The average woman spends six or seven full years of her life menstruating (I did the calculation -- is that nuts or what?) and uses over 10,000 pads or tampons. That's a ton, considering that tampons generate waste and there are all kinds of scary things about them, like the chlorine bleaching process that leaves minute amounts of dioxin, which is toxic to the immune system and definitely not something you want to stick up your pie. So since the red menace is always with us, and to celebrate International Women's Day, NOW looks at other, more eco-friendly options as well as some other fun period-related stuff. Remember even the more natural tampons can put you at risk of toxic shock syndrome. Always use the lowest absorbency possible to help avoid this.
1. Take the edge off with St. Francis Herb Farm Crampbark Combo. Aptly named. Relieves muscle tension and cramps (Noah's, 667 Yonge, 416-969-0220, and others, $16.19). Or Anointment Wise Woman Ointment for PMS and cramps (Noah's $16.19) or Solgar Herbal Female Complex (Noah's, $21.19). Essential/aromatherapy oils including Cinnamon Leaf, Clary Sage and Peppermint (Noah's, $5.99, $9.79, $7.59) ease and "promote" the flow.
2. Bleeding can be fun! With Vinnie's Giant Roller Coaster, chart a year's worth of periods, create a detailed account of your cycle, learn cramp cures and read fun stuff. Comes with groovy tampon carrying case (Toronto Women's Bookstore, 73 Harbord, 416-922-8744, $26.50).
3. Check out these books: Period. A Girl's Guide (Good For Her, 175 Harbord, 416-588-0900, $15.95) and The Period Book: Everything You Don't Want To Ask But Need To Know (TWB, $14.95).
4. Homeopathic remedies ease cramps and "tearfulness" so maybe you won't start bawling because the coffee shop is out of ginger tea, which can make counter people kind of uncomfortable. For relief of cramps and spasms, Hyland's Mag. Phos. 6X (Noah's, $13.39), Dolisos Pulsatilla (Noah's, $6.99) and Sisu Woman PMS caplets (Noah's, $26.99).
5. If you're going to stick something up there, make it 100 per cent pure organic cotton tampons, non-chlorine bleached. Kinda beige, which is better than white. Try Natracare super-plus (Noah's, $8.49 for 20) and panty liners ($3.99/30), Eco Yarn regular tampons (Good for Her, $6.99/16) and Organic Essentials supers (TWB, $15.50/40).
6. Outdoors heat rub by Substance is a soothing and revitalizing balm with cayenne pepper, ginger root, mustard seed and other hot stuff to rub on crampy bellies and aching muscles (Iodine, 867 Queen West, 416-681-0577, $8/25 grams or $14/42). Leg & Back Creme, also by Substance, cools aches with roots and herbs like arnica, ginger, dill and rosemary (Iodine, $17).
7. Reduce, reuse, recycle: the Keeper. Just stick it up there and it acts as a cup. May be a little awkward to rinse it out in public washrooms, but you're so fucking empowered, who cares, right? Comes in two sizes: pre- and post-childbirth (Good for Her, $49.85). 8. Another cup, this one disposable, to be worn for up to 12 hours (Shoppers Drug Mart, 360 Bloor West, 416-961-2121, and others, $4.99).
9. Bloodsisters/Urban Armor cotton pads are washable, with groovy designs (Good for Her and TWB, $8.50). Does Always make pads with leopard print and spaceships on 'em? Well, do they?
10. Moon Wit cotton pads (Good for Her, $8).
11. More books: The Curse: Confronting The Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation. Come on. It's hardly the last unmentionable taboo, but you can still confront it (TWB, $19.95), and Period Pieces: Stories For Girls (TWB, $23.99).
12. Bloodsisters/Homework zines celebrate the uterus and say fuck you to Western medicine (Good for Her $5). Also Hot Pantz (TWB, $6).