Leer la versión en español por María García de los siguientes temas: Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Los riesgos de las duchas vaginales - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación - Sincronía menstrual y suspensión
CONTRIBUTE to Humor, Words and expressions about menstruation and Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Some MUM site links:
NEWS | homepage | MUM address & What does MUM mean? | e-mail the museum | privacy on this site | who runs this museum?? |
Amazing women! | the art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | asbestos | belts | bidets | founder bio | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books: menstruation and menopause (and reviews) | cats | company booklets for girls (mostly) directory | contraception and religion | costumes | menstrual cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | facts-of-life booklets for girls | famous women in menstrual hygiene ads | FAQ | founder/director biography | gynecological topics by Dr. Soucasaux | humor | huts | links | masturbation | media coverage of MUM | menarche booklets for girls and parents | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | olor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | puberty booklets for girls and parents | religion | Religión y menstruación | your remedies for menstrual discomfort | menstrual products safety | science | Seguridad de productos para la menstruación | shame | slapping, menstrual | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour of the former museum (video) | underpants & panties directory | videos, films directory | Words and expressions about menstruation | Would you stop menstruating if you could? | What did women do about menstruation in the past? | washable pads

Comments on some anatomical and symbolic aspects of the female pelvis
Article by Dr. Nelson Soucasaux, Brazilian gynecologist

You can't see the Kotex! Three ads.

Confidets: shaped to fit you

Unexpected Luxury
Beautiful embossed box covers (with contents): Kotex Comfortube tampons (1967) and Wix tampons (1930s-1940s)

New words for menstruation from Australia - Off games - and the U.S.A - Bad week, raggin'. Read more about those entries and a zillion others at Words and expressions about menstruation.

Would you stop menstruating if you could?
Two opposite answers from women with
genetic disorders:
1. "Frankly, I wish I would do this more often. There was a time, however, that I wished otherwise, and I would have embraced and stood with each of the women for whom their times were achingly, screamingly, howlingly awful, and cried for redress of some kind. To say that I was young and foolish once is a little painful for me, but there was indeed a time when I would cheerfully have liked to have had done with the biology of the thing altogether. [Continued here with many more!]"

Vive le Tampax! 1938.

Tampax vs. diapers

"For one I want to say thank you for this very informative site. I will never look at Kellogg cereal the same way [more here]. About stopping my period and if I would. I really don't know. I say all the time that if I never had a period again I would love it. Before that meant waiting for menopause though. I am 31 years old and was the first girl in my class to get it .BEFORE the horrible videos they showed in school. I was just barely 9 years old." [continued at Would you stop menstruating if you could? ]


Tampax gift: clever o.b.!

Imitations of Tampax

Lonely and Modess(t) vs. Kotex, 1931

The earliest disposable menstrual pad?

What was a tampon before it was a - tampon?

Her grandmother, poor, probably bled into her clothing

"Hello, Harry! First off, I'd like to thank you for all of the research you've put into MUM. It's very interesting and enlightening to learn about all the aspects of menstruation. Even at the age of 17, nearing adulthood, I often find it hard to talk to my close friends or even my mother about the topic. Society has put many taboos on menstruation, causing many girls and women to feel shame about this natural process. I really do appreciate all you've done; I simply cannot imagine the time and effort you've put into MUM.

"Second, I found MUM around two years ago at a time when I was just starting to like the fact that I had a period. I had started researching other menstrual products to use because (I feel so silly saying this, but I'd like to be honest) I was too ashamed to ask my mother to buy me pads. I loved the freedom of MUM, and through it I was able to find a sense of pride about having periods. Through more research, I learned about making my own washable pads, tampons, and even about something called free-bleeding. I'm not sure if you've addressed the topic of modern free-bleeding on your website, but I have read your theory about early American settlers and European women. I agree with you, most women probably bled into their clothing, which leads me to the real reason I decided to email you in the first place. My grandmother was talking about living in the rural South (in the U.S.) in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and mentioned to me that she did not wear underwear at that time. She also mentioned that it was easier to urinate while working in the fields without underwear. I also know that she had a very large family at the time, and may not have been able to afford to buy underwear, especially during hard times. I have reason to believe that she may have just bled freely into her clothing. A lot of poor women and girls in the area used rags during their menstrual periods well into the 1970s and maybe even 1980s. My mother mentioned once that she used rags and threw them away after using them. One of my aunts mentioned that when her mother purchased a box of Kotex for her and her sisters, they fought over the rare but well-appreciated supplies. They were also very poor, and usually used old scraps of clothing. I thought this all might interest you. I wonder if other poor women in the US did the same thing during that particular period of time?

"I'm sure I've rambled on long enough, but the last thing I'd like to mention is another site I also frequent, All About My Vagina, which discusses, among other menstrual-related topics, modern free-bleeding. I thought other visitors to MUM might enjoy another shame-free site that discusses menstruation in detail."

"I'm a 22-year-old girl from Portugal and sometimes I wish I could stop my period. I get it monthly 'cause I'm taking the Pill. Still, it lasts for a week, which is very annoying. My biggest problem is not the awkward kidney, belly and headaches the first two days. It is the way that menstruating can mess with my head. I get too much sensible, and too much dumb. I mean in a way that you can find me either crying like hell, or laughing like the world's collapsing tomorrow, and that's the only great thing to do. It opens much more my mind, and suffocates me with the way it puts my mind in to thinking constantly (which I always do) when I'm tired of it. I get paranoia. Sometimes I wish I could have a button to turn off for a few days. I want to have kids, but being menstrual can irritate me pretty bad.


Read another new Would you stop menstruating if you could?

For the debutante and society woman: Kotex, 1925

Cousin Cramps, meet Uncle Red
"I noticed you have a few different versions of 'Aunt Flo' but when we have family visit they come with the whole family so for me it is not just 'Aunt Flo' but also 'Uncle Red' and 'Cousin Cramps'"
These additions to Words and expressions about menstruation join the America list.
And I'm still correcting MUM pages through the weekend. This is a big site!

"Abortion drug could rapidly treat depression"
Read the story.

"On the Intimate, or Small-Scale, Mechanisms of Menstruation"
Dr. Nelson Soucasaux, Brazilian gynecologist

Words and phrases for menstruation, new additions for U.S.A.:
Girl stuff, On the dot, (the following are for How heavy is your flow?) Little Miss, Moon Maid, Stuck pig (a Firesign Theater reference -- they were making fun of radio commercials with their Loosner's Drug Store ad for "sanitary napkin rings") See more Words and expressions about menstruation.


Belt! Pins! Pads! Kotex as the AntiTampax! Kotex belt ad, 1953.

Kotex ad, 1921, its first year

Tampax ad, 1938

Two teenagers: a Croatian hates menstruating, an American accepts it:
Latest additions to Would you stop menstruating if you could?

This weekend I'm working on the second episode of A Visit to the Museum of Menstruation, which I hope to post here next week.

Libresse sanitary napkin ad, the Netherlands

"I enjoy menstruating. I think the odor is pleasant. It's comforting, somehow."
[Read more answers to
Would you stop menstruating if you could?]

Would I [stop menstruating]?

I don't think so. I think of menstruation - and I must say I don't like euphemisms; I say menstruating, and when I have cramps I say that my uterus is hurting - as not being a big deal, really. I don't pass too much blood, and I hardly ever have cramps, however, so I would never tell a woman with painful menstruation that it was "natural." I mean, pain *is* natural; but it's a natural sign that something is wrong and should be changed! It's the same way I feel about rhinoplasty. If your life is going to be ruined by a few millimeters of bone in your nose, shave it off. No biggie. It is a strange thing to experience, however. You really have to have blood coming from your vagina to know what it's like (of course, you [your MUM] don't even have a vagina! I find that very funny somehow).

Still, when I'm not cramping (as I was when I began the period I'm having right now - that was hell - it's like sour stomach and intestinal cramps sometimes - like really bad diarrhea - which I sometimes get when I menstruate - and I'm not on any kind of birth control or hormonal thing - why,

God, (why?!?), I enjoy menstruating. I think the odor is pleasant. It's comforting, somehow. And when the blood soaks up the pad it's quite warm and cozy down there. I also think I get hornier during my period, and find that masturbation is easier then; I'm always lubricated! I used to worry about spoiling the sheet, but then I found the solution, and bought dark red sheets. Eureka! Wow, I'm like the second person to bring up masturbation. In that case, please do not use my name or email address.

I like the site, by the way - very funny.

19-year-old college student, in the southern U.S.A.

[Read more answers to Would you stop menstruating if you could?]

Menstrual cups aren't messy, she writes:

As a response to the woman who suggested cups are impractical because they're "messy," ("Cups are 'Totally Impractical'" here; see also what menstrual cups are.) I'd have to wonder if she's ever used a cup or if she's just imagining it'd be difficult to change in a public restroom.

I've used my DivaCup (like the Keeper, only made of silicone instead of natural latex) for several cycles, and have had to empty it at work before. I don't have a social hang-up about washing it in the sink, but usually don't if someone else is in the bathroom as it might bother them and there's no point in causing a scene over it; even so, if I can't wash it out I just wipe it clean with toilet tissue (which is, oddly, usually located right in the toilet stall) and reinsert it, then wash the cup the next time it's convenient to do so.

I should also mention that part of my work uniform includes a bright white shirt, AND I have long fingernails.

I've never made a mess on my shirt (or in the public toilet stall for that matter), and if blood did get under my fingernails, I'm not going to leave it there until it dries; it washes right off with warm water and soap. All you've got to do is tilt your your hand under the water stream so it flushes under your nails a bit. - and you ought to do that anyway just from a hygienic standpoint.

Not difficult, messy or impractical at all, plus it saves me the hassle of having to carry a tampon around and rush to change it every two hours during my heaviest days.

Really, either the writer of that particular letter doesn't "get it" or she doesn't have much for manual dexterity.

"Men would use the two official words [for menstruation], but only if they are at gun point"
Words for menstruation in Israel:

My grandmother used to simply call the period "Stalin." Very appropriate. My mom says it's obviously because Stalin was red. I think it's obviously because he was nasty.

Another expression used back in my mother's day was "mehurbenet," which means "shitty," as in "I'm shitty today." I have no idea why this would be preferable to just saying one of the two explicit words ("vest" or "mahzor," which both mean "period," the second one used for other periodical events as well). Another very common expression is just to say "kibalti," which means "I got," short for "kibalti veset" or "kibalti mahzor," without saying the dreaded words directly.

These expressions are from Israel. And they are used by women (well, men would use the two official words, but only if they are at gun point :). [Read more Words and expressions about menstruation from around the world.]

The Art of Menstruation (see some art on this site)

Dear Harry,

How wonderful to find a collection of menstrual art. I've begun a cycle (nomen est omen) of serveral paintings (actual number is 7) to this monthly returning female experience. For me mostly a very creative time to solve complicated problems.

Two of this paintings are shown here:



Hope you have 'fun' with them.


Doris Lambling

(See more on MUM - this site.)

Doll used in rural India to show girls
how to use and make washable pads for menstruation

"So, Dracula walks into a bar . . . ."

So, Dracula walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a glass of hot water. Dracula sits down and pulls a dirty tampon from his cloak and dips it into the glass of water. The bartender says, "HEY PAL what the heck are you doing?" Dracula replies, "Making tea." [It's a variation of a joke found on the MUM Humor page.]

Delicate" emergency menstrual pad and belt in a tube, probably 1940s, U.S.A.

"PEE! NOW!" screams a nurse with PMS to a patient in a Dutch comic strip.


Midol and gay - again, in 1948!

Tampax ad, 1989, companion to "Are you sure I'll still be a virgin?"

Are you in the know? Check with Kotex.

Poem and letter from a 13-year-old Australian girl

Dear Mr Finley,

I want to thank you for the work and effort you've put into your genuinely wonderful and extensive museum. I'm so glad to see that someone is finally breaking the taboo that lies over the menstruation of women. And since one of us wasn't prepared to do it, I am equally happy to see a unbiased, dedicated man rise to create something out of a rather amazing aspect of womanhood that is so largely left unmentioned. [Letter continued with her poem here.]

Did Latvian peasant women bleed into their clothing?
There's a theory that I favor that says most women in pre-1900 (or so) Europe and possibly America menstruated into their clothing (read more about this here). A student at an Australian university e-mails possible evidence of this:


I found an interesting tidbit in a Latvian book about how female peasant shirts were constructed differently from men's. This is from the English summary though, so there might be more information in the book's text that I just can't read.

The book is Aija Jansome "Tautas Te-rpa Krekli Vidzeme-" (Riga: Zinatne, 1999) ISBN: 5-7966-1105-4 (where the e- is an e with a dash over the top.) p.141. See www.lib.washington.edu/Slavics/NewAcq/rptNewAcqLatvia031403.pdf

The oldest women's shirts were usually in two halves. The top half was made of finer flax and the bottom half, for reasons of hygiene, was made of coarser flax or more often of other fibrous material.

Hope this is helpful,


Later, she wrote:
I've reached the same conclusion - that there is an implication that they bled into their clothing. The type of shirt worn in the 19th century was split up to the hip for movement, and it wouldn't be impossible for someone having a heavier day to pass the fabric between their legs (not sure how it would be kept in place though).

Volleyball promotional for tampons: no, not in America, of course, in the Netherlands - of course.

"People take plenty of other medications that alter their bodies without thinking twice."
"I am a 43-year-old from the U.S. who has had her periods now for 33 years! I'm writing this from home due to missing yet another day from work because of my periods." [Continued here with more of your views at Would you stop menstruating if you could?]

Chapter 2 of "A Visit to the Museum of Menstruation"
(Start with Chapter 1)

Tampax Satin Learner's Kit, 2001

Contributions to Words and expressions about menstruation from Canada: Rag box, TD, The Drips and Blood bank.
"Hi, Have been enjoying your site, there is too much information there to absorb (!) in one go. I'm from Canada. The euphemism section caught my eye. I was in an all-girls' boarding school in high school, and we were each assigned various chores, which we called housework. If your housework included cleaning the toilets and emptying the small garbage cans in each toilet stall (often over-full with soiled pads and tampons because of the synchrony of girls living together), you considered yourself particularly unlucky to have to empty the 'rag box.' I find this a great and descriptive name for that particular kind of small garbage with a lid can found in bathroom stalls.

"Also, in junior high school, one particular friend and I called our periods 'TD' for 'The Drips' (we were very into two-letter abbreviations at the time). There is a bank in Canada called TD Bank, so combining their name with our code it was a 'blood bank,' which we found oh-so-punny at the time!" [more words and expressions]

A woman friend writes, "Is it cruel to pull the wings off a maxi-pad?" One reply would be, "If someone's wearing it it is!" See more humor.

"Each [MUM] site page peels off a thin layer of the thick crimson-colored shame I've developed about this issue." Read the e-mail a Hungarian woman sent me after I posted her comments on stopping menstruation.

Rest in peace, Meds.

She belonged to the first litter of feral cats I adopted from my back yard and helped me with the pictures of a folding bidet (here). I named her after an early tampon.
She died today, Saturday, 10 June, sweet to her last hour.

You meet the darndest people in menstruation!

Like Huey Long, assassinated former governor of Louisiana and its senator in the 1930s. The colorful crook even had a colorful pre-political life: "For several years he worked as a travelling salesman, first for a company that made a lard substitute called Cottolene, and later for a company that sold a concoction for relieving menstrual cramps known as the Wine of Cardui." (The New Yorker magazine, 12 June 2006, in a review of a new biography of the character.) See what that was here.

Another is Diane Arbus, genius creator of eerie photographs of mostly odd people. Before that final career she and her husband were commercial photographers and shot some of the classy "Modess . . . . because" ads in a series that ran for decades. See some.

And of course you'll meet several famous women in ads for menstrual hygiene products, starting with beautiful Lee Miller, later a famous photographer. An even more famous photographer, Edward Steichen, took her photograph and sold it to Kotex, to her huge (but temporary) embarrassment. See her and more such (but willing) ladies.


And speaking of nurses: at least this one is smiling - but see the next one!
Compare the German Nurse Thekla, below the green sign.
The generous contributor of the scan of the top sign writes that it's for American sanitary napkins, probably from the early 1940s. The nurse meant to inspire confidence, as did the cross - I wonder if the name, M-D, sneaked in the idea of M.D., medical doctor. Nurse Thekla, pitching the 1926 German disposable menstrual pad, Camelia, stands above the cross on the box, which almost looks as if it bears a religious image - the Virgin Mary? Professor Domenico Pecorari, University of Verona, Italy, kindly sent Nurse Thekla. Read more.

"Secret" tampon sample added to the "Secret" page, U.S.A.,1930s-40s

They won't let the Pope see ads for tampons and contraception when he visits Poland!
Salon.com reports that
"Zbigniew Badziak, the state-run TV network's head of advertising, told the Associated Press that 'there is always the risk that the faithful may feel hurt if programming devoted to the Pope's visit is interrupted by frivolous ads.' Not that they banned all advertising -- just frivolous ads for contraception and feminine hygiene [and lingerie, booze and certain desserts]. Still OK: useful, important advertising like car commercials."
Read the whole story (if you're a member of Salon premium).

Think about this, anti-artificial contraceptive believers:
"'Rhythm Method' May Kill Off More Embryos Than Other Methods Of Contraception"
"... the rhythm method may well be responsible for massive embryonic death, and the same logic that turned pro-lifers away from morning after pills, IUDs, and pill usage, should also make them nervous about the rhythm method," writes a professor in the Journal of Medical Ethics. Read a summary in ScienceDaily.com.

Instruments for gynecology and obstetrics (childbirth) in this museum:
The Sims vaginal speculum
And read a little history of The Touch method of gynecological examination.

Read an article about stopping your menstrual period. Another article mentions approved or on-the-horizon menstrual period suppression products Seasonale, Seasonique, Lybrel, Implanon, and Yaz. Read what other people think about stopping menstruation.
The puzzled graduate is actually redesigned from a Kotex menstrual pad ad from the 1940s, which is here.

Kotex menstrual pad ad, U.S.A., July 1942

Kotex menstrual pad ad, U.S.A., 1923

San-Nap-Pak menstrual tampon, U.S.A., 1930s-1940s

Menstruation supplies, 1923, U.S.A., Montgomery Ward catalog

Why DO women menstruate?
Some ancient Greeks felt it was a way to purify the blood (a few writers to the stop menstruation page feel the same way), some people in the European Middle Ages thought that menstrual blood nourished the fetus and was expelled when there was no fetus, and today we - we really don't know a purpose for it. C.A. Finn, in "Why Do Women and Some Other Primates Menstruate?" (Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 30, 4 - Summer 1987) concluded that a few primates, a bat and a shrew menstruate because the tissue that hormones build in the uterus cannot revert to a previous stage when the hormone levels decline and so must die and be discarded: menstruation. But we knew that. Why these animals (including us) have developed this is not known.

Lotus: Early American menstrual tampon?

Comic strip: A conservative American family visits the future Museum of Menstruation (Chapter 1)!

"Study Shows Rapid Return To Menstruation Once Oral Contraception Stopped" (headline from ScienceDaily)
Women - 99 percent of them - returned to normal menstruation or became pregnant with in 90 days after stopping it long-term with drugs, finds a Columbia study.
This might be good news for women worried about stopping their periods with hormones for a long time but later wanting to have children or resume menstruation. Read the story on ScienceDaily.com.

Meds & Modess menstruation ads, 1946



Dear Harry,

I just saw this email, thank you for replying personally (and for featuring my comment [read her comments], too)! By the way, I'm a 28-year-old Hungarian woman. I feel that we have less information and less options here than women in the U.S. What I know about Mirena, the Depo Provera and the menstrual cups, I know from the Web.

Your site has been a great source of information and comfort for me! I can't begin to tell you how thankful I feel. For the first time in my "adult" (=menstruating) life, I feel like I have a right to voice my feelings and consider my options. I feel like I can do so without being judged, patronized and hushed. Instead of suffering silently, I feel like I have choices, even in this sensitive area.

While most men just enjoy their biological luck and make cruel jokes about womenís menstrual problems, you make every effort to understand the female cycle and share a wealth of information about it. Wow. Thank you, not only for the information, but for being objective and sympathetic.

Each site page peels off a thin layer of the thick crimson-colored shame I've developed about this issue.

The experience is like an "intellectual menstruation" that I can welcome and cherish. Forgive the parallel :)

In two little words: THANK YOU.

Warm regards,


Do good mothers get PMS worse than the other ones?
The author of a recent book and study, Professor Jane M. Ussher, presents her views at the University of Leichester, United Kingdom. Read about it from an article on ScienceDaily:

"Premenstrually, when many women feel more vulnerable, and their repressed frustration or anger comes to the fore, their self-control is ruptured, and they can lash out, or want to withdraw from the caring role. Yet this is followed by increased self-surveillance, leading to guilt, shame, and blaming of the body.

"As women in lesbian relationships were found to report less distress associated with premenstrual changes, greater acceptance on the part of their partner, and less self-policing, Professor Ussher concludes that the identification of self-policing is of particular concern for heterosexual women." Read the ScienceDaily article.

Mmm, Kellogg's Corn Flakes - right? And have you ever had naughty feelings "down there"? Yes, I think you have. Well, Dr. Kellogg recommended pouring undiluted carbolic acid on your clitoris to stop them! I betcha it worked!
And avoid intense mental excitement during menstruation!

Douche-bag nation:

Tupperware-like parties to sell Dainty Maid douches and menstrual cups

Yes, gather your friends and party on! "Dainty Maid" once - does it still? - put women's kids through college and bought them cars if they sold enough douche bags. Read testimonials and see what else they sold. No, no snapshots from the parties.

Argentine and Nigerian poets send their poetry:
María García and Isiaka Abiodun Tiamiyu. Ms. Garcia has also graciously translated several pages of this site into Spanish (Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña - Olor - Religión y menstruación - Seguridad de productos para la menstruación).

German kids maturing earlier - Fast food the reason?

The online edition of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reports that German girls and boys continue the trend of earlier first menstruation (menarche) and first ejaculation.

Emeritus Professor Norbert Kluge of the Universität Koblenz-Landau wrote in der Internet publication "Beiträge zur Sexualwissenschaft und Sexualpädagogik" that girls in 1992 had their first menstrual period on average at 12.2 years old and in 2010 will have it around 10 or 11 years of age.

Researchers noted the trend 140 years ago. In 1860 the average menarche happened at 16.6 years, in 1920 at 14.6, in 1950 at 13.1 and 1980, 12.5 years.

Kluge (by the way, klug means smart in German) attributed the early maturation mostly to obesity caused by fast food. Lack of fat can also stop menstruation, which is what happens with anorexia.

Read the story (in German). Read more about the age of first menstruation here.

A French woman writes that the Sudanese government censors this site:

"I just wanted to mail you some information I got from a friend of mine who is also French and has spent two years in Sudan in an archeological institute.

"I sent her the address of your site by email, since I thought she might find it interesting. Here is (translated into English) how she answered me:

'Can't! It's censored by the Sudanese government. I find a sentence which tells me it's haram (sin), and a verse from the Koran which promises me Hell if I go on this site.' Later on she added, 'I talked about it with a Sudanese friend who told me, "They put that site with porn sites." 'Then I explained to her that I found that kind of censure on almost every medical site that I tried to go on and she was very upset.'"

You are known by the company you keep: along with Sudan at least one American feminist group tells its members not to visit MUM. My comic strip in part plays with this.

Women call tell just by looking at his picture if a man likes children (in a fatherly way, not sexually) and if he has a high testosterone level. Read the summary of Proceedings of the Royal Society B article at sciencedaily.com (scroll to second item):

The men who had expressed an interest in children were identified by the women as those they thought would be interested in children. Those men who had shown high levels of testosterone were identified by the women as physically attractive.

"The study provides the first direct evidence that women's attractiveness judgements specifically track both men's affinity for children and men's hormone concentrations," the researchers concluded.

Pill to stop menstruation indefinitely in Brazil is not new at all, writes Dr. Nelson Soucasaux, your MUM's gynecologist.

New contribution to expressions for menstruation in England:
"My friends and I sometimes say 'The sock is here' because when I first started, I once complained that it felt like I had a sock trapped in my underwear," writes an English 14-year-old. See many more expressions for menstruation from around the world that YOU contributed.

Are you a victim of those special weaknesses to which womankind is so apt to fall?
I have something.

Would you stop menstruating if you could?

"Here is what I would like to say in answer to your question.

"If I could have it my way, I would never stop menstruating. I love menstruating. I hate the thought that somedayI will stop menstruating. I love having a monthly cycle, and feeling how I change during it. I love that I perceive and deal with things differently during different stages of my cycle. I do get pretty bad cramps and acne and all of that, but I don't mind. There are few things that give me such a deep, intense sensation, even if it is uncomfortable. I also love the way menstruating feels. It feels warm and slippery and lovely. I also love my menstrual fluid. Sometimes I sit in a bath and watch it swirl around me. I hate the term 'bleeding' because it really is not like bleeding at all. I think what I love the most is that menstruation gives me a special, close connection to my body. My cycle is sometimes irregular, but I've come to enjoy that about my period. I really would like to go on a form of birth control, but I dread the idea of losing my natural cycle." (More of your answers)

College student, age 19

Does dress length have anything to do with menstrual pain?
A interesting woman thought so.
And women are not as capable as men in science? A 100-year-old (almost) message to (outgoing) President Summers of Harvard:
"If any one cares to claim that the brain of woman is inferior to or in any essential respect different from that of man he must seek the evidence for his belief in his personal experience or the archives of history - certainly not among the sober records of science. . . . [I]n the matter of zeal for work and of intelligence in grasping facts and principles [women] have shown themselves, on the average, quite as capable as the men students, while in one respect, namely the ability to express what they know in clear and logical English, I have found them as a rule to be superior to men." (Dr. William H. Howell, professor of physiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in the New York Times, February 15, 1915. Two men and four women led that Johns Hopkins medical school class of 80 men and 10 women.) More.

Women like more masculine-looking men during ovulation - and their partners get jealous. But not when The Pill stops her ovulation!

Darn it, life is so complicated.

Anyway, read this from the University of Liverpool: "Images of male faces that were either high or low in dominant features, such as a strong jaw lines and thinner lips, were shown to male participants who provided ratings of dominance for each image. A dominant person was defined as someone who looked like they could 'get what they wanted'." Wow! Hot stuff! Now you want to read the whole thing, don't you?! But please be gentle with the guy(s). I've been through this.

The famous Marie Stopes showed in the early 20th century that women's sexual desire peaks about the time of ovulation - see her chart.

What did mothers tell their daughters about
their first menstruation in 1932?
Are you kidding? They left it to Kotex!
"Marjorie May's Twelfth Birthday"

Dutch o.b. ad showing nudity, 2005

Did menstruation knock out kick boxers?
In the 1970s, a woman TV announcer circled inside a ring in a boxing stadium in Thailand. "That night, every fight ended in a bloody T.K.O. [technical knock out] owing to cuts. The female announcer was held responsible, on the strength of a murky associative link between women, menstrual blood, and T.K.O.s, and women were banned from entering a boxing ring." Even though women box professionally today in

Thailand, they don't in THAT ring, according to the "New Yorker" magazine article "Cool Heart," 16 January 2006.

And guess what cures warts!
"The Filth Pharmacy" (Dreckapotheke in German) cured all diseases "from head to feet" employing people's and animals' excretions and secretions - use your imagination! - including, of course, menstrual blood, which drove away warts. (Try it.)
This pharmacy, actually a German book, helpfully (for you) contained many recipes from antiquity to 1693, when it appeared in Frankfurt am Main. The disgusting medicine drove away disease demons and reactivated the living "Stoff" clinging to the excrement - at least that was what Christian Franz Paullini believed, who wrote it. History rewarded him with the term Paullinism. The Dictionary of German Folklore writes that not only do some Germans still use the wart treatment, they treat chilblains - inflammation and sores on the feet and hands caused by cold - with urine. The Dictionary (actually "Wörterbuch der deutschen Volkskunde," Stuttgart, 1981, from which I translated the information here) lists Paullini's book as "Neuvermehrte, heylsame Dreckapotheke, wie nämlich mit Kot und Urin fast alle, auch die schwerste, giftigste Krankheiten u. bezauberte Schäden vom Haupte bis zu den Füßen innerlich und äußerlich glücklich curiert worden; Mit allerhand raren, so wohl nutz- als ergötzlichen Historien" - or, "Expanded, beneficial filth pharmacy, how in particular one can successfully cure almost all, even the most difficult, most poisonous diseases and bewitched injuries from head to feet, inside and out, with filth and urine; with all sorts of rare as well as useful and entertaining stories." Whew! Phew!

Anticoncepción y religión, Breve reseña, por Kathleen O'Grady
(Spanish translation, by Maria Garcia, of Kathleen O'Grady's "Contraception and Religion" on this site.
By the way, I am proud to have such an accomplished Spanish translator of this site: visit Maria Garcia's beautiful Web site www.maria-garcia.com.ar

The Art of Menstruation: Kate Goldwater

What causes menstrual odor?

You're not going to like this.

Bacteria from the anus - oh, I'll just say it: they're from feces, and are the famous Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria - eat the blood, cells and tissue running from the uterus and vagina and produce the characteristic smell of menstruation.


You say you don't have fecal bacteria in your vagina? Oh, ho, ho, yes you DO!

Your anus is about an inch (2.54 centimeters) from the entrance to the vagina and it's a snap for bacteria to creep that teensy distance - or ride on a tampon, cup, pad or inside panties (imagine how a thong might do this) or get wiped there with a swipe of toilet paper (a good reason to wipe the anus toward the back, not toward the front of the body, to minimize the number that do make the trip).

Now, for most of the month the acid in the vagina - yes, helpful bacteria there make lactic acid - ties the hands and feet of those little devils by hardly allowing them to reproduce and grow. They and many other disease-causing bacteria cannot thrive in the acid.

But for a few days each month the vagina, and outside, on the vulva, are the perfect places to raise a family! You guessed it: during menstruation! Blood, cells and secretions from the uterus and vagina make the vagina more alkaline and the bacteria feel right at home. Oh, girl! And they gorge gourmet whenever they want!

So what about female folks who don't menstruate, like prepubescent girls and postmenopausal women? Fecal bacteria can live in their vaginas without producing that characteristic smell because the bacterial and hormonal setup is different from that of menstruating women.

O.K., if there are so many bacteria in the vagina during menstruation is it safe to have sex?

If by sex you mean a penis doing his job, and if both people have no infectious diseases, for example HIV and hepatitis, then it's generally safe.

But there is one huge exception: women who get urinary tract infections. The entrance to the bladder is right above the opening of the vagina and the penis can rub the swarming bacteria right into the tube that leads to the bladder, which is much shorter than a male's, one reason women get UTIs much more often than men.

Douches and deodorants can also change the environment of the vagina and allow dangerous bacteria to grow there. (Read about not douching.)

MUM board member Dr. Philip Tierno Jr.'s book "The Secret Life of Germs" supplied most of the information for my essay, although he wrote with more restraint.

Read more about the wonderful world of odor!


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Harry Finley is the founder and director, and he created, writes and maintains this site.