Periods bring up questions. A lot of questions. Some are practical, some are things everyone needs to know, and some are down-right odd. We get to the bottom of the very strangest period questions right here.
Do animals get periods?
Animals that are closely related to humans (apes and some monkeys) have bodies that work similarly to ours, so they do have periods. A few species of bat and shrew have them, too. Random?! Not entirely. It’s all to do with the size of the animal’s brain in relation to its body. Those with large heads (including us brainy humans) produce foetuses that need lots of nutrition and they bury deep into their mothers’ tissues to access it. The mothers’ wombs grow thick linings as protection against these so-called “aggressive” foetuses. When these are shed each month, the animal has a period. Most foetuses don’t bury so deeply, so their mothers’ wombs develop thin linings (or no linings at all). All female mammals have a reproductive cycle, in which their hormone levels change in a similar way to ours, but they aren’t all monthly and they often involve little or no bleeding.
What happens if you get your period in space?
There is a lot of debate about what goes on under a woman’s spacesuit at that time of the month. In fact, so many people have asked the Canadian Space Agency about female astronauts’ periods that they’ve included an answer on their FAQ page. [LINK: http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronauts/faq.asp#16]. They explain that more studies need to be undertaken to fully understand what happens, but that many female astronauts choose to use contraceptive medication to reduce or avoid getting their period in space. Dozens of women have travelled into space and it hasn’t caused a major problem!
Can you change your cycle?
Contraceptive medication can alter your cycle, but taking drugs is a drastic option with lots of side effects to consider and it’s definitely not a good idea to start taking them just to change what date you come on. There are loads of theories on things you can try, but there is no evidence that any of this works, soz. So the simple answer to this question is a big fat NO. If your period is set to arrive at the worst possible time, it’s best just to accept it and get fully prepped with plenty of your favourite protection, painkillers and treats.
What happens if you do a headstand while you’re on your period?
If you’ve ever done a yoga class that included inversions (poses that involve going upside-down, like a headstand or a handstand), the teacher may have advised any menstruating women to avoid the pose. In the old days, people thought it could slow down the flow of blood, but now it is widely accepted that blood does not leave the body because of gravity, but because the womb contracts to pushes it out. Even so, the jury is out on whether it’s officially a bad idea to do a headstand: some yoga schools believe that it could be harmful to your internal organs to hang out upside down when your womb is at its heaviest, while others actively encourage it. One of the most important lessons yoga teaches is to listen to our own bodies, so before attempting inversions, whether you have your period or not, ask yourself if it feels like a good idea for you in that moment. If you have any doubts, just wait for another day.
Do you get your period when you’re in a coma?
As long as the cause of the coma didn’t affect the reproductive organs, then yes – periods, as well as other bodily functions, usually continue as normal if a woman goes into a coma. Some women have even given birth while in comas!
Is it possible for men to get periods?
It’s not possible to have a full-on period (mood swings, spots, cramps, bleeding and all) without female reproductive organs. However, male hormone levels do fluctuate, and this can alter how some men feel on different days, but without experiencing the physical side of menstruation, it’s hard to argue that it’s anywhere close to the real thing. Transgender men (female to male) may still have periods if they are not (or have only just started) taking male hormones as part of their transition. Transgender women (male to female) can’t have true periods, as none have had a womb transplant, yet. Medical experts say that the knowledge and technology exists for this to happen soon though, so perhaps the first male period isn’t far away!
How much blood is in an elephant’s period?
It’s a great question with a disappointing answer. Elephants are among the many mammals that don’t have periods but they do have hormonal cycles that last about 15-16 weeks. Instead of shedding the lining of their womb (like we do), they absorb it back into their body. Just imagine the mega tampons they’d need if they did though, right?!
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Image: Katie Edmunds