Having never ovulated once in my life, I feel distinctly underqualified to speak about women’s health. However, it is such an important issue, both personally and ecologically. Ecologically, tampons and sanitary towels are a nightmare. When you consider that every woman uses, on average, 22 items of sanitary protection every period (11,000 items in her lifetime)(269) and that these end up in landfill or our seas, the cost both ecologically and financially is obvious. Multiply those figures by billions, and you see the problem unfold.
There are solutions. One of these is the mooncup, which is a little rubber cup inserted into the vagina and held in place over the cervix to collect menstrual flow. It’s reusable and should last you a lifetime. It comes with mixed reviews from different female friends of mine. Some say that it works great, while others report that it can leak a little, which is hardly ideal. If it works well for you, it will save you a lot of money and drastically reduce your ecological impact. How you would make one, I have no idea, and so unless you come up with a solution yourself it will involve buying one to begin with.
If you want pure moneyless menstruation, the options may seem less appealing. In a German book titled Die unpäßliche Frau: Sozialgeschichte der Menstruation und Hygiene (The Indisposed Woman: A Social History of Menstruation and Hygiene),(270) the authors suggest that women in Germany (and there is much evidence that this was also the case in many other parts of the world before industrialisation) either made their own reusable pads (designs are available in the book) or wore no pads or underwear and just bled freely. The former is entirely manageable, though I’ve no idea how comfortable it would be as I know no one who has tried this (and am unable to myself). The latter would require a total redesign of society, and a move away from tyrannical patriarchy.
Given that a total redesign of society is not likely before the weekend, the best thing our governments could do in this respect is to allow women the option of having some time off during their menstrual cycles, or at the very least the freedom to organise their lives around it. Considering governments and corporations are dominated by men, this is just as unlikely. They will simply say that such a move would be ‘economically unviable’ (which, remember, actually means ‘financially unviable’), at which point all discussion ends, such is the hold that money has on our minds. This is a monetary economy, not a human economy, and so money-making endeavours will always triumph over those that create happiness and well-being.