A while ago on Instagram, a member of our community messaged us saying they use their menstrual blood as plant fertilizer.
At our offices, we think about reproductive health all day every day, but none of us had ever heard of this! I was immediately intrigued and had to find out more. Was this a common practice? Would this womb super-food help heal the sun-starved plants of my cramped Brooklyn apartment? Would I suddenly feel like an enlightened Goddess of the Moon, surrounded by my garden of plants thriving off of my sacred womb juice?
We asked On Our Moon founder Alexandra D’amour, who has written about this practice, to tell us everything. In her experience, menstrual blood fertilizer really does work. “I stopped doing it for two months (for no particular reason but just busy / life etc) and our banana leaf started to wither. I dumped my cup in the soil following the bleeding phase, and the next day I noticed a big difference in how it was standing.” She isn’t alone, there are lots of anecdotal accounts of this practice online in different forums and articles.
But more than nourishing plants, this practice also nourishes women’s relationship to their periods. This is crucial, since traditionally society has taught us that the natural, healthy experience of menstruation is embarrassing and should be hidden at all costs. “Though it took a while to wrap my head around it, when I finally did do it, for a few moments, I felt more connected to the earth and myself,” says D’amour. “Seeing my vibrant red blood against the brown dirt reminded me of a time when my blood was brown, when I was unhealthy and had a terrible relationship with my menstrual cycle and body. It weirdly made me feel proud.”
While we encourage any activity that nurtures a loving relationship with your body, there a few things you should know before you start emptying your period cup into your favorite aloe plant. While menstrual blood does contain three important plant nutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, some horticulture experts caution against the practice. Christopher Satch, in-house botanist at The Sill, says there is merit in using blood as fertilizer: “For example, blood meal is commonly juiced from animal byproducts from slaughterhouses and reused. But it’s outdoors only.” He warns that houseplants being fed blood fertilizer could start to smell over time because of the decay.
Other experts warn that period blood is unpredictable, because the composition of menses is so different person to person, so you won’t necessarily know how your plants will react to your particular blend. Menstruation is also filled with bacteria, which, while totally normal as part of a healthy vaginal biome, can possibly grow hazardous microbes when it’s outside of the body.
So while there isn’t a lot of good science to back up this practice, we can’t help but be intrigued, and would love to hear from you. Have you ever tried fertilizing your plants with period blood, and how did it work out? Is it something you would try?
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