Emergency Preparedness Part 4: Feminine Hygiene- Prepping For Periods

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Okay, so far we’ve covered Food Storage, Personal Library Essentials, and Living Without Electricity. Today I wanna speak directly to the ladies about being prepared with feminine hygiene products.

Man friends… go read another post. Wait! Get your wife first and have her read this. Now get outta here.

Okay, good. Now that the men are gone we are free to have our candid girly talk.

Ladies. It comes whether you like it or not. Whether it’s a convenient time or not. Whether you are prepared or not. Your period does not care what is going on in your life at the moment. It just comes and goes as it pleases. Some of you may be on pills or something that regulates your menstruation, but eventually it will come.

What would you do if you ran out of pads in the midst of your cycle, and you were stuck in your home due to severely bad weather, or civil or economic unrest? What if your period decided it wanted to rear its ugly head at a moment when you had no money to buy the feminine hygiene products you desperately needed, or the store shelves were bare?

It doesn’t really matter which scenario you prefer to prepare for… not having something to protect your clothing (and your dignity!) at that time of the month would be a real pain to deal with. What would you do?

I know what you would do. You’d improvise. You gotta do something, right? You’d end up wadding paper towels or washcloths, or cutting up an old shirt for an impromptu rag. But that would be pretty uncomfortable, wouldn’t it? And you’d need a lot of these things to get you through the week.

Doesn’t preparing for this inevitable inconvenience just seem like a good idea? Especially if there are teenage daughters in the home as well!

Being prepared to cover your period in times of an emergency doesn’t take much at all. And you actually have a few options…

Washable Cloth Pads

The best selection and cheapest prices I’ve found for purchasing these is on Etsy. Though Amazon also carries a good variety, some available with free Prime shipping.

If you can sew, making your own would be most cost effective. Check out this link to a whole slew of homemade cloth menstrual pads tutorials.

If you can’t sew, and you don’t have much money to spend on cute, premade pads, you can always purchase some inexpensive terry cloth dishtowels, fold them longways, and safety pin them to your undies. Wash cloths would work like this too, in a pinch.

The down side to using cloth pads is having to wash them. In an emergency situation you may not have a lot of water and/or soap to scrub these in. In which case your sanitary pads would end up being not so sanitary. Nevertheless, a few of these would be nice to have on hand.

Reusable Menstrual Cup

I know some of you ladies can’t stand the feeling of bulky pads, nor do you want to deal with the mess. I’m with ya! For those who prefer tampons, there is a washable alternative for you as well. It’s called the Diva Cup. Though I’ve just found other very similar products along the same lines; The Moon Cup, Lunette Menstrual Cup, and Instead Feminine Protection Cup.

Personally, I chose to order the Diva Cup. Basically, it’s an insertable cup that can be left in for up to 12 hours, rinsed in hot water and then re-used. It’s latex-free, made of top-quality silicone, and has had no reports of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Obviously I’m pregnant and thus haven’t had a chance to try it out yet, but from the reviews I’ve read if you don’t have trouble with tampons, the Diva Cup is very much the same (though it does look a little scary to me in all honesty!). Overall, I have heard a lot of great things about this product.

There are different sizes for pre-baby ladies, and post-baby mamas, as well as for women over the age of 30. So make sure you get the right size.

I chose to purchase a Diva Cup mainly as an emergency back up for several reasons:

1. It’ll save you lots of money.

2. You don’t need a lot of water to rinse it.

3. It’s reusable, so you only need ONE per lady.

4. It doesn’t take up much room at all to store. It’s small, and weighs practically nothing.

Stocking Up On Your Favorites

You can also choose to stock up on your favorite supplies. Often you can score tampons and pads for free or very little money paring coupons with weekly sales. If disposables are more up your alley, make sure to store these items in a plastic bucket or container to protect them from any water damage or rodents seeking a comfy bed.

Remember that sanitary pads can also double as bandages (or firestarters!) in an emergency situation, so they are definitely a good thing to have on hand.

The down side to stocking up on disposables is the valuable space it takes to store them. I do keep a stash of pads that I get for nothing with coupons, but I’m not building a stockpile of them as my primary source of feminine hygiene, in which case I would need a lot of them.

Of course, you can always decide that you’ll just take it as it comes, and not have a back-up plan for a time when you might not be able to get your hands on the feminine products that you’ll be so desperate for when caught unprepared.

And then you’ll remember reading this post and kick yourself for scoffing at me. Can’t say I didn’t warn ya!!

Anybody else have anything to add to this?


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Kendra
About Kendra 1103 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

40 Comments

  1. I know this is an older post, but I have a question about the cups. I have a double uterus, cervix and vagina. Any thoughts on whether the cup would work for a situation such as mine? I’m wondering how I would fit 2 in? Can you feel them?

  2. I use Instead on light days (and you can use them to have sex during your period). BUT, if you have a tipped uterus like I do, you may want to experiment before counting on this for your only coverage. I find that mine leaks on heavier days because of the position of my cervix/uterus. So a back-up of some kind for those days is a must!

  3. I also use the Diva Cup and have a few hand sewn liners to help protect my undies. You can sew liners the same way as the pads, just smaller and not as thick. I just use two layers of flannel and secure them with sewn in velcro dots. Way more comfortable than plastic filled liners. Much softer and they can be washed in the washing machine too.

  4. Thank you so much for your suggestions. My brother-in-law told me a few months ago to add feminine products this to my collection of economic collapse items. I think I will get a half dozen or so packs of backup pads, but otherwise, I will try the diva cup!
    I’m really enjoying your blogs. I am preparing for the inevitable, along with my husband and his brother. Since I’m the only girl, it’s nice to get a female perspective from your blog 🙂

  5. Oh and Tracy. Now that I’m used to using the Diva Cup and don’t have to make adjustments throughout the day to make sure it’s not leaking – I only empty mine twice a day at most during heavy flow days. On regular and light days I empty just once a day and in the shower to avoid making a mess…hope that’s not TMI 🙂 I always take care of it at home, or when traveling, in a private restroom at my hosts home or hotel bathroom.

    I have to admit the first two cycles w/ the Cup were horrible and I didn’t think it was going to work out for me. But, by the 3rd cycle I was a pro! It went from difficult to old habit. Not sure why, maybe I became more at ease? Anyway, my point is, in my experience with some practice, there is no longer any need to mess with it in a public restroom and I wouldn’t go back to tampons and pads for anything!

  6. Love this post! I’ve been using the Diva Cup for 4 cycles now. It’s the BEST thing I’ve ever done for my menstruation! First two periods were a little tricky, but now I’m a pro. Wouldn’t go back to disposals for anything!

  7. I have the keeper & I gotta be honest, I love the idea of it & its fine when at home but its a pain when having to deal w/ outside the home. Public restrooms are the worst. I always end up w/ blood all over my hands. Gross…

  8. Thank you for this post. Because of it I found out about the Instead cups in my local pharmacy. They come in a box of about 15 and they work just like the Diva cup and Luna cup. I can even keep a backup in my car and in my office thanks to extras in the box. I love the rubber flexibility ring. I’m sure they would fit for everyone.

  9. The Keeper is made of RUBBER, not latex, unless they’ve changed it. And it’s just like a diva cup, except perhaps less flexible (based on my knowledge of the texture of silicon).

    Great site, I’ve been reading it since yesterday! 🙂 We are kindred spirits! 🙂

  10. Kendra,

    Very good post and a subject that needs to be discussed.

    I have looked for a solution to this over the years and I’ve tried the Diva cup. My college aged daughter and all of her friends rave about them, she was surprised to see the unopened box at home during a visit.

    Personally, I didn’t have an luck with mine. I have 9 children and I purchased the “mature” cup but it kept slipping out. I gave it a valient effort over several months…darned! However, if I could, I would use it! Wonderful idea and long overdue.

    “Back in the day” and much before my time, the women used cloth and just pinned it to their undies, they didn’t have any other choice.

    Good topic, SOMEONE needs to talk about this stuff! 🙂

  11. I have a Diva Cup and love it! There is a learning curve and you have to figure out your body and placement, but I will not go back! I cut the stick off and I also turn mine inside out. this worked best for me.

  12. I have been using the Diva Cup for several years now, and can’t imagine going back to anything else! It is sort of gross if you end up having to empty it in a public restroom, because you can’t rinse it out really, but otherwise it is just wonderful! I cut the tip completely off of mine, because otherwise it just seemed to poke me. It took me a couple of months to even get up the nerve to try it (it looks scary!) and a couple more months to get to where it was comfortable, but after that, there was no turning back.

  13. like lanna, i seem to have trained my uterus to wait until i can get to a bathroom as well – i have some health issues that led to having seven plus week periods for almost a year and i just couldn’t stand either type of disposable product, so i started going to the bathroom hourly and it really didn’t take long before i knew how long i could go – especially in the first few days and last day , i don’t even worry about using anything, unless i am running errands with my three young children (i try never to use a bathroom with the crew in tow!)

  14. My fun side affect.
    So you know how you just bleed on whatever’s in your britches? The blood just gushes down?
    After just a year or two on cloth pads (or Diva Cup), my body had a tendency to sorta hold the blood until I go use the toilet, *then* let loose. And it’s just honed itself over the years – I can do some spotting on just 2-3 pads a day in the first few days if I pay attention to my body and when it feels like a little gush is coming and go use the restroom (so I’ll end up peeing a few extra times those days). Sometimes I’m not able to and end up using like 6 pads a day, but still. My uterus/vagina/lining has basically toilet trained itself if I listen. As odd as that sounds. And I’m not the only one that’s happened to – an old acquaintance of mine had the same thing happen when she switched to cloth, and then when her mom did. I wouldn’t have believed it before it happened to me (man, I say that a lot).

    Oh, and I have tried turning preemie prefolds into pads. Could work if you do it right. I, however, did not. I’ve done all kinds of goofy/stupid things over the years.

  15. I bought the Diva cup in 2008 and will never go back to tampons. I came across it in my research on ovulation testing products – go figure. It is so convenient and inexpensive. No risk of TSS so I only have to take it out twice a day (usually in the shower in the AM and before bed is easiest.) Not so great if you have to do that in a public restrooom, kinda messy. I also cut the tip off mine. I tried Instead when it was introduced and hated it, so I was hesitant to try this. I am so very happy that I did. I’ve used $10 on menstrual products in the last few years! How great is that?

  16. Kendra, it might help. But my cycle’s always been steady (only times I’ve ever missed a period in almost 20 years was the 5 times I’ve been pregnant), so I can’t help with that. But yeah, the difference in cycle intensity is/was nuts. Yes, there are chemicals in tampons (and pads – the gel core goo just like disposable diapers). Not *as* many since the TSS days of the 80’s/90’s, but they’re still there.
    I have another fun side affect of using the cloth pads (which I think is probably what happened to the ladies of long ago), but I’m sure I’ve already done my share of TMI on your blog. Been a while since I mentioned it on my own. 20 years down, another 20-25 to go. Sigh.

  17. I have used Instead for 20 years I think, whenever they started making them. First I started with them because they were available at the local drug store. Next they were so inexpensive, (they are marketed as a single use item) that I still have some left from the box of 20 I bought so many years ago. Which is great because that is enough to share with a friend to introduce them, keep extras in emergency and travel bags, etc. This box would have been worth twice the price of whatever I paid for them for the use I have gotten from them.
    Rinse and reinsert if you are at home, wipe out with TP if you are in a public stall- which is much easier than carrying a bag big enough for used cloth pads. They are one size fits all and can shift or leak at times. A pantiliner sized pad in addition is good if you are heavy and need to be absolutely sure and/or check them more frequently. There is a bit of a trick to getting them inserted correctly, but you should figure it out. I can’t recall that I ever had one break, though the material is very thin. The pressure of the rim, may press on your colon such that you have to remove it to move your bowels. Not painful or anything, but it is an undiscussed side effect of using an internal product with this shape- like a diaphram.

  18. My experience is much like Lanna’s. Really heavy periods with lots of cramping. Once I made the switch to my Diva Cup and cloth pads that I have made, my cycle shortened up by two days and was way lighter. The cotton in storebought products has been bleached to make it all nice and white for the consumer. Icky dioxins are left behind, and who knows what else. These chemicals are nasty and we are putting them INSIDE/NEXT TO A DELICATE AREA OF OUR BODIES?!?! Therefore, more bleeding, more cramping,and who knows what else with prolonged use. I have not spent a dime on my cycle in four years now and that feels GREAT! I also wanted to mention that there’s some learning that goes on learning to insert the menstrual cup. It took me a couple cycles to get really good at at. I read up on how to do it on some forums somewhere when I first got mine. It helped to read how other ladies described the process. I will warn you though, there are some gals out there who don’t use very ladylike language when discussing this aspect of their bodies. But there were some testimonies that I found helpful. ~Kelly in MN

  19. I love my SEA PEARLS Sea Sponge Tampons…used for other types of feminine needs as well- I can not use regular tampons and can not tolerate even cloth pads- so i tried these some years ago – they are reusable, easy to care for, and fantastic its like wearing nothing at all!!! just a funny note the last pair i ordered- i also found out i was pregnant with my 5th- and for some reason i was hesitant to order more- 🙂 any who i order them from jadeandpearl…might be a great option for women like myself who run the other way from pads and anything they can “feel” lol- Jaime

  20. Amy, if your girls have cramps and extra heavy flows?
    The cramps may be related to the chemicals in disposable pads/tampons. When I switched it went from about 9 days of bleeding and 30 ibuprofen a day (no, that’s not a typo) to now about 5 days of bleeding and 2-3 ibuprofen the first half day. Before I had to call in sick to work once a month (my boss always knew!), I looked like death warmed over, I even passed out at least once from the pain. So to me? That difference was *huge.* So much so that I was able to persuade my freewheelin’ single sister to switch (she has Lunapads). 😀

  21. I’ve never even heard of this before! AWESOME! I HATE spending money on disposable tampons and pads – especially when you know they are so full of chemicals. I will definitely be giving this a try.

  22. Love Love Love the Diva cup.

    I thought it was weird at first, but you get the hang of it pretty quick, and it is so easy to use and clean. I will never ever use a tampon again – they gross me out now.

    I was told to cut the tip off – between the two lines – I did that and I’m glad I did. You don’t need the tip to protrude, it is easy enough to grasp without it. Maybe try it with the tip until you get the hang of it.. I find it much easier without the long tip.

  23. I love my Diva Cup. I don’t even know how I did before. Would never go back to disposable pads and tampons.

    I use cloth pantyliners every day too and I like them too.

  24. I’m a complete sewing novice, but I just made my first cloth menstrual pad. I’ll be posting about it on my blog later today. Even though I am sewing deficient, it’s was pretty easy to do. I’m curious to see how well they work. I have three girls (though they are all little currently) and I plan on making bunches of these for the four of us to have on hand. Each girl will get her own set with a different pattern of cloth so we can keep them personal. 🙂

  25. Can you imagine what women have done for thousands of years without the pads we have today? We have it really easy by comparison! With three girls, this is always on my mind, but not an area that I can set the example in because I had a hysterectomy 10 years ago. So convincing an 18 year old to try these alternatives didn’t go so well – truthfully, I just asked is she’d like to try some of the washable cloth pads a couple of years ago and she said NO! However, I’ve seen her change her mind before, so you never know. In the meantime, I’ve tried to stock up on pads for the girls. I just might buy some of the washable ones for that “just in case” moment!

  26. I thought about this topic once or twice but decided to just make sure I have tampons on hand at all times which doesn’t always happen. Maybe I do need to stock up more. I HATE pads so stocking up would probably be my best option.

  27. Just thought of something. If you have really hard water, it may be best to steer away from hemp fabric for pads. Ahem. Not like I’ve experienced wearing a brick in between my legs before, not at all. 😉 I’ve stuck with fleece and cotton and organic cotton velour over the years and they work quite well for me and my super hard well water.

  28. My neighbor has a Keeper, I have the Diva Cup (in addition to a slew of pads – some cycles you just don’t want to insert). Love, love, love them, and never going back to disposable if I can handle it. Oh, and if your pads are big enough, you can totally use them post-partum. 😀 I have some 13-inch ones that have been of great service after kid #3 and kid #4 (and heavy days as well). Don’t even think I used disposable pads at all with either of those post-partum experiences. Much softer on tender girly bits. 😉

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