Ok, everyone knows your period is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a perfectly natural – if sometimes irritating – part of life.

However, as natural and wonderful and empowering as your period might be, very few of us want to bellow “HIYA I’M MENSTRUATING” at our friends when we’re walking down the road. So in case you find them useful, we asked 38 women for their favourite period euphemisms. You are welcome.

1. Aunt Flo

2. Surfing the crimson wave

3. Ladies’ week

4. Mr P

5. Nature’s mess

6. Menzies

7. Josie’s visiting – ”My Mum always said Josie’s visiting. Then it became just Josie. Never managed to make friends with any women called Josie – too many associations”

8. On the blob

9. Shark week

10. The moon sickness

11.Me and my friends have long referred to it as our ‘pez’. ‘Can’t go swimming today I’m on my pez’ or sometimes ‘pezza’, or ‘the ol’ pezza’.”

12. A Leona situation (ie. bleeding love)

13. Happy-fun-lady-time!

14. “I liked it when Tina Fey referred to it as ‘Aunt Blood'”

15. Having the painters in

16. Falling to the communists

17. Pez dispenser

18. “At my school girls say they’re ‘flying’. Because of the wraparound wings.”

19. Molly has come to visit

20. “My four-year-old sister calls it ‘nappy week'”

21. Rag week

22. Code red

23. Arsenal are playing at home

24. “My boyfriend and I refer to it as ‘my curse’ as a tongue-in-cheek reference to what men called it in the olden days”

25. The Red Sea is flowing

26. “My boyfriend calls it ‘Hanna time’”

27. Lunar flow

28. Ordering ‘l’omelette rouge’

29. Aunt Irma’s in town

30. Bloody Mary

31. Flowers

32. Dracula’s teabag

33. Lucifer’s waterfall

34. Reboot

35. Having your fairies

36. Hiding from Joffrey

37. Bernard

And my absolute, absolute favourite.

38. My Dolmio Day.

Mmm.

@orbyn

Image: Hailey Hamilton

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

What did you call your vagina when you were a child? Did you call it anything at all? Were you even taught the difference between vaginas and vulvas?

I didn’t learn any of that until biology at school; at home my brother and I called our genitalia ‘wee-wee’s, and any other ‘difficult’ parts of the anatomy – breasts, testicles, weird moles – my mother just wrote off as ‘do-do’s and left us to figure out the rest. So out of curiosity, I decided to ask women I know what they called their vaginas and vulvas as kids. And the results are AMAZING.

1. There

2. Down There

3. The Thing

4. Bits

5. Bottom

6. Front Bottom

7. Wee-wee

8. Moneybox

9. Purse

10. Tuppence

11. Lady Garden

12. Tiddler

13. Miffy

14. VG

15. Foufou

16. Doodle

17. Doodie

18. Noony

19. Nunny

20. Minnie

21. Mooey

22. Minnie-moo

23. Mary

24. Wendy

25. Twinkie

26. Twinkle

27. Mimsy

28. Pry-pry

29. Foof

30. Fairy

31. Flower

32. Fanny

33. Wanny

34. Gee

35. Hoop

36. Penny

37. Pam

38. Ying-yang

39. Buntsy

40. Tail

41. Nesty

42. Pinky

43. Chuffy

44. Winkle

45. Gina

46. Pia

47. Chotchi

48. Mimi

49. Bunny

50. Pocket

51. Popkin

52. No-no

53. Noo-noo

54. Felicity

55. Sally

56. Button

57. Loopy-loo

And my personal favourite…

58. Lettuce.

‘Vagina’ doesn’t seem quite so weird now, does it?

@orbyn

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Amber Griffin

My first period arrived the day before my twelfth birthday.

My mother and I were at my grandparents’ house, debating how to spend my birthday itself. “Would you like to go bowling, darling?” asked my grandmother, for something like the eight-hundredth time. “No Granny,” I replied, screwing up my face. “A restaurant?” suggested my mother. “We could go somewhere with curly fries.” “No,” I moaned.

I’d done bowling and curly fries for my eleventh birthday. Why couldn’t my family understand that turning 12 was so different from being 11? When I turned 11 I was still watching cartoons in the morning, like a baby. Now I was almost 12 I had graduated to hanging out with boys (well, a boy. His name was Daniel, we talked about bikes, and he had the. Most. Amazing. Hair).

“I’m going to the loo,” I sighed. As I sat on my grandparents’ ugly yellow toilet, I felt inexplicably glum. I was itchy and irritable, my eye sockets ached and, for the last couple of days, I just hadn’t been able to rustle up a smile.

And why was I even on the loo, anyway? Did I need a wee or a poo? I needed something – the twisted, weighty feeling in the front of my lower abdomen was telling me that much – but I couldn’t tell what. I’d been feeling sort of like I needed a poo for a couple of days now – even after I had had a poo, and that morning it had been a little difficult to do up the fly of my jeans.

I could feel something wet falling into the toilet from between my legs, but it felt… gloopier than wee. I looked down at the pants pulled down between my knees, and saw a dark red line of something that looked like treacle all the way down the gusset. At first I didn’t know what it was, and then –

“Blood!” I thought, panickingly.

“Blood,” I thought, a bell of familiarity clanging somewhere in my head.

“Ohhhhhhhh, blood,” I thought, with a satisfying sense of things falling into their proper places. That’s what was happening! I’d got my period! That’s why I was bloated and tired and irritable! I’d heard about that – that was called pre-menstrual syndrome, and I’d had it! I’d been pre-menstrual! And now, well, now I guess I was mid-menstrual!

“Muuuuuum!” I called, unravelling half the loo roll in my excitement. “Muuuuuum, can you come in here please?”

Here’s what I wanted to happen: my mother would come into the bathroom, I would quietly inform her of the situation, and she would quietly take me out to buy new pants and whatever sanitary products I needed completely without fuss. This was entirely probable – my mum knew how to play pop songs on the guitar, and was everyone in my brownie troop’s favourite Brown Owl for years.

Here’s what actually happened: my mother came into the bathroom, I quietly informed her of the situation, and then she RAN AROUND THE HOUSE SHOUTING “MY BABY IS A WOMAN!!” AT THE TOP OF HER VOICE while I was still on the loo, with my pants around my knees, shouting “Mum! Mum, stop it! You’re embarrassing me.”

About five hundred years later, my mother and grandmother came into the bathroom. “I”m so sorry, my darling,” said my mother. “I wasn’t prepared for this. But your grandmother…” she trailed off.

“I’m afraid it’s been a while since I had a period, my love,” my grandmother told me. “I do have this, though!”

She held up what looked like a belt and a neck brace. “Stand up,” she told me, and – to my total horror – fixed the belt around my naked waist then slapped the foam neck-brace-thing between my legs and hooked it onto the belt in front and behind. THEN she brandished the largest, whitest, most flowery pants I had ever seen, and made me step into them. Then she pulled up my jeans and, in a satisfied voice, proclaimed, “There. Perfect.”

Flabbergasted, I looked in the mirror. I looked like I was wearing a fully-inflated paddling pool under my clothes. “What is this?” I asked.

“A sanitary towel,” my grandmother told me.

“They’ve, er, changed a bit since your day, Mum,” my mother commented, but I barely heard her. I was too busy staring at my reflection and thinking that this was the worst day of my life.

Luckily, my day improved. My mother took me out to buy sanitary products – I stayed in the car, refusing to be seen in my paddling pool – and she returned with very discreet, paper-thin pads you just pressed into your pants and no one was any the wiser. I got some new pants, too. Score.

And my birthday? I spent it bowling and eating curly fries after all. Because you can’t do all your growing up all at once.

@orbyn

It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome. 

Image: Katie Edmunds