#275: That Time of the Month

A visit from Aunt Flo, being on the rag, riding the crimson wave, girl flu, even the red wedding … menstruation is something that half of the world’s population experiences for a week at a time, for years on end, and yet we struggle to talk about it directly. But the uterus is capable of incredible things, as anthropologist Kate Clancy explains in her new book, Period: The Real Story of Menstruation: menstrual fluid contains chemicals that repair tissue, the cervix contains crypts for storing sperm for later use, and periods might even be the body’s way of improving its inner architecture. But shockingly, doctors viewed periods as useless—even toxic—well into the 20th century, and some still believe that it’s unsafe to swim with a tampon in (it’s not). Clancy, a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, joins the podcast to challenge uterine myths, expose the eugenic roots of gynecology, and bring a feminist perspective to that special time of the month.

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