shelf space. Hell, they own most of the world! They make terrible commercials. They uphold racist ideologies. They pathologize our mood swings. They penetrate our skool systems. They instruct us not to know our bodies. They choke our wildlife.
They pretend to be sterile. They lie on their packages. They can cause cancer. They only really care about their profits. Hell they own most of the world!
They have global marketing schemes to colonize all womens' bodies. Basically, they are dirty business.
So, this month ladies, stop feeding corporate greed each time you bleed!
Strap on your sexy gear this month, and take to the streets, the super girls that you are!
If you are interested in more menstrual politics check out our activist project at www.bloodsisters.org
Enter the Red Zone
Rant on! Spread the word!
Because we have a right to bitch!
And we are building the almighty uprising!
A paperdoll chain!
Am I pregnant? (whatever the circumstances)
I cannot help you determine whether or not you are pregnant. A skipped period is a sign of pregnancy, but you can skip a period for other reasons. (see next FAQ) . If you've had unprotected sex or think your birth control method may have failed,. go to the drugstore and buy a home pregnancy test, or go see your doctor, or make an appointment at Planned Parenthood.
By the way, there are forms of emergency contraception that you can get from a doctor which will keep you from becoming pregnant after unprotected sex, or when your method fails. This link will take you directly to a page within the Planned Parenthood web site that will explain how this works.
My period is irregular, is this okay?
Some women think that if they do not have a perfect 5 day period every 28 days they are irregular, and there is something wrong with them. "Normal" cycles are between 21 days and 35 days, but I know some women who only have 3 or 4 periods a year. It would be prudent to check with your doctor if your cycle is outside of the 21-35 day range, especially if its less than 21 days. I used to have a 21 day cycle - and I know more frequent periods would have driven me crazy!
Bleeding times between 2 and 7 days are average, and the tempo and consistency of your flow is unique to you, and changable.
All of your cycles may not be the same length. Also, your cycle might change over time. For example, my cycle has lengthened from 21 days, and now comes in two sizes, a 25 day cycle and a 28 day cycle, but never 26 or 27 days. Go figure.
So basically, what is normal for you is regular. The best way to get a grip on this is to begin to chart your cycle, and look for patterns. A cycle is the length of time from the start of one period to the start of your next period. All you have to do to keep track of this is mark the first day you start to bleed on your calendar. You also might want to note if you had cramps, or if the flow was heavy or light.
It is common for a girl just starting her period to be irregular for a year or two, and an older woman's period might start getting wacky as early as 5 to 10 years before menopause.
If you are worried about missed periods, know that it is common to skip a period once in a while. If you are sure you are not pregnant, the missed period could be due to stress, travel, sudden weight gain or weight loss, or increased levels of exercise (missed periods are common in athletes). Your period should straighten out in a month or two. If it does not, see you doctor..
What about spotting between periods?
Bleeding in the middle of your cycle could mean different things. Some women bleed a little bit when they ovulate, and that is nothing to worry about. Mid-cycle and post-sex bleeding could also indicate that your cervix is unhappy due to some kind of STD like chlamydia or gonorrhea - or even cervical cancer. So get those Pap smears regularly, and talk to your doctor about mid-cycle bleeding.
I have heavy, painful periods . Should I be concerned?
Some pain and/or heavy bleeding may not mean anything terrible is going on, BUT on the other hand pain and heavy bleeding could be signs of certain conditions. For instance, heavy bleeding could indicate the presence of fibroids, which are benign tumors of the uterus, or the presence of a pelvic infection. So talk to your doctor.
Another possibility is endometriosis: you should follow this link and read about it some more if you have painful periods, especially when the period is accompanied by other symptoms like nausea or diarrhea.
What is with these big clot things I pass during my period?
Before I wrote this FAQ, women had been finding descriptions of clotting in the Experience section of this site, and writing me to express their relief that they are not the only ones who experience this. So let me say to those of you who have been worried about this: you are not dying! You are not alone!
My gynecologist explains clots to me as follows: Blood is pushed out of your uterus when the uterus contracts (you don't necessarily feel these contractions, but when they are strong, you feel them as cramps). The uterus releases "anti-coagulants" during menstruation. These are supposed to keep the blood from clotting up as it passes from the uterus to the vagina, thus making the whole bleeding process easier.
But if you have days of heavy cramps and heavy bleeding, you may pass dark, chunky clots of blood. On such days your contractions are so fast and so strong that the blood gets forced out before the anti-coagulants have time to take effect. So the blood clots. And you pass big chunky gobs of stuff.
If the clots you are passing are larger than, say, a quarter, you might want to ask your doctor about it, because that indicates that your periods are quite heavy, and they might want to check for fibroids (benign tumors).
I have this complicated menstrual problem....What do you recommend I do? Is my doctor treating me correctly?
I am not a doctor. I can't even guess what might be wrong with you. No one, for that matter, should or could diagnose you over the internet. See a doctor or other health practitioner. If you don't trust your doctor 100%, see another. If you don't have medical insurance, try going to a women's clinic, where they often have sliding scale fees. Try Planned Parenthood.
I am 14, 15, 16, 17 years old and have not started my period yet, what should I do??
Menarche (the first period) can occur anywhere from 9 to 17 or so. That's a broad time range, and it is always hard to be on either end of the range. Girls who start early are often embarrassed to share it with their friends who haven't started, and keep it secret for years. Girls who start later can feel immature or left out. Basically, it sucks all around. Very athletic girls tend to start late, by the way. But back to the question. If you are well into your 16th year and have not started it is probably time to talk to a doctor just to make sure that everything is okay. The doctor might just send you home to wait some more, but it can't hurt to ask. There is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about.
Is there any way I can postpone my period, bring my period on early, or skip my period?
I only know three possible methods for changing your period. One is for women on the Pill. I've heard that some women fiddle with their dosage to alter their periods. There is apparently an article about this in the July, 1998 issue of Self magazine, which I am looking for. Secondly, I believe there are herbs that may bring on a period. You should consult a trained herbalist or midwife to find out more. And last, there is menstrual extraction, a procedure that sucks out the contents of the uterus. I found some information on this within the Web by Women site - follow this link to go straight to their menstrual extraction page.