Menstruation is that super fun time during your cycle when your uterus decides to Marie Kondo itself, and you’re left tossing out whatever doesn’t spark joy. While many of us are well-versed in period basics, there are some facts that may make you fall into a Wikipedia hole.
Grab a heating pad and get ready:
1: You're Not Losing a Lot of Blood
Contrary to popular belief, you're not actually losing a lot of blood during your period. On average, most people lose between 30-40 milliliters of blood during their entire period, which is about 2-3 tablespoons. So next time someone tries to make you feel like you're hemorrhaging, tell them to check their facts.
2: Your Period Can Affect Your Sense of Smell
Did you know that getting your period can actually affect your sense of smell? It's true! Hormonal changes during menstruation can cause changes in the way we perceive smells. Some people may notice that they become more sensitive to certain scents, while others may find that their sense of smell is dulled. So if you find yourself picking up on smells that you never noticed before, blame your hormones – not your roommate's questionable hygiene.
3: Tampons are still taxed as "luxury items" in some countries.
Here's the tl;dr on the tampon tax: as of 2021, it's estimated that around 40% of countries in the world still tax menstrual products as luxury items.
The good news is that the global movement to eliminate the tampon tax has gained significant momentum in recent years. In 2019, Scotland became the first country to make menstrual products free for all. As of 2021, Australia, Canada, and India have also eliminated the tax. How about the good ol' US of A? Well... even though several states have eliminated the tampon tax, it still exists at the federal level. (FYI: 22 US states still impose taxes on menstrual products, while only one state taxes Viagra).
4: To Work Out or To Not Work Out? Whatever works.
If you're someone who loves to sweat it out at the gym or hit the pavement for a run, you may have noticed that getting your period can have an impact on your workouts. Hormonal changes during menstruation can affect things like energy levels, endurance, and recovery time, which means you may not feel quite as strong or speedy as usual. But fear not, my fitness-loving friend! There are ways to work with your menstrual cycle rather than against it, like focusing on low-impact workouts or adjusting your intensity level to match your energy levels. It's all about embracing the ebbs and flows of your body and doing what feels good for you.
5: This is your brain on... your period
Research has shown that hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can affect things like memory, attention, and decision-making. Some people may find that they have a harder time concentrating or feel more forgetful during their period. But it’s not all “Where am I?” Other studies have suggested that menstruation can also enhance certain cognitive abilities, like verbal fluency and creativity. So the next time you find yourself struggling to remember where you put your keys, try writing a poem and remember you're not alone.
⚡️ Bonus: “Period poops” are real
Let’s talk about... "period poops." Many people experience changes in their digestive system during their menstrual cycle, and this can include everything from bloating to constipation to, well, you know. While it may not be the most glamorous topic, it's important to remember that these bodily functions are completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. So if you're feeling a little backed up during your period, rest assured that you're not alone. And who knows, maybe someday we'll even come up with a more dignified term for this phenomenon.
👯 No One Is Like You
Symptoms that accompany menstruation can vary significantly from person to person, or even cycle to cycle. Some periods may be mild and virtually symptom-free; others may leave us bedridden for a day or two, particularly those of us with conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis.
If you want to lessen the impact of the punch to your uterus, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has suggestions for dietary changes and exercise that could help. Here’s another pro-tip:
Have an orgasm. More than 3,500 women surveyed by HealthLine said that having an orgasm helped relieve pain during the menstrual cycle. There's always a bright side, right?
🔄 Become best friends with your cycle
Cycle syncing is about working with your body instead of against it, and that's Embody's ethos. It's the first fully-comprehensive cycle tracking app that gives you wellness recommendations for during every phase of your cycle, not just your period.
Want to try out Embody?
Sign up at Embody.Space to get early access to the beta version in July!
Important: While experiencing some level of discomfort during menstruation is perfectly normal, severe symptoms need to be addressed. If you regularly struggle when your period arrives, it’s time to talk to your doctor.