With the crowd funding launch of Aunt Flow just a week ago, we started thinking about periods and a different type of launch. A space launch! Have you ever wondered what happens when a woman has her period in zero gravity?
Since 1963, almost 60 women have been launched into outer space, so let’s take a look at what happens when Aunt Flow goes with them.
So, what happens?
When astronauts first started to venture into the cosmos, no one knew how it would impact a woman’s period. However, while many bodily processes are impacted by spaceflight, a woman’s period is not one of them. That’s right. Anti-gravity and space travel have no effect on Aunt Flow. It might seem a little anti-climactic, but it’s actually super cool. After all, it’s pretty awesome that a woman’s cycle is so powerful that not even outer space can impact it.
Considerations for space menstruation
While women can physically have a period in space with no problem, there are still logistical considerations to take into account.
- Since female astronauts can’t count on finding a tampon dispenser in outer space, they have to pack everything they will need for the trip. However, the added weight of the tampons must be considered in all launch calculations.
- The International Space Station only has a few waste-disposal facilities that can handle blood. This means that a female astronaut not only has to plan what she will bring for her period, but she also has to plan where she will “go” when it comes.
- There is only a limited supply of wash water on space flights, which can make maintaining hygiene more challenging on longer flights.
Given all of the hassle involved with the logistics of space periods (and the likely strange sensation of changing a tampon in anti-gravity), many female astronauts end up taking contraceptives to ensure that they don’t have a period while they’re in space. Apparently, many of them just don’t want the trouble of dealing with “that time of the month” during a space mission, and we can’t say that we blame them.
Luckily, research has shown that it’s safe for female astronauts to use contraceptives to put their periods on hold. There’s even evidence to suggest that the estrogen in birth control pills may protect female astronauts from losing bone density, something that can be a real problem in zero gravity.
There you have it! Although there are some interesting practical considerations, a woman’s period is physically no different in space than it is on earth.
If you’d like to help with the launch of Aunt Flow, you can donate to help us reach our goal of $25,000. We’re already over 20% of the way there, and every little bit helps!
If you’d like to help with the launch of Aunt Flow, you can donate to help us reach our goal of $25,000. We’re already over 20% of the way there, and every little bit helps.