You probably know the basics of menstrual cycle. According to studies, a girl whose periods begin around age 12 can have an average of 450 periods during the lifetime, which means you have plenty of chances to learn all about it. But no matter how well-versed you are, your period can still manage to surprise you with some unusual facts.

Here are some fun facts that you probably didn’t know, but that could be very useful:

1. You spend nearly a decade on your period

Even though we all get periods around once a month, at some point in our lives we may have wondered how much time that actually adds up to. From the onset of menstruation to menopause, a woman will have periods for about 3,500 days or around 10 years in her lifetime. Studies shows that a woman uses around 11,000-15,000 sanitary products in her life.

2. Sleeping with a nightlight can alter your menstrual cycle

Nocturnal light exposure can affect the sleeping pattern and can lead to frequent and prolonged awakenings. This can alter the secretion of the sleep hormone – melatonin. Research shows that melatonin has a role in the release of the female reproductive hormones which affect the cycle regularity and overall fertility.

A study published in the journal Psychiatry Research showed that in women with long and irregular menstrual cycles, sleeping with a bedside light have shortened their cycles by an average of 12 days.

Additionally, in the book “Fertility Cycles and Nutrition”, the author states that, eliminating light from the sleeping area can prevent cycle irregularity and infertility.

3. Your voice changes during your period!!

Vocalization research suggests that the fluctuating female reproductive hormones have impact on the vocal cords and can alter your voice.

According to some studies, your voice can become hoarse and rough during the initial days of the periods as water retention increases the fluid content in the membranes of throat. As these days pass by, the rising estrogen level will help shed this excess fluid content and your voice will become clearer. But if you are on hormonal therapy for polycystic ovary syndrome or any other condition, there will be no difference in your voice.

Another study published in the journal Ethology claimed that men who listened to recordings of women’s voices were able to identify which women were menstruating.

4. Your period could make you smell different

Ok, so here is another unexpected fact! You may smell a bit different around the time of your period.

According various researches, women who don’t wear perfumes or use deodorants, their body odor can be different based on the phases of their menstrual cycle.

The apocrine sweat glands in the genital region release a type of sweat during periods. This sweat mixes with bacteria on the skin to produce body odor. Most women don’t notice this difference, but studies shows that men can discover these odor changes in women. High intensity smell during the time of menstrual bleeding causes less attraction for men, while the less intense odor during the follicular phase of menstrual cycle is highly attractive.

5. You probably bleed a lot less than you think

Even though it can feel like you are losing blood at an alarming rate during your period, you actually lose around three tablespoons of blood.

According to PubMed Health, on an average, a woman only loses about 60 milliliters, or 2.7 ounces, of blood during each period. However, if it seems like you’re losing more than this, you should seek medical attention.

6. Disney made a movie about periods!

This may sound like a fairy tale but believe it or not, the Disney Productions made the first-ever movie about menstruation, titled ‘The Story of Menstruation’ in the year 1946. It was funded by the International Cello-Cotton Company. It was a non-theatrical release to educate American students about the process of menstruation in their health education classes.

7. Cold weather can make your periods more uncomfortable

Studies showed that periods tend to be heavier, more painful, and longer in the cold weather. This is because the days are shorter, and you will have a limited sun exposure. Hence, Vitamin D levels will be low, which cannot boost production of various hormones. This hormonal imbalance can worsen symptoms of premenstrual tension. Additionally, in cold weather, the secretion of follicle stimulating hormone is less compared to summers and menstruation cycles are longer.

8. It’s not all blood

Yes, menstrual blood is not just blood; it’s also made up of tissue. The blood that is released from your vagina also contains mucus and vaginal lining tissue too. It contains the remnants of the unfertilized egg that traveled down the fallopian tube into the uterus during ovulation. This is also one of the reasons why you feel like you are losing a lot of blood during your periods.

9. There are > 5,000 euphemisms for periods around the world

Millions of women and girls around the world hesitate or are embarrassed to say the word period. Globally, there are more than 5,000 different terms that people would rather use instead of saying ‘period’. According to an international survey, people in France and China talk about their periods in 91% slang terms, followed by Denmark at 86%.

10. It’s a taboo even in the 21st century!

There’s a long history of menstrual taboos across nearly all cultures across the world. Many ancient cultures and texts considered menstruation as shame, and unclean. Though these beliefs date back to thousands of years, pre-teen girls in America still have to endure teasing, while rural places in India still consider menstruating girls as dirty and impure.

Menstruation is a natural biological process. No girl should feel embarrassed about menstruating. Let us talk more about menstruation and end the shame and struggles women face during their period.

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  4. Crossley, Jennifer. “Just the Facts. Period.” Times Daily. May 12, 2008.
  5. Lin MC, Kripke DF, Parry BL, Berga SL. Night light alters menstrual cycles. Psychiatry Res. 1990;33(2):135-138.
  6. Pavela Banai I. Voice in different phases of menstrual cycle among naturally cycling women and users of hormonal contraceptives. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0183462. Published 2017 Aug 22.
  7. Singh D, Bronstad PM. Female body odour is a potential cue to ovulation. Proc Biol Sci. 2001;268(1469):797-801.
  8. [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Heavy periods: Overview. [Updated 2017 May 4].
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