Blog of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research

Ms. October – Menstruation Pin-Up

October 7th, 2015 by Jen Lewis
Beauty in Blood Presents
Ms. October: The Writing on the Wall
Year: 2015
Menstrual Designer: Jen Lewis
Photographer: Rob Lewis


Period Politics and Menstrual Social Activism

October 5th, 2015 by Editor

Guest Post by Margaret L. Stubbs

Menstruation Matters…Period! This phrase has become a rallying point for many advocates who seek to understand and improve menstrual life for girls and women. Advocates world-wide are concerned with access to menstrual supplies, especially in time of natural disasters like the recent earthquake in Nepal. Some focus on the need to improve basic sanitation in support of menstrual hygiene. Others focus on access to supplies for underserved women, for example, those who are homeless or incarcerated.  Some focus on product safety; some focus on the impact of product disposal on the environment, others promote alternative products like menstrual cups, or reusable pads.

All through October at re: Cycling, we’ll feature social and political activism around a range of menstrual issues. But, in a call-back to #MenarcheMonthre: Cycling’s September focus, for these efforts to succeed, menstrual education should highlight, early and often, the central place that menstruation holds in girls’ and women’s well-being, broadly considered.

Unfortunately, public menstrual education for our pre-menarcheal and newly-cycling girls is currently inadequate and in need of an update. We applaud those who are trying to remove menstrual stigma from product advertising, educational materials, and the social sphere. But stigma, along with a catalog of associated menstrual woes that can be expected, is still too often represented to our youngest girls.






After reviewing a plethora of books for young girls and a few websites on the topic, I gathered my observations into the paper Current Menstrual Education Resources: Still Room for Improvement, Stubbs, M.L. (2013, June) presented at the 20th Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, New York, NY. They included the following:

  • Puberty is described as problematic, a period of being out of control.
  • Hormones are in control. (Subtext: you’re not).
  • Mixed messages abound and are confusing: e.g.,
    • Expect to feel weird. It’s normal!
    • Symptoms (e.g., feeling a little sick, tired, irritable; having sore breasts, cramps) are normal, but don’t let them ruin your day.

Long overdue is a shift to presenting menstruation as a vital sign of women’s health, and a normal part of girls’ and women’s lives, as well as an accurate, but not alarming, girl-centered approach to talking about what’s normal and what’s not. This clearly exists in the biomedical literature on the topic: Menstruation in adolescents: What’s normal, what’s not. Annals of New York Academy of Science, 1135, 29-35, Hilliard, P. J. A. (2008). How about including some positive information about pubertal growth? And maybe some references to historical research about origin myths, and rituals or celebration that took place to celebrate menstruation? Can we reference women’s accomplishment, even while menstruating?

While we wait for public menstrual health education to catch up, advocates are out there taking on the challenge. Individuals like Kylie Matthews, known as @AuntFlo_28 on Twitter, regularly asks the question: How can I help you? and invites her 2000+ followers to share their best period advice. Suzan Hutchinson at Period Wise is committed to breaking the menstrual taboo by empowering girls and women to be more open and knowledgable about menstruation. Be Prepared Period offers online resources for parents, women and girls, helping all to prepare for positive menstrual experiences.

Menstrupedia, a site originating in India that offers a a ”friendly guide to healthy periods,” is also a good example of what can be done to promote a more positive context for girls entering menstrual life.

Let’s embrace the spirit of all the menstrual social activists and inspire others to work for the enhancement of menstrual health and awareness.


Margaret L. (Peggy) Stubbs is a professor of psychology at Chatham University in Pittsburg, PA, and a member of re: Cycling’s editorial board. Her areas of expertise include psychosocial aspects of menstruation; attitudes towards menstruation, pubertal development; and menstrual education throughout the lifespan. 

Weekend Links: Twitter is talking about menstruation—a lot!

September 12th, 2015 by Laura Wershler

The menstrual community on Twitter keeps growing. Individuals, social action initiatives, non-profits, menstrual product companies and other organizations are sharing information and talking about the menstrual cycle and the menstrual experience.

Here’s a short list of menstrual-related Twitter accounts you may want to follow:

@AuntFlo28 Tweets about menarche and promotes menstruation as something that should not be medicalized. She invites followers to take part in a poll asking at what age you got your period.

Via Twitter message (how else?) Kylie Matthews said, “I launched the poll as a way to gather data, but more importantly start conversations about #Menarche. For far too many women the experience was not a positive one. It is my hope that reflecting on one’s own positive or negative experiences (and ideally conversing with others!) will help move toward efforts to make things better for the next generation.”

Last Wednesday, Sep. 9, 2015, @AuntFlo28 co-hosted #Menarche_PCOS_Talk with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome advocate @PCOSGurl who includes menstrual information in her Twitter advocacy to improve education and outcomes for women with PCOS (or Anovulatory Androgen Excess).

@bpreparedperiod helps “women and girls go with the flo,” and offers resources and tips for parents to help them help their daughters prepare for menstruation.

SMCR member Chella Quint tweets @periodpositive where the goal is to be “funny w/o insulting menstruators of all genders, challenges taboos, reclaims discourse.”

Suzann @periodwise says on her Twitter profile, “Let’s end menstrual taboos right here, right now.” She tweets on all things menstrual, complemented by the Period Wise website and blog.

New on the Twitter feed is @LtsFaceItPeriod which launched the #LetsFaceItPeriod campaign on Sep. 1, 2015. You can read about the social action initiative at Lady Clever: Let’s Face It. Period Breaks Down Menstrual Taboos.

This is just a small sampling of those on Twitter talking about periods. If you follow a few menstrual communicators not mentioned here, please post their Twitter handles in the comments section and tell us a little bit about them.

Our Bodies Our Blood – Group Art Show – Halifax, NS

September 8th, 2015 by Jen Lewis


Our Bodies Our Blood

Now through September 30

Plan B Gallery

2180 Gottingen Street

Halifax, Nova Scotia

For more information about events visit


As we saw with Widening the Cycle at #SMCR2015, art has the ability to play a powerful role in social activism, especially with regards to menstruation. Earlier this month a group art show opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia dedicated to exploring the complex role menstruation plays in our lives. The Our Bodies Our Blood exhibit will be on display all month long and is accompanied by weekly artist talks, menstruation-related lectures (i.e. FAM, sustainable products, etc.) and  the “Blood Fund,” a fundraiser seeking to help low income/financially unstable menstruators secure the products they need. In addition to visual art, Our Bodies Our Blood has a community blog component encouraging people to share their first period stories.

About the show:

The purpose of this project is to create a safe space to share our experiences with menstruation through art and conversation. By creating a space to share and learn, we start to create community. We hope to spread awareness about the environmental, social and political relevance of menstruation, and how it is something we need to start talking about.

This project was inspired by multiple discussions with menstruating folks who felt that it is important to know your body and to take charge of your menstrual health. It all started when I (Alanah Correia) tagged along with a friend to a fertility awareness workshop. She was very interested in the topic, and as for me, I didn’t know what I was getting into! What I took away most from it was how important it is to have safe spaces to talk about, and learn about menstruation.

Continued at


Ms. September – Menstruation Pin-Up

September 2nd, 2015 by Jen Lewis
Beauty in Blood Presents
Ms. September: Let It Flow #2
Year: 2015
Menstrual Designer: Jen Lewis
Photographer: Rob Lewis

A cha cha about menstrual products, and other menstrual poetry open mic originals.

August 31st, 2015 by Editor

#SMCR2015 Plenary Session Video Presentation

Menstrual Poetry Open Mic

Menstrual educator and activist Chella Quint, center, teaches the audience the Menstrual Products Cha Cha at #SMCR2015 Open Mic.

The 21st Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research at The Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, June 4-6, 2015, Suffolk University, Boston concluded on Saturday night, June 6th, with a menstrual poetry open mic. Local slam poets joined SMCR members for an evening of spoken word performances about menstrual realities: big, small, old and new. Performers explored the multiple dimensions of our messy, wondrous and vexing bodies, our sexualities, genders, health and our feminisms. The event was hosted and kicked off by Janae Johnson, a Boston area spoken word poet, teaching artist, educator and winner of the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam.

Click on the arrow, sit back and enjoy a unique, free-wheeling, all-welcome evening of spoken word performances.

Videography provided by courtesy of Robert Lewis.

Mainstreaming Menstruation: A Scholar’s Journey to Advocacy and Education

August 24th, 2015 by Laura Wershler

#SMCR2015 Plenary Session Video Presentation

Mainstreaming the Flow: (Still) Selling My Soul to Start the Conversation

Keynote Address by Tomi-Ann Roberts, PhD, to the 21st Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research, Friday, June 5th, 2015, Boston, MA

“I want to bring menstruation out of the closet.”

In this presentation Tomi-Ann Roberts, a professor of psychology at Colorado College, talks about her efforts at “mainstreaming the flow” and presents some of the many challenges and satisfactions of moving from scholar to advocate and educator for non-academic audiences on the connections between objectification, sexualization, and menstrual wellness. Hear how she addressed the “thigh gap” controversy in a blog post for teenage girls in her role as a U by Kotex advocate, while at the same time worrying that she is giving girls ideas for self-objectification. Learn how she is contributing to a class action legal case on behalf of incarcerated women that is arguing for menstrual privacy as a civil right, yet concerned that she might be reifying negative attitudes and emotions about menstruation. Robert’s journey from scholar to advocate to educator demonstrates the power of a “shared voice” to demystify and destigmatize menstruation.

Videography provided courtesy of Robert Lewis.

Award-winning menstrual cycle advocacy and research

August 17th, 2015 by Laura Wershler

#SMCR2015 Plenary Session Video Presentation

Making Menstruation Matter Award, Student Awards and the Mary Anna Friederich Service Award

Presented at the 21st Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research at The Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, held June 4-6, 2015, at Suffolk University in Boston, MA.

Awards Coordinator Mindy Erchull hosted the 2015 SMCR awards ceremony on Saturday, June 6th, 2015.

Student awards are given to either undergraduate or graduate students who present high quality research at the conference. Amy Dryden received the Linda McKeever Award and Saniya Ghanoui the Esther Rome Award.

Two long-time SMCR members–Joan Chrisler and Elizabeth Kissling–were honored with the Mary Anna Friederich Service Award for their outstanding and unusual service contributions to the Society.

Veteran women’s health advocate Judy Norsigian accepted the Making Menstruation Matter Award on behalf of the Boston-based organization  Our Bodies Ourselves. A non-profit, public interest organization most recently based in Cambridge, MA, USA, OBOS develops and promotes evidence-based information on girls’ and women’s reproductive health and sexuality. Their landmark publication, Our Bodies Ourselves, has sold millions of copies around the world and has been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Working in collaboration with U.S. and global organizations, in more than 30 countries, OBOS vigorously advocates for women’s health by challenging institutions and systems that devalue women and prevent them from having full control over their bodies and their health.

The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research honors this group for these efforts and, in particular, their pioneering historic work around improving femcare product safety and menstrual health and awareness more generally.

Videography courtesy of Rob Lewis.

Respect for Menstruation is a Human Right

August 13th, 2015 by Laura Wershler

#SMCR2015 Plenary Session Video Presentation

Keynote by Loretta J. Ross, Reproductive Justice Pioneer

Presented at the 21st Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research at The Center for Women’s Health and Human Rights, held June 4-6, 2015, at Suffolk University in Boston, MA.

“I tend to think of reproductive justice as a promiscuous concept that will have sex with any idea that looks like it’s going to protect women’s human rights.”

Speaking at the SMCR conference on Menstrual Health and Reproductive Justice on June 5th , 2015, Loretta J. Ross addresses how women and girls can celebrate their bodies, especially their menses, instead of being shamed and hidden as in most cultures. Building on the experiences learned at the Black Women’s Health Imperative and using the human rights framework, Ross talks about how activists are changing the conversation about menstruation and womanhood.

Loretta J. Ross is an expert on women’s issues, hate groups, racism and intolerance, human rights, and violence against women. Her work focuses on the intersectionality of social justice issues an dhow this affects social change and service delivery in all movements. She was a co-founder and the national coordinator of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective from 2005-2012, a network founded in 1997 by women of color and allied organizations that organize women of color in the reproductive justice movement. She was also a national co-director of the April 25, 2004 March for Women’s Lives in Washington, D.C., the largest protest march in U.S. history with more than one million participants, and the founder and executive director of the National Center for Human Rights Education (NCHRE) in Atlanta, Georgia.

Videography provided courtesy of Robert Lewis.

Menstrual Hygiene Management: A Global Panel Discussion

August 6th, 2015 by Laura Wershler

#SMCR 2015 Plenary Session Video Presentation:

“Menstrual health is like the rhino for ecology, it’s the thing that if we get wrong the whole ecosystem fails. And if we get menstrual health wrong the social ecosystem fails.”  

Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is critically neglected in development programs leading to negative cascading effects, particularly for girls, in health, education, safety and productivity. This plenary session was presented at the 21st Biennial Conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research on June 4th, 2015, in Boston, MA. A global first, the panel brought together activists, practitioners, funders and academics to share their unique work and discuss barriers and opportunities to form a global, lasting movement to mainstream menstruation management.

Megan White Mukuria  (ZanaAfrica)

Leeat Weinstock (Grand Challenges Canada),
Sinu Joseph (Myrthi),
Murat Sahin (WASH in Schools, UNICEF),
Archana Patkar (Water Supply and Sanitation Coordinating Council),
Beverly Mademba (WASH United)


Call for abstracts for the upcoming virtual MHM conference on October 22, 2015:

Readers should note that statements published in re: Cycling are those of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Society as a whole.