New this week: - Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, Blood Medicine, Medicine, and Tablets - Bücher auf deutsch und englisch (books in German and English about menstruation) - Menstrual humor - DIRECTORY OF ALL TOPICS - newest news

Call Your Congressman About the Proposed Tampon Safety and Research Act! Here's How and Why.

The New York Times Likes This Site!

Imagine my surprise when an economist at Syracuse University (New York) e-mailed me that she had learned of this site through the annual Women's Health: A Special Section published in the Sunday, 21 June edition of The New York Times, which many people think is the best newspaper in America!

Janice Maloney, a contributing writer for Time magazine, who wrote "Finding Some Warm Havens in the Web's Information Blizzard" in The Times, made your MUM her first recommended Web site!

"Ultimately," she wrote, "I turned to friends and to women in the medical profession for on-line recommendations [for Web sites about women's health]. Knowing my thresholds for panic, pain and typos, they offered me a list of Web sites that proved more useful than my random search. My favorites included the Museum of Menstruation and Women's Health (, an odd, funny and well-researched site (created by a man), on the history of menstruation as told by women around the world."

Then she mentioned other sites, insignificant though they be, such as the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, sites dealing with depression and cancer, stuff like that. The crybabies must have insisted that they be included.

Just last week two radio guys opined that I kept a woman in a pit and other awful things. Two months ago I sparred 30 minutes with Howard Stern!

Janice Maloney, thank you for putting me in respectable company!

German Books, and Does Your Cycle Affect Thinking?

Petra Habiger, the German columnist for this site, e-mailed me many more items for the German bibliography of menstruation, and even scoured the University of Bochum and other German institutes of learning for medical dissertations concerning menstruation. I haven't finished formatting them, but they are usable, and there are many more waiting in the wings.

Among many interesting titles is one that reflects a hot topic of the 1920s, menotoxin, the suspected poison in menstruation, which presumably caused food to spoil, wine to sour, etc. A German doctor wanted to give a scientific basis to the old wives' tales coming out of the mists of the past (Mist, by the way, means manure in German). I would love to read Walter Senninger's dissertation about this, from 1926 ("Schwefelstoffwechsel und Menstruation. Ein Beitrag zur Frage des Menstruationsgiftes," Munich). (See also the last letter below for an example of these beliefs from the United States.)

[Incidentally, the German word Menstruationsgift - literally, menstruation poison - is understandable to the average German, but the English menotoxin must be explained to even highly educated English speakers. This illustrates my favorite observation: that most German words, many of which look unwieldy to Americans, are actually much closer to everyday speech than many highfalutin English words, which often put a layer of Latin and Greek or something else between us and the meaning. German is homier to its speakers than English. I think this helps account for the huge vocabulary of English, greater than the amount of German words by about a third, and the number of French words by even more. But then the French are choosy about their language.]

Back to the subject! In 1934 Martha Krogbeumker wrote her medical dissertation in Düsseldorf about the possible connection between menstruation and women's criminal behavior ("Hat die Menstruation einen Einfluß auf die Kriminalität der Frau?"). This was the beginning of the Hitler era, and Hitler couldn't stand criminals, interestingly enough. I wonder what she concluded and what resonance that had in Nazi Germany. (Probably none; I don't think dissertations influence history much.) This is a topic alive today.

Frau Habiger also sent this clipping, date and source unknown:

"Although 35% of Americans believe that women's ability to think is impaired by menstruation, and 26% believe women cannot function as well at work when they menstruate, actual tests of women at different phases of the cycle, using all sorts of complex measures, almost always show no cycle-phase effects. This tendency to see menstruation as debilitating and the expectation that it will have an adverse impact on women's lives and activities persist in spite of more than 75 years of research demonstrating no impairment!"

Women suffering from severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) might contest this, as well as those around them; they are the "almost always." But the woman director of a menstrual disorders clinic told me that women suffering from the worst PMS are often afflicted with major psychological problems anyway, which can affect thinking. I don't know what causes what; maybe they are synergistic.

Letters to Your MUM

I confess I am not totally sure what this letter from Germany is about:

Dear H. Finley,

Hi! My name is Andria, otherwise known as The Mehndi Mistress. My partner and I have been bringing Mehndi to Germany and other countries since September 1997. We are currently working on our book, and funnily found your site connected to Dr. Schneider from Munich. I was just wondering if you had some interesting info on the use of henna in the pubic regions (India, Pakistan), and the mennogogic effects of the henna berries on women.

Please reply, I would appreciate it.

I replied, saying I had no information, but would be interested in hearing more about Mehndi, etc. Can anyone give her information?

From County Galway, Ireland:

Dear Harry,

I heard you on the Gerry Ryan Radio Show in Ireland a couple of months ago, and was delighted to visit your wonderful Web site. Well done! [Thank you!]

By the way, have you incorporated a section on women's art and menstruation? [Yes, the Art of Menstruation.] I know of one English artist/filmmaker, Judith Higginbottom, who did a piece on lunar cycles and menstruation; and there was the notorious COUM performance which featured used tampons at the ICA in London in the late seventies. I am sure there are lots of others as well. [See the film Under Wraps, which shows the work of two artists, Judy Chicago and Wenda Gu.]

Anyway, all power to you. Bleeding marvellous! [I think that is a take-off on "Bloody marvellous!" Clever!]


I would like to THANK YOU very much for your Web site. I wish there had been a site like this when I was a little girl to help explain what was going on in my life when this woman's curse started.

Young girls can now go to your site and get information they need without being embarrassed or thinking they are bleeding to death. I am 37 and thought I was dying when I started. No one explained any of this before I started. I say again THANK YOU. [You're welcome!]

About menstrual cups and a tipped uterus:

Hi, me again, [name]. I had previously e-mailed this site regarding my problems with Instead [read comments about this and other aspects of cups] and leaking due to my having a tipped uterus.

Others who also have tipped uteruses have e-mailed me commenting that they too had the same problem. One woman was kind enough to take the time to e-mail me with the information that she had tried Instead and The Keeper and found both leaked (we think because of the tipped uterus).

She didn't understand why The Keeper leaked also, because it is designed to be worn well below the cervix (unlike Instead). Anyway, I wanted to share this information with other "tipped-uterus" women so that they might avoid frustration, hassles, etc., in trying these products and trying to figure out why they won't work for them! Thanks.

Actually, Instead leaks for most women, tipped uterus or not. The Keeper gets various results, partly depending on practice.

I'm not qualified to give medical advice - just a reminder. But I know others appreciate your experience.

From a university in Indiana:

Dear Mr. Finley,

I just had to write and say how much I have enjoyed visiting your Web site. [Thank you!] I have been touring it in stolen moments at work, and I must say I have had to steal a lot of them! Your site goes on forever! In fact it has taken me the better part of a week to write this because every time I went to your site looking for your address I found something else I had to look at. The last distraction was your cat - who is a beauty, by the way. [Isn't he?! I tell Mack C. Padd - for such is his name - that every day.] I have a cat named [I dropped the unique name for fear of revealing the writer's name to her friends and boss, who might want to monitor her viewing habits!], one of four. [I have three - see the bottom of this page.]

I learned about your Web site on the Bob and Tom Show as I was driving to work one morning. Did they send you their song "Feminine Hygiene" as they promised? [Not yet.] It's funny. I think the main problem people have with those ads is that they are so boring. I guess that's your point exactly.

Have you considered a page - or do you have one which I missed - about old wives' tales regarding menstruation? [A brilliant idea! I will start soon, with your contributions and from past contributors. Readers, send yours!] My mother told me that if a girl EVER went swimming or took a cold bath during her period, her period would stop and she would suffer an agony of cramps (and possibly nausea, vomiting and fainting) afterwards. Even wading was risky. I can tell you from experience that this is untrue. Mom also liked to tell the story about the time my Aunt Margaret foolishly canned a batch of tomatoes during her period. Naturally they all spoiled. EVERYONE knows that you can't can tomatoes during your period. They will spoil every time. Something to do with the acid in your body. [What a coincidence! See the first dissertation discussed above in German Books . . . .]

As I said, I enjoy your Web site, and wish I could visit the museum, though that is unlikely in the foreseeable future. I have told several friends about it and, sad to say, their response is usually "gross!" I just don't understand that. Menstruation is a normal thing, and I'm tired of the world treating it like some dirty little secret. Good luck with the museum, and keep up the good work. I hope you can get your menstrual hut someday - I would like to see one. [Me, too, and thanks.]

Have you considered lending the whole collection to some large museum, or making it a traveling exhibit? [A member of the staff of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington twice asked for it. I approached several womens studies department at universities in this, the Washington area, but they didn't even call me back. The traveling exhibit idea is good, but requires m-o-n-e-y. A national traveling exhibit about women's health has already borrowed some items from this museum.]

Do You Have Irregular Menses?

If so, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome.

Jane Newman, Clinical Research Coordinator at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University School of Medicine, asked me to tell you that

Irregular menses identify women at high risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which exists in 6-10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is a major cause of infertility and is linked to diabetes.

Learn more about current research on PCOS at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University - or contact Jane Newman..

If you have fewer than six periods a year, you may be eligible to participate in the study!

See more medical and scientific information about menstruation.

PREVIOUS NEWS | newest news | first page | contact the museum

New this week: - Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound, Blood Medicine, Medicine, and Tablets - Bücher auf deutsch und englisch (books in German and English about menstruation) - Menstrual humor - DIRECTORY OF ALL TOPICS


Take a short tour of MUM! (and on Web video!) - FAQ - Future of this museum - Tampon Safety Act - Visit or contact the actual museum - Board of Directors - Norwegian menstruation exhibit - The media and the MUM - Menstrual odor - Prof. Mack C. Padd: Fat Cat - The science and medicine of menstruation - Early tampons - Books about menstruation - Menstrual cups: history, comments - A Note from Germany/Neues aus Deutschland und Europa - Letters - Links

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