The Homesteading Woman and That Time of the Month: OFF GRID PERIODSOff grid periods: Yes, they’re a Thing
Hold On! I’m about to touch a topic that many would not come near with a ten-foot pole–the issue of periods and the off grid life. OK–the issue of periods at all isn’t a dining room conversation, but somebody needs to talk about it.
Periods and the Off Grid Woman: The topic nobody mentionsIf you’ve gotten this far, then I’m assuming you’re curious. How do women handle periods when they’re living off grid? What happens when you travel to another country without all of our modern conveniences?
Periods happen–Off Grid or Not!
There are several approaches to the modern homesteading woman’s time of the month issue. Among these are to:
??Handle as the usual/typical/modern world convenience approach.
This includes pads, tampons, and typical disposable products. This approach focuses on supplies that need to be replenished every month, or as used up. Honestly, this is the only approach that I ever knew of for decades, and the route most women in first world countries follow.
This approach is:
- Risky (when you run out of supplies, you’re stuck until you can get someone to make an emergency run to the nearest store!). I can’t count how many times I’ve been in that dilemma!
- Non-sustainable–you’re throwing away a lot of products, plus you’re completely dependent on outside products on a regular basis. I have always cringed in irritation as I’ve surveyed the huge aisle of feminine products, each one representing a small fortune, all for mopping up blood. I hate throwing away money! Most women simply use these products because they don’t know any other way!!
- But it’s Easier in some ways. Simply toss away the evidence and you’re done! Right?
True story: Just after college, I took a year to work in the Amazon jungles. I had to pack up a ton of supplies to last me a year out on the River, so I packed up what I thought was a year’s worth of tampons–because, honestly, where can you buy tampons and panty liners along the Amazon River? Nowhere! I can assure of that! The joke was on me!
My body decided that my time in the Amazon was a bit too much, and I stopped having periods altogether for that whole time! I’m sure this was a blessing from God, because the cleanliness issue out on a boat on the Amazon would have been very challenging to deal with. Not to mention the piranhas!! God gave me a break! And I didn’t need all of those supplies! ?♀️
??You can Handle Your Period in a more sustainable way. Off Grid Periods Require Products that are easier on your homestead (less waste) the environment and your budget!
- If you choose the above route (the modern, convenience method), there are still some things you can do to make your period more off-grid friendly. We will discuss some options besides the usual period products below.
- But, women have handled periods for centuries, without our modern products! That does not mean that we need to go back to sitting on stumps or messy rags or socks (it is a thing!). Because let’s admit it–even though we could do it, we have way too many other difficult chores on our plates besides adding archaic, and messy ways of dealing with the monthly curse. If it’s not doable, no homesteading woman in her right mind is gonna endure one messy week per month! “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
So…let’s talk about realistically sustainable off grid periods!
- Tampons: Opt for products that are biodegradable and organic if possible.
- Tampons can be purchased with plastic applicators, cardboard, or none!
- Obviously, the plastic isn’t going to break down ever! Not in your lifetime or mine, anyway!
- Cardboard applicators, while not as smooth, can be burned, buried, or tossed. Please don’t flush them, because they still can clog up your septic system or pipes. And you’ll be having to do a lot of explaining if you end up with pipe full of cardboard! Just don’t go there!
- On another note–do not flush your tampons unless your box specifically says that you can! They float around forever in your septic tank, because many are made from rayon, which does not degrade easily! You have to treat your septic tank with care, and I’ve heard of septic tank plumbers who have had some not-so-pretty things to say about tampons in the tank!
- Non-applicator Tampons
- You may not be aware that you can purchase tampons that don’t have an applicator. You simply poke them inside to position. They are a LOT smaller, so way more discrete. A non-applicator tampon is not difficult to insert, but for some women, this is not a comfortable idea. However, I have a feeling that as an off-grid woman, you can probably handle your own body parts. I worked for years as a Labor and delivery nurse, and have checked hundreds of cervixes, so I’m not squeamish about lady parts, but I get that some aren’t as comfortable. Even though these are small…you still shouldn’t flush them. You can find these in non-bleached, organic cotton, which obviously is more healthy (but cost extra $) or use those like are pictured, which are OB Tampons.
Disposable Pads & pantyliners
But…have you heard of reusable feminine products?
The menstrual cup is my favorite discovery for off grid periods and just for periods in general! I’ve been using mine for several years now and would not go back to disposables! There are a TON of brands out there now, but they are quite similar. You may have to experiment around to find which brand fits your body the best, because no woman is made exactly the same.
What you need to know about menstrual cups:
- Menstrual cups come generally in two sizes: Regular and Large, or Light Flow and Heavy. This size issue is a bit confusing. I prefer when they list the size as Pre Childbirth, and After Childbirth (vaginal). The size has nothing to do with your body size, but internal fitting. Once you’ve had a vaginal birth, you will most little want the larger size. But…like I said, experimentation either different brands/fits/sizes is the only true way to tell. I use the Large sized cup (and I’m a thin person). I did try the small, and I found that it pinched me, hurt, and did not hold as much as I needed.
- Insertion. You insert a menstrual cup in a similar way as you’d put in a diaphragm. I’d never done that, so I actually looked up some videos on how these cups should be properly inserted. The video that made the most sense to me was where a lady showed a cup inserted into a clear glass, demonstrating how it makes a nice seal, preventing liquid from leaking. Practice makes perfect! For me, I simply fold the cup in half, insert, then let it pop open to create a seal. I pull gently to make sure it’s in place, which will be high up close to the cervix, where a tampon would set.
- A menstrual cup holds a LOT more flow than a tampon, or even pad. And you can leave the cup in for all day. You can wear it overnight, while swimming/bathing, and even leave it in during intimacy. Once it’s inserted, you should not know it’s there. It’s made of soft silicone.
- A menstrual cup just sits there collecting fluids until it 1) overflows, or 2) you remove it. I’ve rarely had mine overflow, but on a super heavy period you need to check more frequently to see if it’s full. I normally leave mine for all day, but on heavy days, I just check for leakage when wiping. If I see any red, I remove and empty. The cup has a stem, which is really just an extension of the cup. To remove, you bear down and gently pull on the stem to break the suction. Be sure to pull straight down and keep the cup level, or you’ll have a mess.
- I love using my cup. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather not have to deal with the whole problem, but you know how it is… A menstrual cup holds way more than a tampon, it’s washable, and I don’t have to keep purchasing these every month! I’ve had mine (the Blossom Cup) for over three years, and just this week I must have worn out the tip, because it broke off. The cup is still usable, but I don’t like it this way, so I ordered two more of what I thought were the exact cups. However, when I reviewed my Amazon history, I noticed that I ordered a different brand, the Luna Cup. I will see how these do. I sort of like sticking with what works, and I hope these new cups will perform like the Blossom Cup.
- There are a few things that make a menstrual cup less than ideal in some situations.
- The biggest problem is emptying the cup in a public restroom, but I’ve dealt with this in a way that I’m comfortable with. I simply remove the cup with tissue in my right hand (holding the stem with the tissue), empty into the toilet, and use a generous wad of TP to wipe out the inside and outside of the cup before reinserting. I guess I’ve been using the menstrual cup for long enough to not make a big mess on my hands, because that’s rarely an issue with me…anymore. But…while you’re getting used to it, it can be tricky to coordinate everything. I don’t personally rinse the cup every time I remove it, but just when I’m in a safe place. That’s really the only inconvenient detail I can think of! Except…
- There is a matter of noise. Inserting is no problem, but on removal of the menstrual cup, you will hear a slight releasing of suction noise, which I don’t like. We live in tight quarters (me and all guys), and that suction noise really does make me cringe. Keep that in mind when in public or in a place where you don’t have a fan, and plan accordingly.
- You can use soap and hot water, a peroxide soak, or boiling to clean out your menstrual cup. Honestly, on our homestead, I wipe between daytime uses, rinse with soap and water once a day, and at the end of my cycle, I usually wipe out or soak with peroxide. My cup has two small holes at the top (to create less suction, I think, and to make removal easier). These can become dirty, so I like to make sure the peroxide gets into those holes. Then I just store the cup in the cute little drawstring bag that came with it, which keeps it dust-free while allowing air to circulate around it.
- OK– when I started learning about the menstrual cup idea, I balked at the cost. Each one was like $30-$45. I had no idea if it would work for me, and I did not want to shell out that much cash on a failure. Don’t do what I did!!! See below. I have now found that the for menstrual cup, the cost has come down so much since their initial release that the investment is minimal–about a 1-2 month’s cost compared to pads/tampons, so why not try one! I’m seeing some now for under $10, and had to laugh when I saw that Tampax had now released their own version! ?. Why pay for monthly supplies when you can have one small, discrete item to tuck away, and never have to worry about emergency runs when Aunt Flo comes in for a surprise visit!
Whew! Enough about Cups!
For Off Grid Periods, sustainably, in addition to menstrual cups, you’ve got some more convenient options, which include:
- Period Panties: This is really a thing. Underwear designed to catch menstrual follow. These have excellent reviews. Women seriously wear these alone or with a cup/other feminine products. The idea is that you don’t have to use pads, or at least you can use them less, plus the fact that these are more protective than regular underwear. The women I’ve heard of who use them love them. I haven’t tried these yet. My period underwear is just this big ol’ pack of black underwear, lol! But…we don’t have a washer yet, and I don’t want to delve into a bunch of hand washing right now.
- Reusable Pads. These days, there are actually tons of cute, well-designed reusable, fabric pads available! It’s actually astonishing how cute something for that purpose is! Makes me scratch my head, but I guess we may as well have something pretty, but my brain says solid black would work quite well. I think the psychology of cute prints is supposed to make us feel like we are enjoying the whole process, maybe?!?!! Anyway…fabric pads have come a LONG way! They now have wings, snaps, breathability, charcoal lining (for the odor), and, like I mentioned, beautiful designs. These fabric pads have cute prints and charcoal lining. I’m going to try them, because although I do sometimes use a thin pantry liner or pad for a backup for my menstrual cup, I don’t enjoy the plastic feeling, nor the non-breathability of regular pads. And the charcoal is brilliant! (We have actually joked from time to time about charcoal-lined underwear). I don’t like pads, though for all the time, so these will be used as backup for me.
Off Grid Periods and Your Emotions
Hormones, periods, and life are hard enough. Books have been written, and men of all ages have tried to figure out the mysteries behind PMS, peri menopause, and women.
Periods are hard.
Living off grid is hard.
Add those two elements, and you’ve got a perfect storm in the horizon.
Women don’t choose to feel moody.
Yet…here we are, with a bundle of crazy, confusing hormones stirring around, just adding to our challenging lives.
With all of the pressures of the off grid life, you may already feel, on some days, like life is just one big challenge. I feel that way when we come home late, the RV is dark and cold, the water tank needs to be filled up, the batteries need charged, the water needs heated for a shower, and the cats need something! Living off grid just provides many challenges that you don’t face while living on grid power.
When your time of the month comes along, and on all the days in between, the stress of life can deplete your body of nutrients, especially magnesium.
It’s very important to replenish minerals to be able to function at your best–or, let’s face it, to get through some days!
There are certain nutrients/supplements that I find I need to take to operate during stress. And period time is certainly one of those times, although I need to take these regularly.
If I skip, everyone notices!
Supplements for emotions during your off grid periods
Do your own research, but I like this particular magnesium supplement. It is definitely calming, does not have the total blast off effect like some magnesiums, and is highly absorbable. I notice it in a very negative way if I don’t take it regularly. We’ve got this on Subscribe and Save. ?
- Mood Support is the other supplement that I have on Subscribe and Save. It is a blend of most of the most effective mood elevating herbs and natural supplements, as well as some of the B vitamins necessary for nerve support. I started my son on this, then decided to try it myself, and have found that it really does help to balance out my negative mood swings. When I run out, it’s not a happy day!
- I occasionally take Ginseng for increased energy. It helps me to deal with the stresses of life, fatigue, and seems to clear my head as well. I feel more awake when I take it, but not buzzed like a caffeine effect.
- In addition to many other health benefits, Stinging Nettle tea helps to balance out female hormones. Make it strong and drink a quart per day! I always forget this one, but when I remember to drink my nettle tea, I just feel way better overall! And, it contains an impressive amount of iron, which helps to replace what is lost through blood loss.
- Read more about Nettle Tea here
Past Tense for Headaches
- If you are like me and get hormonal migraines, this oil, Past Tense, from Doterra, is super helpful. Roll it on your temples and hit the bed! If I catch a migraine with this when it’s just coming on, I can ward it off. Once the migraine has set in, it’s pretty much Excedrin time. ?. But I still use this throughout any headache and it takes a lot of the edge off. It cools the pounding temples and helps to relax me, which is helpful. I never am without my roller bottle of this blend.
- I just want to acknowledge that the chocolate cravings are real, and that there seem to be components in chocolate that balance the mood. Not sure what they are, but here’s what I want to say about chocolate. ?
- –keep it in moderation. Don’t eat your weight in chocolate, or you’ll have other emotional and physical problems!
Go sugar free!
- I have found that sugar contributes to depression, headaches, and yucky feelings, from blood sugar disturbances. Stick to sugar free (stevia sweetened, not artificial sweetener!)
- . Keep it dark, which often has little or no dairy!
This Russell Stover’s Sugar Free is great tasting, available at everywhere (even the Dollar Tree), and provides a treat without the headache-inducing blood sugar spikes!
This has been one LONG BLOG POST! Guess there’s a lot to say about periods!
I hope you have learned a thing or two. I certainly wish I’d known about the reusable supplies years ago, but I’m glad I know now! Simple and sustainable is very nice!
Glad you came by to my blog!
I hope you come back often!
Let me know what you do about periods, on or off-grid, in the comments section. I’m always learning too!
Great info. Thanks for sharing, and happy New Year Laurie!
Thank you! I find it’s a topic we ladies can all relate to! ?
Hi Laurie! Thanks for entering Simple Homestead Blog Hop #292 last week. This post has been chosen to be featured in the Simple Homestead Blog Hop #293 this week! Congrats! Be sure to swing by this week’s hop on Thursday, January 14, 2021 and grab your “featured in” badge to include on your post. Happy homesteadin’!
Thank you so much! I’ll come by! And thanks for the feature!
Hi Laurie, Thanks for stopping by Bloom Where You’re Planted last week for the hop. I loved this post! I am not off grid, but I wish I had this advice when I was a teen! I am going to share it with my daughter. I love the details which nobody likes to talk about. Thanks, Dash
I hear you! I don’t think they had some of this stuff when I was a teen, and I’m not sure how I’d have felt about it then, but it’s a real blessing to me now! ?
We’ve lived off grid for 8 years, and I’ve always used a cup. My biggest problem (still) is trying to figure out where is the best place to dump the contents?! We have an outhouse with compost toilet – old school, five-gallon bucket style. I’ve never been too keen on a.) emptying it in the outhouse at all and b.) mixing it with humanure. SO I’ve always just poured it in a jar while standing in the shower which makes it easier to rinse my hands or anything. But, like you, I’m in a very tiny Tiny House with all boys. (I discreetly empty the jar in the woods and just bury/cover with dirt).
What do you do?
We do have a camper toilet that we’ve tied into the septic line, so that’s where mine goes.
I can see your quandary. I guess burying it is a good idea, but it does attract animals. None of it is too fun.
I’ve also recently noticed that I get yeast infections from the cup. I think it’s not the cup itself, but storing it in our camper, which sometimes has way too much humidity. So I’ve really paid attention to washing it and sterilizing it after sitting for several weeks, and so far it’s getting better. I actually thought I had a systemic candida overgrowth, because it kept recurring, but at some point I realized it was only after my cycle that it flared up.
Not everyone realizes the off grid challenged, but this is definitely one of them!