You experience MANY periods in your lifetime
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.
You can get pregnant while on your period
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.
Menstrual blood is not the same as normal blood
The reason why your period blood feels thicker and gooier than normal blood is because it’s mixed with lining that’s been shed from your uterus. This is also why you sometimes pass out clumpy blood clots during heavier days.
Menstrual blood sometimes looks dark brown or black
If you’ve noticed that your pad is collecting lots of darkish, almost black blood towards the end of your period, don’t panic. This is perfectly normal and it happens when the blood is older and not being pushed out from the body as quickly.
You bleed less than you think
When you’re menstruating, you probably feel like you’re bleeding tons. In reality though, the average amount of blood lost during one period cycle is just around 60ml. That’s enough to fill about one-and-a-half shot glasses. Medically, someone is considered to have a heavy period if she regularly loses more than 80ml of blood during one period cycle.
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.
A light bleed may mean you’re pregnant
On the same note, don’t heave a sigh of relief or disappointed once you see a bit of blood on your undies when your period’s due. Light blood flow or spotting can also be a sign of implantation bleeding. This usually occurs six to 12 days after conception but is nothing to worry about. It happens when the embryo implants itself into your uterus lining and is often accompanied by mild cramping.
You can suffer from low iron during your period
Women are already naturally more prone to iron-deficiency anaemia than men, but this becomes even more pronounced when you have your period. Girls who suffer from heavy periods are at a higher risk of this because of the amount of blood they lose during each menstrual cycle. If you constantly feel dizzy and weak during your period, try loading up on iron-rich foods like red meat, beans or fish.
You can bleed from your eyes during your period
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 case study published in the journal Ophthalmic Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, a woman suffering from vicarious menstruation had her condition controlled with oral contraceptive pills.
Having your period can worsen asthma attacks
Asthma sufferers, be careful not to overexert yourselves when you’re on your period. According to research published in the journal Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine, 19 to 40 per cent of asthmatic women reported asthma attacks while on their period. Study authors think this is because lung function tends to be weaker and your nasal passages are more hyperactive to histamine due to the hormonal fluctuations during menstruation.
Period euphemisms are everywhere
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.
Your voice changes during your period
A small-scale German study has found that women’s voices tend to be higher leading up to ovulation. Researchers are unable to determine whether this increases attractiveness to males though.
You go through a lot of pads in your lifetime
According to a study by the Rochester Institute of Technology in the US, the average woman goes through between 12,000 and 15,000 pads, tampons, and panty liners in her lifetime. 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.
Disney made a short film on periods
Titled The Story of Menstruation, this 1946 film summarises what you need to know about periods. According to the film’s IMDB description, it’s “a basic explanation of the purpose and process of menstruation, told largely with diagrams (and completely avoiding the subject of sex).”
You’ll spend more money on your period
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 was linked to overspending and buyers’ remorse.
Do periods sync or not?
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.