DIY Healthcare for Ladies

by Emma Barker

While the bill to cut ladies’ health funding (most of which keeps Planned Parenthood running) is only halfway passed, it’s plowing on at a disturbing rate. And if the cuts are passed, where will ladies with more vaginal issues than they have dollars turn? The wild and wonderful* world of home remedies! And so I present some of the weirdest and/or most well-recognized methods of DIY gynecology (eek!). As with most home remedies, these fall somewhere between “might just be fun to try” and “SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS, NEVER DO THIS” range. A fun sleepover game might be to each draw one out of a hat to try and see who wakes up in the morning!

*Not always wonderful.

Your problem: You get crazy PMS.
Treatment: The best thing is to go nuts with the calcium in the week leading up to your period. Try calcium supplements and/or a mineral called dolomite. Hops are also recommended as a sedative, which I take to mean we should all have parties the week before our periods (we’re all in sync) where I’ll lay out calcium supplements that we wash down with I.P.A. One other suggestion I found is catnip, which I can see enhancing the party in a number of ways.

Your problem: You get all of your tampons from Planned Parenthood and now have no tampon supply.
Treatment: If you think you can’t DIY tampon, you’re living under a rock! Experts recommend these two equally revolting options: “Use an old diaphragm, one without holes in it,” and, “Take a small artist’s or cosmetic sponge, tie a string to it and insert. Remove when full, rinse and reinsert. When your period is over soak or wash out the sponge in 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 cup water for 15 minutes. Dry and store until next period.” Both of these suggestions allegedly work as well as a super tampon, but are much more effective than a super tampon at making me nauseous.

Your problem: You have a yeast infection.
Treatment: We’re familiar with this one!

Your problem: You have herpes.
Treatment: Even nature can’t cure you, but it does have some interesting remedies. One calls for a paste made from water, goldenseal powder (available at health food stores), and myrrh. MYRRH. Available from Christ. I thought this wasn’t a real thing, so I asked at a health food store in Brooklyn, and they had it! Anyway, put this paste on your genitals, which probably feels as comfortable as it sounds. Once the sores are starting to heal, build up healthy tissue by sitting in the birth-giving position with a sun-lamp trained on your nether region. Since it’s very sensitive skin that never sees daylight, only do this in 30-second increments, three to four times a day. That way, you’ll build up a nice vaginal base tan for when you’re ready to hit the beach!

Your problem: You don’t want to get pregnant.
Treatment: There’s no way to recreate the pills we know and love as daily birth control pills, so this is where you really have to get creative. Let’s review the options.

Make your own diaphragm:
Cut a lemon in half and scoop out the juicy part. Makeshift cervical cap! Seriously.

Grab a sponge:
This one’s similar to the last one. Soak a sponge in half lemon juice — nature’s spermicide? — half water (filtered, come on, this is your health we’re talking about), stick ‘er up there and go to town. The experts make a point of noting that you should throw the sponge away when you’re done, but if you didn’t assume that, you should go ahead and use the abstinence method.

If you need a Plan B:
Queen Anne’s Lace, also known as Wild Carrot, is used a lot in India. The seeds work best as a morning-after pill, taken post-coitally (which one remedies book amusingly points out is “right after penis-vagina sex”). The key here is to really chew the seeds so the oils are released, then do so once a day for the next three-or-so days. It’s also recommended that you find a “knowledgeable seller,” although I’m pretty sure that Whole Foods sells QAL seeds.

Your problem: You’re already pregnant.
Treatment: If you’re unwantedly pregnant, you should’ve chewed your Queen Anne’s Lace seeds more vigorously, because there’s obviously no safe way to perform a DIY abortion. So! Here are some DIY routes to pre- and post-natal care if you find out you’re pregnant by just becoming very large, since the Planned Parenthood where you used to get pregnancy tests is closed. Red raspberry extract (sold in pill form) is supposed to be very effective at soothing pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and cramping. It’s also recommended for the weeks leading up to birth because it smooths and tones the pelvic muscles and makes birth easier (???). As an aside, red raspberry is supposed to help bed-wetters.

In addition, you should obviously take prenatal vitamins, which are available everywhere. And if it’s tearing during birth you’re concerned about, or if you just want a romantic night in with your significant other, try a perineum massage with olive oil.

As a final health tip, goldenseal, in pill form or as a paste applied directly to the southern lips (I found that term on Urban Dictionary — does anyone actually call a vagina that?!), cures basically everything. Garlic boiled in whiskey, which you cool and then drink, also cures everything, but you knew that already.

Please note: The Hairpin does not actually endorse any of these home remedies. And if you don’t want to end up crafting your own Dalkon Shield IUD in the future, please go here to send a pre-drafted letter to your Congressman and/or donate to Planned Parenthood.

Emma Barker is a writer in Brooklyn.