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    DIY menstrual pads: How to make your own period products in a crisis

    Updated 29 June 2022 |
    Published 22 June 2022
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    Reviewed by EBCOG, the European Board & College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
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    In humanitarian disasters, you might not have the necessary items to manage your periods safely. Here’s some helpful advice from an OB-GYN who works in crisis zones

    This article was created in response to the ongoing war in Ukraine for people living in a crisis zone. Any information given below is done so with these circumstances in mind. If you'd like to read this piece in Ukrainian then you can do so for free in the Flo app. 

    In humanitarian disasters, women and people who menstruate might not have the necessary items to manage their periods safely. It’s hard to plan ahead if you need to leave your home in a hurry. And you might not be able to carry your usual items. Your period can create extra worry during an already traumatic time. 

    Here’s some helpful advice from Dr. Maria Corniero, an OB-GYN (obstetrician and gynecologist) who works with Médecins Sans Frontières (aka Doctors Without Borders), a humanitarian medical organization that helps people in conflict zones.

    DIY menstrual pads: How to make your own pads

    If you don’t have pads or tampons, it’s actually easier than you might think to make your own reusable pad. “Take advantage of an old clean cotton T-shirt (or any cotton material),” suggests Dr. Corniero. Simply cut out a few strips and layer them in your underwear. 

    Cotton is the best material for DIY pads because it’s a natural, breathable fabric, she adds. Synthetic fibers, such as polyester and lace, can irritate the delicate skin around your genitals — and make vaginal infections more likely.

    Change your homemade pad every 4 to 8 hours, depending on the amount of bleeding, Dr. Corniero advises. And before reusing, clean it with water (ideally hot water) and soap. The pad might still look stained afterward, but that’s normal. Just be sure to wash the pad until the water runs clear.

    Hydrogen peroxide is also an ideal cleaning solution if you have it. Don’t use harsh chemicals such as chlorine bleach or lye (aka caustic soda), she adds. 

    If you have a sewing kit and an old towel, check out this template from the nonprofit Action Aid for more detailed instructions (with easy-to-follow pictures and a video) for making a reusable pad.

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