Survey of some American university students about their use and knowledge of alternative menstrual products - Interim results of a survey of menstrual hygiene practices in several Third World countries - "Gynecology and Gynecologic Surgery" by Dr. Nelson Soucasaux, Brazilian gynecologist - Humor

Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Words and expressions about menstruation: New: Canada: Crampies, My one period; Japan: My one period; U.S.A.: Happy and bleeding, In celebration, Is it messy? It's going to be messy, Monthly hurts, Time to ram a tam
What did European and American women use for menstruation in the past?



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(More Jobs, conferences, prizes, announcements, etc., in the lower half of this page)

New in December

Art of Menstruation: Angelina Lowenberg

Survey of some American university students about their use and knowledge of alternative menstrual products

Interim results of a survey of menstrual hygiene practices in several Third World countries

"Gynecology and Gynecologic Surgery" by Dr. Nelson Soucasaux, Brazilian gynecologist

Would you stop menstruating if you could?

Words and expressions about menstruation


Radio ad rejected, part 2

As I reported a few months ago on this page (here), my favorite classical music station (WBJC, Baltimore) offered to run an ad of my choice several times on one day for a contribution of $180. I took them up on it but was quickly called by the station to tell me that an ad for the Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health was not suitable for the station's audience, I think a well-educated lot. I asked for and got my money back.

Last week on the same station I heard an ad for the Johns Hopkins (my alma mater) department of psychiatry appealing for listeners afflicted with bipolar disorder to join a study it was conducting.

My first thought was, "Whaaaat? Bipolar disease is more socially acceptable than menstruation?"

Oh, well, at least we've advanced to the point that ads for the mentally ill can be heard. We'll have to wait for menstruation.

Hold on! In the 1960s radio listeners could hear ads for the Tassette menstrual cup (read here). I have seen other signs that our society is not advancing at all. One day that must change.

Letters to your MUM

She doesn't like the Instead menstrual cup

 Visit the Instead and The Keeper Web sites. Read an incomplete history of menstrual cups.
Illustration copyright 1997 Harry Finley.


I was just reading your page of letters about The Keeper and Instead cups. I used Instead for the first time today and I've had a few thoughts.

1) As popular as o.b. (no-applicator) tampons have become, I think quite a few women must be getting over their issues with regards to putting their fingers in there. So maybe cups stand a chance after all. [By the way, non-applicator tampons were probably the first commercial tampons; see early examples.]

2) If they're not biodegradable, I think I should keep scissors in the bathroom so I can snip them apart! The pink rubber rim is probably worse than six-pack rings when they get out into the environment.

3) They're hideously expensive. Yes, one cup can be worn longer than one tampon, as far as health is concerned - but on a really heavy day like today it fills up quickly and needs to be changed. There are six cups in a box that costs six bucks (Canadian). I could get forty tampons for the same price.

Maybe Instead isn't all it's cracked up to be as an "alternative" to tampons. It's not reusable (no matter what anyone says, I wouldn't reinsert it unless it could be resterilized, which warm soapy water won't do), it's not biodegradable, and it's not cheap. Seems like people turn to cups as backlash against the tampon industry, but the cups have their own set of problems.

A lot of this would be avoided with a reusable cup, though. The environmental and cost issues would be eliminated. I'll have to hop onto my favourite women's-health message board and ask for some opinions.


And she likes DivaCup


I found no mention about the DivaCup. It looks like The Keeper, but it is silicon and doesn't have latex in it like The Keeper. It is also quite a bit cheaper than The Keeper. I believe it retails for about $22 to $25 plus shipping, unlike the keeper which retails for $35.

The DivaCup has measuring lines so you can measure your flow. It looks almost identical to The Keeper, except it is a clear type of silicone. It is reusable. The Web site doesn't say it lasts as long as the keeper; they make mention that some women get a new one every year or two.

I just started using a Keeper. I own a shop, and was able to get it at wholesale price. I looked for info on the Keeper about eight months ago, and found nothing about the DivaCup. I think it may be rather new? I am not sure, but I am sure you will find out and post info on MUM.

"Seasonale is horrible"

Seasonale [a new hormone drug that is designed to limit periods to four times a year; read more about it] is ruining my life. I have breakthrough bleeding that cannot even be CALLED breakthrough bleeding. I've been bleeding heavily for two weeks even though I'm not supposed to start my "seasonal period" for another three and a half weeks. I have absolutely no sex drive. I haven't been able to make love to my fiancee in a over a month. I am constantly sick, vomiting, bleeding, irritated, fiancee is so supportive, but it doesn't matter. Seasonale is horrible. To anyone out there who can read this, DO NOT TAKE IT. It ruins almost every aspect of your life. PLEASE, just tell your doctor NO. Don't let it ruin you like it has ruined me.

Orthodox Jews write about menstrual rituals


It was really a fluke that I found you at all; I'm a bit of a Regency history buff, and someone recommended your site for information on how women dealt with their periods back then. I expected to find another Regency history site, but found yours, and coincidentally, I think I may have something to contribute to it.

I am an Orthodox Jew. I see that you do explain a bit about the mikvah [here] and about behavior during niddah [here], and that you even show the relevant pages in Leviticus [here], but if you wanted something more, I have an article on my own Web site at [and one from her husband, Rabbi Mordechai Housman, at]

She makes the most common criticism of this site

I think it is quite interesting what you are doing. As a female it is always humorous to hear a man's point of view about our womanly idiosyncrasies, however you do not actually experience the phenomenon and besides reciting historical facts about the subject what can you offer? If you were paired with a woman on this project I may be more motivated to experience the museum. With a woman you offer your thoughts and her actual experiences.

[At least I've gone to the trouble to look for and relate facts, which has caused me social trouble as well. But much of the site - her letter is one example - consists of women's contributions. It's a shame she wasn't motivated to find out more about what she was looking at.]

But she praises MUM!

Dear Harry:

Greetings from chilly Ontario, Canada. 

I heard part of your conversation with Bill Richardson on CBC radio last night [see more media treatment of this museum]. I was intrigued so I went online today and have spent a few hours now checking out your Web site and related links.

Your museum is fascinating and an excellent resource for a interesting part of our culture and lives. I commend you for sticking with this idea and I hope that someday soon I can visit your dream public museum. 

In the meantime, I have been enjoying your sense of humour and your commentary. I will continue to visit your site and now have it marked as one of my favourites. 

I did an art collage about 10 years ago when I was in my 20's called "101 Things For Girls To Do."  Perhaps I will email you a picture of it when I figure out how to use my new digital camera!

Take care, Harry. Keep up the good work. Say hello to your cats [here] from me in Canada.

Best wishes,

Ontario, Canada

Find out more about menstrual extraction

A couple of months ago, you had a notice on your site asking for any information about menstrual extractors. [MUM does have this info.] I found a book in my university library called Vaginal Politics that was published in the 1970s, which commented on the subject. The subject of the book was the power imbalance between gynecologists and women. Menstrual extraction is mentioned in an article the author wrote for a periodical. She adds this article into the book before the first chapter. It is also mentioned in two chapters later on in the book. The author is not a fan of the practice, but she does balance the viewpoint by adding he opinion of a female doctor who did not condemn the practice.

The argument against menstrual extraction was that it may not be hygienic to put a foreign object into the body without sanitizing it, and also that there may be unknown health affects to removing all the tissue at once.

You may be able to get more information about it from the author of this Web site:

I don't know if you still needed the information, but I thought I'd mention it. I hope that helps.

Add section for Eastern religions - what a treasure trove!

Dear Sir,

I ran into your site while looking for experiential appraisal of menstruation by women themselves. I enjoyed finding in short texts an overview of thethree "major" religions' views on the subject.

May I suggest that you add a page for Eastern religious views, taoist, Buddhist, yogic? Views there span the same positive-negative range. As in other religions, too, knowledge about women's experience and practices (physical in this case) has so been suppressed over the centuries that little is now known of what archaics and ancients might have remembered from the matriarchal cultures' knowledge. Modern women have to rediscover it. Below is a line to follow.

There is, in all religions, a "deeper" or "inner" aspect of religious teaching, knowledge of human nature, and mystic practices. The quest for "enlightenment" and its problem of behavioural and mind agitation and pains has roots in the body and the quest for longevity and youthfulness, freedom from disease and from being dependent on external things or people. For women, some practices involve menstruation. It seems, though, that these are mostly lost, due to negative biases and to the progressive psychologizing of spiritual practices.

Mysticism, spiritual practices, and archaic "myths" of reversing menstruation for health:

I know of one Buddhist practice called "slaying the Red Dragon," aiming to stop menses (for women monks, the body is "just a vehicle" and menstrual uproars of emotions a hindrance to meditation). I cannot trace anyone who actually knows what this practice involves.

In Chinese and yogic traditions, there's a lot of sexual practices to "raise spirit" or life energy, but China has retained a notion that women could stop their menses and gain at the same time a healthier body, also more prone to "spiritual development."

I also think I remember (can't quote) something in the beginning of the Bible (descendants of Noah) about a woman who was menopausal, received the Grace of God, became fertile again, and pregnant. [Note that scholars increasingly stop considering ancient texts as mere stories and find historical validation for their contents, so may be there is something real to that story].

These remnants of traditions, apparently often rooted in pre-archaic female shamanism. go in the same general direction as some of the books you quote. Namely, that

(1) Menstruation is an illness-cleansing process, which, however should not lead to negatively valuing of women, persons with 'uncleanliness'. 'Illness' is a problem that must have a solution.

(2) Menstruation blood and menopause may not be necessary or inevitable at all. There is controversy about whether it's a uniquely human phenomenon, and indications that rich agriculture-based food might cause it in caged animals - so why not in women- , and its occurrence seems variable in animal species and individuals - so why not in women, since most males do not experience sexual organ failure at midlife.

(3) Therefore, there might be a way of not having menstruation, without resorting to medical drug interference, which I know from personal experience (contraceptive pill) can wreck havoc in the hormonal system both short term and long term - see literature on the effect of Hormone Replacement Therapy on cancers, for example, or see literature about the painlessness of menopause or childbirth in certain cultures. I could find no theoretical reason to make such things necessarily impossible.

(4) This would mean there could be both a way of stopping them without loosing fertility once they have started, and a way of maintaining health so they do not start at all. Most ancient traditions state that there is knowledge about human nature that has been lost.

Your list of euphemisms and words for menstruation (here) supports the idea that menstruation is not pleasant (and at its worst feels like illness; shall we trust instincts?) but also the idea that they constitute an "activation of power," including creative, but also the "red power" of hormonal uprising as in an adrenaline or testosterone rush. Such "activations" have a lot to do with how cells behave in a cancer. This line of thought has not been explored in medical or anthropological contexts as far as I know.

Displaying info on mystic practices and these unusual health goals might help validate women's experience as both unpleasant but not blamable, and a possible opportunity to approach health in a different way, from a woman's viewpoint. Hence scholarly and medical studies of possibilities in women's conditions rather than a mere remedial "disease'" approach, post- (e.g. PMS) or pre- (as in one of the books you quote, about ridding the world of menstruation).

My way of dealing with all this is to not accept as full truth anything I read, including scientific knowledge and household knowledge, and to seek answers for myself, observing my own experience as it is, rather than through the filters of what I've learned or of my bodily conditioning, and draw inspiration and support from archaic texts, less limiting. Since a couple of scholars have responded to your site, I'd like to make an appeal to women researchers to not stay with only objective science or scholarship, but to include their own experience in a "first person" research method.

Results of a trial of the new pill to suppress menstruation, Seasonale: "effective, safe and well tolerated"

Christine L. Hitchcock, Ph.D., Research Associate, Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR), Endocrinology, Dept. of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada (URL:, sent this to members of the The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (which includes me).

Here is the first article from the Phase III trial of the higher dose extended schedule pill (Seasonale).

In Contraception. 2003 Aug;68(2):89-96.

A multicenter, randomized study of an extended cycle oral contraceptive.

Anderson FD, Hait H.

The Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical

School, Norfolk, VA 23501, USA.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy and safety of Seasonale, 91-day extended cycle oral contraceptive (OC). METHODS: A parallel, randomized, multicenter open-label, 1-year study of the OC Seasonale [30 microg ethinyl estradiol (EE)/150 microg levonorgestrel (LNG), and Nordette-28 (30 microg EE/150 microg LNG)] in sexually active, adult women (18-40 years) of childbearing potential. Patients received either four 91-day cycles of extended cycle regimen OC, or 13 cycles of the conventional 28-day OC with daily monitoring of compliance and bleeding via electronic diaries. RESULTS: When taken daily for 84 days followed by 7 days of placebo, the extended cycle regimen was effective in preventing pregnancy and had a safety profile that was comparable to that observed with the 28-day OC regimen that served as the control. While unscheduled (breakthrough) bleeding was reported among patients treated with the extended cycle regimen, it decreased with each successive cycle of therapy and was comparable to that reported by patients who received the conventional OF regimen by the fourth extended cycle. CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that Seasonale, 91-day extended cycle OC containing 84 days of 30 microg EE/150 microg LNG followed by 7 days of placebo, was effective, safe and well tolerated.

PMID: 12954519

Press release from the maker of Seasonale, Barr Laboratories

(Kathleen O'Grady, of the Canadian Women's Health Network, kindly sent this to The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research members)

WOODCLIFF LAKE, N.J., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Barr Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE:BRL) today announced that it has begun promoting SEASONALE(R) (levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol) 0.15 mg/0.03 mg tablets directly to physicians and other healthcare providers. SEASONALE is the first and only FDA-approved extended-cycle oral contraceptive indicated for the prevention of pregnancy and designed to reduce periods from 13 to 4 per year. The Company has initiated physician detailing and promotional activities using the 250-person Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Women's Healthcare Sales Force. Duramed is a wholly owned subsidiary of Barr Laboratories, Inc.

The Company began shipping SEASONALE in mid-October. Promotional Programs directed to physicians include a variety of patient education initiatives, various medical education programs and a publication plan that includes journal advertising. Women and healthcare professionals who would like to learn more about SEASONALE, including full prescribing information, should visit or call the toll-free number 800-719-FOUR (3687).

"We are excited to begin marketing this new choice in oral contraception to healthcare providers and patients through extensive promotional activities and an education campaign," Bruce L. Downey, Barr's Chairman and CEO said. "Our market research indicates that the extended-cycle regimen represents a substantial opportunity with patients and we believe that the already high awareness of SEASONALE will be even higher among target physicians and patients following the launch of our promotional activities and detailing by our Women's Healthcare Sales Force."

"SEASONALE is a 91-day regimen taken daily as 84 active tablets of 0.15 mg of levonorgestrel/0.03 mg of ethinyl estradiol, followed by 7 inactive tablets and is designed to reduce the number of periods from 13 to 4 per year," explained Dr. Carole S. Ben-Maimon, President and Chief Operating Officer of Barr Research. "With SEASONALE, women now have an FDA-approved, safe and effective alternative to the traditional 28-day oral contraceptive regimen."

Clinical Data

The clinical data supporting FDA approval of the SEASONALE (levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol) 0.15 mg/0.03 mg tablets product resulted from a randomized, open-label, multi-center trial that ended in March 2002 and an extension to that trial. In the trials, SEASONALE was found to prevent pregnancy and had a comparable safety profile to a more traditional oral contraceptive.

In the trial, the most reported adverse events were nasopharyngitis, headache and intermenstrual bleeding or spotting.

SEASONALE(R) has been formulated using well-established components, long recognized as safe and effective when used in a 28-day regimen. SEASONALE offers 4 periods per year as compared to 13 per year with traditional oral contraceptives. When prescribing SEASONALE, the convenience of fewer planned menses (4 per year instead of 13 per year) should be weighed against the inconvenience of increased intermenstrual bleeding and/or spotting.

Important Information About Oral Contraceptives

It is estimated that more than 16 million women currently take oral contraceptives in the United States. Oral contraceptives are not for every woman. Serious as well as minor side effects have been reported with the use of hormonal contraceptives. Serious risks include blood clots, stroke, and heart attack. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of serious cardiovascular side effects, especially in women over 35 years. Oral contraceptives do not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Use of SEASONALE provides women with more hormonal exposure on a yearly basis than conventional monthly oral contraceptives containing similar strength synthetic estrogens and progestins (an additional 9 weeks per year). While this added exposure may pose an additional risk of thrombotic and thromboembolic disease, studies to date with SEASONALE have not suggested an increased risk of these disorders. The convenience of fewer menses (4 vs. 13 per year) should be weighed against the inconvenience of increased intermenstrual bleeding/spotting.

Barr Laboratories, Inc. is engaged in the development, manufacture and marketing of generic and proprietary pharmaceuticals.

Forward-Looking Statements

The following sections contain a number of forward-looking statements. To the extent that any statements made in this press release contain information that is not historical, these statements are essentially forward-looking. Forward-looking statements can be identified by their use of words such as "expects," "plans," "will," "may," "anticipates," "believes," "should," "intends," "estimates" and other words of similar meaning. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that cannot be predicted or quantified and, consequently, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include: the difficulty in predicting the timing and outcome of legal proceedings, including patent-related matters such as patent challenge settlements and patent infringement cases; the difficulty of predicting the timing of U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approvals; court and FDA decisions on exclusivity periods; the ability of competitors to extend exclusivity periods for their products; the success of our product development activities; market and customer acceptance and demand for our pharmaceutical products; our dependence on revenues from significant customers; reimbursement policies of third party payors; our dependence on revenues from significant products; the use of estimates in the preparation of our financial statements; the impact of competitive products and pricing; the ability to develop and launch new products on a timely basis; the availability of raw materials; the availability of any product we purchase and sell as a distributor; our mix of product sales between manufactured products, which typically have higher margins, and distributed products; the regulatory environment; our exposure to product liability and other lawsuits and contingencies; the increasing cost of insurance and the availability of product liability insurance coverage; our timely and successful completion of strategic initiatives, including integrating companies and products we acquire and implementing new enterprise resource planning systems; fluctuations in operating results, including the effects on such results from spending for research and development, sales and marketing activities and patent challenge activities; and other risks detailed from time to time in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Source: Barr Laboratories, Inc.

CONTACT: Carol A. Cox, Barr Laboratories, Inc., +1-201-930-3720,

Free documents from Women's Health Initiative to celebrate its one-year anniversary

To mark the one-year anniversary of the Women's Health Initiative Study, which highlighted possible health risks associated with long-term hormone therapy use for menopausal women, the Canadian Women's Health Network has now made the following documents available online and free of charge:

Frequently Asked Questions, answered in plain language:

What is Menopause?

What is Hormone Therapy (HT)?

What are the Alternatives to Hormone Therapy?

Menopause and Heart Disease; What are my Risks?

How do I Stop Taking Hormone Therapy?

In-depth articles:

*The Pros and Cons of Hormone Therapy: Making An Informed Decision

*Health Protection Measures from the Women's Health Initiative

*The Medicalization of Menopause

*HRT in the News: The Women's Health Initiative

*Challenges of Change: Midlife, Menopause and Disability

*Natural Hormones - Are They a Safe Alternative?

*Perimenopause Naturally: An Integrative Medicine Approach

*Thinking Straight: Oestrogen and Cognitive Function at Midlife

*The Truth About Hormone Replacement Therapy

*Menopause Home Test: Save Your $$$

*Recent Studies on Menopause and Pain

*What The Experts are Saying Now: A Round-Up of International Opinion

*Women and Healthy Aging

... and many more!

Check us out at
The Canadian Women's Health Network
Women's Health Information You Can Trust

Many thanks to the Women's Health Clinic, Winnipeg, and A Friend Indeed newsletter, for making many of these documents available to the general public.


Kathleen O'Grady, Director of Communications
Canadian Women's Health Network/Le Réseau canadien pour la santé des femmes
Suite 203, 419 Graham Ave.
Winnipeg MB R3C 0M3
Tel (204) 942-5500, ext. 20


Jobs, conferences, prizes, etc.

Book about periods needs your input, MEN!

Kaylee Powers-Monteros is writing a book about women's periods called "Bloody Rites."

"I consider a woman's period her rite of passage. . . . My book is focusing on the language we use about periods and how that impacts our perceptions of it," she writes.

She has a chapter about men's first learning about menstruation and would like to hear from men in response to the question, "When was the first time you ever heard anything about a period and what was it?" I already sent her mine: when I was in sixth grade the kid next door said his sister had started bleeding from you-know-where. I didn't know anything about you-know-where, actually, having grown up in a prudish military household with two bothers, no sisters and a mother who must have felt very alone.

E-mail her at

Migrane study at Emory University needs online participants

Researchers at the Emory University School of Nursing are conducting an Internet-based study looking at the experience of migraines in women between the ages of 40 and 55. The study includes completion of online questionnaires and participation in an online discussion group with other women who also have headaches. For more information, please visit the study Web site at, or call the research phone line at 404-712-8558.

Thanks so much.

Peggy Moloney

Contribute to fund in honor of Jill Wolhandler and help The Women's Community Health Center in Massachusetts (U.S.A.)

Dear Women [oh, let's add "men," too],

Here is an opportunity to honor two significant contributions to the women's health movement - The Women's Community Health Center in Massachusetts, and Jill Wolhandler, a member of the health center and a strong women's health advocate, who died in December 2002.

For the many of you who worked with Jill, I am including the remembrance from her memorial service.

Jill has many friends throughout the country.

In honor of Jill's vision and commitment to women's health, a fund in Jill's name has been established and we are asking for donations in order to catalogue and process the Women's Community Health Center files. There is a high level of interest in material from this period of the women's health movement, and your contribution would assure that information from that time is preserved. Donations are tax deductible.

Checks can be made to the Schlesinger Library - on the memo section of the check, please write "Processing WCHC."

Send checks to:

Paula Garbarino

Jill Wolhandler Fund

16 Ivaloo St.

Somerville, MA 02143

Thank you,

Catherine DeLorey

Women's Community Health Center Files Reside at the Schlesinger Library

At the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Women's Community Health Center [WCHC] in 1999, a group of former collective members announced that materials from the health center years had been donated to the archives at Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library. This material consisted of a variety of documents such as meeting minutes, articles written about or by WCHC members, clinic schedules, surveys and feedback forms, as well as other "herstorical" items.

Several boxes of documents were reviewed to ensure that no confidential material containing names or identifying information about women using the services would be shared with the Schlesinger.

Despite the fact that the material has not yet been organized or catalogued, there have been numerous requests from women's health scholars to review the material. It has become a rich trove of information and offers a unique perspective into the women's health movement of the 1970's and early 1980's.

In order to make the material widely available, the boxes of documents need to be "processed" or catalogued. To do this, personnel at the library will fully review the contents of the collection. Generally this involves preserving the original order of the material as it was donated according to either chronological or topical categories. If no original order exists, they will determine how to best logically sort and present it so that scholars can use the contents. The material will be subdivided into folders with guides to contents and clippings will be photocopied. An overall guide to the organization and listing of summaries will be generated. This guide will be available on the internet with worldwide circulation. Folders will be photocopied and sent out upon request for personal research purposes only. Publication permission usually rests with the library and the original authors of the material.

Other legal arrangements were made at the time the gift of the material was made to the Schlesinger; Cookie Avrin generously offered legal assistance in this process.

About 5 linear feet of material (the library's standard of measurement) was donated. Processing is expected to cost $600 per foot. The total estimated cost is approximately $3000.

On a related note, the library has about 40 feet of material from Our Bodies Ourselves and recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to process that collection.

A Remembrance of Jill

Written by Diane Willow for Jill's memorial service

Jill Wolhandler was born on January 22, 1949 in Scarsdale, New York. She died on December 6, 2002 in the home that she shared with her beloved partner, Janet Connors.

Jill moved to Dorchester to be with Janet and her children David, Shana and Joel, shortly after meeting Janet fifteen years ago. Jill felt great joy and pride in her chosen family.

Together they made a nurturing home that always welcomed their extended family of friends. Seth and Terrance remained dear members of Jill's extended family.

And, over the years Charlotte and Christopher came into her life at 26 Bearse Avenue.

Jill was the first child of her beloved mother Jean and her father Joe, and the older sister of Peter, Laurie and Steven. She later found enduring pleasure as Aunt Jill to Sara, Gina and Jacob. After excelling in the Scarsdale schools, she went to the International School in Geneva to complete high school. She continued her education at the University of Chicago before beginning graduate studies at Johns Perkins University. She utilized her deep knowledge of human physiology in teaching, writing and political work. Later in life she completed graduate studies in occupational therapy at Tufts University. She attributed her most significant learning to her ongoing work as a social activist.

After moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the mid nineteen-seventies, she became involved in the work of the local and national women's health movement. She contributed to an early publication of Our Bodies Ourselves (1976) as a freelance editor and co-authored a chapter in the New Our Bodies Ourselves (1984). She joined the Women's Community Health Center (1975), working first as a member of the collective and later as one of the four women on the guiding committee.

During her time as the most enduring member of the health center, Jill dedicated herself to the self-help philosophy with particular focus on the Pelvic Teaching program (the first of its kind in the nation) in collaboration with Harvard Medical School as well as the Fertility Consciousness project. Toxic shock syndrome and the related Tampon legislation was also a focal point for Jill's research and advocacy. She was also an early supporter on research related to daughters born to mothers who had used DES during their pregnancies.

Jill's political activism for women's health issues brought her to the Vermont Women's Health Center where she was able to learn abortion procedures legally. She spent a year in Vermont, developing these skills, believing that she would then be able to pass them on if abortions were to become illegal again.

Meanwhile, she did ongoing work as a bookkeeper. Her former clients included Red Sun Press and other activist organizations. Her most recent work was as the Business Manager of the Boston Institute for Psychotherapy. Although deadlines were often a cause for worry with Jill, she was meticulous in her accounting and her co-workers valued her conscientious approach.

A cello player in her youth, Jill revived her passion for music through her annual participation in the Early Music Week at Pinewoods, as a player of the bass viol in the Brandeis Early Music Ensemble, and as a member and the Treasurer of the New England Regional Chapter of the Viola de Gamba Society. She found peace in music and pleasure in sharing it with others.

Many of Jill's friends and acquaintances have often heard Jill express her love of words with her unique sense of humor. She was known to make up her own vocabulary, whether as terms of endearment for loved ones, alternative names for common places and landmarks or just her quirky way of describing things. Her love of nature and the natural world was a sustaining force in her life. She was especially fond of the ocean and felt at home walking the beaches of the Cape or staying in Provincetown.

She loved animals, was an avid bird watcher and lived for many years with cats and turtles. She raised small red-eared sliders. When these turtles came to her they were the size of a quarter. After decades of thriving, they now require two hands to hold and continue their lives in a plexi-pond at The Children's Museum in Boston.

A playful spirit at heart, Jill took delight in the mini-firework displays bursting from sparklers and the swirling rainbow colors in drifting soap bubbles.

Her pleasure in play and her curious mind made her an engaged companion of the children in her life and others who remain young at heart. A rather old soul who had her share of challenges, Jill found her joy in friendships and in the ways that she was able to contribute to a better quality of life through social activism.

Women's Universal Health Initiative

Women's Universal Health Initiative

Women's Universal Health Initiative is by women for women - if you have ideas, events, information, or comments to share, send them to

In these difficult times, all advocacy groups are struggling financially. WUHI is no exception. Please consider becoming a member to support the continuation of the web site and our work on universal health care.

You become a member of WUHI with a tax-deductible donation of any amount. Go to the WUHI website to join online, or send your donation to WUHI, Box 623, Boston, MA 02120.

Health Care Reform: a Women's Issue

Anne Kasper

Anne Kasper, a long time women's health activist, discusses why health care reform is a women's issue. Anne is an editor, with Susan J. Ferguson of Breast Cancer: Society Shapes an Epidemic, a powerful and informative book on the politics of breast cancer.

To read the complete article: <>

Health care reform has long been a women's issue. Since the beginnings of the Women's Health Movement in the late 1960s, women have known that the health care system does not work in the best interests of women's health. When we think of the health care system and its component parts ­ doctors, hospitals, clinics, and prescription drugs, for instance ­ we are increasingly aware that the current system is not designed to promote and maintain our personal health or the health of others. Instead, we are aware of a medical system that delivers sporadic, interventionist, hi-tech, and curative care when what we need most often is continuous, primary, low-tech, and preventive care. Women are the majority of the uninsured and the under insured as well as the majority of health care providers. We are experts on our health, the health of our families, and the health of our communities. We know that we need a health care system that must be a part of changes in other social spheres -- such as wage work, housing, poverty, inequality, and education -- since good health care results from more than access to medical services.

Featured Site

UHCAN - Universal Health Care Action Network

UHCAN is a nationwide network of individuals and organizations, committed to achieving health care for all. It provides a national resource center, facilitates information sharing and the development of strategies for health care justice. UHCAN was formed to bring together diverse groups and activists working for comprehensive health care in state and national campaigns across the country.

Their annual conference, planned for October 24-26, 2003 in Baltimore, MD, is one of the best grass-roots action conferences available. They consider universal health care justice from many perspectives.

Visit UHCAN's website for resources, analyses of health reform issues, and more information on their campaigns for health care justice.

Proposals, Policies, Pending Legislation

Health Care Access Campaign - the Health Care Access Resolution

Health care in America is unjust and inefficient. It costs too much, covers too little, and excludes too many. As the economy deteriorates, it is rapidly getting worse.

One in seven Americans, 80% of whom are from working families, lack health insurance and consequently suffer unnecessary illness and premature death. Tens of millions more are under insured, unable to afford needed services, particularly medications. Health care costs are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy. Communities of color endure major disparities in access and treatment. Double-digit medical inflation undermines employment-based insurance, as employers drop coverage or ask their employees to pay more for less. State budgets are in their worst shape in half a century. Medicare and Medicaid are caught between increases in need and a financial restraints.

In the 108th Congress, the Congressional Universal Health Care Task Force will introduce the Health Care Access Resolution, directing Congress to enact legislation by 2005 that provides access to comprehensive health care for all Americans. Legislators, reacting to the urgency for health care reform, will likely introduce several proposals in this Congress.

Check out the link to learn more about the resolution and how you can contribute to it.

Proposed Health Insurance Tax Credits Could Shortchange Women

Commonwealth Fund report, reviews federal policies designed to help low-income adults buy health insurance, which have focused on tax credits for purchasing coverage in the individual insurance market. This analysis of premium and benefit quotes for individual health plans offered in 25 cities finds that tax credits at the level of those in recent proposals would not be enough to make health insurance affordable to women with low incomes.

Time for Change: the Hidden Cost of a Fragmented Health Insurance System

An excellent overview by Karen Davis, President of The Commonwealth Fund, of factors in the US health care system that lead to it being the most expensive health system in the world.

A Place at the Table: Women's Needs and Medicare Reform

By Marilyn Moon and Pamela Herd

This book, published by the Century Foundation, shows that women have different retirement needs as a group than men. Women are more likely to require long-term care services because they live longer and are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases. Suggests guidelines that would make Medicare reforms work for women, including how to deal with comprehensiveness, affordability, access to quality care, and the availability of information.

Women in the Health Care System: Health Status, Insurance, and Access to Care

Report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) focuses on women in the United States in 1996. Health insurance status is examined in terms of whether women are publicly insured, privately insured, or uninsured, and whether insured women are policyholders or dependents.

Health Insurance Coverage in America: 2001 Data Update

Although not specific to women, this resource contains valuable information about women and health insurance coverage and provides valuable information and facts for general presentations on universal health care. The chart book provides year 2001 data on health insurance coverage, with special attention to the uninsured. It includes trends and major shifts in coverage and a profile of the uninsured population.


Health Care Links

Links to state, national and international organizations working for single payer health care and universal health care. A resource of Physicians for a National Health Program - check out the site for many other resources and excellent factual information on a single payer health care system [ <> ].

Universal Health Care Organizations in Your State

A list of state organizations working for universal health care. Resource of Everybody In, Nobody Out [EINO: ]. Not all states represented.

Families USA New Online Service .

Families USA online service to provide registered users with the following benefits:

Free bimonthly newsletters with articles on health policy issue.

Announcements about organization events.

Discounts on publications

Kaiser Network for Health Policy - Publications and Reports <;hc=806&amp;linkcat=61>

Reports and publications on health policy, access, uninsured and insurance. Supported by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Good source of information.


May 8 - 9 2003

Health Policy and the Underserved

Sponsored by the Joint Center for Poverty Research, looks a social, economic, and outcomes of policies for the underserved.

May 14-16, 2003

2003 Managed Care Law Conference

Colorado Springs, CO

Co-sponsored by American Health Lawyers Association and American Association of Health Plans. Presents legal issues facing health plans and providers.

October 24-26, 2003

National Universal Health Care Action Network [UHCAN] Conference

Baltimore, MD

One of the best grass-roots action conferences available. Considers universal health care from all its perspectives. Check out their website for an overview of their orientation.

November 15, 2003

Physicians for a National Health Program Fall Meeting

San Francisco, CA

November 15 - 19, 2003

American Public Health Association Annual Meeting

San Francisco, CA

Meeting of professionals in public health. Has many sessions on health care reform and women's health, including universal health care.

January 22-23, 2004

National Health Policy Conference

Washington, DC

Wide-ranging discussions of health policy, including health care reform and universal health care.

Women's Universal Health Initiative

PO Box 623

Boston, MA 02120-2822

617-739-2923 Ext 3 <>


Canadian TV film about menstruation Under Wraps now called Menstruation: Breaking the Silence and for sale

Read more about it - it includes this museum (when it was in my house) and many interesting people associated publically with menstruation. Individual Americans can buy the video by contacting

Films for the Humanities
P.O. Box 2053
Princeton, NJ 08543-2053

Tel: 609-275-1400
Fax: 609-275-3767
Toll free order line: 1-800-257-5126

Canadians purchase it through the National Film Board of Canada.

Did your mother slap you when you had your first period?

If so, Lana Thompson wants to hear from you.

The approximately 4000 items of this museum will go to Australia's largest museum . . .

if I die before establishing the Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health as a permanent public display in the United States (read more of my plans here). I have had coronary angioplasty; I have heart disease related to that which killed all six of my parents and grandparents (some when young), according to the foremost Johns Hopkins lipids specialist. The professor told me I would be a "very sick person" if I were not a vegetarian since I cannot tolerate any of the medications available. Almost two years ago I debated the concept of the museum on American national television ("Moral Court," Fox Network) and MUM board member Miki Walsh (see the board), who was in the audience at Warner Brothers studios in Hollywood, said I looked like a zombie - it was the insomnia-inducing effect of the cholesterol medication.

And almost two years ago Megan Hicks, curator of medicine at Australia's Powerhouse Museum, the country's largest, in Sydney, visited MUM (see her and read about the visit). She described her creation of an exhibit about the history of contraception that traveled Australia; because of the subject many people had objected to it before it started and predicted its failure. But it was a great success!

The museum would have a good home.

I'm trying to establish myself as a painter (see some of my paintings) in order to retire from my present job to give myself the time to get this museum into a public place and on display permanently (at least much of it); it's impossible to do now because of the time my present job requires.

An Australian e-mailed me about this:

Wow, the response to the museum, if it were set up in Australia, would be so varied. You'd have some people rejoicing about it and others totally opposing it (we have some yobbos here who think menstruation is "dirty" and all that other rubbish). I reckon it would be great to have it here. Imagine all the school projects! It might make a lot of younger women happier about menstruating, too. I'd go check it out (and take my boyfriend too) :)

Hey, are you related to Karen Finley, the performance artist?? [Not that I know of, and she hasn't claimed me!]

Don't eliminate the ten Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor

The Bush Administration is planning to propose, in next year's budget, to eliminate the ten Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor. This decision signals the Administration's intent to dismantle the only federal agency specifically mandated to represent the needs of women in the paid work force.

Established in 1920, the Women's Bureau plays a critical function in helping women become aware of their legal rights in the workplace and guiding them to appropriate enforcement agencies for help. The Regional Offices take the lead on the issues that working women care about the most - training for higher paying jobs and non-traditional employment, enforcing laws against pay discrimination, and helping businesses create successful child-care and other family-friendly policies, to name only a few initiatives.

The Regional Offices have achieved real results for wage-earning women for eighty-one years, especially for those who have low incomes or language barriers. The one-on-one assistance provided at the Regional Offices cannot be replaced by a Web site or an electronic voice mail system maintained in Washington.

You can take action on this issue today! Go to to write to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and tell her you care about keeping the Regional Offices of the Women's Bureau in operation. You can also let E. Mitchell Daniels, Jr., Director of the Office of Management and Budget, know how you feel about this. You can write a letter of your own or use one we've prepared for you.

If you find this information useful, be sure to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues and encourage them to sign up to receive Email Action Alerts from the National Women's Law Center at

Thank you!

I'm decreasing the frequency of the updates to make time for figuring out how to earn an income

I can retire from my graphics job in July, 2002, and I must if I want to continue developing the site and museum, because of the time involved. But I can't live on the retirement income, so I must find a way to earn enough to support myself. I'm working on some ideas now, and I need the only spare time I have, the time I do these updates on weekends. So, starting December 2001, I will update this site once a month rather than weekly.

Book about menstruation published in Spain

The Spanish journalist who contributed some words for menstruation to this site last year and wrote about this museum (MUM) in the Madrid newspaper "El País" just co-authored with her daughter a book about menstruation (cover at left).

She writes, in part,

Dear Harry Finley,

As I told you, my daughter (Clara de Cominges) and I have written a book (called "El tabú") about menstruation, which is the first one to be published in Spain about that subject. The book - it talks about the MUM - is coming out at the end of March and I just said to the publisher, Editorial Planeta, to contact you and send you some pages from it and the cover as well. I'm sure that it will be interesting to you to have some information about the book that I hope has enough sense of humour to be understood anywhere. Thank you for your interest and help.

If you need anything else, please let me know.

Best wishes,

Margarita Rivière

Belen Lopez, the editor of nonfiction at Planeta, adds that "Margarita, more than 50 years old, and Clara, 20, expose their own experiences about menstruation with a sensational sense of humour." (publisher's site)

My guess is that Spaniards will regard the cover as risqué, as many Americans would. And the book, too. But, let's celebrate!

I earlier mentioned that Procter & Gamble was trying to change attitudes in the Spanish-speaking Americas to get more women to use tampons, specifically Tampax - a hard sell.

Compare this cover with the box cover for the Canadian television video about menstruation, Under Wraps, and the second The Curse.

An American network is now developing a program about menstruation for a popular cable channel; some folks from the network visited me recently to borrow material.

And this museum lent historical tampons and ads for a television program in Spain last year.

Now, if I could only read Spanish! (I'm a former German teacher.)

Money and this site

I, Harry Finley, creator of the museum and site and the "I" of the narrative here, receive a small amount of money from Google-sponsored ads on this site; I have no control over which ads Google sends. I'm hoping this Google money will cover what I pay for a server to host this site and the cost of the site-specific search engine. Otherwise, expenses for the site come out of my pocket, where my salary from my job as a graphic designer is deposited. Sometimes people donate items to the museum.


What happens when you visit this site?

For now, a search engine service will tell me who visits this site, although I don't know in what detail yet. I am not taking names - it's something that comes with the service, which I'm testing to see if it makes it easier for you to locate information on this large site.

In any case, I'm not giving away or selling names of visitors and you won't receive anything from me; you won't get a "cookie." I feel the same way most of you do when you visit a site: I want to be anonymous! Leave me alone!

Help Wanted: This Museum Needs a Public Official For Its Board of Directors

Your MUM is doing the paper work necessary to become eligible to receive support from foundations as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. To achieve this status, it helps to have a American public official - an elected or appointed official of the government, federal, state or local - on its board of directors.

What public official out there will support a museum for the worldwide culture of women's health and menstruation?

Read about my ideas for the museum. What are yours?

Eventually I would also like to entice people experienced in the law, finances and fund raising to the board.

Any suggestions?

Do You Have Irregular Menses?

If so, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome [and here's a support association for it].

Jane Newman, Clinical Research Coordinator at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University School of Medicine, asked me to tell you that

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.

Learn more about current research on PCOS at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University - or contact Jane Newman.

If you have fewer than six periods a year, you may be eligible to participate in the study!

See more medical and scientific information about menstruation.

Survey of some American university students about their use and knowledge of alternative menstrual products - Interim results of a survey of menstrual hygiene practices in several Third World countries - "Gynecology and Gynecologic Surgery" by Dr. Nelson Soucasaux, Brazilian gynecologist - Humor

Would you stop menstruating if you could? New contributions
Words and expressions about menstruation: New: Canada: Crampies, My one period; Japan: My one period; U.S.A.: Happy and bleeding, In celebration, Is it messy? It's going to be messy, Monthly hurts, Time to ram a tam
What did European and American women use for menstruation in the past?


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