Observing the laws of purity is a sacred duty for every Zoroastrian. A Zoroastrian woman in her menses is doctrinally held to be in a state of impurity. This is not an indictment against women alone for even a priest who has a bleeding sore or a festering wound is not permitted to enter the precincts of a fire temple until he undergoes ritual purification. Your charge regarding this custom being sexist, therefore, is untenable. [The writer is responding to a question posed in a letter to the magazine.]
The Greek author Pliny in his Natural History (Book 7, chapter 13) states, "On the approach of a woman in this state [i.e., menses], wine will become sour, seeds which are touched by her will become sterile, grafts wither away, garden plants are parched up and the fruit will fall from the tree beneath which she sits." In Book 28, chapter 23, he continues, ". . . bees, it is a well-known fact, will forsake their wives if touched by a menstruating woman . . . . fire itself, an element which triumphs over every other substance, is unable to conquer this."
We gather from the 'Vendidad' (16.2) that the observance of seclusion during menses in a separate place has been in vogue since times immemorial. This custom, again, is not unique to the Parsi community alone. A Hindu lady, in her menses, abstains generally from worship, cooking and remains aloof from other members of the family. The Jews believe Moses had interdicted Jewish women from going near rivers, wells, fire or kitchen, grain fields, gardens and cattle. The Arabs also observed similar customs and women stayed in separate huts or tents. In the New Testament, there is a reference to an incident where a woman in her menses, touches the cloak of Jesus and he cries out, "Who touched me? My Glory is gone out of me."
Indian housewives, for ages, have known that pickle and other preserved foods handled by them during menses spoil easily.
So is there a scientific explanation for this? Indeed, there is!
Critical investigations by Drs. Macht and Lobin at Johns Hopkins University [my alma mater! Who are these guys? I'm quitting the alumni association!] Laboratory have found a certain toxin (appropriately called "Menotoxin") in the various body fluids of a menstruating woman. This toxin is believed to manifest itself in large quantities, just before and during the first few days of the onset of the monthly period. Research has revealed that Menotoxin has an inhibitory effect on the growth of roots, stems, living seedlings, yeast and affects the geotropic properties of seedlings. [Compare this with the soaking bowls with a spout for washable pads available today (this museum has one); the spout is for the bloody water to be poured on plants for fertilizer. A recent visitor from England (fourth item down), who retired from a career in the blood-storage program, said blood is a great fertilizer, and menstrual blood would be too. Try it!] Is there any wonder our sagacious forefathers recommended seclusion? [The MUM director indented this section for effect.]
We accept the fact that in today's times, especially in large cities like Bombay, it may not be possible to observe complete seclusion. Yet one must make a conscious effort to keep away from all sacred objects in the house or items like clothes which one normally reserves for visits to Agiaries and Atash behrams. Doctrinally, prayers recited by a woman in her menses are invalid in nature.
According to the Vendidad' (16.4) a woman in her menses "should keep 15 paces from fire, 15 from water and 15 from barsam and 3 paces from a holy man." It has also been observed with the aid of Kirlian photography that the aura or personal atmosphere of a woman in her menses becomes dark, dense and putrid. Visiting a holy place like a consecrated Agiary or Atash Behram during menses is, therefore, preposterous and tantamount to an unforgivable sin in nature.
Dear Mr. Finley,
To the woman with the suggestions on how to properly use The Keeper - much appreciated! I have had some problems with mine and will take her advice.
However, she needs to know that she absolutely should never rinse her Keeper out in the toilet bowl (and reinsert it, no less - talk about grot)! As a nurse, I can tell you that ANY toilet bowl, no matter how "clean" looking, is full of heinous bacteria - I can't believe she would put that back into her privates. Instead, (no pun intended), she could take to the toilet either a glass of clean water or a small collapsible water bottle that can fit in a purse - you can get them at camping stores. Please tell her to stop before she starts growing something frightening in her vagina!
Thank you. Keep up the great Web site.
Johnson and Johnson [corporation] recently launched their Cycles of Wellness Web site found at http://www.cyclesofwellness.com.
From first periods to menopause, the new Johnson and Johnson site entitled "Cycles of Wellness" is a comprehensive resource for women of all ages. In addition to the discussion of reproductive health and nutrition, there is a menstrual calendar where women can track their monthly cycles. Both teachers and parents alike will enjoy a special section specifically geared to enhance the understanding of the feminine reproductive system. The straightforward, candid approach of this site will enable women to make smart choices about their bodies at various stages in life. Rare Medium, Inc., a digital communications firm headquartered in New York City, with offices in Los Angeles and Atlanta, developed the site.
I hope that you will place a link to this valuable resource for women, and if you have any comments, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Your Web site is absolutely HILARIOUS! I loved it!!!
I like your Web site. I haven't explored all of it but I am going to.
Here are some things I remember learning about menstruation over the years:
I have read that other primates, baboons, I think, have been known to use absorbent plant fibers to absorb menstrual flow. [Offhand, it would seem that this would be tool making if it's true, which is rare among animals. Does anyone know more about this?]
Also, I read about sticks marked in notches with bigger notches every so often, some 32 small notches apart, some 28, etc. It was speculated in my astronomy book that these were from early man's observing the phases of the moon, the big notches being the full moon. My husband's women's psychology text thought they were from early women marking their periods. [If the notches differ so much, it couldn't be the moon, unless the recorders were lousy observers.]
Dear Mr. Finley,
I've written to you before to congratulate you on the site. I want to add some comments about The Keeper.
I've been using it for about a year now and I am very pleased with it. I have VERY heavy periods and The Keeper is just about the only product on the market which has saved my sheets from eternal ruin.
A tip for first time users: try running warm or hot water over it to soften the rubber up so it isn't so stiff. I do this when I'm first putting it in when I get up in the morning and it's made it a lot easier.
Also I think they really do make that tab much too long for women with shorter vaginas. I basically just cut the whole thing off, leaving only just enough to give the cup a good tug to make the seal.
This may gross some of you out, but to get around the restroom problem, I empty the cup into the toilet bowl, flush out the dirty water twice and then rinse the cup from the bowl.
I tend to do this only at work though. If you read your Keeper literature carefully, you will also note that they suggest that you wet a few paper towels to wipe it off with inside the stall after you've emptied it.
This works well too, but bring more than one, use the first to wipe and get up most of the flow, then use the second to finish cleaning it up before you pop it back in.
In response to the suction question: If you're getting very heavy suction, you've probably put it in too far. The Keeper sits LOW in the body and your muscles should be keeping it in place, not so much the suction.
I do have some concerns about blood-borne diseases which were raised by another respondent. [That respondent never fulfilled my request to supply articles discussing problems of cups.] I assume that these are only a problem if you are not emptying your cup often enough and not washing your hands and the cup properly before insertion. Just like with a tampon you HAVE to wash your hands thoroughly if you're going to be sticking your fingers up inside - that just seems like common sense to me. [Apparently there is a potential hazard in the rubber because of its porosity, affording areas for bacteria to grow.]
Anyway, keep up the good work and keep us posted on any developments about The Keeper and disease.
Delighted to see that there is a museum like this, and what a pleasure to see menstruation appreciated, instead of being vilified as an unwanted bastard at the family reunion.
And delighted that there are two products [The Keeper and Instead] like the good ole Tassaways I remember from my youth. I loved that product, though now it appears I must have been one of three who did, since they disappeared from the market. I'll tell my daughter that there is a choice out there, and try them myself. Muchas gracias.
Irregular menses identify women at high risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which exists in 6-10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is a major cause of infertility and is linked to diabetes.