Even if you are up-to-date with all the menstrual cycle lingo (well, talking about periods is very ‘in’ of late), did you know there are over 5,000 euphemisms to describe our periods? Americans call it ‘the crimson wave’, Germans describe it as a ‘strawberry week’ and in the UK, it’s often referred to as ‘that time of the month.’ That’s a fairly common phrase used in Ireland too though yours truly hears the term ‘monthly friend’ banded about a lot, despite that fact that there’s nothing friendly about the pain we women must endure on a monthly basis. NOTHING.
A new global survey, which included 90,000 people from over 190 countries, found there are no less than 5,000 euphemisms used to describe menstruation.
The survey also investigated how much information girls were given at school about periods in different countries.
For example, 85% of respondents in Ireland said they felt they had received enough information before starting their period, vs. only 25% in Russia.
The most frequently used names to describe periods were ‘Aunt Flo,’ ‘time of the month’, ‘on the rags,’ ‘red tide,’ ‘monthly friend’ and ‘lady time.’ Other English language entries included ‘Bloody Mary’, ‘blob’, ‘having the painters in’ and bizarrely, ‘shark week,’ which was favoured by Australians.
In Sweden, a period is referred to as ‘Lingonveckan’ (lingonberry week) while the Germans are likely to call it ‘Erdbeerwoche’ (strawberry week). Bizarrely, the French call it ‘Les Anglais ont debarqué’, which translates to ‘the English have landed’ – an apparent ode to the bloody battles of yore.
When investigating the taboos surrounding period talk, strikingly, the survey also found that most women, regardless of whether they lived in the Eastern or Western world, were uncomfortable talking to a male family member, colleague or friend about periods.
Here in Ireland, 21% said they had skipped school, work or an event because they were afraid of someone finding out they were on their period, but 84% said they would talk to a female colleague about it as opposed to only 29% saying that would speak to a male.
“For you to understand your body and take care of your body you have to first not be ashamed of this part of your life,” Ida Tin, Clue founder, told The Washington Post. “Without cycles there would be no humans on this planet, it’s that fundamental. That taboo is left over from the dark ages.”
Still, is it a bit much to refer to it as ‘Mad Cow Disease’ (Finland)? Thought so.