Women's Health in
W
omen's Hands
        Lorraine Rothman, one of the original members of the group which developed menstrual extraction, invented the Del-Em.  After years of being a housewife, raising four children and numerous pets and working around her husband's biology lab, finding the components she needed was easy.  She took a Mason jar from her pantry, a large stopper, some aquarium tubing and a 50-cc. syringe.  She made inquiries at industrial supply houses and found a one-way bypass valve, which prevents air from returning once it has passed through.  The total cost was just a few dollars, it worked, and anyone could make one.  A kit similar to this one is currently being marketed for use in physician's offices.  This illustration shows the basic supplies and equipment needed for menstrual extraction.
        Many women report that their best experiences with menstrual extraction have taken place six weeks after their last period, give or take a week.  However, we know of menstrual extractions that have been done with complete safety and success up to eight or nine weeks after the last period.  If the group has been doing self-examination consistently, they will be very familiar with the size and placement of the uterus and there will be much less chance of miscalculations.
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Menstrual Extraction Equipment - Del-Em
WOMEN'S HEALTH IN WOMEN'S HANDS
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Our Menstrual Cycle
When Our Periods Stop
Using a mirror and a light, we can see when pubic hairs start to sprout on our pubic mound, the fleshy pad overlying the frontal meeting of our pelvic bones.
Don't let this chart of a typical 28-day menstrual cycle fool you!  We found out in our self-help groups that most healthy, normal women's menstrual cycles don't exactly match this chart.
After our periods have stopped coming regularly, our regular doctor's visit can turn into a prescribing opportunity for the physician or nurse-practitioner.
Read More
Read More
Legality
Extracting Our Periods
Further Resources
A New View of A Woman's Body
CH. 8 "Menstrual Extraction"
Our Menstrual Cycle
Megan's menstruation reading list
When Our Periods Stop
Megan's menopause reading list
Our Periods
When Our Periods Start
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Articles About M.E.
WHEN OUR PERIODS START

Using a mirror and a light, we can see when pubic hairs start to sprout on the pubic mound, the fleshy pad overlying the frontal meeting of our pelvic bones.  Lying back on a pillow, we can look at our still-hairless vulva and our inner lips.  We can pull them apart and see where they meet at the top and the clitoral bulb on top.  In our self-help groups, women have shared that they learned to masturbate to orgasm in their cribs by rhythmically banging their vulva against the wooden slats until they felt a crescendo of pleasure and a subsiding.  So, our clitoris is functional from an early age, even though the covering of hair and enlargement of our breasts doesn't come until puberty.

If we have support from our mothers, our friends and perhaps other adults, we can feel good about these changes and the beginnings of our menstrual period, especially if our environment in our family, our neighborhood and our community is relatively free from sexism.  Often, however, women remember being embarrassed by the obvious changes to their bodies, especially by sexist behavior of older males, often relatives, hostile boys and the degrading depiction of women by the media.

Once we start menstruating, if it is comfortable to put in a tampon, it is possible to do vaginal self-examination using a small-sized speculum with patience and care.  A few very lucky young women have the benefit of learning vaginal self-examination with either their mother or with friends.

The internet can be a good source of information.  Go to Our Period Resource page to learn about great books, informational web sites and organizational websites.
OUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE

Don't let this chart of a typical 28-day menstrual cycle fool you!  We found out in our self-help groups that most healthy, normal women's menstrual cycles don't exactly match this chart.  Some of us have 21-day cycles; others have cycles that are two or three times as long--all healthy.  Although most women's menstrual cycle charts look pretty close, it is unnecessary and possibly dangerous to take drugs to chemically alter our menstrual cycles to approach this so=called norm.

This chart and the description you read in books are helpful in getting an overall picture, but the reality of our bodies' functioning is way more variable.  For instance, if a physician tests for our hormonal activity by testing a scraped sample on one visit from our vaginal lining, it can be way off.  Thirteen of us  scraped our vaginal linings each day for a month and sent them to a reliable lab.  Mostly, the results showed the predictable pattern, but one of us, who was in her late twenties at the time, had a result showing her to be menopausal.