Menstrual Sponges and Women’s Health

A big part of the current election happening in America is focused on Women’s rights and their right to choose what they wish to do with their bodies. We have one side of the election “promising” to restrict women’s access to abortion and venues such as Planned Parenthood while we have the other saying if they become president, all of those options will remain safe. As a woman in America, this makes me scared for my sexual health’s future. As I look scan the work of Joanne McQueen and Kathy McMahon-Klosterman, I see real progress being made to advance women’s health through products such as the menstrual sponge.

The menstrual sponges, which was sold in Joanne McQueen’s store (Luna Sponges), was and still is an alternative to tampons. The sponge itself has zero chemicals so that the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome is next to none. As well as health benefits, the menstrual sponge would also help your wallet because it is a reusable product. This reduces the amount of pink tax you would pay in order to buy pads and/or tampons every month. Today, we see people looking at these menstrual sponges and creating something a bit more modern: the menstrual cup. The menstrual cup is also designed to catch menstrual blood, bypass the need for tampons, and also does not have the same risks for Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Part of my work with the Oxford NOW chapter is with the records of people who have bought the menstrual sponges and other Fantastic Feminist products from 1979 to 1981. According to the records I have come across so far, people have purchased them from Minnesota to New York because of the work Joanne has done in her lifetime. Looking through the Fantastic Feminists’ work and through the work of NOW should remind people that the work women have to do to achieve equal rights is not finished. We live in a world where the male presidential candidate can say that women do not have the “stamina” it takes to run a country so why should we have a say over our own bodies? Planned Parenthood has also been an outlet for women and men to turn to if they need affordable sexual healthcare and has given options to people who believed that they had none. Joanne McQueen reached out to Planned Parenthood to have them help distribute Luna Sponges to the Tri-State area to help women have safer menstrual periods. We see a lot of these options disappearing with this current political atmosphere and need to take steps to make sure women can still be in control of their own health. To further my reflection for next week’s blog post, I will be looking for more examples of Luna Sponges, tools to help advance women’s health and health awareness, and concepts relating to Planned Parenthood and relate it back to how Women’s health has transformed over the years.