Women will definitely have different things to deal with if SHTF. Daily survival for us will also include having to deal with our monthly menses, a topic that may be sensitive to talk about, but needs to be addressed. There are several options available. I myself have already opted for menstrual suppression. I control my “monthly gift” with COC (combined oral contraceptive). There are certain brands of COC formulated to limit the number of periods you have a year such as Seasonale and Seasonique,but I take a “typical” birth control pill, Microgestin, and just continuously take active pills. Every three or four months, I will take the placebo pills and allow my body to withdraw for a few days, as this seems to curb any unwanted breakthrough bleeding. Lybrel is another COC that was FDA approved in May 2007. Lybrel is approved to stop your period for an entire year.
Other than COC’s, there are other hormonal birth control options available for menstrual suppression. The Depo Provera shot also has an amenherroic effect. About 50% of women will experience no period within the first year and up to 90% after a two year use. Mirena, another contraceptive, has users who report a blood loss decrease of 80%-90% with 20% becoming amenorrheic after one year. Due to insurance, most of us are only allowed to fill up to three months of COC’s at a time. It may be a good idea to just deal with your period now while its manageable and stockpile your pills for a later time. Also, your doctor may be able to give you a few sample packs which will also help. Keep in mind birth control pills usually have an expiration date of about a year, so plan accordingly. Obviously for long term menstrual suppression, Lybrel would be the ideal COC choice, as there would be less hassle with insurance. Mirena is effective for 5 years. You must consult with your physician to make sure that any of these choices will be safe for you.
For some of you that may choose not to suppress your period or do suppress then run out COC’s or find that your hormonal birth control has ceased to be effective then dealing with menses will be a different ballgame.
We all know of the common options available, maxi pads and tampons. If in a SHTF situation, I would highly suggest tampons, as they are less messy. A lesser known internal option available is a Diva cup or Instead cup. They take a little getting used to but are also worn internally and can be worn up to 12 hours. The Instead cups are disposable and worn just below the cervix, behind the pubic bone. The Diva cup is a reusable washable option. Diva cups are worn lower, similar to tampon placement. Ultimately, a product like the Diva Cup is going to be best option since it is reusable, you wont have to stockpile them. The Instead cups do allow you to have “clean” sex, since they collect the fluid right below the cervix.
This leads me to another topic along the same thread, dealing with sex in a SHTF situation. Condoms are really the most effective barrier method and if SHTF that isn’t going to change. Again, stockpiling condoms will be necessary if you plan on being sexually active. Even if you have a committed partner, eventually hormonal birth control will run out. A diaphragm is another alternative to hormonal birth control. A diaphragm is reusable and is between 84%-94% effective when used correctly with spermicide. If you have a committed partner then this may be the best choice for you. Although not as effective as condoms, a diaphragm would require less stockpiling.
Dealing with childbirth in this scenario is not going to be easy. Finding sanitary conditions and supplies available may be next to impossible. Irregardless, I realize that no hormonal birth control is 100% and some women may already find themselves pregnant in an emergency situation. All women should read up on emergency childbirth how to just in case. Obviously, clean linens, hot water, pads, and Betadine are going to be essentials. “Emergency Childbirth” by Dr. Gregory White would be a good read for preparing yourself.
Some women may also find themselves wondering if they will have to trade sex for food and supplies. This is not something I could ever see myself personally doing, but I have also never been starving, never needed shelter, etc. I believe we all need to think about this. I realize this may sound repulsive to most, but if you are in dire straights, humans find themselves doing all kinds of things they never previously considered. Obviously, this is going to be a personal choice but no matter how prepared you think you are, chances are at one point you may run out of supplies. Mentally preparing yourself for just how bad things may really get is going to be necessary to survive.
One way to reduce this risk is by starting to build up supplies of potential barter items (click on these two articles for barter item ideas – One & Two). While this is not full proof in a dire situation, it is one idea to protect yourself from having to compromise your body in a SHTF scenario.