Deconstructing period shame & stigma
What drives us to work on a topic as shadow-banned as “periods”?
What motivates us to bootstrap a period tracking app in a femtech world that already seems saturated with enough options to choose from?
Why are we doing what we’re doing?
In this article, we're going to explore Baba Yaga’s mission statement, break down why menstrual health education is still lacking in 2023, bust some period myths, and disentangle periods from womanhood.
Every-menstruating-body deserves to feel empowered by their hormones, not burdened by them.
We truly believe that none of us are free and safe, until not all of us are.
This means that we will not rest until…
…talking about periods has become so normal, it’s boring.
…everyone with periods is trusted to make medical decisions about their own body (& their ovulatory cycle is taken into account when they get medical checkups).
…the birth control burden is truly shared by all partners involved.
…period products are ungendered and freely available (in public spaces, at the very least).
…menstrual health education in schools goes beyond just fertility and pregnancy, and also involves those kids who do not bleed themselves.
…people with menstrual cycles are fully taken into account when new drugs, dietary recommendations, and security measures are tested.
…every last period myth is busted and not a single person believes their period is a punishment for the “original sin”.
…conditions such as PMS, PMDD, PCOS, dysmenorrhea, and endometriosis finally have real treatments, not just hormonal birth control or hysterectomies.
…every bleeding person is believed when they talk about their experience.
Okay, let's clear the air and bust some menstrual cycle myths. You've probably heard a lot of nonsense throughout your life about your cycle. It's time to separate fact from fiction and embrace the truth.
Fact: The world-wide average cycle length is 29 days, with a range of 24-35 days. No two cycles are ever the same. No two cycling people are ever the same. Such comparisons make little to no sense. Cycles are considered irregular, if they fluctuate significantly from one cycle to the next (e.g. up and down by more than 15 days). → This is why tracking your own menstrual cycle regularly is so important!
Fact: A healthy, natural ovulatory cycle has more and less fertile days, and even some days that are considered infertile. If a cycle is very short with a very long menstruation (e.g. a 22 day long cycle with a 10 day long period), it could technically be possible for ovulation to occur during that long period, meaning that this person could get pregnant while on their period. → This is why tracking your own menstrual cycle regularly is so important!
Fact: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a real and common condition characterized by emotional and physical symptoms that occur before menstruation. Research is currently ongoing to find its cause. Potential options include: inflammation, fluctuations in our brain chemistry and chemical imbalances, and individual sensitivity to hormonal changes.
Fact: It might be surprising, but this myth seems to be a persistent one (and closely connected to the next one). Swimming during your period is perfectly safe and hygienic. Menstrual products, such as tampons and menstrual cups, can be used to prevent any leakage while swimming.
Fact: Menstrual blood is not dirty or impure. It is a natural bodily function and is composed of blood, tissue, and mucus. Menstrual hygiene practices are important to maintain cleanliness and prevent infections, but menstruation itself is not dirty. In fact, in many indigenous traditions, menstrual blood is even used to fertilize crops.
Fact: While cramping during your cycle can be very common, that doesn’t mean it is normal. Pain should never be normal. It pains us to have to say this in 2023, but pain should never be normal!
Fact: The hormonal changes during a natural menstrual cycle can cause mood fluctuations, ups and downs in energy availability, and shifts between introversion and extraversion, but they do not make us emotionally unstable. Please keep in mind that emotional well-being varies among individuals and is influenced by various factors beyond menstruation.
Fact: Sexual activity during menstruation is a personal choice and can be safe and enjoyable for both partners. It's important to communicate with your partner and ensure proper hygiene and protection. There’s even research showing that orgasms can reduce period cramps. Exercise, in general, can actually be beneficial during your period. It can help reduce cramps, boost mood, and improve overall well-being. Listen to your body and engage in activities that feel comfortable and enjoyable.
(This also includes this myth: The bleeding you experience while on hormonal birth control is a regular period.)
Fact: Hormonal contraception does not simulate pregnancy. It works by suppressing ovulation, thinning the uterine lining, and thickening cervical mucus, preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. It does not mimic the hormonal changes of pregnancy. Which also means that the bleed on hormonal birth control is actually just a withdrawal bleed, not a healthy period.
Not everybody with a uterus or female biology experiences periods (anymore or ever).
Not everyone with a cycle has to worry about fertility or pregnancy.
Not everyone with period can or want to shout it proudly from the rooftops.
Womanhood is so much more than a biological function.
This biological function can be important to so many more people than just women.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of gender identities, take a minute to acknowledge the fact that we are all here because of a health ovulatory cycle. It absolutely does not matter who you are, to honor and revere the biological cycle that brought you into this world.