How to Prep for Feminine Hygiene Needs

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We have grown so reliant on throwaway products for perfectly natural events that sometimes people wonder how on earth they would deal with it if suddenly those products were unavailable.  Of course, for many centuries we handled things like menstruation without access to the local Wal-Mart, and with just a little bit of preparation we could do so again.

This issue of feminine hygiene is an important one not only from the perspective of personal, feminine comfort, but for overall health and prevention of bacterial infections and other nasties.

How to Prep for Feminine Hygiene Needs | Backdoor Survival

Guys, if you are not comfortable with the topic of feminine hygiene, feel free to skip over this one or send it off to one of your lady friends who most assuredly will thank you.  On the other hand, it is important to have an understanding of others and the challenges they face following a disruptive event, so, for that reason, I hope you stick around.

History of Feminine Hygiene

With most topics relating to preparedness, the answers we seek come from the past, and the subject of feminine hygiene is no different.

Throughout history, women have used two means of absorbing menstrual fluids: external protection, like a pad, and internal protection, like a tampon.

Women have fashioned absorbent pads from materials like animal skins, oil silk, wadding, paper, wood fibers, linen, and wool. The pads were held in place by belts or string.

What many people don’t know is that from as early as ancient Egypt (1850 BCE) women were fashioning tampons for internal protection. They have used sea sponges, bits of fabric like cotton or wool, rolled up and tied with string, papyrus, and even moss or grass to absorb their flows.

In the early 1800s, many documents indicate that women simply wore dark undergarments and clothing and did not use anything additional to absorb the fluids. It wasn’t until about the mid-1800s that a rubber menstrual cup was patented. Most women, however, made their own products to deal with their periods during that time.

The Tampax company began producing the first disposable, mass-produced tampons in the early 1930s. The first modern menstrual cup was patented in 1937 but was unable to compete with the convenience of the disposable tampons. The first disposable pads that came out had to be pinned to the underwear until the 1950s, when sanitary belts began to become popular. In the 1960s, pads with adhesive strips revolutionized feminine hygiene.

Sources: gurl.com and naturalmesntrualproducts.com

The Feminine Hygiene Preps You Should Make

While it is interesting to see what was used throughout history, I doubt that any of us wish to use moss to deal with that time of the month. If you are a woman of childbearing age, or if you have daughters, even ones too young to be menstruating, you will want to make preparations to deal with menstruation in the event a time comes that you can’t make a quick, monthly trip to Wal-Mart or the drugstore.

Feminine preparedness is something that is often overlooked by those of us that write about prepping. After receiving a number of questions from readers, I felt it was high time that I became educated to some of the alternatives to traditional, disposable methods for dealing with the monthly menses.

I started with this book, Prepping For Women: Addressing The Monthly Needs Of The Female Prepper, which at 99 cents, is a real bargain.  Then I continued to research the various options that are readily available including many of the DIY type.

It is my wish that the following suggestions will help you to get some feminine hygiene preps in order.

Stockpile Sanitary Napkins and Tampons

When times are stressful, it can be helpful to avoid as many changes as possible. If you stockpile several months’ supply of sanitary napkins and tampons, you may be able to ride out the event that has kept you from being able to purchase them at the store.  Purchase additional packages of disposable products each month and stash them away for a time in which you need them.

As well, if the event causes water to be in short supply, having some disposable products on hand will keep you from using your valuable supply to soak soiled cloths.

The best way to dispose of soiled menstrual products is to burn them.

Why You Should Consider Reusable Products

In a long-term scenario,  you will need solutions that can be reused and don’t require disposal. Not many people could stock up on enough disposable supplies to last forever. Don’t forget that reusable pads can also be used for minor incontinence and post-birth bleeding, making them handy for many different stages in a woman’s life.

Some women are turning to reusable solutions voluntarily.  This has several benefits. First, they are able to avoid the potentially unhealthy chemicals used in the manufacture of pads and tampons. Second, they are being kind to the planet by reducing waste. Thirdly, they save a lot of money by not having to make a purchase each month. (This nifty calculator can give you an idea of how much you’d save by switching to reusable products.)

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, if the SHTF, they are already accustomed to dealing with these methods of feminine hygiene.

Buy Cloth Pads

Most of the ready-made cloth pads that you can buy these days are really comfortable and convenient. Popular materials are cotton, flannel, and bamboo. Gone are the days of pins and belts. Today, most of these pads are made with little wings. Where disposable pads would have adhesive to keep them in place, on the wings of the reusable pads are Velcro or snaps that wrap around and fasten the pad to your underwear.

You should plan on a variety of pads to meet the different needs of your cycle. You will want to purchase half a dozen pantyliners and overnight/heavy flow pads and about 12 daytime pads. You can save money buy purchasing an entire kit. While this looks expensive, keep in mind that this is a one-time purchase that will last 5 years or longer if you take care of it properly.

DIY Some Cloth Pads

If you are into saving money and DIY, it is a fairly simple project to make your own pads.

This two-part video tutorial will walk you through the steps of making your own pads.

For another freebie, I found this page that links out to 12 different patterns, all available for a no-cost download, so that you can choose the product that will best meet your needs.

Caring for Cloth Pads

Another question that often arises when discussing cloth pads is, “What do you do with them when you are out or are away from home?”.

You can treat them basically like cloth diapers. When you remove the soiled pad, use the snaps to fold the soiled area inward. Then, place it in a sturdy Ziploc freezer bag or one of these “wet bags” designed for feminine hygiene products.

If you are at home, of course, it is exponentially easier. Rinse the pad in cold running water. Then, put it in a container under the bathroom sink that contains a white vinegar and water solution. This will keep any stains from setting in until you have a chance to wash it thoroughly. Generally, pads are machine washable and can be dried on low. If you want to be discreet about washing them, use a mesh lingerie bag to keep them together in the laundry.

Avoid using bleach, as it will break down the fibers of your pads and reduce the lifespan. Avoid using fabric softener, too, because it can cause the pad to be less absorbent.

This video goes into more detail about washing your pads.

Internal Protection

Some women truly dislike using pads because they find them uncomfortable. There are a couple of safe methods of internal protection, too.

The Menstrual Cup

One of the most popular reusable solutions is the menstrual cup. Generally made of flexible silicone, these cups are inserted vaginally and collect the menstrual flow. They are removed, dumped, rinsed, and reinserted.

The most popular menstrual cup on the market is the Diva Cup. It comes in two sizes, pre-childbirth and post childbirth. A newcomer to the market, the Blossom Cup, is about half the price and has fantastic reviews.

Sponges

A product used for centuries, natural sponges are absorbent, safe, and reliable methods for internal protection.

To use the sponge, simply dampen it, squeeze it out, and insert it. You can tie a string around it for easier removal. Rinse well, squeeze out, and reinsert. You can use the same sponge for numerous cycles, until it begins to break down and become less absorbent.  When your cycle is over, soak the sponge in hydrogen peroxide, then air dry it thoroughly before storing it away.

You can purchase sponges that are sold as sponge tampons if you want to pay 6 times the price, but any natural silk or sea sponge will work. You can cut them to size if the sponge piece is too large for comfortable insertion.

The Final Word

Feminine hygiene preps are often overlooked as we pay attention to things like food, shelter, fire, and water. Although I am well past the age of needing this type of prep for myself, I do believe that this is something many preppers need and thus is deserving of our attention.

If you are a woman or if you live with women (or girls), prepare for your monthly needs in the same way that you would for any other regular occurrence. Build a stockpile to meet immediate needs, and prepare a back-up in the event that the crisis lasts for a longer period of time.

As far as comfort in a disaster is concerned, having some solutions in place could greatly relieve anxiety and inconvenience in a stressful scenario.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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Bargain Bin:  There were a lot of products mentioned today.  For your convenience, I have listed them below.

Prepping For Women: Addressing The Monthly Needs Of The Female Prepper:  This no-nonsense eBook is only 99 cents. It includes many DIY solutions as well as tips for dealing with PMS and other female woes. It is well written and illustrated; definitely worth the small cost.

Love My Antibacterial Bamboo fiber Reusable Menstrual Pads & Panty Liners:  These reusable pads are perfect for light and medium flow days and even some heavy days.  Also consider Heart Felt Bamboo Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads and these for those heavy flow days: Love Green Bamboo Reusable Sanitary Pads Normal/HeavyFlow.

20 Piece Kit Bamboo Menstrual Pads/ Reusable Sanitary Pads:  While this kit may seem expensive, keep in mind that this is a one-time purchase that will last 5 years or longer if you take care of it properly.

Dutchess Wet Bags x2 – Ideal for Reusable Cloth Menstrual Pads:  These wet bags are designed to be washed and reused – just like the reusable pads.  Fantastic reviews!

Diva Cup Diva Cup Model 1 ( Pre Childbirth) and Diva Cup Model 2 (Post Childbirth) Menstrual Cup:  These are hugely popular but you might also want to consider the less expensive Blossom Menstrual Cup Is Better Than Diva Cup Hands Down! It comes with a money-back guarantee.

Martha Stewart Sea Sponge, Set of 6: There is no real reason to spend a fortune on sea sponges labeled specifically for the monthly cycle when ordinary sea sponges will work just as well.  Here is another option: Natural Sea Silk Sponges – Pack of 12

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Every family should have at least one Tote-able Toilet.  I have priced purchasing the bucket and toilet seat lid separately and found that it was more economical to pick up this kit.  I have filled my portable potty with sanitation supplies plus, of course, plenty of TP.

Emergency Essentials carries a wide variety of equipment and supplies – all at competitive prices.

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Comments

How to Prep for Feminine Hygiene Needs — 28 Comments

  1. Tampons and pads are great for wounds also. A tampon can be inserted into a bullet wound to stop the bleeding as well as a pad can be used for surface wounds until medical treatment. I haves these in my pack.

  2. Thank you for such a wonderful article! I will admit that I was wondering how to servive a shtf situation without modern conveniences that are needed for this. I have a teenage daughter that I think will find this interesting as well as helpful. Thank you for posting this and helping out the female peppers out there.

  3. Thank goodness because of surgery, I don’t have to worry about this. But, I do have 2 daughters and 4 granddaughters to worry about. Excellent article. I love history on how our ancestors dealt with such things. Also the references to where to buy such things. Love this. I will be passing this on to my daughters. Thank you!

  4. Can men be on here today? Since most of my prepping is for my children and grandchildren, I had to think of my grand daughters. Long ago I bought “Diva cups”, in assorted sizes, for the women. I never throw clothing away, so I have plenty of material for making pads.
    Another prepper web site had a discussion on another sanitary issue last week. Even tho I have more toilet paper stored than Wally World, in a long term SHTF situation, I will run out. What to do? Just yesterday my friendly UPS man brought my Amazon order of an add on bidet. Hot and cold running water under pressure aimed at just the right spot. I cant hardly wait to install it and sit back and try it out.

  5. Reminds me of when I was a college student spending a year in France in 1961. Another one of the American girls in our group went to spend the weekend with a rather aristocratic French family she knew through her own family. Her period began unexpectedly while she was on her visit, and she was supplied with some of the rags that the women in the family used and reused!

    • I was told by my mother and other women of the 1930’s that they used rags and washed out the blood and soaked them in diluted bleach. One such lady said the soaking bucket saved her family during the prohibition. That is where the extra liquor was hidden. 🙂 They did what they had to do.

      • I have extended family who used to work in a commercial laundry so they cleaned many hospital linens. They didn’t use bleach because it didn’t get the linens white enough. They used peroxide which is what I’ve been using for 30+ years now. AND while bleach is toxic to the environment, peroxide is not. 🙂

  6. great article. do you know of anyone who has sewn home made pads with “sham wow” material? i’m curious to know if that works better than cotton or flannel.

  7. The cloth pads have replaced all need for disposable products in my household. They can be laundered in the washing machine with other dirty clothes, or you can just take them with you into the shower for a wash. Honestly I wish I’d discovered these in my teens or twenties; I’d spend way too much $$ on the single-use, throwaway stuff 🙁

    Also adding to the list though I’d say keep some dollar store baby wipes in your preps. They’re not flushable, but wow are they better at cleaning you up than regular t.p. We take them camping for quick head-to-toe wipe-downs too. Good stuff.

    • dollar tree had disposible wipes for kids– it has a pic of a frog on it and it is suppose to promote keeping clean and used as a potty training tool– i have like 4 cases in stock (you can buy alot of stuff on http://www.dollartree.com for those of you that dont have funds enough for everyday living)

      great article– i didnt know there where patterns to make pads which helps since i also have an aged old problem of a week bladder– thanks Gayle!!

  8. I’ve been using the Diva cup for a few years now, along with cloth pads. for my fourth baby I made my own pads for afterwards because I prefer cloth so much more than disposables. I think reusable cups are the best bet for prepping because they can be cleaned with much less water than cloth pads.

  9. You need to add concern for TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME that is tied to the use of tampons; particularly extended and re-use of tampons. It is particularly dangerous to younger users but impacts all age groups. It is most often related to the bacterial Genus Staphylococcus. It is preventable.

    • I do not have a website. I have worked in Medical Microbiology and Quality Control for almost 50 years.
      You need to add concern for TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME that is tied to the use of tampons; particularly extended and re-use of tampons. It is particularly dangerous to younger users but impacts all age groups. It is most often related to the bacterial Genus Staphylococcus. It is preventable.

    • My niece who is now in her 50’s got the toxic shock syndrome and was in the hospital for weeks. Her skin was affected and left scars on her hands. My sister had her taken off the strong antibiotics. Then she became well again. I would not use tampons myself.

  10. Agreed on getting a Diva cup! I got mine a year ago, wish I knew about these long ago! They do take a little practice, I tried it and then put it away, kept leaking, I didnt master it at first. Then a month later I gave it a try again and Ive been using it since. More comfortable, can wear for longer periods, but I do find the cleanup takes more time and is more convenient if your near a sink, but I love I dont have to buy boxes of tampons all the time now!

  11. For those who want or need the traditional feminine products, these often go on sale for good prices. With coupons, they are free or under a dollar. It is when I stock up. I figure if nothing else they would be excellent items to barter with.

  12. I love my diva cup and have had success with the cheapie cups off amazon as well. I haven’t dug into my disposable stash in years.

    Great post!

  13. Cloth is the best idea. I used to coupon and bought several packs of pads when I found them on sale. The problem with doing so is the sticky part of the pad goes bad over time and they are basically junk. I now use cloth ones and frankly is much better than you would imagine. You can even toss them in the washer (I wouldn’t do the dryer though).

  14. @John R yes there are men here,, tho most wont admit it. I’ve always been a boy scout/prepper. also learned early to keep the females happy. ( i was 8 when i bought pads for my sisters. ) so i always carried pads/tampons in my bag even in school (mydol ) funny story to that as a frosh first week , older sis comes up to me ” let me see you bag” ( rummage rummage ) “so an so started to day an didnt bring any thing” ” thanks ” throws bag at me an walks off ( she took pads, mydol, and my good pens )

  15. A few months ago I converted to cloth pads and I haven’t looked back. They’re really brilliant, so easy to use and care for, so pretty with endless cute fabric choices, and they feel better than disposable pads. I have an incredibly heavy flow and doubted a thin little fabric pad could stand up to it. Well, I was wrong. They absorb better than disposable pads I have found and no leaks. Sites like Etsy.com have great selections. My favourite brands are Yurtcraft and Novel Red in the USA and SewSweet Creations in Australia. Check out the reviews on YouTube. I love Novel Red’s crushed velvet range! I also bought a menstrual cup (Lunette) but am finding it a challenge to use. I probably need to practice more with that. Cloth pads can seem expensive but they’ll last me many, many years.

    • Thank you for mentioning Novel Red! The prints on their website are so cute, cuter than most sellers! I like how they also have the choice between a PUL liner for more protection or non PUL for more breathability. Its funny you mention Yurtcraft, I just made my first purchase from them and can’t wait to try them. Great customer service. New Moon Pads were okay, but a bit overpriced, even on sale, compared to other sellers, and they used to have better prints. I would definitely reccommend winged pads so they stay in place when you need to use the restroom.
      Cloth pads are quiet, non-smelly, comfy, and require no disposal, which can be great on the trail. They are also lightweight and last for years. Plus, the fun prints make the experience a positive one!

  16. Hey, Gaye, thanks for this article!
    I found out about cloth pads on OrganicPrepper’s site, and started to learn about them. I recently switched to all reusables, and love it!
    Ladies, there are pages to teach you how to make them; how to use them; how to clean them; and even how to buy them! There is more information about reusable menstrual products (rump’s) or reusable alternative menstrual products (ramp’s) every day.
    The reusables have many different types and styles to choose from and use. One of the things I like best about rump’s is that I can customize what I use to how my body changes.
    ☆Light period-Pantiliner, sponges or cup.
    Moderate period- Moderate pads,pad wrappers, cup,cup spots, wet bags, rice pack, and wipes for clean up and soothing.
    Heavy period- Heavy day pads, heavy overnight pads, cups, cup spots, pad wrappers, moderate day pads, pantiliners, rice pack, witch hazel pads (frozen), and wipes for clean up and soothing.
    Post partum- Super heavy post partum pads, heavy day pads, heavy overnight pads, moderate day pads, rice pack, witch hazel frozen pads, and cloth wipes for gentle clean up and soothing.
    Incontinence- Heavy day pads, moderate days pads, cloth wipes for clean up and soothing.
    Diapers- from newborn to potty training; from childhood bedwetting to adult incontinence issues; there are patterns for all sorts.

    Ladies and gents: everything I just talked about is make with cloth and reusable! (Except the witch hazel. Lol)

    I hope this gives a better idea about how much you can change to reusable sanitary products, and there are even more reusables for around the home use as well.
    Good reading everyone, and have a great prepared day!

  17. My daughter uses a Diva cup. It requires a learning curve, but works for her. She says silicone is best and those called “soft” are useless. Just the same, having some stockpile of tampons and pads or other types is good prep.

  18. One issue that I haven’t seen addressed is for those of us (of a certain age) will have to stock up on”tinkle” pads and such.. I am wondering if the cloth pads would be as effective? AND would the male elder citizens be comfortable with those?
    thank you

    • See the above comment of Chele’s then look online for a homemade athletic support cup. Much easier to do and wear than feminine hygiene DIYs. Just remember no matter for babies, teen or adults…..one size doesn’t fit all. 😉

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