The Big Reveal
Welcome to the new period aisle, where products are comfortable & effective, shame is shown the door, and sustainability is non-negotiable.Read more
Welcome to the new period aisle, where products are comfortable & effective, shame is shown the door, and sustainability is non-negotiable.Read more
After 27 years in business, we wanted to build something new, for everyone who menstruates.
A new period aisle, where the products are not only effective, but actually comfortable. Where shame is shown the door, and sustainability is non-negotiable.
Every material in our products has been carefully sourced to provide you with outstanding performance while still taking good care of our planet.
Our line of underwear has been redesigned to create a product that blends sustainability with advanced fabric technology. Our new undies are softer, fit better and absorb more.
We've expanded our size range to 5X in two of our styles to start, with a complete size expansion in all underwear styles to be completed later this year. We’ve worked hard with a leading plus-size fit expert to ensure that our undies fit great the first time and we’re so excited to bring them to market.
We've updated our pads and liners with some fun, gender-neutral prints, but have kept the same high-performance, super absorbent materials, and thoughtful construction - previously known as Performa pads.
We're introducing a medical grade silicone menstrual cup to round out our product range, making us a one-stop period shop. Watch out for our cup launch later this month!
💪 Our values - Our commitment to transparency, sustainability and product safety.
👋 Our team - It's still us!
💯 Our attitude - We’re still 100% committed to kicking the patriarchy out of your period and making products for all bodies.
We decided to make this change because we knew, despite our success with Lunapads, that we could build something even bigger and better if we were able to make brave decisions. We’re so thrilled to invite you on this journey with us!
In this time of crisis, Aisle is deploying its manufacturing resources to support our community’s most vulnerable population with PPE. We're calling on our community to join us in funding the manufacture of fabric masks.Read more
Photo credit: Jesse Winter
The COVID-19 crisis has hit everyone very hard, some more than others. We’ve all had to adjust to the realities and responsibilities of self-quarantine, self-isolation and staying or working from home. But what if you do not have the privilege of doing this safely and securely?
The Downtown East Side (“DTES”) is Vancouver’s lowest-income and most vulnerable neighbourhood that - due to a host of social inequities and injustices - is home to a disproportionate number of marginalized people experiencing, among other things, mental illness, homelessness and substance addiction. With supplies running low, face masks are desperately needed by front line social service workers who are supporting these individuals in accessing shelter, food and healthcare.
In this time of crisis, Aisle has decided to deploy its manufacturing resources to support our community’s most vulnerable population with PPE (personal protective equipment). We are calling on our community to join us in funding the manufacture of fabric masks. While we are able to donate fabric for this purpose, as a small business hard-hit by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, we lack sufficient resources to pay our production partners to make the masks.
The masks will be distributed to organizations represented by DTES Response including: DTES SRO Collaboration (SRO-C), Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (WAHRS), Friends of CCAP (Carnegie Community Action Project), and Overdose Prevention Society (OPS).
Please join us in supporting this urgent need by donating HERE.
Suzanne and Madeleine
Q: Why did you decide to make cloth masks?
Aisle received its first request for cloth masks on March 16, 2020 from Marnie Goldenberg, Director of Directions Youth Services. We provided Directions with 150 masks as a pilot project and are currently receiving user feedback as we move ahead with expanding our production to meet the needs of other groups serving marginalized communities at this time.
Q. Why are fabric masks needed at this time in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side?
In short, because this is a true healthcare emergency.
Kathy Shimizu, a DTES Response Coordinator says, “I think the mask shortage is going to be an issue for some time to come. These new non-medical masks can reduce the spread of virus from infected people and while a mask won’t guarantee that you don’t get or spread COVID-19, it definitely lowers the risk. For DTES frontline workers, it could make a big difference, especially when combined with a face shield (which are also being donated!). And use of washable masks by the general public could help alleviate the shortage of medical grade masks for hospital staff and first responders.”
Q. What are medical personnel saying about the use of cloth masks?
"Masks are not a magic bullet against coronavirus… but if everybody wears face masks, it probably can help, along with all the other measures (like hand washing and social distancing), to reduce transmission.”
— Benjamin Cowling, Epidemiology Professor, University of Hong Kong
“Cloth masks can be very helpful in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Similar to paper surgical masks, cloth masks help prevent the transmission of infectious droplets from the patient to the HCP (health care provider), especially if used in conjunction with eye protection and gloves (as recommended by the CDC). Masks can also prevent potentially infectious droplets from entering the air nearby. Though there is no data yet to support this, cloth masks should work similarly to paper surgical masks as they both act as a non-sterile physical barrier to person to person droplet transmission.
Due to the reusable nature of cloth masks, thorough washing after daily wear is an important component of infectious disease transmission reduction. The mask does not need to be sterilized but should be cleaned with a disinfecting product such as soap and water. Cloth masks could be an important addition to existing medical equipment to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Because both a surgical and cloth mask help prevent potentially infectious droplets from a cough or sneeze from entering the air nearby, those with a persistent cough should wear a mask when around others. Cloth masks may be more comfortable in the long term and may lead to greater adherence by those possibly infected individuals.”
— Dr. Karen E. Harris, MD, MPH, Days for Girls International Board Chair, Program Director for the OB/GYN Residency, UCF/HCA Consortium - Gainesville FL
Q. Are fabric masks comparable in terms of performance to surgical masks?
No. Like all cloth masks currently being made to support COVID-19, they are solely intended to provide some form of barrier. Proper surgical and N95 masks are in short supply. We cannot assure anyone of the effectiveness of a cloth mask for any purpose. We are extremely conscious of this and have advised our partners, in writing, to ensure they understand the limitations of these masks and any user must be advised that they may use them at their own risk.
Q. Where can I learn more about the current research about the efficacy of fabric masks?
There is a growing number of resources available; we have collected them in this document.
Q. How are the masks being made and what measures and protocols have been implemented to ensure safety in manufacturing?
The masks are being made in East Vancouver by our longtime manufacturing partners. Our team has implemented a number of stringent safety procedures to ensure that team members and production partners are safe during the manufacturing process, as well as ensuring that the masks are made under safe working conditions. These measures include limits to the number of people in any work area, physical distancing of workers, the use of masks and gloves, frequency and length of time of handwashing and sanitizing the workplace regularly.
Q. What measures are in place to ensure correct use of the masks?
Each mask comes with a set of written instructions on their correct use and care, including washing, that has been reviewed by a medical doctor.
Q. Can I buy some of these fabric masks for my personal use?
No, we are only making these masks for DTES Response at this time.
Q. I represent a social service agency in the DTES: can you supply us with fabric masks as well?
Our ability to support other agencies is dependent on our production capacity and ability to fundraise. We encourage you to directly reach out to DTES Response to request to participate: firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. I am making fabric masks at home. Can I send them to you?
Not at this time. Our warehouse is closed for safety reasons and our team is focused on making a high volume of masks with our local manufacturing partners. If you wish to make fabric masks, we encourage you to start your own group or look within your community to find where they may be needed. There are numerous Facebook groups who are organizing similar efforts. Many thanks and good luck!
Q: Will you be making other PPE like gowns, bed linens and supplying them to other organizations who are also in short supply, such as hospitals?
We are prepared to be of service to other organizations if required. We also expect the coordinated efforts of DTES Response to only grow, and we will do our best to meet this demand with the resources we have available.
We've put together a non-medical face mask usage guide, as well as some important points to consider before buying or making a cloth face mask.Read more
With more and more chief medical health officers and world and American organizations like the CDC suggesting that wearing cloth face coverings is allowable, recommended and even mandatory, sewing machines across the world are furiously churning out non-medical grade face masks to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic.
But before you go out and make or buy a cloth mask remember these important points:
First, a cloth face mask will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Staying home, washing your hands and physical distancing are your most essential and first lines of defence.
Second, remember that cloth masks are not an adequate substitute for surgical masks or N95 respirators. But surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and we must not take that supply away from the urgent needs of front-line health care workers.
Third, while wearing a cloth mask can help act as a barrier from one expelling potentially contagious droplets, that should not give you a false sense of security that you will not spread or contract COVID-19. And while peer reviewed studies have shown that a cloth mask is better than none, without proper protocols for their use and care, wearing a cloth mask can potentially put you at greater risk of infection.
When the team at Aisle learned that there are certain situations where individuals will not have access to surgical masks or N95 respirators and cannot safely practice physical distancing, we mobilized our efforts to make 1,500 cloth masks for front-line workers on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Because users will wear the masks at their own risk, we developed a set of instructions for their proper care, use and handling.
While we are not medical professionals, we consulted medical professionals for their advice in preparing the instructions. A downloadable version is here, and repeated below.
We welcome and applaud those who are making cloth masks and other face coverings. Here is the mask pattern we came up with for our community. Feel free to use and share it. But, please remember, using a non-medical mask comes with risks on its use and care and they should always go with instructions.
Fabric masks are not intended to replace surgical masks or N95 respirators. Use only when surgical masks are unavailable. Use at your own risk. Wearing a mask does not replace other important public health control measures such as hand-washing, social distancing, covering your cough and cleaning surfaces.
Sadness, frustration, and anger are emotions we typically associate with hormonal fluctuations both before and during menstruation, but what if you also have mental illness to contend with on top of PMS?Read more
Getting your period can be tough on your mental health. Sadness, frustration, and anger are emotions we typically associate with hormonal fluctuations both before and during menstruation, but what if you also have a mental illness to contend with on top of PMS?
Historically, research on the relationship between menstruation and mental illness has suffered from the effects of stigma. Subjects have been considered “too emotional” in the first place and certain variables, such as race, age, economic demographic, and the presence of outside stressors have failed to be included. Recent data on this topic has been more sensitive to these important factors, although there is still no clear-cut consensus on how hormonal changes can have an effect on pre-existing mental illnesses. This article attempts to deconstruct some of the available data while also offering suggestions for support and self-care.
The relationship between your mental health and your period is determined by several factors, making it tricky to parse in many cases. If appropriate, getting a formal diagnosis is an empowering first step; it provides a framework for treatment options while also giving you an opportunity to become familiar with the ins and outs of the illness. So far, studies have shown there is a definite link between PMS, your period, and the following mental illnesses: bipolar I and II disorder, panic disorder, psychosis, depression, and anxiety disorders. One common denominator researchers seem to agree on is that healthcare providers tend to rely on the diagnosis of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a serious but relatively rare condition which causes extreme anxiety, depression, and mood fluctuations up to two weeks before menstruation begins. By focusing on the possibility of a PMDD diagnosis, doctors and researchers may actually be ignoring the symptoms of a pre-existing mental illness.
When it comes to self-care and your own mental health, it’s important to do what’s right and appropriate for your unique set of circumstances. Most of the following suggestions offer physical relief, which may or may not relieve some of the anxieties associated with mental illness. If psychiatric help is warranted or welcomed, check with your mental health provider to get their input on menstruation and mental health.
For some individuals, this type of guided breathing can work wonders to ground your thoughts and calm the nervous system—the caveat being that for individuals who are dealing with on-going trauma, PTSD, panic attacks, or psychosis meditation and deep breathing can actually cause a person to dissociate and worsen symptoms (even inducing panic attacks).
Whether you prefer gentle stretching or active poses, yoga can be a good way to relieve physical tension while offering a sensation of control over your body and your mood. Again, be careful with (or avoid altogether) deep breathing and meditation-based yoga if you suffer from any of the above mental health issues.
Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to help with both cramps as well as symptoms of depression or anxiety. There is very limited research on the effect exercise has on mania or hypomania, some individuals find this kind of exercise helpful in terms of actual physical release and the after-effect of tiredness. Other people with bipolar disorder find that this kind of exercise exacerbates their mania or hypomania or even leads to rapid cycling bipolar mania.
Ideally, every person who suffers from a mental illness would have a mental health provider (social worker, therapist, or psychiatrist) who could offer support and guidance on this issue. Like many other countries, mental health services are severely underfunded in Canada and getting help can be both costly and time-consuming. Having support in the form of family or loved ones is important—sometimes just having someone to call or someone to check in on your mental state can be an incredibly powerful coping tool.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada offers a list of Mental Health First Aid resources on their website. Some of the options listed include out-patient services, group therapy, and toll-free hotlines.
For people averse to blood - whether it’s because of a phobia, bad experience, or something else - all of the focus on embracing the bloodiness of menstruation can be overwhelming and even exclusive.Read more
Beth Rich is a queer educator and lifespan doula who works at the thresholds and intersections of menstruation, family-building, pregnancy, birth, loss, and other life transitions. She's a non-binary human who's excited to talk about bodies, periods, birth, and sex in language that holds space for all of us. Discover more of her work at thebethrich.com or on Instagram @thebethrich.
As the period positivity movement grows, we see blood in ads, on social media accounts, and elsewhere more and more frequently. In February, the Unicode Consortium announced that Emoji 12.0 would include a drop of blood emoji, which many celebrate as a symbol of period positivity. Period or menstrual blood is nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to be scared of, right?
Well, yes. But for people who are averse to blood, whether it’s because of a phobia, bad experience, or just isn’t their preference, all of the focus on embracing the bloodiness of menstruation can be overwhelming and even exclusive.
If that’s you, I am here with some good news. You CAN be period-positive and not love blood.
Here are some ways that you can embrace and celebrate your body and cycle without focusing so much on your menstrual blood.
Cycle awareness. Your cycle is more than your period. Learning about the rest of the menstrual cycle, which includes four phases or events—menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase—can help you understand and even enjoy your cycling body. If your bleed is a struggle, identify other parts of your cycle that feel good. Celebrate when they happen, and use that energy to prepare for your next bleed.
Examine your feelings around blood. Looking into your fear or discomfort may help you better understand what exactly it is about blood that bothers you, equipping you to feel more comfortable around your menstrual blood. Many people who dislike blood or have hemophobia (the fear of blood) say that sometimes period blood isn’t as bothersome or triggering to them because it often has a different color, texture, and smell than blood that comes from other parts of the body. Others have said that taking an anatomy class or learning more about blood and the body helps lessen their discomfort.
Choose language that feels good to you. The words we use matter. If there is language around menstruation that doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, find something else. Some people choose not to use the word “period,” often preferring “bleed.” We’ve all heard “Aunt Flo,” but there are a number of alternatives like “moon time,” “shark week,” or even the German “Erdbeerwoche,” translated to “strawberry week,” that may feel more fitting for you and your body. You can choose language that makes you chuckle, helps you feel powerful, or helps you remember what you value or enjoy about your menstrual cycle. If you can’t find words and phrases that feel right, get creative!
Find period products that work for you. There are a number of ways to collect your menstrual blood, and some are more hemophobic-friendly than others. Experiment and find what feels best for you. It may change from cycle-to-cycle, and even day-to-day on your bleed. Whether you’re into period undies, menstrual cups, cloth pads, or (yes) disposable tampons, finding period products that feel good for your body and mind is a huge act of self-care.
No matter what, you’re not gross. Even if you feel uncomfortable or afraid around your menstrual blood, you’re not gross. This is a both/and situation. You can feel that discomfort (all of your feels are valid!) AND your body isn’t gross, it’s pretty cool actually, as is your cycle. Learning to hold both of these truths at once can help you rock period positivity and be open, honest, and gentle with your blood-related discomforts and phobias.
Every person and every cycle is different. If you want to be more excited about your cycle and period, but struggle because of an aversion to or fear of blood, you’re not alone. By expanding your understanding of your cycle, your feelings, and your blood, you can move towards a version of period positivity that resonates with you. You can appreciate your body and your cycle, phobias and all.
Feminine hygiene was never not a problematic phrase. But in 2017, it feels like a dinosaur walking among us.Read more
The future is period positive. Or, as Chella Quint puts it: period neutral using a positive approach. But to get there, we need to grapple with menstrual stigma — and that means interrogating the language, beliefs and practices that support it at every level.
You might think critiquing the phrase "feminine hygiene" is trivial, but for some of us, it really matters and is connected to larger systems of oppression. Challenging the convention of categorizing menstrual products (and by extension, those of us who use them) as inherently feminine, is just one of the ways some of us choose to resist the biological essentialism that genders our bodies without our consent.
Questioning why shifty, gendered euphemisms are an acceptable stand-in for straight talk about periods also pushes back against coded language that instills shame into our everyday lives.
Here are 3 reasons to say um can you not? to anyone calling period products “feminine hygiene”.
ˈyo͞ofəˌmizəm/ a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.
Speaking openly and honestly about menstruation helps break the cycle of secrecy and misinformation that unjustly impacts so many lives worldwide. To genuinely care for our whole selves, we need to find and support ways to talk about — and really advocate for — our bodies and our health needs without embarrassment or apology.
While euphemisms might make us feel marginally less awkward in the moment, they’re not really a great long term strategy for eradicating shame or nurturing more informed and empowered relationships with ourselves and each other. You might not be conscious of it, but over time, they can discourage self acceptance and reinforce negative thinking.
"Feminine hygiene" doesn’t conceal periods; we all know what it means. But when we defend the term as status quo, or use it to avoid speaking plainly about menstruation, it can have the effect of further reifying periods as taboo or inappropriate to talk about. The culture of silence this feeds isn't good for anyone, and can directly contribute to broader public health concerns too.
Changing the name of a section in a drugstore, or the way a tampon company talks about its products, won't be the final blow that ends menstrual stigma - but it will send a powerful message that periods are normal, okay to talk about, and don’t need to be hidden.
Feminine hygiene was never not a problematic phrase. But in 2017, it feels like a dinosaur walking among us.
It’s rooted in outdated, binary assumptions about sex and gender that uphold cisnormativity by centering cisgender bodies as natural, while simultaneously classifying cis women + trans and nonbinary people who menstruate as unnatural, inherently flawed, or unhygienic. That’s like quadruple the patriarchy.
Because "feminine" means "female" and "woman" in this context, it can be argued that "feminine hygiene" sends a reductive and objectifying message — to trans & cis women alike — that womanhood is defined by genitals and reproductive capabilities.
Transgender men and nonbinary folks who have periods shouldn't have to suffer the same invalidating messages, or feel forced to adopt a label that doesn’t represent us either. Having to walk down an aisle or purchase products labeled "feminine hygiene" can be pretty alienating and emotionally difficult for trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people for whom menstrual products are a basic necessity. This kind of experience is really representative of other barriers trans and nb people face in a world that’s not designed to accommodate the complexity of our bodies and identities.
Calling menstrual products "feminine hygiene" may seem like small potatoes, but the implications behind it - that the functions of your body determine your gender and who you are - can contribute to trans people avoiding doctors who may not understand their health needs, or being denied service outright when they do try to access medical care.
After the passage of the 1873 Comstock Act in the United States, which made it a federal crime to distribute or sell conception-related materials, the birth control industry coined the term "feminine hygiene" to re-brand their products.
Over time, this term evolved to refer to menstrual products instead, illustrating how products and services related to birth, birth control, and menstruation have historically (and to this day) been contested and controlled. Feminine hygiene went from describing something that was actually illegal, to describing something that’s sometimes treated as though it practically should be - hidden from sight and segregated to its own private aisle.
Recently, a request was posted on Target’s Facebook Page by the Campaign to Degender Menstruation asking that they consider changing the category description on their website from Feminine Products to Menstrual or Period Products. A totally reasonable request, and worth a shot given Target's history.
In 2015, Target started phasing out gender-specific product categories and switching to gender-neutral displays, saying "we never want guests or their families to feel frustrated or limited by the way things are presented".
A year later, Target issued a Stand for Inclusivity statement in response to legislative proposals mandating that transgender people use the restroom that reflects what’s listed on their birth certificate, rather than that which corresponds with their gender. In the statement, Target reaffirmed their support of the Federal Equality Act, which provides protections to LGBTQ folks and opposes action that enables discrimination.
They further demonstrated their commitment to inclusion by explicitly welcoming transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room that works for them.
I support this campaign's request 100% and hope Target will continue their inclusion efforts by introducing gender-neutral, non-euphemistic labeling of menstrual products in their stores. Other companies and brands should step up to do the same, and I totally encourage anyone who cares about this issue to speak out about the changes they want to see. Even if you're initially dismissed or met with confusion or resistance, know that your voice matters, and that together we're laying the groundwork for progress to come.
Update: Target removed this call for more inclusive language from their Facebook page shortly after this post was published. I reached out to Target's social media team for comment but didn't get a response. It's frustrating and disappointing, but par for the course for those of us working to build a more inclusive menstrual (etc) health space. Cis allies, we need you to take up the fight too - please support your trans and nonbinary friends who are trying to carve out some space in this world. It's not easy, and we can't do it alone.Related Articles
Plastic isn’t just filling garbage cans. It’s endangering life on this planet.Read more
Plastic is a fact of everyday life. No matter how #plasticfree your lifestyle is, we are all, at some point, using plastic - and it makes sense. Plastic is durable, waterproof and affordable. It can come in a variety of incarnations - clear plastic sandwich bags, brightly-coloured children’s toys and industrial tools. Consumers buy plastic every week - in food packaging, cleaning supplies and in the personal care aisle. They buy them every time they pick up a bag of conventional disposable pads and tampons.
Disposable pads and tampons are minefields of plastic. A standard tampon not only can have a plastic wrapper and applicator, but the tampon itself often contains polyester in the wadding and string itself. The average menstrual pad is estimated to be nearly 90% plastic, with the average package of disposable pads containing as much plastic as five disposable shopping bags.
Obviously, all this plastic adds up. Our own estimates place the number of pads and tampons entering North American landfills in excess of 20 billion annually, and it is well-known that tampon applicators litter beaches and pollute oceans. None of this plastic can be recycled. Period products are classified as medical waste, and do not enter recycling streams. It is estimated that these products will take 500 years to decompose - meaning if Queen Elizabeth I had used tampons, they’d still be around.
If Queen Elizabeth I had used tampons, they’d still be around.
However, it doesn’t just stop at garbage. All that plastic has a major impact on our climate. Plastic is primarily made from fossil fuels, and in North America, that means ethane from natural gas, often the byproduct of fracking. We cannot continue to consume plastic at this rate. By 2050, the greenhouse gas emissions from plastic could reach over 56 gigatons—10-13 percent of the entire remaining carbon budget. With current planned expansions by plastic and petrochemical producers, there is no chance of capping global temperature rise at 1.5 ℃. Plastic isn’t just filling garbage cans. It’s endangering life on this planet.
Extrapolating from data collected on plastic bag usage, we estimate that every menstruating human uses over 42 lbs of fossil fuel and 73 gallons of clean water over their lifetime. This requires a ton of plastic that often just gets put in the trash. Our addiction to plastic is strangling the things we need for life on Earth - clean water and air.
Plastic isn’t just filling garbage cans. It’s endangering life on this planet.
Switching to reusable products is one way to reduce your personal plastic use, and this needs to be encouraged on a systemic level (in Canada, only 37% of overall plastic use is in durable products - the rest is single-use plastic or packaging). However, we need new technologies, new systems and new strategies. Overall, we need the political will at every level of government to generate a carbon-neutral economy. Please choose reusables, but also, don’t forget to choose elected officials who support ecological sustainability.
We all use plastic. We need to find a way to use it so our planet will last as long as our trash does.