It is normal for us to only investigate those things that are useful to us at the moment; However, knowledge is power, although it does not appear the same in all circumstances. In the case of knowledge about the human body, that information that we have discarded can make a difference when we make decisions or when we evaluate decisions made in the past.

Women's menstrual cycle is one of those pieces of knowledge that have been discarded thanks to moralistic discourses, granting others the power of our reproduction, life and decisions. That's why we decided to talk about menstruation, delving into everything that this term encompasses.

The word menstruation comes from the Latin “menstruus” and means “blood that comes out of the womb naturally in women and in some animals.” It is related to the lunar cycle, since it usually occurs every 28 days, the same as the duration of the lunar period.

menstrual cycle

Menstruation is something that happens to approximately half of the human population for 5 days every 28 days between the ages of 12 and 51. Of course, this as long as they are not pregnant, not taking contraceptives, not breastfeeding or there is not a stressful situation.

Menstruation is considered a “natural” bodily process exclusive to women, which unquestioningly reinforces their belonging to the category of “normal” woman. In addition to being seen as an enemy or oppressor of women, it also functions as a literal and symbolic marker of sex, sexuality, fertility, age, and health. It is also a concrete indicator of the absence of pregnancy in hetero-normative societies.

Although menstruation is something natural in a woman's body, it is also a unique experience that cannot be described universally. However, it continues to be an event that defines the daily lives of women and their relationship with their environment, that is, it is a biological experience that relates to and shapes the social reality that we have built as a species.

Who said that women are only their bodies?

Well, according to Elizabeth Grosz, history has made us believe that we are beings “more biological, more corporeal and more natural” than men. And this is just for the simple fact of having a reproductive body. It's common to hear that our temperament and mental health depend on “our hormones,” but have you ever wondered why no one says that about men? After all, their bodies are also regulated by hormones.

Iris Marion Young (2005) also pointed out that culture has projected identification with an “abject” body onto us. This means that what is “erect” is valued and what is “flaccid” is humiliated. How unfair! The association between femininity and materiality can be found in many etymologies that link matter with the mother and the womb (uterus). This leads to a dominant cultural definition of our bodies as “fundamentally reproductive.”

Because we are women, we are praised as ideal femininity, but we are also considered “monstrous” and out of control beings. Our bodies have been constructed as what we “don’t have”, what we “lack”. We have even been seen as a threat of bodily chaos. Enough of stereotypes and prejudices!

Where do these stereotypes and prejudices come from?

Well, it turns out that in medicine, before we knew everything we know now, menstruation was compared to other bleeding in men's bodies. Yes that's how it is! According to medical studies, between 1500 and 1800, men also had periodic bleeding in different parts of the body, such as coughing up blood, bleeding in the anal area, or even periodic bleeding from the nose or fingers. At that time, the female genital organs were considered internal because, being colder bodies, this allowed the fetus to stay warm during pregnancy. While men, being hotter bodies, were considered more perfect. Craziness! TRUE?

On the other hand, in ancient times menstruation was also considered healthy bleeding, it was believed that it was a way to restore balance to the body and maintain vitality and health, but over time it became pathological and debilitating.

These ideas of balance led us to think about menstruation as a way to maintain balance. According to Stolberg, during history, three theories about menstruation have been differentiated, and many of them have similarities with the explanations that are still given today.

Until about 1580, the cathartic theory dominated and considered menstruation as a way of ridding the body of impure matter. Then came the plethoric theory, which understood that menstruation was a way to eliminate excess blood in the body, especially in the uterus. Finally, the iatrochemical theory, which considered that the pain and sensation of heat during menstruation were caused by a menstrual ferment, which was compared to the production of wine or beer.

What relationship does how we think about menstruation have with how we live?

The human species, thanks to the brain and its evolution, has organized its mental processes through language, which in turn made it possible to construct beliefs that mobilize most human actions. Beliefs composed of thoughts, experiences and meanings drive human relationships, creating a social reality.

Within social reality, the social roles of men and women were justified in natural sexual differences; these roles have varied over time without deviating from the belief that women occupy a secondary place in relation to men in the society. of decisions and the ability to survive, causing an inequality that was reconfigured through the conception of the two spheres (public and private).

Men worked in the public space and earned a salary outside the home, while women (except those from the lower classes) stayed at home as wives and mothers. Furthermore, women's bodies were seen as closer to nature, weak and pathological due to their menstrual condition. Modern medicine took up the metaphors of the Industrial Revolution and considered menstruation as wasteful, since it indicated a failed pregnancy.

The reason why menstruation continues to have a negative image may be due to women's association with lack of control. During menstruation, women are not producing, are not continuing the species, are not preparing to care for a baby, nor are they providing a safe uterus for the man's sperm. Crazy, right!


As we analyze the information in our daily lives and the story makes sense, we begin to understand that a biological experience not only belongs and remains in the body, it is related to all the actions we do as a species, it leads our decisions and builds our future and Everything that surrounds us.

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