Women’s gadgets(not pink things)

January 5, 2007 at 9:39 am 2 comments

After noting several posts on Gizmodo wondering about what gadgets will appeal to women, it occurred to me that there are, in fact, gadgets for women–but they might not be quite what you’d expect. Over the years, I’ve come across a group of products that women talk about among themselves and use, but aren’t advertised anywhere. So as a public service, I’m listing them here:

The menstrual cup: A bunch of companies sell this alternative to tampons. Among them: Keeper (natural rubber), Diva cup, Mooncup, and Lunette (silicone). (Plug: Lunette is made in Finland!) You only have to buy one at a time, and one will last you years. Aside from the financial benefit, this also means you don’t have to lug around a box of tampons everywhere you go, which can be annoying on camping trips in particular. I’ve even used one of these camping out in the African savannah among a bunch of men who definitely did not want to find pad and tampon residue around the campsite–it was weird enough for them to have a woman present to begin with. It works like this: You fold it up and stick it in like a tampon. It lasts about as long, sometimes longer. Every now and then you empty it–some bathrooms have sinks, and if they don’t, just wipe it clean with paper and off you go. If you can’t stand the idea of coming into contact with your own bodily fluids, however, this is not for you.

The P-Mate: By a Canadian company called Female Freedom, this lightly waxed recycled paper funnel allows women to pee standing up. Why would they want to? You’ve obviously never agonized with a full bladder in the woods, facing the prospect of either undoing fifteen layers of clothing and baring your ass to -25ºC , or presenting it as a all-you-can-eat buffet to clouds of eager bloodsuckers. Not to mention standing in the endless lines to the Port-a-Potty while men dash past to have a quick pee in the urinal around the back. So. If this is penis envy, so be it. The plastic version of this is sold by TravelMate.
UPDATE: I was reading a book called The Pirate Queen by Barbara Sjoholm(too personal-narrative for my taste, was hoping for more historical info) and randomly stumbled across a story about a Sami woman called Buks-Beret, who would go out fishing with the men, and had with her a “tissehornet” or hollowed out reindeer horn for peeing over the side of the boat on longer trips. So this is nothing new…

A TENS machine: Speaking of Technology Marching On, I can personally vouch for the use of a TENS machine during childbirth. It sends electrical pulses (which feel a lot like intense pins and needles) to your skin via electrodes stuck to your lower back during labor, which confuse the pain messages sent to your brain, which makes it easier to handle the pain overall.

Plus, if you get a model like the one I had, the Elle Tens, you get lots of buttons to fiddle with to regulate the kind of pulses it sends out, their rhythms and intensity, which for me at least gave an added sense of control, which helped immensely.

A friend of mine who knows a bit about neurology claims there is solid science to back up the claim that it works–I’d say that it could have been a placebo effect, something to have faith in and hang on to, but in the end that worked pretty damn well. And considering that if it doesn’t work, you can switch it off and immediately try something else with no ill effects, I’d say it’s a win-win deal. Other than the cost, of course. Available for rent and purchase from the UK here.

The Feeldoe: Designed for women, by a female engineer, although enterprising men may find uses for it as well. No harness needed if your PC muscles are strong enough. Happy sensation potential for both partners. This swiss army knife of dildoes comes in three sizes, with vibe and without, and has gotten rave reviews.

The Epi-No: Apparently this device helps you train for childbirth. In their words:

German medical innovation is reducing the risk of tearing and episiotomy (‘stitches’) in…women wanting a natural vaginal birth.

That sounds like a good idea to me, don’t know if it works or not, but it seems at the very least unlikely to do harm. I’ve had some friends sneer, Women have been birthing babies for millennia without anything like this.

Maybe so, although the epi-no is apparently based on an African custom of using gourds to gently stretch the perineum just before birth, and also I find the argument of “We’ve always managed without” to be rather silly: “Humans have lived for millennia without the internet/central heating/toilet paper, so there’s no need to use those things now.” There may not be a need, but these things certainly make life a bit more comfortable. Why should birth be any different? In fact, episiotomy itself is a rather new invention, and a rather unpleasant one at that, yet many women don’t give that a second thought.

Have been looking for horror stories related to this device, accusations of fraud, danger, etc, and have found none. I’ve found various references to it on midwives’ blogs and the like, though. At worst, people have said it doesn’t help/is a waste of money. At best, women have reported greater confidence going into childbirth and maybe an easier delivery. What can I say? Technology marches on. Available in the UK here.

If you know of products you think should be added to this list, let me know, I’ll add them to the post.

Entry filed under: Gadgets, Really useful sites.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. timethief  |  January 11, 2007 at 7:41 pm

    I’m thinking that these would be excellent for those times one is on a small boat fishing, as well as, the bush situations you have described. Thanks for this interesting post.

  • 2. Julia Schopick  |  June 3, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I am sorry that I am responding so late to your posting about reusable menstrual products. I think it is wonderful. And you’re right: these reusable products just aren’t advertised heavily, like the disposables are.

    I thought you might like your site visitors to know about some terrific audio interviews that The Keeper, Inc. conducted recently with two extremely fascinating people.

    1) Harry Finley, of the Museum of Menstruation, spoke to keeper.com about the taboos associated with menstruation throughout the ages.

    2) Simran Sethi spoke about the very popular eco-site, TREEHUGGER.COM. Simran, for those who don’t yet know of her, is co-host of THE GREEN, which is being aired on the Sundance Channel, by Robert Redford. She has also appeared on the Oprah and Martha Stewart shows. She gave keeper.com a fascinating (audio) interview!

    Both interviews may be listened to at http://www.keeper.com/interviews/audiointerviews.html .

    Thanks so much for mentioning us — and please keep up the good work!

    Julia Schopick
    The Keeper, Inc.


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