Women Feel Better About Menopause

Better information might be making women greet the close of their reproductive years in better spirits. Many may actually look forward to it.

That's part of the news from the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society, in Boston, a few weeks ago.

And here's more: A whopping 80% of women surveyed by the Gallup Organization are relieved to see the end of their periods, an amount which seems to agree with what I hear from museum visitors. There's just too much unpredictability, mess, and societal displeasure associated with it (see the item just below).

A few weeks ago, I ran in this column a theory about how menopausal women may have made possible the advance of civilization. The Gallup survey says that most women do not let menopause stop them from trying new or risky things.

But many women also believe that menopause is linked with depression and cancer. Not true, say the experts.

By the way, the executive director of the society is a male, Wulf Utian, which leads me into the next item.

Questions of Menstruation and Menstrual Hygiene

This week a German woman e-mailed me about the work she is doing with two others in German schools.

She also asked me about menstrual cups, and she replied to my answers with the following:

Dear Mr. Finley,

Thanks very much for your prompt reply concerning the cup, even though (please excuse me) I found it a bit disquieting that my questions were answered by a male person.

As I might not be alone with this opinion, I think it might be better that a woman responds to particular questions. I don't want to say anything against competence of men concerning menstruation in the medical or physical sense at all - but I'm not sure that a man can really understand what women feel - feel about their body and internal processes during a certain time every month.

Women and especially young girls who ask such questions do not await simply an answer.

And so it is essential that they don't get "technical" support only but rather a sensitive reaction that says: 'Yes, I know what you mean, I know about your problems, I feel the same, because I am also a woman and I can help you and advise you, because I am a woman!'

We are a group of three women who found it necessary to teach girls and women at schools and high schools and colleges the broad field of female health. We try to answer all questions women hesitate to pose. And this means especially questions concerning the health of genitalia, menstruation, menstrual products, sex education for girls (that far too often is neglected by the parents), etc. We recommend books and other literature, show pads and tampons and give instructions how to use them.

I became aware of your Museum of Menstruation through the Internet and I find it a great idea! People (female and male) should know (more) about that topic, how it was dealt with in the past, what discriminating and humiliating matter it was still or to our grandmas, what they could use, what we can use nowadays, how advertising changed through the years and became freer. Menstruation is more cushy today because of modern hygienic products and drugs against ache. The mental problem, however, can be reduced only slowly. Although we are now allowed to bath, cook, job etc. women still cannot get rid of a subconscious feeling of being impure (and that in the word's double sense of being dirty and insufficient) - apart from the undeniable relationship between a psyche which refuses menstruation (and so womankind in general) and PMS, painful or irregular periods.

Exactly because of these reasons we do our job at schools, arrange workshops in bookstores or cafes. Because of these reasons a female person should answer relevant questions.

I don't have my own homepage (I am new on the Internet) but it would really be a great pleasure for me if I can enlarge my field of activity and respond to questions female visitors of your pages pose to you.

As I said before, helping women in certain matters is part of my job and one of my hobbies. We intend to help womankind lose the feeling of being secondary and want them to accept and feel menstruation as something very natural and unique which makes us be something, particularly because we can give birth to new life!

This has nothing to do with feminism or emancipation.

If you are interested you can place a link to my e-mail address aehnelt@mail.teleconsult.de and I will answer everything a woman might ask. It would be a great honor for me and I of course would do this job honorary, free, gratis!

What do you think about it?

Petra Habiger

I am 30 years old, and I have a daughter and live in a small village in southern Germany.

She's right that I will never know what a woman feels. Why not take her up on this?

As far as running the museum is concerned, Dr. Catherine Ott, of the Smithsonian Institution and American University here in Washington, said that it might be better for a museum to be founded and run by someone for whom the subject is truly foreign (my word), because it gives an objectivity to it.

Dr. Ott and five Smithsonian Fellows visited this museum about two years ago, and she, on another occasion, cordially showed me and two doctoral candidates from England what the Smithsonian had in the way of menstrual historical material. The candidates, from the Southampton Institute, just outside London, were visiting the U.S.A. on a grant to inspect your MUM.

As I've said before, I'm just a guy!

Speaking of Impure . . .

A mother with her daughter from Baltimore visited MUM Saturday along with friends visiting them from upstate New York.

The daughter reminisced about how humiliated she felt when, as a young teenager, a doctor took an x-ray of her pelvis to see if it was broken after she took a fall. The doctor was very concerned with the x-ray, all right, but only because of a strange piece of metal that showed up, seemingly embedded in her. To his relief, and the girl's shame, it was the metal tab which held her menstrual pad in her sanitary underpants.

This prompted her mother to recall how her mother used to send her young daughters, herself included, to the store to buy sanitary napkins for her; she was too embarrassed to do it herself, and the daughters had no idea what they were.

Australia to Girls! Australia to Girls!

This just in:


Check out our site for young girls.

You can learn about your body, ask any curly question you might have, and lots of other fun things!

It is made by Sancella PTY Ltd in Australia - a joint venture between SCA Mölnlycke (see their exhibit!) and Carter Holt Harvey.

We sell the Libra pads and Libra Fleur tampons, which in Europe are called Libresse and o.b.Fleur.

Libragirl :)

Just the fax, MUM! Did Kimberly-Clark Make the First Commercial Tampon?

The gift that Tambrands made to this museum last week contained instructions for an early tampon named Nunap. As discussed on the Nunap page, Kimberly-Clark, the maker of the first widely successful American disposable menstrual pad, Kotex, made Cellucotton, which these instructions claim as the tampon material. And the drawing of Nunap is identical to that of the fax tampon, which I believe is possibly the earliest tampon. This might mean that Kimberly-Clark made the first commercial tampon!

I said "might mean." Why not find out for yourself? And for fame and a kind of low-grade fortune? Look no further for a topic for your term paper or senior thesis! Do some digging, or lots of digging, and enter the MUM fax and tampon contest, that perhaps silly search for the urtampon! You may already be a winner! No, wait, that's another contest. You might be in a minor motion picture based on your research - unlikely, but if it happens, you can thank your MUM.

Why are you just sitting there? You should be flipping 1930s newspapers, sniffing out the Truth!

Get busy!

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