Ladies, after the SHTF, if you hope to skip through a field of flowers to soothing music while a camera films you in soft focus, you are going to want to have some feminine hygiene preparations. With the following preps you may even want to wear a flowy white sundress and cuddle a kitten, just like in the cheesy commercials.
Clearly, the first plan of attack is to stockpile sanitary napkins and tampons by the truckload. During a stressful situation, you’ll want to make things easier on yourself and you’ll want to keep things as familiar as possible.
However, in the event of a long-term survival situation, you will require items that (1) can be reused indefinitely and (2) don’t require disposal.
Sanitary Napkin Solutions
Before the 20th Century, most women used cloth pads or “rags” during their menstruation. Disposable pads didn’t become common in America until after WW II. Among rural and low-income women they didn’t catch on until the 1960′s. As with diapers, there have always been people who prefer cloth to disposable. Disposable pads do not biodegrade very quickly. Plastic diapers and sanitary napkins are likely to be two of the most common artifacts that future archaeologists will find when excavating landfills from the 20 and 21 Centuries.
~ The Hillbilly Housewife
Cloth pads can be purchased from a variety of online sites. Many of them are made of organic cotton and they are designed with “wings” much like the disposable pads we buy from the pharmacy. Many of them are decorated with fanciful designs. Two sources for reusable cloth sanitary napkins are Lunapads or Gladrags.
A more budget-friendly option is to make your cloth napkins. Check out Hillbilly Housewife for patterns that you can make, a no-sew version and other suggestions. (This page would be a good one to print out for future reference, as it contains suggestions for making the pads using materials that you have on hand.)
To make washing your cloth pads easier, it is recommended that you rinse them in cold water immediately. (It’s best if you can soak them in water with some white vinegar.) They can later be washed by machine or by hand, using your regular detergent. Avoid the use of fabric softener, as this can make the pads less absorbent. If your pads are purchased, some manufacturers recommend that you do not use chlorine bleach when washing the pads.
Many women prefer tampons to pads. If the corner drugstore is no longer an option, there are some options that are equivalent to tampons as far as convenience and discretion.
The Diva Cup is a reusable silicone cup that is inserted into the lower vagina. It simply collects the flow. It is removed, emptied and reinserted. It can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time. You can locate sellers of the Diva Cup here.
Another option is the use of natural sea sponges. Many women currently use sea sponges as an alternative to tampons (which are laced with Dioxin, synthetic fibers and pesticide-soaked cotton).
When purchasing sea sponges, don’t buy the ones advertised as sea sponge tampons. Instead, pay a fraction of the cost and get them at your cosmetics counter. They are identical. Select sponges that are dense in texture and very firm when you squeeze them.
Before using your sponge for the first time, sterilize it by soaking it in hydrogen peroxide. Air-dry thoroughly.
To use your sponge, dampen it and then squeeze out as much water as possible. Insert the sponge as you would a tampon. Remove, rinse thoroughly, and reinsert as necessary. At the end of your cycle, again sterilize the sponge using hydrogen peroxide, then air-dry completely.
A sponge will last up to 6 months and can be composted afterwards, as it is easily biodegradable. You can store years’ worth of sponges in the same amount of space as a two month supply of disposable tampons.
It’s best to prepare with a variety of feminine hygiene options. Also, think ahead if you have daughters that are not yet menstruating. It’s only a matter of time until they will also need supplies.