Periods Don’t Pause for the Patriarchy

Here’s Why You Should Donate to Menstrual Health Organizations During Times of War

This morning I woke up at 5a with a jolt in my stomach. I kid you not, my first thought was “Holy cow, am I about to shit the bed?” I did what any 34-year old who wakes up like this would do, I bolted to the bathroom half asleep. Right before reaching the bathroom, I felt a familiar warm sludge begin to seep out of my vagina. I pushed the pedal to the metal and managed to make it to the bathroom seconds before completely bloodying my pants.

I’m not gonna lie — I was upset. I had been dreaming rather deeply. Something my 5-year-old niece was saying in the dream was making me laugh hysterically. Typically my dreamworld consists of mundane or even dark themes so this was definitely a welcomed change. Instead of LOLing in Slumberville, however, I was now crouched on the toilet as blood slowly leaked out of my nether regions. The inside of my lower abdomen was angry and inflamed. But as bad as I was feeling, and as bummed as I was to have had a good night’s rest disturbed, I didn’t stay upset too long.

Why?

Because I remembered it could always be worse.

At the exact moment I was bleeding comfortably in my bathroom, women and children were arriving by the bus and trainload into Berlin, some just passing through in order to reach distant relatives, others landing here haphazardly for an indefinite amount of time. And they all had one thing in common — they were fleeing the patriarchy, and the detrimental consequences of an ego left unchecked (otherwise known as war.)

I then had a thought — what on earth would I do if I was on a packed train right now? A bus? If I had had to flee my home in a few minutes, as many of the women arriving in Berlin today, would I have thought to pack my period underwear and organic pads for backup? Would I have thought to throw in my half-empty bottle of Ibuprofen in case I needed to numb out the pain on the long journey? How about magnesium to help Aunt Flo flow better? Or my vibrator to temporarily flood my body with feel-good hormones, thus calming my inflamed guts? Or my heating pad that is a darling at diffusing my disgruntled abdomen?

If I was a single woman whose escape plan only included herself, I might have shoved the above essentials into my bag along with some toothpaste, laptop, and important documents. But if I was packing for a few children, elderly parents, and a dog, I might not be so methodical. I’m no expert but with bombs bursting in air, I doubt you’d have the mental wherewithal to pack efficiently. If it were me, I’d probably skip period prep altogether and just start shoving old letters from friends and my late grandmother’s turquoise jewelry in my bag — “essential” things that might help comfort my soul wherever I ended up. Hopefully, I’d remember some snacks, but who really knows what runs through your head when you are fleeing your country — maybe forever.

And so, after cleaning myself up, I said a prayer — a prayer for periods. Because while Ukraine and other nations around the world currently splinter apart, thus driving the sick, elderly, children, and women away from their able-bodied male family members AND their homelands (where the way to the shopping market is familiar, friends are aplenty, and language is comforting ), life goes on living and linings go on shedding.

And like the changing of the seasons, the shifting of the tides, and the phases of the moon, menstruation is a cycle that continues to occur regardless of convenience, comfort, or political climate.

Periods just don’t pause for the patriarchy. They don’t pause for wars. They don’t pause until most of your family arrives safely in a foreign city after traveling hours and hours on a crowded bus. And they don’t pause until your child is fast asleep in her makeshift bed on the train station floor, clinging to the stuffed animal the masked stranger in a yellow vest just gave her. Except for pregnancy and menopause, periods don’t pause for anything.

Because of that, I’d like to urge you to donate to organizations that are working hard to provide essential menstrual products to women currently fleeing Ukraine. Consider also urging these organizations to not only provide essentials like tampons or pads but also comforting items that make it easy for heavy or painful bleeders to get through one more damn day — such as pain killers, heating pads (the disposable kind work well too), wet wipes, and magnesium supplements.

  1. The Female Company — you can order organic pads directly on their site for a reduced rate. The Female Company will then make sure those pads get sent to Ukrainian women. More info here.
  2. Genial Day — With every purchase of Genial Day products, they donate a pack of pads to Ukrainian refugees. More info here.
  3. Akcja Menstruacja (Menstruation Action) — this Polish nonprofit has an extensive plan of action for ensuring a comfortable period for Ukrainian refugees. They have collection points set up in Poland but you can also send packages from anywhere in the world (but just note that pads are preferred due to sanitation uncertainty). Their address is: Sobieskiego 115, 84–230 Rumia, Poland. They also accept financial donations, which allows them to pay for warehouse, shipping costs, cardboard, tape, etc. Donations can be sent to this account: Foundation Menstruation Action 55 1600 1055 1899 6298 9000 0001. More info here.
  4. Periodensystem — They are sending collected donations to organizations that are providing humanitarian aid directly to Ukraine. Inside each package includes tampons, pantyliners, pads, adult diapers, and wet wipes. You can make a direct donation here.
  5. Hey Girls — They are arranging donations of period products via their community partners to support the people crossing the borders. As a buy-one, donate-one period product social enterprise, they donate vital period products to those in need. Help them help the people of Ukraine by making a one-off gift or setting up a monthly donation here.

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Nicole Paulus

Squarespace website designer and writer in Berlin. Helping Conscious Business Owners navigate the Squarespace platform and gain clarity around their content.