Know Your Flow: 9 Shocking Facts About Your Period

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woman holding stomach
Think you know your body? Think again.

As women, it's something we deal with every month and despite that fact, we still giggle/cringe/shy away from the idea of talking about openly: our periods. And oftentimes, we can't even call it for what it is: it's surfing the crimson wave. Being on the rag. A visit from Aunt Flo. Mother Nature's monthly gift. Or Shark Week (no, not that one).

Researchers recently discovered that being on your period actually makes you stupid. Say what? Pyschologists at the University Of Bath asked 52 adult women to complete a series of computer-based tasks — with cramps and without them. The results? The experiment concluded that period pain reduces your cognitive function and attention span, making you perform worse on tests! (I guess that explains why I flunked so many math exams in college — it was all just bad timing!) Anyway, given the fact that there still seems to be so much we don't know about menstruation (and that we're too uncomfortable as a culture to talk about it), we thought we would dispel the mystery around our time of the month with these little-known facts!

1. Biologically Speaking, Men Are Less Attracted To You On Your Period.
period fact
Sorry to break it to you, but it's not their fault! Studies have shown that a man's testosterone levels are influenced by a woman's scent, particularly when she is ovulating (that is, when she's at her peak of fertility). Scientists Saul Miller and Jon Maner from Florida State University put this theory to the test. They asked male volunteers to sniff-test T-shirts worn by women in various stages of their menstrual cycles. The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found that when men smelled T-shirts worn by women who were ovulating, their testosterone levels raised significantly compared to T-shirts by non-ovulating women. When asked, the men also remarked that T-shirts worn by ovulating women smelled sweeter. What does this mean? It means to book date night before or after Aunt Flo's monthly visit ... but maybe not during.

2. It Makes You Friskier Than Usual.
period fact
Progesterone — the hormone believed by scientists to lower your libido — is at its lowest during your time of the month. So while your first instinct might be to climb into your old college sweatpants, science actually suggests that feeling the urge to "slip into something more comfortable" (ahem, if you catch our drift) is not so strange at all.

3. It Makes You Shop ... And Shop And Shop.
period fact
Credit card bills piling up suspiciously at the same time every month? Blame your ovaries. Women are more likely to splurge on a shopping spree 10 days before their periods begin. Professor Pine from the University of Hertfordshire surveyed nearly 500 women about their spending habits in correlation with their menstrual cycles. Almost two-thirds of the women studied who were in the later stages of their menstrual cycle admitted they had bought something on an impulse. The professor's explanation? Retail therapy. Women go shopping to help deal with their PMS.

4. It Make You Use A Stupid Amount Of Tampons.
period fact
We each have our own preference when it comes to products, but about 70 percent of all American women use tampons. It's estimated that on average, a woman will use more than 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. (Just think of how much money that adds up to in disposable cotton?!)

5. Disney Made A Movie About It.
period fact
Hmm, I don't seem to recall this one. Back in 1946, Walt Disney released a 10-minute educational film called The Story Of Menstruation. It's also believed by some to be the first use of the word "vagina" on film. Not exactly family friendly, huh? (Have we ruined your childhood yet?)

6. It Affects The Sound Of Your Voice.
period fact
This proves that your man is listening to you. In a study published in the journal Ethology, psychologists asked three groups of guys to listen to the voice recordings of women who counted from one to five — at four different points over their menstrual cycle. The men were then asked to guess which recordings were made while the women were on their period. After examining their answers, researchers Nathan Pipitone at Adams State College and Gordon Gallup from SUNY-Albany, found that the men were correct a significant amount of the time. "Vocal production is closely tied to our biology," Pipitone said. "Cells from the larynx and vagina are very similar and show similar hormone receptors."

7. A Harvard Professor Warned Girls It Could Be Disrupted By College Education.
period fact
Apparently, people once believed that earning your degree would cause permanent damage to your reproductive organs. In the early 20th century, Dr. Edward H. Clarke of Harvard Medical School wrote a book called Sex In Education. In it, he suggested that "higher education would cause a woman's uterus to atrophy." In other words, he was asserting that if a young woman attended college, all the blood in her body would be diverted from her uterus to stimulate her brain. Sounds like this guy slept through a med lecture or two (or seven) himself.

8. People In The Middle Ages Believed It Caused Red Hair.
period fact
Yep, people really did accept this as true. Redheads were thought to have been born if a woman was menstruating at the time of conception. Ohhh, history.

9. It Can Make You Bleed From Other Parts Of Your Body — Not Just Your Uterus.
period fact
This idea is a little scary. The medical condition "vicarious menstruation" originally surfaced around the 1800s and referred to bleeding from a surface other than the mucous membrane of the uterine cavity that occurs at the time when normal menstruation should take place. Women have reported bleeding from their eyes, ears, mouths, lungs, noses and even skin.

More eye-opening facts from YourTango:

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