Here’s the bottom line on the huge gaps in our understanding of menstruation, from my Scientific American piece in the May 2019 issue.
Let me also say, quite clearly: I’m part of this experiment. I’ve been suppressing my menstrual cycle for years to keep my endometriosis under control, because other treatments failed and I’m a mom and a journalist and I don’t have time for that sh*t. But it’s bonkers that mainstream medicine can’t offer us real, evidence-based solutions. It’s insane that we still barely understand what menstrual blood is, or why humans are one of only a few species on earth who evolved to do it. It’s infuriating to know how problematic the original studies of birth control were — performed on poor women of color before we had a clear definition for informed consent, with side effects ignored and discounted by white male scientists — because birth control is still arguably the best thing that ever happened to women. (Please don’t take it away.)
So as with everything I write, my goal here isn’t to make any woman feel worse about her choices or her body. We’re all making the best decisions we can, in a culture that pathologizes what’s normal about our bodies, and ignores the real problems that do need treatment. But we deserve better choices. We deserve true body literacy. We deserve science.