At the Period Purse, we want to gather a community of like minded people to discuss topics and themes that matter. This summer, we're launching a book club to bring together eager learners with a love for literature and...PERIODS!
Our first book, Heavy Flow, written by Amanda Laird (@amandalaird) aims to challenge the existing narrative on menstruation - SPOILER ALERT! Amanda took some time to answer a few of our pressing questions below!
1. In the book, Heavy Flow, menstruation is framed as the fifth vital sign - providing health insights into our bodies, how do we as individuals push for better recognition of the menstrual cycle as a vital sign in the medical establishment?
Amanda: We can push for better recognition of the menstrual cycle as a vital sign by talking openly and without shame about menstrual cycles not just with medical professionals but in general! Advocating for ourselves when it comes to pain and menstrual health -- speaking to our doctors, asking for a second opinion and providing feedback to providers if it feels safe to do so.
2. How do we bring non-menstruators and men into the fold of period acceptance and awareness and support them to become agents of change?
Amanda: Having frank conversations with all kids and teaching them about menstrual cycles during puberty education will go a long way in normalizing periods. When we keep periods secret we are missing an opportunity to break the curse.
3. If you had the power to change policy around menstruation and menstrual health overnight - what would your first change be?
Amanda: I would definitely ensure menstruators are included in all health studies and drug trials with specific controls for menstrual cycles - looking at how symptoms might fluctuate throughout the cycle and how medications, testing and illness affect the menstrual cycle. Flexible working arrangements for all workers with paid time off for illness and rest. And of course, free menstrual products in every restroom!
4. How can we, as individuals, support other menstruators who experience regular and intense pain?
Amanda: First and foremost recognizing that period pain is real pain and also just because pain might be common doesn't mean it's normal! We must also be careful not to gaslight these individuals based on our own experience. Saying things like "it's just cramps" is not helpful for someone with a serious illness like endometriosis who may experience debilitating pain at any point in their cycles.
There you have it folks! We hope you get a chance to grab your copy of Heavy Flow and start changing the narrative around your period. If you want to hear more from Amanda, join us on Wednesday August 4, 2021 from 7:30-8:30pm EST for an online book club chat and interview.
Menstrual Health Day (MH Day), celebrated on May 28, brings together organizations, non-profits and individuals worldwide to build awareness on the importance of menstrual health and hygiene. May 28 is symbolic because May is the 5th month of the year, most menstruators have their periods for 5 days and cycles average 28 days. This day was first celebrated 11 years ago and our efforts to ensure the most vulnerable populations continue to have healthy periods has been exacerbated by the global pandemic:
- Toronto Food Bank partners have reported a 100-300% increase in demand for period products
- In the first four months of 2021, we donated over 30,000 healthy periods, almost doubling our donations in 2020
Through the pandemic and transitioning online, The Period Purse (TPP) volunteers and donors have remained resilient and continue to live and breathe the TPP mission; providing people who menstruate with access to free menstrual products, and to reduce the stigma surrounding periods through public education and advocacy.
Why does MH Day matter now?
MH Day is also an opportunity for advocacy and through partnership with several cities; you may have noticed a few things that happened around your neighbourhood;
- For the third year in a row, John Tory has proclaimed MH Day in Toronto, along with five other cities in Ontario; Sault Ste. Marie, Newmarket, Markham, Oakville, and Burlington
- The Period Purse flag was raised in Toronto, Newmarket and Sault Ste. Marie
- We lit monuments up across the country in Edmonton, Hamilton, Lethbridge, Mississauga, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Toronto and Vancouver
These initiatives along with our continued efforts to raise awareness and collect donations will bring us closer to menstrual equity. Menstruation is not a problem, poor menstrual health is.
As the world continues to focus their energy on the global pandemic, menstrual health remains top of mind for The Period Purse. Menstruators struggling with internalized shame and lack of access to period products, coupled with the pandemic have suffered vastly on all fronts. For TPP, MH Day is celebrated every day. We hope to lift the dignity of menstruators and you can help too; whether you're spending time educating family and friends, learning about the cause or donating - every action counts!
I distinctly remember when I first heard about The Period Purse; I was driving to work listening to Metro Morning, Jana, our Founder, was being interviewed. When I heard that there were menstruators in shelters and on the streets who had nothing to use during their periods and potentially have to use whatever they could find including newspaper, I was moved to get involved. In 2018, I started my first blitz and became Chapter Leader for Mississauga. Genevieve joined and we expanded to become Dufferin-Peel.
I have learned so much about the city where I live, not realizing that there are so many people in the Peel Region experiencing homelessness. Funding in shelters vary from location because they are managed through the region. I learned that each location's budget for hygiene products includes period products, soap and shampoo, so there is not enough to go around.
The pandemic brought many challenges; we were not able to set up donation locations, host packing parties and shelters were not accepting items. I miss the amazing energy by working together with others to pack the purses and make the period packs. I miss the feeling I get when I can drop off the material and see the small difference we are making in people's lives.
Fortunately, Women Supporting Women (WSW, Brampton) made a significant donation in fall of 2019 and we were able to provide period products to four of our locations with direct shipments from the retailers during such a difficult time.
I first heard about the Period Purse via Facebook and I felt drawn to get involved. I have had moments in my life where I struggled to be able to afford hygiene products, so this organization really hits close to home with me. There was no chapter in Orangeville so I sent an email to see how I could get involved and became a chapter leader, the rest is history! The Brampton area needed a leader and I reached out to Lianne to join forces and we became the Dufferin-Peel chapter!
The most rewarding part of being a co-chapter leader is working with an amazing community filled with strong and passionate individuals from the Period Purse and shelters. There is an overwhelming feeling of love when you are able to donate products that are so necessary but most often overlooked. My eyes have truly been opened to the amount of people experiencing homelessness in my area. I have learned so much through this organization that I will always be grateful for.
A successful blitz is dependent on getting the word and support of local companies. There is always someone out there who has not heard of us before but wants to help!
In 2021, we would love to see; a growth in our donations, a safer time for us to be able to start accepting physical donations again, resume packing parties, and most importantly growing our volunteers list!
What is Period Equity? (And Why Does it Matter)
This is a question we get asked a lot here at The Period Purse.
When people hear our mission
"Achieve menstrual equity by providing free menstrual products, and to reduce the stigma surrounding periods."
- we receive a questioning tilt of the head.
"What's menstrual equity?"
Menstrual equity has a few different meanings, but generally is -
Making sure that all people who menstruate have access to the products they need.
It's 2021 and while we've come far in many social issues the stigma around menstruation still has a ways to go.
If you bleed, you need products. And yet there is still a struggle for people who menstruate to get what they need.
They have to choose between menstruating products or other essential items.
And sometimes they outright have no way to get them.
We care about menstrual equity because a period is not something that can be controlled. Having access to the needed products should be a basic human right.
Not having the supplies needed can make people feel less than.
And no one should have to feel that way simply for bleeding.
At The Period Purse, we are working to get products in the hands of those who need them most.
You can donate to The Period Purse by clicking here for a monetary donation.Or if you would like to sponsor a menstruator click here.
About the Author: Anna Worms is a wife, mother, software developer, and copywriter. Her writing career stemmed from curiosity after trying her first menstrual cup! The interest blossomed into a need to help others learn more about menstruation and fight the stigma around it.
Click here to learn more about Anna and her writing services.
It was immediate love. I felt more clean, I didn't have leaks. People thought I was weird when they got their period at work, and I told them "sorry, I don't have any pads or tampons." I was a cup user before anyone ever knew what a cup was, and I've never looked back.Menstrual cups were invented back in the 1930s, but were slow to catch on. DivaCup, the one you all know, came out in 2003. The DivaCup was the first menstrual cup on our drug store shelves. They are the trailblazers in reusable menstrual cups.
That's why we are so excited to have a partner with DivaCup to bring this life changing period product to those who choose it. Menstrual cups are special and need to be donated with education. We donate these to people who have access to clean water, people living in the margins- from midwife offices to First Nations reserves to high schools. To date, we've donated over 700 DivaCups out to those who choose and need them!Did you know that one menstruator creates 300 pounds of waste in a lifetime of using disposable period products? Eeks. I know a menstrual cup isn't everyone's choice, but if you haven't tried it out, you really should. It takes some time and getting used to, and not every brand will fit everybody. But I promise you, it will be life changing.