Healing Menstrual Blood

March 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm 6 comments

Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatm...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, I got your attention with that title, didn’t I? Perusing the internet the other day I came across an article on Time Magazine’s Health Section that was interesting, to say the least. Remember all the controversy regarding stem cell research? Advocates like Christopher Reeve, Michael J. Fox and even Nancy Reagan shouted its cause.

The controversy comes from the use of aborted fetuses for the purposes of research. While I highly doubt that many women would ever undergo an abortion in order to produce stem cells for research, the religious right argued that their use in stem cell research was immoral and that federal funding for such research should be disallowed. In fact, they believe that such stem cell research shouldn’t be performed.

I have mixed feelings on the subject myself, for while I’m ultimately pro-choice for reasons that I’ve previously mentioned on this blog, I have real misgivings about abortion. My feelings are that the procedure should be safe, legal, and extremely, extremely rare. That being said, I couldn’t see why an aborted embryo should be relegated to mere biohazard status when it could possibly be used for research to save or improve the human life of someone who has already been born.

It turns out that there are other alternative methods of procuring stem cells for research. One of those alternative methods is through the use of human placenta and also through the use of menstrual blood. There are other ways, but their efficacy is questioned, and I don’t feel like enough of a science expert to be able to explain them.

If you’re squeamish about body fluids at all, then you’ve probably already stopped reading this article. Just in case, though, you haven’t stopped reading you might want to stop reading right now.

Here’s how it works. To store menstrual blood for future research a woman inserts a cup shaped like a tampon into her vagina on her heaviest flow day for approximately 3 hours in order to preserve a specimen of 10 to 20 milliliters of blood. That is then poured into a container and shipped back to a lab to be used or stored for future use. As I understand it some women are paying a fee of $499 and then an additional $99 per year to store their own menstrual blood for future use.

The stored cells can be thawed and used to help in the treatment of breast cancer, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s or any one of a number of possible future health problems for you or for a beloved family member. That’s the selling point, anyway.

I wonder if anyone will ever think to so conveniently package a storage method for women who just wish to donate menstrual blood in order to help others. A woman has an average of 500 periods in her lifetime. That’s a lot of stem cells from just one woman.

Imagine if you convinced as many women to harvest menstrual blood as the women who donate blood to the Red Cross annually. How many people could benefit from stem cell’s curative properties? How much progress could be made towards research to find a cure for life threatening diseases? And the best part is that I can’t think of a single moral or ethical issue that anyone could come up with for not using the stem cells gathered from menstrual blood or umbilical cords from full term pregnancies.

I doubt this will ever catch on like wildfire because of people’s initial gross out factor. However, it’s not as though anyone is asking for someone to ingest actual menstrual blood in order to facilitate healing. The stem cells are extracted from “processed” menstrual blood. Given the strange things that a lot of quack “doctors” have recommended as “cures” for desperate terminal patients, it wouldn’t shock me if some terminally ill patients would be willing to drink menstrual blood if it meant the difference between life and death.

It’s kind of cool to know that it’s an option, storing menstrual blood to harvest stem cells, that is. Instead of throwing your period out with the trash, you could use it to preserve or improve someone’s life. That someone might even, someday, be yourself.




Entry filed under: Death, Ethics, Family Planning, Health, Science, Technology, Women's Rights. Tags: , , , , , , , .

The Worst Date Ever I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Amanda  |  March 12, 2011 at 3:40 am

    I like this option a lot better. I would be willing to GIVE my menstrual blood away. Really. I would. It would make every month seem more purposeful. I really like this idea. And I’m not grossed out by it. After you have a baby, there isn’t much you are grossed out by that comes out of your body. Great post.

  • 2. Author  |  March 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I agree with you. I like this option better, and I don’t know why any woman wouldn’t be willing to donate.

  • 3. Ecclesiastes  |  March 13, 2011 at 8:47 am

    It would be helpful for you to credit President Bush (43) for the wisdom to leave embryonic stem cell research legal, and instead he only restricted federal money to certain extant stem cell lines.

    By omission, you allow divisive libel to continue. You also undermine your own point in this post by ignoring President Bush as one of your champions.

  • 4. Author  |  March 13, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Hi, Ecclesiastes. I never said that Bush didn’t leave embryonic stem cell research legal. This is a controversial issue, and I don’t even fault Bush for wanting to restrict federal funding.

    I don’t like Bush. I’m entitled to feel that way, but I never said that I disagreed with every viewpoint he’s taken. I still wouldn’t call Bush my champion. For the record, I wouldn’t call Obama my champion, either. His failure to live up to his campaign promises, in particular with regards to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has been disappointing to me and to others.

    Anyway, the point of this blog post and of this blog is not to defame President Bush. I have bigger fish to fry. That’s just one of my many opinions.

  • 5. Ecclesiastes  |  March 13, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Obama has done his utmost to live up to every campaign promise he could without endangering national security. That he has obviously ‘grown’ regarding national security has frustrated you but it has encouraged me. The man can be taught, at least when there is something like a gun pointed at his head.

    Regarding Bush, he got down to the teens in approval by offending everybody, and I do mean everybody.

    Personally, I’m still waiting to see Obama’s “Zero to Five” program and his making the child care tax credit refundable. Republicans will sell out on both of those, I’m sure.

    Regarding the relative merits of each on this matter, Obama, in clearing the use of federal money for politically correct embryonic stem cell research, has already cut the money for menstrual.

    Of course you haven’t defamed President Bush. My point was that by omission you have allowed him to remain unjustly defamed. If you were to take a moment to address it, you would be reaching across a baseless and counter productive division to new allies in your cause. Me, for example.

    Best of luck, because I really am with you on this menstrual blood stem cell thing.

  • 6. K. McGhee  |  December 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I am extremely interested in donating menstral blood. This is an amazing way to give.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Blog Stats

  • 181,579 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 82 other followers

March 2011
« Feb   Apr »

%d bloggers like this: