Being a woman in TEOTWAWKI presents special challenges that many times in survival literature aren’t touched upon. So I’d like to talk about a few things that are specific to being female.
Let’s face it, that monthly visit creates a lot of waste from pads and tampons that in a SHTF scenario will be very difficult to dispose of. Imagine if you will, that our infrastructure has broken down and trash is no longer being collected, you have to find a way to get rid of your own trash without creating a world where garbage floats in the streets when it rains. You’re doing okay though because all food scraps go to either the animals or the compost, paper is used as tinder, and jars are reused for whatever purpose you can find. However, synthetic pads and tampons, much like baby diapers, must be disposed of in a way that doesn’t become toxic for you family. So, what do you do? My suggestion is go for reusable. I know, in our modern society that reusable pads may be considered “gross” but as long as you wash them after every use they’re just as clean as single use synthetic, and some argue that they’re actually healthier for you. A major plus to reusable in a SHTF scenario is that you can make them out of any fabric you have available as long as you have some needle and thread (though cotton and flannel work best). You can find patterns and suppliers online; just do a quick google search. Another reusable option is a diva/moon cup. A single one can last up to a year so it would be simple to stockpile a 5 year supply just in case. If the thought of reusable supplies still grosses you out just a bit and you don’t think you’ll ever go that route unless you’re living after TEOTWAWKI then you’ll want to keep a stock of single use pads or tampons for your short term preps. The best way I’ve found to do this is a combination of couponing and freebies. Almost all companies that make feminine products offer free samples through their web sites, and all of those free samples come with a collection of coupons. Simply go to the manufacturers web site, order your free sample (some will let you order a free sample once every 6 weeks), and then use the coupons combined with sales to lay in a large, almost free stash of your feminine products.
I consider this a female issue because females are the ones who get pregnant and therefore need to know what to do with their bodies to prevent pregnancy (besides the obvious). Now, in a TEOTWAWKI life even though you are happily married a recently collapsed society isn’t exactly the ideal place for a newborn. Maybe after the first year or two your survival retreat group will all be working well together, the gardens will be producing well and you will have mastered the art of hunting under slightly different conditions. At that point, you may want to try and have children but until then, you’ll probably need some birth control. I personally am not a fan of condoms for long term storage, they’re bulky, expensive, have a short shelf life, and you have to find a safe way to dispose of them. I would recommend either laying in a years worth of the pill or (if you have someone in your household/retreat group that knows how to administer this) the depo-provera shot. Though, with depo you have to find a safe way to dispose of a used needle. It’s a decision you have to make based on what exactly you’re preparing for and what you feel most comfortable with using as birth control now. One thing I do not recommend is storing birth control that you have never personally used. Every woman reacts differently to the hormones used in birth control and the time to find out that your reaction is negative is not post-SHTF. Another option for birth control is using natural family planning. This form of birth control helps you to fully understand your body and its cycle and how to know when you’re fertile and when you’re not. This is something highly encouraged by the Catholic Church so you’ll find a lot of literature about it put out by the Catholic Church. You can also receive training on NFP at most parishes throughout the country. If you’re not comfortable learning about NFP through the Catholic Church you can do an amazon search for natural family planning and should be able to find books non-catholic books about it. I’ve read quite a few articles on survivalblog relating to pregnancy and nursing so I won’t go into what to do if the birth control fails.
Though both men and women can break a bone, suffer a heart attack, or end up with cancer there are certain diseases that affect women more often or more severely than men, those are the ones I’d like to briefly discuss. Osteoporosis makes your bones weak and therefore more likely to break. If society collapses you can bet women will be doing a lot more manual labor which will be harder on the bones, and if those bones are weakened by Osteoporosis and break, life will suddenly become much more difficult. The best way to combat Osteoporosis is with a diet full of calcium and vitamin D and by keeping in shape. Regular exercise is pretty easy to maintain, the calcium and vitamin D may not be. It’s important to not only take calcium and vitamin D supplements now but to be sure you have a good stock of them in your long term storage. You’ll also want to lay in a good supply of freeze dried foods high in calcium and vitamin and seeds for foods you can grow fresh. Some great sources of vitamin D and calcium include: milk, cheese, yogurt, collard greens, kale, bok choy, broccoli, soybeans, white beans, and almonds. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in the US; I don’t imagine the stress of living life after TEOTWAWKI would lessen that number. Luckily some of the heart healthiest foods out there are also wonderful for long term food storage including olive oil (which [if it is in plastic bottles] can be frozen for long term use), beans, peas, and lentils, fish (if your retreat is near a water source good for fishing), and whole grains. Of course regular exercise is also helpful. Depression is much more common in women than in men for a variety of hormone reasons. Because of this if you have ever suffered from depression, post-partum depression, have a family history of depression, or currently suffer from mild depression it is a good idea to stock up on anti-depressants. Because I suffered post-partum depression with my first child it was easy for me to stock up on anti-depressants through my other two pregnancies. If you don’t have a doctor that will prescribe you anti-depressants find one who will, survivalblog has a lot of good advice on stocking up on prescription medications so I won’t go into that. Be sure you are fully aware of all side effects of whatever anti-depressants you decide to go with, and if possible use it before SHTF. An example on why you should know exactly how it will affect you, the same anti-depressant that helped me recover from post-partum depression caused a friend of mine to have a psychotic break, everyone reacts differently to medications. Menopause happens to all women so it’s a good idea to store some supplements that help make the transition easier. Even if you’re still young, they’re good to store for any older members of your family. It’s also a good idea to talk to your mom about the average age women in the family start going through menopause that way you can prepared for it. Also, make sure you know your family history relating to all uterine conditions. For example, if ovarian cysts run in the family start getting checked for them now and know the symptoms if a cyst ruptures because if that happens post-SHTF you could bleed to death.
This is the section that to some may seem frivolous but the fact is women are different from men and just like men need to do things that make them feel manly, girls need to feel girly. Feeling girly is different from being high maintenance. I’m about as far from what most would consider girly as possible, I get my hair cut once, maybe twice a year and never do more to it than run a brush through it. I rarely shave my legs, I haven’t worn makeup since my last school dance (which was quite a few years ago), and I only wear dresses to the really important church holidays. However, while I was in Navy boot camp my drill sergeants (Recruit Division Commanders or RDCs) did everything they could to strip away our femininity. We were required to use men’s body wash, shampoo, and deodorant, no makeup allowed, no lotions; we couldn’t even shave our legs. Because of this what I looked forward to the most after getting out of boot camp was not better food or no longer being yelled at, it was being able to use a really nice lotion. I began to really understand how different women are from men, yes, we can get any job a man can, and we can work just as hard when doing manual labor but we are female and females were made differently and we need to feel like females every now and then. In a post-SHTF world shaved legs and a pedicure really don’t matter when it comes to survival but what it can do for morale is huge. If you have the chance to stock up on some fun feminine items on the cheap do it. I tend to find razors, pretty smelling lotions, shampoos, and conditioners, nail polish, and hair dye for free to almost free at CVS or Walgreen’s when combining manufacturers’ coupons with in-store coupons and sales. If you are stowing away basic patterns so you can make your own clothes when the clothing stores are no longer stocked it would be a good idea to throw in a pattern or two for dresses.