Karen’s Lunarevolution makes waves

Of the many excellent people Suzanne and I met on a recent trip to Las Vegas for the ABC Kids Expo trade show, Karen Wells, co-host (along with the fabulous Erica Matteson) of Pregnancy Place Radio, was a standout. Karen and Erica are doulas with a thriving practice and a keen interest in women’s health and natural products that they have charismatically taken to the airwaves. They thoughtfully interviewed a ton of the many manufacturers represented at the show, ourselves included (click here to hear it!)

We had a fabulous connection with them, and Karen had the guts to launch the “Lunarevolution” on air as she challenged her listeners to try Lunapads. The revolution then carried over to Twitter (search #lunarevolution to see all the tweets), and was joined by the lovely and awesome Melissa Moog of Itsabelly Baby Planners fame and longstanding supporter Alicia Land Voorhies of The Soft Landing. To sum it up, these brave ladies really put the Lunapads newbie experience out there in all its imperfect glory, sharing their fears and reservations, and pulling no punches about learning what worked when (and didn’t). Long story short: after a bit of a learning curve, we’ve got ourselves some converts!

At the time of the interview Karen expressed that she thought that Lunapads might be a useful tool for some women for healing around sexual abuse and birth trauma, a conversation that we are continuing to have and I will post about later at the greater length the topic deserves.

Her thoughts in turn inspired me to think about other kinds of healing benefits that Lunapads have brought to women, and my first thought was menarche. This topic is a fitting followup to my recent post about Dr. Christiane Northrup’s inspirational visit to Vancouver, and thoughts that came up for me as a result about the connection between how we treat our vulva/vaginas during menstruation and how happy they are in other respects. In my case, losing the tampon habit brought about a revolution for me with respect to sexuality, creativity and personal power.

Here are some thoughts about menarche I had in response to one of Karen’s emails:

“How many of us were ever properly honored, informed or cared for as menarchal girls? What wounds do many of us carry to this day around it that we may not even be aware of? 

A customer once told us that discovering Lunapads was “like a second, healed version of menarche”: this expresses on a deeply meaningful level for me personally why I got into all of this in the first place. My 11 year old self knew that becoming a woman was going to be amazing… until it actually happened, then it seemed like nobody else really thought so.

To go a bit deeper here: whether we view it this way consciously or not, in using disposable products we are essentially treating our blood as garbage (hence the classic notion of menstruation as being “dirty”). There are other powerful symbolic links to disease (“sanitary” pads look a lot like bandages, cramps and PMS are totally pathologized) and even toxic waste in the practice as well – we are so not at peace with our bodies here.

This treatment (throwing “away”, hiding the evidence of our bleeding, the secrecy), for what represents our ability to give life, our time to let go and go inside, speak our truths, our connection with the tides, the seasons, the cycles of the moon – is profoundly negative and totally inconsistent with honoring ourselves in these ways – there is nothing gentle or nurturing about it. To me, it’s nothing short of (symbolically, at least) shutting down our inner goddess, especially since she was never honored in our communities when we were girls.”

As it happens, following Dr. Northrup’s presentation I had a great conversation with our dear friend and colleague Nikiah Seeds (check out her post about the evening’s goings on) about how we can better support and honor menarchal girls.

What was menarche like for you? If it was a positive experience, what made it that way? Moms and daughters out there, what can you share with us about your journeys? Have any of you found healing around it or other issues as part of switching to Lunapads?

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  • I was very young when I got my period – I was 9 or had just turned 10. Grade 5. (The number don’t add-up because I skipped Grade 2.)

    I was at a sleepover birthday party.

    I knew what was happening in spite of the very limited sex education we had in school. I also remember that the extent of my mom “talking” to me occurred one morning at my sister’s swimming lessons when she quickly asked me if they had talked about getting my period at school and I hurriedly and embarrassingly replied, “Yes”. End of conversation.

    I think I picked-up on my mom’s embarrassment and concluded that periods and sexuality were something to be embarrassed about. No slight against my mom. It was probably the same for her when her mom talked to her – if she talked to her at all. I will have to ask her.

    I had no pads with me and I was too embarrassed?/ashamed? to tell anyone. Unfortunately, there was WHITE carpet in their bathroom. Need I say more?

    My friend asked me if I “needed something” and I shook my head. I’m not sure how I survived until it was time to go home, but I did. When I finally arrived, I just called my mom from the bathroom and showed her. I remember overhearing her tell my Dad and cringing.

    My girls – 6 and almost 4 – are aware that I have a period (we have an open bathroom door in our house). At this point, it doesn’t phase my younger daughter when she sees the blood. My older daughter has asked a few questions and I have explained it to her in an age-appropriate manner (for now).

    When the time is right, we will talk about periods and sexuality and babies and breastmilk and how powerful, amazing and beautiful our bodies are. I am hopeful that both of my daughters will have a much healthier experience than I did as well as an ongoing positive connection with their bodies.

    I am very inspired by this post Madeleine. Thank you.

    Wendy

  • Denise R

    Wow, well I guess I got lucky. My mum teaches Biology 12 and Math 11 to adults now but she used to TOC in the regular school system. Anyway being a biology teacher she gave me a really good book and had a good conversation on the topic with me at obviously the right age. I got my period when I was 13 at school and already had supplies in my backpack. I knew exactly what was going on when I went to the bathroom and saw the blood and knew I needed to get a pad. Took me a bit to figure the pad thing out but I managed to get through the rest of the school day just fine. Later that night I shyly went up to my mum and told her I had gotten my period. She took me to the bathroom and showed me properly how to put in a pad and explained things again. She told me congratulations and even gave me a silver bracelet as a gift for getting my period. I still wasn’t to sure about this whole thing and my periods were on the heavy side. Luckily I rarely got cramps. I recently found out that my periods were never as heavy as some other family members so I was lucky there. I also learned recently that my mum had strange irregular periods that didnt start until she was 18. She mentioned a few years back about wishing that there was some other form protection that wasnt disposable. She has gone through menopause now but last year I informed her that I had found these non disposable menstrual products (lunapads and the diva cup) and that they were awesome. I wish I had known about them earlier as I was always self conscious about the terrible crinkling sound the pads made. I never wore tampons unless I was swimming because the string would annoy me. I have heard many other horrifying stories from friends and am glad I am so lucky to have a mother who celebrated this time with me. If I ever have a daughter I will do the same for her and will never let her touch those awful disposable products.

  • Kat Leigh

    I am very bummed my cycle started today before my lunapads and diva cup arrived! :[ I can’t wait to start using them! I myself started at school and I think I was eleven or so.. but also did not have a great experience with it.. I did know what was happening, however kids are cruel.. I’ve had a heavy flow since then and extreme cramps.. I am hoping that this change will help!