About 7.5 billion people live on this planet. About half of them are confronted with a continual change of the body during their lifetime - the menstrual cycle. In many societies, the issue is strongly tabooed. As a result, menstruating people often have limited knowledge of the processes in their bodies. This creates insecurity and intensifies the taboo. "Beside Blood - cycle exploration" offers various tools made of porcelain for observing cycle-related changes. The empowerment of menstruating people can help to change the position of the topic in society. Each tool deals with one aspect of the cycle: changes in the cervix, basal temperature, cervical fluid, breast and menorrhea. As early as the 1970s, feminist groups conducted so-called self-examinations. The toolkit "Besides Blood - Cycle Exploration" takes up this view and focuses on menstruating persons.
This self-speculum helps you to look at your cervix and cervix glands without help from others. The object consists of a body to insert (a) and a movable mirror with light (b). You can warm the speculum. Fill a bowl with warm water and place the body (a) inside for a few minutes. The porcelain stores the heat. The end of the object is slightly rounded and oblique. This makes it easier to insert it into the vagina. If you like you can also use any kind of lubricant. The self-speculum is made of porcelain and has a high mechanical strength. So you don't have to be afraid that it will break inside you. The shape of the cervix can change during the cycle. It is sometimes closed and sometimes open. This makes it easier for sperm and bacteria to enter the uterus. Sometimes the cervix is so contracted that it is hard to find and sometimes it looks like a donut. The position towards the vaginal outlet can change during the cycle.
The cervical glands produce the cervical fluid, which is sometimes also visible in the underwear. Each person produces different amounts of cervical secretion. The secretion can be white, cream, milky or crystal clear. Sometimes it goes completely unnoticed. The spinnability and the consistency can give information about the fertility. The cervical fluid consists, for example of mucin fibres. During the fertile days these threads arrange themselves in parallel. In this way sperm but also bacteria can easily enter the uterus. The secretion is then thin, crystal clear and thread-pulling. The cervical secretion can transport sperm and bacteria into the uterus or act as a barrier and thus protect against intruders. The PH value of the secretion can indicate diseases. You can simply insert your Cervical Spoon into the vagina and turn it. The secretion remains in the hollow and you can now take a close look at it and test it.
All menstruating persons lose different amounts of menstrual blood. The blood can have different colors. It ranges from light red to dark brown. Sometimes it contains small clots. Even in the 20th century, the doctor Béla Schick claimed that menstrual blood contained toxins which could have a negative effect on the surrounding. Although this claim could be proven wrong, even today some people still believe that menstrual blood is toxic. In the menstrual bowl you can look at your menorrhea and see how much blood you lose and what consistency and color it has. You can squeeze the blood directly into the bowl by tightening the pelvic muscles or pour it out of your menstrual cup if you are using one.
The basal temperature changes during the cycle. In the first half of the cycle it is usually slightly lower than in the second half. Knowing your basal temperature can be useful if you want to use natural contraception. The thermometer is inserted into the vagina and stays there for 4 minutes. The value remains stored until you shake out your thermometer and use it again. To have an exact comparison of the temperature and especially if you want to use natural contraception, you should always measure and record your temperature at the same time after getting up.
During the cycle the size of your breasts may change. Your tape measure will help you understand the change. The breast area can be hard or soft, tense and painful. It makes sense to feel the breast regularly in order to detect dangerous changes in the tissue as early as possible. Knots are best noticeable when the skin is very soft. This is mostly the case about 1 week after the start of menstruation. If the breast size changes at the same time during menstruation this may be an sign of a knot.