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August 14, 2010 6:49 AM   Subscribe

The Menstruation Machine: an invention created by artist Hiromi Ozaki. "As a female designer I had one big problem I wanted to solve. "It’s 2010, so why are humans still menstruating?" "Fitted with a blood dispensing mechanism and lower-abdomen-stimulating electrodes, the Menstruation Machine is a device which simulates the pain and bleeding of an average 5 day menstruation process of a human (As a female designer I have done my best to simulate my own, at least)." Also: Menstruation Machine - Takashi's Take is a music video about a boy ‘Takashi’, who builds the menstruation machine in an attempt to dress up as a female, biologically as well as aesthetically, to fulfill his desire to understand what it might feel like to be a truely 'girly' girl. He determinedly wears the machine to hang out with his kawaii friend in Tokyo, but…"
posted by Fizz (83 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
As a female designer I had one big problem I wanted to solve. "It’s 2010, so why are humans still menstruating?
That's not really a design question, is it?
posted by sanko at 6:54 AM on August 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also worth checking out: Penis Cybernétique.
posted by Fizz at 6:56 AM on August 14, 2010


.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:59 AM on August 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's not really a design question, is it?

I don't think it's really a valid question no matter what your profession. "There are no stupid questions" you say? Oh yes, there are.
posted by sunshinesky at 7:00 AM on August 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


That's not really a design question, is it?

I've always thought it was, really. Horrible messy painful explosions every 25 days would not be tolerated in anything I designed, that's for fucking sure.
posted by elizardbits at 7:13 AM on August 14, 2010 [24 favorites]


We can put a man on the
moon but we can't solve this pesky mestruation problem.
posted by fixedgear at 7:14 AM on August 14, 2010


The real question is: are there any males here who are willing to strap themselves with this machine?
posted by Fizz at 7:15 AM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


As I said previously, there is something off about identifying yourself as a "designer" without specifying what it is that you design. Architecture and programming are both fields which require "design skill" to do them right but you wouldn't hire an architect to design a database or a programmer to design a skyscraper, unless you wanted both to fall down. As for what this lady designs, as far as I can tell it's paintings of stuff that doesn't and probably can't exist?
posted by localroger at 7:17 AM on August 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


there is something off about identifying yourself as a "designer" without specifying what it is that you design

It looks like she designs interactions. Isn't there something to be said of the curating of a project that tries to make you examine the specific way women interact with their biological processes, and wonder why men don't experience these periods in day-to-day life?
posted by suedehead at 7:24 AM on August 14, 2010


Oh, and the reason the doctors who invented the Pill didn't use it to eliminate menstruation is that it was completely unknown (and still is) whether that might have severe negative long-term health consequences for women. As it is they worried that making the female body think it's pregnant all the time might have worrisome side effects and they were right enough about that that the formulation of the most common Pill has changed quite a bit from the early days. Can you imagine the fallout if millions of women decided to take the miracle anti-menstruation cure only to find out it gives 90% of them cervical cancer within 20 years?
posted by localroger at 7:26 AM on August 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was told by a very reliable source that taking The Pill reduces menstruation to something like twice a year.

Problem status: 355/365 solved
posted by LogicalDash at 7:27 AM on August 14, 2010


It looks like she designs interactions.

Inasmuch as this means anything, I thought the word for people who do stuff like this was artist.
posted by localroger at 7:28 AM on August 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


and the reason the doctors who invented the Pill didn't use it to eliminate menstruation [...]

Well, menstruation is also a useful tool to figure out whether or not you're pregnant.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:28 AM on August 14, 2010


Isn't there something to be said of the curating of a project that tries to make you examine the specific way women interact with their biological processes, and wonder why men don't experience these periods in day-to-day life?

Frankly, no. This is bollocks.
posted by MajorDundee at 7:28 AM on August 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, menstruation is also a useful tool to figure out whether or not you're pregnant.

Yeah, until I read about "menstruation" on the pill, which is apparently not REAL menstruation and can occur even if I'm pregnant. Thanks, lady hormones!
posted by muddgirl at 7:38 AM on August 14, 2010


There are several birth control products that eliminate menses. Including The Pill, if you want it to (and sometimes even if you don't). There is no apparent long-term harm.

Ask your doctors. Menustration is optional.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:41 AM on August 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and the reason the doctors who invented the Pill didn't use it to eliminate menstruation is that it was completely unknown (and still is) whether that might have severe negative long-term health consequences for women.

No, actually, it wasn't.
posted by prefpara at 7:42 AM on August 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Dumb spelling errors noted.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:43 AM on August 14, 2010


No, actually, it wasn't.

Like everything, it was complicated and different people had different motivations. As documented in that great Gladwell article, the prime inventor wanted the Catholic church to accept birth control pills and thought they'd be more likely to accept it if the natural cycle was mimicked. Unfortunately that didn't work out.
posted by atrazine at 7:46 AM on August 14, 2010


Menustration is optional
Not in my local restuarant. The service is appallingly slow and I often experience acute menustration to the point where it just ends up as a crumpled ball of paper. And if I'm having my period too....well fucking look out..
posted by MajorDundee at 7:49 AM on August 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


localroger: "Inasmuch as this means anything, I thought the word for people who do stuff like this was artist."

But if we call her stuff "art" we have to argue over what art is.

The solution to this problem is to get even vaguer.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:03 AM on August 14, 2010


wonder why men don't experience these periods in day-to-day life?

We might need to break out the finger puppets for this.
posted by Gator at 8:08 AM on August 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


from prefpara's (really excellent) link...
This was not John Rock's error. Nor was it his church's. It was the fault of the haphazard nature of science, which all too often produces progress in advance of understanding.
It does look like it might be time to strike "and still is" from my statement, but you know lots of things have gone unaccepted for decades even though the clues were all but shouting -- plate tectonics and the K-T impactor come immediately to mind. And those things don't have the explosive social implications that were whirling around the invention of the Pill.
posted by localroger at 8:10 AM on August 14, 2010


But if we call her stuff "art" we have to argue over what art is.

I was thinking it might have more to do with being taken seriously and paid well by various corporate interests? In any case it's lunchtime, I think I'll go design a hamburger.
posted by localroger at 8:12 AM on August 14, 2010


Well, menstruation is also a useful tool to figure out whether or not you're pregnant.

After watching a marathon session of I didn't know I was pregnant I'd have to say, not really.
posted by squeak at 8:17 AM on August 14, 2010


I know it's an artist's job to play and imagine and all that, but if she really wants to look at things on a social level there are much better questions out there, like: "It’s 2010, so why are humans still dying of starvation?"
posted by hermitosis at 8:19 AM on August 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


there are much better questions out there

Isn't this pretty much always true? I've never understood this thought. There are so many problems, and we can't address any of them until we've solved the very worst one/s? They're all insoluble anyway. Let people fight the fights they want to fight.
posted by prefpara at 8:28 AM on August 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


I think I'll go design a /hamburger

FTFY
posted by nola at 8:30 AM on August 14, 2010


After watching a marathon session of I didn't know I was pregnant I'd have to say, not really.

I am a man and so maybe this question seems absurd but how can a woman not be aware that she's pregnant? I haven't seen this show but aren't there you know....some important physical signs.
posted by Fizz at 8:32 AM on August 14, 2010


Fizz - If you're already not menstruating regularly, which happens to lots of women for lots of reasons, it can be pretty easy. If you're close to the hormonal changes of being a teenager, you don't know what "normal" feels like, so the mood swings and other changes are easy to write off. If you're eating poorly, some weight gain isn't that shocking. And if you're already overweight, a baby belly can be masked by fat deposits. It's not super common, but it's not like you'd have to be a complete idiot not to know you're pregnant. You'd just have to be young and not super familiar with what an adult body feels like.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:41 AM on August 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Next up: The Masturbation Machine: an invention created by artist Hiromi Ozaki. "As a female designer I had one big problem I wanted to solve. "It’s 2010, so why are humans still masturbating......when we have so many "artists" doing it for them?"
posted by MajorDundee at 8:42 AM on August 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


She's certainly an artist when it comes to photoshopping herself... For more authenticity she needs to add a few breakout pimples and gain a few pounds round the middle. And maybe insert some earphones making lots of shitty noises to put her in a bad mood.
posted by honey-barbara at 8:43 AM on August 14, 2010


Fizz, as a possessor of the right equipment I wondered that too, but apparently a lot of the common signs of pregnancy aren't necessarily experienced by every woman. Some never feel the baby kick, get really big, have cravings for things like pickles and ice cream and, some fall outside the norm when it comes to the 28 day cycle and, may think monthly spotting = period.
posted by squeak at 8:56 AM on August 14, 2010


John Henry*: I have a question for God.
James Ellison: What do you want to ask God?
John Henry: I wish to know why he didn't use more ball-and-socket joints when he made you.
posted by limeonaire at 9:07 AM on August 14, 2010


It's the 21st Century, why are we still eating and pooping? Why don't I design a machine that simulates the process of pooping?

...Waaaaitaminute...I've got to call my agent! I've got to tell him I have an idea for an art piece that will make me rich and famous!
posted by happyroach at 9:10 AM on August 14, 2010


Let people fight the fights they want to fight.

I know, I know. But still, after all the technological advancements of the 20th century, THIS is what gets her goat? I mean really, anything. It's 2010, so why are humans still excreting? It's 2010, so why are humans still reproducing sexually? It's 2010, so why are humans still wearing board shorts? It's 2010, so why are humans still picking things up with their hands instead of using telekinesis?

I don't know. I like pointless art, but this just seems pointless to me.
posted by hermitosis at 9:16 AM on August 14, 2010


The music video is quite good. Strangely, I'm really bothered that it doesn't answer the final question: does he hang out with his friend again? It's probably only disturbing because I'm not clear if wearing the Bloody Pain Belt is a requirement for participating in girls' night out.
posted by Several Unnamed Sources at 9:28 AM on August 14, 2010


tonight on CBS -

"Frankenstein Meets Designing Women - Julia Sugarbaker and her new assistant, Hiromi, are confronted by the classic Hollywood monster, who, misunderstanding the title of the show, demands that they "make him a woman".

They, in turn, misunderstand him. Hilarity ensues."
posted by pyramid termite at 9:34 AM on August 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why don't I design a machine that simulates the process of pooping?

Perhaps that was a rhetorical question, but it has been done: Cloaca No. 5 — but that's no reason not to make your own.
posted by KS at 9:48 AM on August 14, 2010


I don't know. I like pointless art, but this just seems pointless to me.
--hermitosis

If you really liked pointless art you would have said:

"I like pointless art, and this seems pointless to me."
posted by eye of newt at 10:11 AM on August 14, 2010


I don't think it's a stupid question at all. There are various natural things we're no longer required to put up with if we've got access to the technology. I for one would have half-sideways front teeth, functional but silly-looking, and so would lots of people I know, if not for orthodontics. Stopping menstruation isn't any more stupid than that; it's just something no one has invested in, for various reasons, good and bad.

Trivia: until this century, among rural Egyptians, it was commonly believed [p. 7] that men also menstruated. This was because of the endemic presence of schistostomes in the Nile, a parasite that caused urinary bleeding, and led people to assume that everyone bled from their nethers occasionally. It never ceases to amaze me how much suffering people will simply accept, if the suffering is how it has always been.
posted by Countess Elena at 10:11 AM on August 14, 2010 [17 favorites]


I thought this was going to be about those elevators in The Shining...
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 AM on August 14, 2010


Frankly, no. This is bollocks.

*shrug.*

Sometimes there are books that try to make you re-examine how you interact with the world, re-examine what things are. Maybe Malcolm Gladwell says something about judgments, or you read Foucault and his arguments on the role of prison in modern society, and they're logical and methodical in what they try to do.

And after you finish the book, you close the cover and say, "huh, so Foucault thinks that we internalize forms of surveillance", or something different like that, and your viewpoint shifts, and you get a newfound awareness of how some small part of society works.

And then sometimes there are projects which try to do the same, but in a vastly less logical and vastly more artistic, designed point of view. And they try to operate in a very instinctual level so that when you finish the thing, you're wordlessly moved by it. Something like the Milgram experiment, re-enacted as a social game, could be one of these designed interactions. Or maybe you go travel alone around the world and meet a lot of people and your being changes when you're without running water and electricity (these all being things you take as granted, for example).

This designer is doing the same thing to some extent: making an object that could possibly change the way you interact with the world. Or maybe, the idea itself is the point: the concept of a 'menstruation device' that is worn, makes menstruation seem almost supplementary and unnecessary to our bodies nowadays.

And sure, maybe it's not as successful or interesting or in-depth as it could be. But you could sit in your armchair and say "bollocks", or you could look at it and think about what it's trying to do, and I do quite think that we'd all be off if we chose the latter, not the former.
posted by suedehead at 11:38 AM on August 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


But still, after all the technological advancements of the 20th century, THIS is what gets her goat?

Menstruation is inconvienient at best, agonising and messy at worst. Imagine, instead of excreting when you need to, it comes out in small increments once a month over five days, sometimes a lot, sometimes with a sensation rather like (I imagine) being kicked in the balls, and you have to come up with a way to keep clean and use something to absorb it while it happens. It's a bit like that, so fairly obvious someone will be wondering whether there's a solution other than absorbing it, taking painkillers and adding to landfill.
posted by mippy at 11:43 AM on August 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


*imagine if

Also, forgot to add, in the developing world there is very little access to sanitary protection. So 'why are women menstruating in 2010' is as relevant a question in areas where disease and hygeine are issues.
posted by mippy at 11:46 AM on August 14, 2010


In a recent design thread here we kind of ended up talking about the different attitudes that westerners and Indians had towards traditional Indian designs. AlsoMike made a pretty good comment about how consumerism changes the context of tradition:

For one thing, culturally-sensitive consumerism doesn't really leave the local culture intact, because prior to consumerism, it's experienced as substantial commitments and a sense of belonging, but under the influence of consumerism, they're turned into reflexive self-constructed, freely chosen, aestheticized identity.

And that transformation seems to be happening alot; things which used to be experienced as claims of circumstance - geography, social groups, all those things whose implicit authority we deride in tradition and nature - are now matters of content to be freely chosen. That's a bit abstract, but judging from the popularity of this comment on an introverts manifesto I think we all get it:

When I was young we didn't overthink being alone. We were just alone. Now it's a thing, just like everything's a thing.

What was interesting about that thread to me and maybe a bunch of other people was the ambivalence of declaring a fact of social circumstance as a matter of personal identity, that gap between being claimed and making a choice which gets smudged over in the insistence of agency and integrity.

This feels like a similar thing, if the speculation feels contrived it's perhaps no less remarkable than the changes that have already happened. We choose, but we don't know what that means.
posted by doobiedoo at 12:09 PM on August 14, 2010


Horrible messy painful explosions every 25 days would not be tolerated in anything I designed, that's for fucking sure.

Well, were humans actually designed?
posted by nomadicink at 12:19 PM on August 14, 2010


Well, I mean she's obviously made of plastic, so it's only natural for her to be curious about biological processes such as menstruation and food consumption which are unavailable to her robot kind.
posted by ook at 12:22 PM on August 14, 2010


*man straps on machine, tries it out*

Man: "Oh hell, baby, that ain't so bad, what the hell are you always crying about? Geeze suck it up."

Woman: "But it hurts me, really wears me down by the 3rd or 4th day"

Man: "Ah come on, it's not that bad, you should be used to it by now. Hey, you want to go swimming later today?"
posted by nomadicink at 12:29 PM on August 14, 2010


I dated a girl that got regular shots of Depo Provera, and hadn't had a period in like 6 months. Until she did. A lot of blood and intense, debilitating abdominal pain ensued. I'm not sure if that is a side-effect of the drug itself, or suppressing menstruation, but it was really ungood. Turns out messing with hormones is tricky business.
posted by cj_ at 12:36 PM on August 14, 2010


cj_, Depo Provera is problematic for a number of reasons, including bone loss. Anecdotally, I tolerate other hormonal birth control just fine. I tried Depo Provera, and can only conclude that it works as contraception because I became so hateful that my partner wasn't interested in being anywhere near me.
posted by workerant at 12:52 PM on August 14, 2010


I used to take Depo and it made me put on 2st (about 30lb, I think) in six months. The doctor didn't believe me when I said that I had actually made healthy changes to my lifestyle and it wasn't over-eating - it also made me feel very, very depressed when I was coming up to shot time. The coil has been great, aside from painful and heavy periods, and now I have to get the thing out I'm not looking forward to finding out which hormonal contraceptive side effects annoy me least.
posted by mippy at 1:14 PM on August 14, 2010


Why don't I design a machine that simulates the process of pooping?

Because you'd be ripping off famous Belgian artist Wim Delvoye.
posted by KathrynT at 1:29 PM on August 14, 2010


eye of newt, hermitosis meant what he said... that it may be pointless, but it certainly isn't art.
posted by sunshinesky at 2:07 PM on August 14, 2010


There are pills that you can take to avoid having any periods-- in fact, you can avoid them if you simply take any pill and skip the placebos. And given that for most of our evolutionary history, women probably were pregnant for most of their reproductive years (infant mortality rates were an appalling 50% or so) or lactating, doing this probably replicates "natural" better than having as many periods as we do now. This may be why the pill reduces rates of some reproductive cancers.

But yeah, if you don't have periods and you miss pills at the wrong time, you could get pregnant and be unaware of it. And for the first trimester it is very easy to be unaware of it-- this is why there are these things called pregnancy tests! You don't show till about month 4 (which is too late to have an abortion easily) and many people don't have bad morning sickness. About 1/3 of pregnancies have bleeding in the first trimester than can be mistaken for a period. So, yeah, it's easy to be in the first trimester and not know it. After that, it takes serious denial and/or obesity.
posted by Maias at 3:10 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't this machine be preceded by about a week by the I'm-crying-and-I-have-no-idea-why-I'm-crying-and-I-think-I'm-going-crazy- PMS machine?

And it should be proceeded perhaps by the Schadenfreudenistically motivated: Hey-Dudes-This-is What-a-5-hour-mind-melting-One-With-God-multiple-mutlple-female-orgasm-feels-like-but-too-bad-you're-a guy-and-once-you cum-you're-done-climax simulation-machine?

To be followed for 9 months of the: Holy crap!!, there's something growing inside me and I can't stop peeing and I want to eat a sardine flavored powdered donut right after I stab you with this knife machine?

This ends with the inevitable and joyous: Hey-lets-simulate-childbirth-guys-Machine: Grab your scrotum sac and pull it up and over your head and wear it like a birthday hat for 8 hours and then cut out your testicles and juggle them labor/birth machine.

Followed by: The Hello POPS!! -I'm a Cute tiny little baby girl and your days of sleeping more than 3 hours straight and having a life are so OVAR, Daddy-O Machine. Now heat up some of that their Similac, and swaddle, swaddle, swaddle....Machine.


Awww..wook at da cute baby fall asleep, again...
posted by Skygazer at 3:19 PM on August 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


in fact, you can avoid them if you simply take any pill and skip the placebos.

Sorry, but this is dead-wrong. You can only do this with monophasic pills.
posted by sunshinesky at 4:46 PM on August 14, 2010


It’s 2010, so why are humans still menstruating?

Certainly not because we have to. (Loved Depo Provera until I found out about the bone density loss issues. Now the Mirena IUS keeps me baby- and menstruation-free. Woo! YMenstruationMV.)
posted by heatherann at 6:56 PM on August 14, 2010


Followed by: The Hello POPS!! -I'm a Cute tiny little baby girl and your days of sleeping more than 3 hours straight and having a life are so OVAR, Daddy-O Machine. Now heat up some of that their Similac, and swaddle, swaddle, swaddle....Machine.

been there, done that - not all women automatically get up when baby cries - and when a man's married to one of them, guess who learns fast?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:37 PM on August 14, 2010


"I know it's an artist's job to play and imagine and all that, but if she really wants to look at things on a social level there are much better questions out there, like: "It’s 2010, so why are humans still dying of starvation?" "

Are you kidding? Have I walked into an exhibition? Where's the free booze?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:19 PM on August 14, 2010


What people seem to have missed is this artist- for reasons most will never comprehend- has provided an object for underperforming sad sacks to piss all over on a blog. Good times.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:31 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dunno. Is my wife the only female that rejects the concept of menses being this awful thing and embraces it as a cleansing process? When I mentioned the period-less pill, she gagged and said something about American women all denying their sexuality and being afraid of their bodies being the reason the menstrual cycle is so awful for them.
posted by reklus at 11:24 PM on August 14, 2010


reklus, while many women embrace it the way your wife does, trust me when I say you can have reasons to want to avoid bloating like a week-old river corpse and bleeding like you were shot in the vagina besides "denying their sexuality and being afraid of their bodies."
posted by KathrynT at 11:33 PM on August 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hate to be Captain Obvious here, but women are not supposed to get their period every month for years on end. We're supposed to be constantly knocked up and then doing long-term breastfeeding of the resulting child, both of which suppress ovulation and menstruation. Periods are actually supposed to be kind of rare!

Now obviously, carelessly popping out litters of kids like an alley cat is not an ideal solution to the problem of frequent or painful periods. But it's worth noting that for all those who think it's somehow "unnatural" to manipulate or stop one's period through chemical or hormonal means, they are forgetting that it's even more unnatural, evolutionarily and historically speaking, to get one's period that often in the first place. Merely abstaining from regular sex during fertile times is already manipulation away from the biological norm; we just forget that a lot.

Or, in other words, my great-great-grandmother Sarah (who had twelve kids and God-knows-how-many pregnancies) probably had fewer periods in her life than I, at age 31, have already had in mine. And of the two of us, looking at the long view of human history, she was the normal one.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:54 PM on August 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


A little further down in the (already linked) story on John Rock, the developer of the Pill, it mentions a study on an African tribe:
Among the Dogon, she found, a woman, on average, has her first period at the age of sixteen and gives birth eight or nine times. From menarche, the onset of menstruation, to the age of twenty, she averages seven periods a year.

Over the next decade and a half, from the age of twenty to the age of thirty-four, she spends so much time either pregnant or breast-feeding (which, among the Dogon, suppresses ovulation for an average of twenty months) that she averages only slightly more than one period per year.

Then, from the age of thirty-five until menopause, at around fifty, as her fertility rapidly declines, she averages four menses a year.

All told, Dogon women menstruate about a hundred times in their lives. (Those who survive early childhood typically live into their seventh or eighth decade.) By contrast, the average for contemporary Western women is somewhere between three hundred and fifty and four hundred times.
It is by no means definitive, but it does seem to support what Asparagirl and others have said about the current state of things not being as normal as we assume.
posted by Davenhill at 1:01 AM on August 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


been there, done that - not all women automatically get up when baby cries - and when a man's married to one of them, guess who learns fast?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:37 PM on August 14 [+] [!]


Yeah, so true, been there and done that myself as might be inferred. That last one is definitely not a "machine," but the real truth of the male role after childbirth. I had all the overnight duties, which lasted about 4 or 5 months if I'm remembering correctly before the babe began to sleep through the night, more or less. Until teething began...
posted by Skygazer at 2:45 AM on August 15, 2010



I am a man and so maybe this question seems absurd but how can a woman not be aware that she's pregnant? I haven't seen this show but aren't there you know....some important physical signs.
posted by Fizz at 11:32 AM on August 14 [+] [!]


It varies. My Mom didn't know she was pregnant with my little sister until she had X-rays to find out why her back was hurting. They found my little sister's feet pressed against Mom's spine. And, it was her third pregnancy. She was 6.5 months pregnant and had my sister less than a month later.

She had a period the whole time, had no morning sickness, never felt my sister kick, oh, and had an IUD. My sister is now 31 and had 3 kids of her own.
posted by SuzySmith at 3:10 AM on August 15, 2010


The six years I spent on Implanon and sans period were GREAT. And not just because I hated myself, my body and my sexuality! I also got to do things when I wanted instead of planning around the excruciating 21 day cleansing process! When I came off it I had a period like no other I have ever experienced - five days, none of them spent in bed on maximum levels of painkillers and I didn't ruin a single pair of pants, sheets, towels or chairs. I even left the house EACH day.

10 months after that I got pregnant. 11 months after having baby anachronism I got my period back. I am not keen on the hormonal birth control but fucked if I want this whole 'cleansing process' earth mother bullshit fucking with my life again. That sucked. It hasn't been too bad so far but if it does reach those levels again, hell yes I'm going with the suppression of my period.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:14 AM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am trying to figure out what was the most cleansing: passing out from pain in the middle of a seminar? Crawling down the hall to my room because I could not stand? Ruining my favorite jeans? Having to plan to spend three or four days a month incapacitated in my home, but never being able to accurately predict when those days would be? Figuring out which careers are incompatible with said schedule of random incapacitation?

Your wife is right, reklus, I am afraid of menstruating. So I don't (NuvaRing! thanks mefi!). Which is awesome. And has nothing to do with my sexuality (wtf?).
posted by prefpara at 5:59 AM on August 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


prefpara, I would say that there's a bit of a difference between dismenorrea you've described and normal menstrual cycle issues. While she is a bit prejudiced against american women since her vast majority of experience with jersey girls who are her students, but I think her point is that in Europe women don't seem to universally suffer so much from menstruation related pain as women here do.

Maybe it's hormones in the water + the food as well, but American women do tend to also be pretty screwed up about body image from a young age and that seems to have an impact on their total body health. There are also a lot less obese + self starving people over there, so you've got a generally healthy population compared to the US.
posted by reklus at 7:56 AM on August 15, 2010


I don't think women should be ashamed of their period, absolutely not. i don;t feel embarrassed buying sanitary towels from a male shop assistant, for example, because over the age of sixteen men should be fairly aware that women have them. But I was pretty ashamed when I had to ask my (male) boss if I could work from home during a transport strike because being on alternative transport for two hours, whilst on a period with no access to a toilet, would mean coming to work with stained and smelly clothing. Similarly, when I've bled through onto clothing, had to wash it out in the sink, and hoped nobody would notice if I sat at my desk. Or avoiding staying over at others' houses because while staining my own bed-linen is an inconvenience, doing it to company isn't on. Or when I've had to sit with a hot water bottle strapped to my lap because 'period pains' isn't really a good excuse to go home from work even if they knock your breath out and bend you double. I dpn't want to be made to feel anti-feminist because I'd quite like these issues not to intrude on my life regularly.

I'm in Europe, if that helps. There are a great deal of obese people, in the UK at least, and also those suffering from eating disorders.
posted by mippy at 9:46 AM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Note about the pill as a way of removing menstruation: This is one possible outcome, though the regular pill is also known to remove the worst symptoms of heavy flow. Some women, like me, go in the opposite direction. On the pill I get two periods, a light one on the last week of the heaviest hormonal dose, then a two day respite when I switch to the placebos, and then a second regular heavy period.

As for whether he hangs out with the girl again- it's supposed to be a metaphor for the good side of being a woman.

Now excuse me, a tiny angry little person is about to kick me in the stomach and kidneys while pumping most of my blood supply into one region of my body and painting all my nice knickers brown.
posted by Phalene at 10:53 AM on August 15, 2010


I think her point is that in Europe women don't seem to universally suffer so much from menstruation related pain as women here do.

Or, perhaps in your wife's culture, people don't feel as free to give voice to the pain they experience. I know if I encountered an attitude that my menstrual cramps were due to me being afraid and in denial, I certainly wouldn't go to the bearer of that attitude for sympathy. OR, perhaps she and every other woman is truly serene and enlightened, unlike us dumb, fearful Americans.
posted by KathrynT at 11:24 AM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


She has a point. If men gave birth we'd have animal pregnancy surrogates, perfect human milk replacements and menstruation would either be cool or something you can get a pill for. And we should really work all these things out for women too. I don't know if, were I woman, I'd find menstruation a lovely feminine way to get in touch with the Earth Mother or a bloody pain, but I'd hate the idea I didn't have a choice.
posted by alasdair at 3:59 PM on August 15, 2010


Whether you would find it to be getting in touch with Mother Earth or a bloody pain would be largely dependent on whether it's a little thing or a little bit of hell every month. I've been at both ends of the spectrum, and the second definitely makes you hate it with every fiber of your being. Largely because it's the only thing you can think about because it has completely taken over your every waking moment.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:10 PM on August 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


But still, after all the technological advancements of the 20th century, THIS is what gets her goat?

Without clicking on your profile or remembering your comment history, I can immediately surmise you're a guy.

On a tangent to the topic at hand, I remember buying some pads for my then girlfriend once and the checkout cashier was so impressed she spent the entire time talking about how she'd never seen a guy buy tampons or pads before. WTF guys? I can maybe, maybe, understand if you don't want to deal with used menstrual products, but the cooties aren't going to jump backwards in time through a wormhole and contaminate an unopened package.
posted by kmz at 8:56 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meh. Whenever I used the Pill to skip my period, I'd just end up being a huge hormonal mess when I did finally get around to giving myself a period. These days, I'm sans hormones (except natural ones) and love it. Yeah, real pms and cramps are annoying, a bit, but the actual period? Not too terrible, for me at least, but my sympathies for women for whom it's major suckage.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:33 PM on August 15, 2010


reklus: Maybe it's hormones in the water + the food as well, but American women do tend to also be pretty screwed up about body image from a young age and that seems to have an impact on their total body health. There are also a lot less obese + self starving people over there, so you've got a generally healthy population compared to the US.

Australian, not American.

And when your society not only tells you that your pain is meaningless and inconsequential but you are obviously wrong in even feeling it in the first place? Probably not the most sharing about menstrual pain. Add in the probability your wife starts in with the 'cleansing process' and 'afraid of your body' and you've got a self-selected group confirming your bias.

You can experience your periods as good things without completely deriding those of us who would rather not have them.

And even if it isn't terrible or painful (mine are fine nowadays), you are still allowed to think it's fucking annoying to bleed for however many days out of however long your cycle is. And that's not some deep-seated issue with gender, body or sexuality. It's being annoyed you're discharging blood when life is rather much easier not discharging blood.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:56 AM on August 16, 2010 [2 favorites]



Sorry, but this is dead-wrong. You can only do this with monophasic pills.

Uh, what? This is not at all correct. Pills like Seasonale are just cashing in on the new awareness of the fact that you can skip the placebo pills by offering that as the primary reason to use them, but you can absolutely skip the placebos with triphasic as well as monophasic pills. See also this or any number of sections of planned parenthood's site.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:12 PM on August 16, 2010


Seasonale is a monophasic pill. Not all pills are. For example, Orthotricycline won't allow you to skip periods by taking it straight through. It has different levels of hormones throughout the month. It's not the only one set up that way. Most pills can be taken straight through, but it's important that they are monophasic.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2010


Stoneweaver- sorry, but that's a misconception. It's easily done, you just do what's called an "extended regimen," as explained in the link above.Also this(which is talking about Ortho lo, not regular Ortho, but it's the same apart from the estrogen level.) The only thing about skipping the placebos with a multiphasic is that it can cause breakthrough bleeding, which is an annoyance but isn't unhealthy in any way.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2010


I understand that it's not unhealthy, but breakthrough bleeding is a pretty strong reason to choose a monophasic pill. I mean, the point of skipping your period is to not bleed.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:33 PM on August 16, 2010


Yes, Dormant Gorilla, but Maias said it was as simple as skipping the placebo, which it isn't, as outlined in your extended regimen link. Maias is still dead-wrong about it being that simple.
posted by sunshinesky at 8:23 PM on August 16, 2010


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