New this week: How safe is The Keeper menstrual cup and Should we be concerned with asbestos and dioxin in tampons? - Modess 1928 ad - Dr.Michael Abramson's poems - menstrual humor


It's Too Late to Call Your Congressman About the Proposed Tampon Safety and Research Act! Congress Had More Important ;-) Things To Do! Here's How and Why for Next Time.

How Safe Is The Keeper Menstrual Cup?

An Englishwoman wrote the following e-mail to me two weeks ago.

I asked MUM board member and expert on menstrual products safety Dr. Philip Tierno, Jr., chief of clinical microbiology and immunology at the New York University Medical Center, to tell us what he thinks about some questions raised in the mail:

Here's the woman's letter:

Dear Harry,

Congratulations on an excellent Web site!

As a happy Keeper user of more than three years standing, I was intrigued to read the e-mail from Stanford University discussing menstrual cups.

Whilst being fascinated by the wide-ranging responses to The Keeper, I was also rather horrified and concerned by some comments (especially from a woman from Bethesda, MD, second letter from the top) who talks about "blood borne pathogens" being so much more dangerous than tampons and "the incidence of toxic shock syndrome skyrocketed in women who used those things."

I would be extremely interested to know who this woman is and where she gets her information from. [People who write MUM normally have anonymity; I asked for her sources but she never responded. I must add that I introduced the letter with a warning that there was no proof backing her up.]

If such statements are going to be made please back them up with some researched corroborative evidence!

I am extremely worried and concerned that certain items on your site misrepresenting health and safety aspects of The Keeper by printing unsubstantiated information. [As I said, I prefaced the letter with a statement that I have no evidence that what she said was true.]

According to tests performed in 1998 on numerous Keepers by Philip M. Tierno Jr. and Bruce A. Hanna (Departments of Microbiology and Pathology, New York University School of Medicine, New York University Medical Centre, New York. NY): Propensity of Tampons and Barrier contraceptives to amplify Staphylococcus aureus Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxin -1: The newly processed Keepers produced the lowest quantity of TSST -1 as compared to all available products except for all-cotton tampons.

If anyone has any more scientific information I would be very happy to receive it.

Best Wishes

Here is Dr. Tierno's reply:

Dear Harry,

Firstly, there is no published work on the new Keepers.

Secondly, I did test the new, treated Keepers and they amplify TSST-1 [Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxin-1] less than the original Keepers. The reason is because some of the porous rubber is sealed off to a degree by a new treatment process.

This provides less of a nidus for bacterial proliferation and toxin production. Hence these appear to be better than the non-treated Keepers.

Only 25% of the new Keepers allowed TSST-1 toxin to be produced compared with 66% of the older devices. The new Keepers don't allow for adherence of Staphylococcus aureus [which can cause TSS] on their surface as much as occurs with the older device or with diaphragms.

You might recall that the latex diaphragms, although non-absorbent, allow for adherence of Staphylococcus aureus, and as such can act as a nidus for growth of Staphylococcus as well as for toxin production.

Hence, it is wise for any manufacturer to test prior to marketing a product.

Best regards,


Letters to Your MUM

Buy Instead menstrual cup on the Web!

Dear Harry,

I think your site is really cool and funny! I have just been reading the menstrual cup comparisons (I use the Keeper and love it), but have tried Instead.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing is that I saw that many people are looking to buy more Instead cups while they're still around. I found this this site on the Internet, Marcia's Confidential Healthcare Store, Inc. (, where you can still order Instead.

Also, I'd suggest that people look for it at drug stores when they are visiting another city because I know that in Louisville, Kentucky, and Bloomington, Indiana, [both in the U.S.A.] the product is still on all the shelves at regular price! I hope this helps some people.

Thanks for the great site!

Here's one for The Keeper menstrual cup:

Hi Harry,

I wrote to you and the MUM three months ago to say that I was looking forward to my next period so I could try my newly purchased Keeper. Well, I love it!

I had some trouble inserted it at first but with a little practice, it was no problem. The Keeper seems like a more natural way to handle menstrual flow and I like the fact that I'm not contributing to any landfills. To the women of the world - try the wonderful Keeper! Also, I recently used washable flannel pads (from GladRags) for the first time and found them to be comfortable and absorbent.

Great work with the Web site, Harry. I visit often and always find something new and amusing. I hope to see the museum in person next year.

An Instead menstrual cup enthusiast writes with comments about using it:

Instead is great.

I just read several of the writeups about Instead and was dismayed to hear any negative remarks. I live on the East Coast [of the U.S.A.] and just discovered Instead a few months ago. Since that time I have told every woman I know and give them a sample. I even had my IUD of one year removed to wear the Instead and would be crushed if it went away. I had no problem wearing the Instead with the IUD. There was no leakage, no TSS signs, nothing. But for "FEAR" of the unknown I preferred to use Instead and switched to the pill. I was that happy with it.

I can wear Instead for 24 hours on light days. Even when I wear it for 12 hours, I just remove it in the shower to minimize mess. I rinse it in the shower, toss it in the sink and go about the day. Take a shower 12 hours later (I usually exercise and could use the shower) and go to bed. No more spotted panties. Hurray. It's hard to get blood out of cotton. Much easier to wash off. I have also tried washing and reusing with no problem. I just don't know how many times I could reuse it. I was glad to hear other women have tried this.

In response to the woman who couldn't have a bowel movement without leakage: I found this phenomenon to be delightful. It made Instead a self-emptying product. Of course you were right in the position to have a leakage, OVER THE TOILET as opposed to a tampon during a meeting. I found that Instead popped right back in place. This was no worse than the normal menstrual flow during a heavy moment. I'm now trying to add fiber to my diet and time bowel movements so that on heavy days I can wear it longer and count on it longer.

I never have any leakage. Never. It is easier to insert than a dry tampon and much easier to retrieve than a fat, dry tampon. I think the Instead slides in much better than o.b. tampons. I would recommend women "scritch" around in their postures and bearing down, kegel-like movements to find the optimal way to hook their finger on the ring to remove.

For the women who find the suction sends them to the gynecologist to remove: Consider sliding your finger between skin and cup first to break the suction, then hook under rim to remove. Sort-of the over-under technique. :-)

As far as getting past the "dirty"-ness of touching yourself: Well, I'll just bet most women let a male (or female partner) touch them in these very private parts quite often. In fact most 15-year olds have progressed this far. How about letting your male partner insert the thing as part of foreplay. I'm sure the men of this world would love knowing they could have clean sex another week of the month. Maybe he inserts it and you deinsert it (in the shower). Fun!

I like the idea of using a glove as a keep-the-hand clean and disposal bag. Great when in a public place with no private sink. How about using the handicapped stall during this time of the month? I'm sure you have often felt handicapped during menstruation.:-) Maybe Instead could could package a glove with the product instead of the flimsy purple wrapper, which is useless except to make it pretty. [There's a Japanese tampon that comes with a sheet of plastic coverings in every box to put over your finger.]

I really hope we women give this product a try because I would hate to lose this option. If you hate the Instead send your extras my way. Thanks for listening.

If you are out there, Instead manufacturers, try some hard-hitting advertising stressing the real benefits of your product. Forget what "femininity" means; there are a lot of us real women who can't believe we have had to wait so long for this product.

[From a ] Very satisfied user who is hoarding the product for fear of loosing it.

Did the first Queen Elizabeth have a Napkin Girl who took her used knitted pads? Also, Instead:


I found your site through a link in News of the Weird [!].

I LOVE IT!!!! I've read just about the entire site over the past two days.

I have comments on INSTEAD. I tried it two months ago, over 1/2 way through my period. It worked WONDERFULLY. I'd bought the three-cup trial pack and went back (to Target drug store) and bought the largest box. Then, this month, I tried it from day one. It wasn't as great. I have an IUD [intrauterine device] (yes, I know the Instead paper says not to use it with an IUD but I'm pretty sure it won't dislodge the IUD) so I bleed VERRRRYYY heavily.

The first day, I tried to change it at work, after about 2 hours. It was like a bloodbath. I had blood up to my elbows, both arms. Thank the Lord, I could wait until there was no one else in the bathroom to come out of the stall, someone would have screamed bloody murder if they'd seen me. It also leaked like crazy the first two days.

So now, I'll just use it on later days of my cycle. I really hate tampons, they make me feel very dry inside and pads are so gross when you bleed heavily, I feel like I need to change it every 10 minutes.

So I'll keep trying the Instead until I can get it to work for me. Is it still on the market? [Yes, see the first letter on this page, or phone 1-800-INSTEAD (or 406-542-3185), in the U.S.A., and read more here.] I may also order a Keeper.

Also, you mentioned that the knitted pads in the Norwegian exhibit were the only ones you'd seen. I remember something from a European history class I had in college (1981-85), it actually said IN THE TEXTBOOK that Queen Elizabeth I of England (not the current Queen E!) had a lady-in-waiting who was her Napkin Girl. This person's job was to take the Queen's soiled KNITTED menstrual napkins to the laundress. It's been so long, I don't remember the text (or anything else from the class for that matter!) but I've always remembered the Napkin Girl and the knitted napkins.

[This museum received a few months ago monogrammed washable cloth pads from Italy, probably from the last century or early this century. After the sender nails down the provenance, I will put one on this site.]

Would you consider adding a history of contraception to your museum? It seems so logical, since the ancient tampons were used also for contraception. I also read somewhere years ago that in the Old West, women used pennies as diaphragms - pennies were much bigger back then!

Also consider adding a "menstrual management" page, so women can exchange ideas about managing their heavy flow. I could sure use some ideas.

I found the reference to mind control fascinating. I wonder if you could market a sugar pill that "shortens women's periods"? It's all in the power of suggestion!

Anyway, IT WAS GREAT & I'll be back!!

Your MUM Is Still Looking For a Home

I have not yet found a place outside of my house for this museum.

And I must confess that I am enjoying hugely the half day I have free each week by not opening the museum. Most of the rest of my weekend is devoted to this, the Web site. And during the work week I - work.

Therefore, I am taking another three months off, or whatever it takes to find a place outside my house for the musem.

Read my comments about opening and closing the museum.

Does anybody want to house the museum? Write!

This Web site will chug along as always.


The Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival in New York to Show Under Wraps

Penny Wheelwright, producer and writer for the great film about menstruation today (read more here), writes that the Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival at The American Museum of Natural History in New York City will show it on these dates: Sunday, November 8th at 3:30 pm; Monday, November 9th at 7:30 pm and Wednesday, November 11th at 9:00 pm.

The Canadian all-women Starry Night Productions made Under Wraps and it appeared several times on Canadian television. This museum makes up a small section.

See it!!

Do You Have Irregular Menses?

If so, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome.

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.

New this week: How safe is The Keeper menstrual cup and Should we be concerned with asbestos and dioxin in tampons? - Modess 1928 ad - Dr.Michael Abramson's poems - menstrual humor


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Take a short tour of MUM! (and on Web video!) - FAQ - Future of this museum - Tampon Safety Act - Visit or contact the actual museum - Board of Directors - Norwegian menstruation exhibit - The media and the MUM - Menstrual odor - Prof. Mack C. Padd: Fat Cat - The science and medicine of menstruation - Early tampons - Books about menstruation - Menstrual cups: history, comments - A Note from Germany/Neues aus Deutschland und Europa - Letters - Links

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