Assuming you had your first period around 12, you should be pretty familiar with the monthly bleeds by now.
Whether you’re one of the lucky ones who sail through your period with ease, or if you’re more like the vast majority of us who suffer from cramps, bloating and hormonal pimples, periods are firmly here to stay.
Here are 16 lesser-known period facts that will both shock and intrigue you.
Just how many? According to a survey of over 1,000 women published in the journal The Lancet, women living in industrialised countries can expect to have roughly 450 periods in her lifetime.
For comparison, women living in prehistoric times only had an average of 160 periods.
This is likely because in modern times, we start menstruating earlier, have fewer pregnancies, give birth later, spend less time breastfeeding and ultimately enter menopause later than our earlier ancestors.
Newsflash: Menstruation is by no means a natural form of birth control. Though rare, it’s still possible to get pregnant while you’re on your period (especially if it’s near the end of your bleed) if you have intercourse.
This is because sperm can live for up to a week inside your vagina, potentially fertilising an egg if you ovulate soon after your period ends.
Period symptoms are very similar to early pregnancy symptoms
Whether or not you’ve actually conceived, your body will still release the hormone progesterone after you ovulate. Your progesterone levels are at their highest roughly five to seven days after ovulation.
If you’re pregnant, your body will continue to produce progesterone even after that, but if you’re not, progesterone levels will start to drop so that your period can come. Because of the progesterone surge, PMS symptoms and early pregnancy symptoms can look pretty similar – cramps, breast tenderness, fatigue, light spotting, bloating etc.
This sounds like a plot from a horror movie, but women who suffer from a rare condition called vicarious menstruation can actually bleed from their eyes, ears, mouths or other orifices during their period.
Don’t worry though, as the bleeding is harmless and thought to be because of surging oestrogen levels in one’s bloodstream during that time of the month.
In a survey by period-tracking app Clue, researchers polled over 90,000 women from 190 countries and found that more than half of women use some sort of slang or euphemism when talking about their periods.
You’re heard the common ones like ‘shark week’ and ‘crimson wave’, but the French actually have a phrase where they refer to periods as VOO – Vaginally Out of Order.
This is not only a considerable environmental concern (since pads and liners tend to have plastic bits and packaging that aren’t biodegradable), but a huge financial commitment as well. Consider switching to menstrual cups instead.
Does retail therapy become more attractive to you during shark week? Well, your hormones might have something to do with it.
Researchers from UK’s University of Hertfordshrine surveyed 443 women aged 18-50 on their spending habits and found that those on their periods tend to be more impulsive and show significantly less control than women at other phases in their cycle.
This has been long debated, with science unable to definitely prove the co-relation and women everywhere claiming that their period cycles start to sync with their roommates’ or close friends’ cycles over time.
Though it seems so, a small-scale study on 186 Chinese women living in dorms for over a year found that those who lived in groups did not end up synching their cycles.