Space! As mystical and vivid this term sounds, there are still many unknown facts about it which never fail to daunt humanity. One of the facts unraveled today by this article is how menstruation occurs in space!
In contradiction to what most of us question that; what happens if blood flows back into the body or how gravity affects it, studies show that the process of menstruation is as simple and natural in space as on Earth. According to an article by The Conversation, Therefore, I was surprised to learn that one system that doesn’t change at all is the female menstrual cycle.
Studies have shown that women can have periods as normally in space as they do on Earth. What’s more, menstrual blood flow isn’t affected by the weightlessness we experience in space, so it doesn’t float back in – the body knows it needs to get rid of it. The fact that women can get periods in space was once used as an argument that women shouldn’t be astronauts.
In today’s world of modern science, we now know that periods don’t impair an astronaut’s ability. One other way to avoid periods is the use of contraceptive pills which must be taken for 3 weeks straight, however, suppose if an astronaut is on a three-year Mark mission, she’ll be requiring over a one thousand number of pills, which will further aggravate the already challenging waste disposal system problems in the outer space.
The article also says that when making the decision about the effects of her menstrual cycle on her career, a female astronaut may want to consider some of the challenges of getting periods in space. These tend to be related to the practicalities of hygiene, to be precise, it means that as wash water is limited and changing sanitary products while floating in space would also be quite a task, most women might want to opt for an oral contraceptive pill, which in turn have their own limitations as discussed previously.
According to sciencealert.com, the second most popular option is an IUD (intrauterine device), which is inserted into the uterus by a doctor and can safely last for three to five years. But the ability to suppress a woman's period depends on the type of IUD used. There are two types of IUDs: copper and hormonal, with the latter being more effective. Subdermal implants are another option and are safe to use for up to three years.