It’s an issue we don’t like to talk about. For thousands of girls with disabilities it happens every month. Unable to use pads or manage tampons, their independence is cut short during the week of their periods, making them dependent of other people for as long as a week to handle what should be a woman’s most private task.
I have not dealt with a period myself for serval years. A combination of a good education and a pro active doctor has allowed me to be on full time birth control and avoid dealing with what many women consider to be nature’s very version of The Red Wedding from Game of Thrones.
Since living in London I have quietly donated a few packs of pads to a local shelter every month. I’ve always figured that since I’ve been lucky enough to afford period supplies, I may as well contribute to the economy so that a woman who cannot afford them can have her pads and tampons for free.
Last Christmas the problem hit me again in a new way.
A close friend of mine was working with a client who had serve cerebral palsy. The twenty eight year old had an IQ of about sixty. She was unable to achieve a yearly visit to the gynaecologist and get birth control prescribed to her.
This meant it fell on my friend to figure our how to deal with the monthly bleed of a woman who had no clue what her period was for, or when it would come.
“We end up having to put her in adult diapers, which she hates. But at least she can pull them up by herself when she uses the bathroom.”
During the unseasonably warm holidays, this got us thinking. What is managing a period was as simple as pulling up a pair of underwear? What if we could come up with something reusable, which could iron into a woman’s pants and make it so she’d only have to buy period products every few years rather than every month? What if we could make something that not only help women with disabilities, but women and girls living in poverty as well?
What if it could help all humans by saving waste?
A few hours on Google, about ten trips to Wal-Mart on her part (hey, we are AMERICAN after all) and a lot of sewing by hand gave us a great start.
Unlike other cloth solution which depend on a snap or a fastener to be used, our was designed so it could be ironed into a pair of underwear thus solving the need for fine motor skills. Once used, just chuck the whole thing in the wash.
If you can pull a pair of trousers, you can use these.
I’m now looking for two women in the UK who can help me sew a few more prototypes, and someone who knows about patents… just to make sure I’m not stepping on any toes. If this is you please get in touch.
I’m not going to say that this will solve the problem for all women, or that I have the only solution in town. Feminism, as we so often are told, is about choice..
And having the choice of independence as a disabled woman, even when you are on your period, is a precious one to have.
The Period Route
March 24, 2017
Subtitles? Transcriptions? The debate with disability and media