Period Pieces: Getting to Know Your Flowers

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Menstruation throughout history has always fascinated me, in part because it’s kind of a mystery to us now. Since most history was recorded by men, there’s often no mention of periods or other lady-specific issues.

I recently stumbled across this blog post which explores menstruation in medieval times. Here are the highlights, for your reading pleasure:

  • Periods were referred to as your “flowers” — kind of sweet, isn’t it? Oddly, menstruation was also referred to in this euphemistic way even in medical texts.
  • Menstruating women carried nosegays and nutmeg to conceal any odors (remember: there were fewer baths in those days…)
  • One “proven” remedy for heavy flow: burn a toad in a pot, then wear the resulting powder in a pouch around your waist. Poor toadie.
  • The average onset of menopause appears to have been earlier than today, happening as early as the mid to late thirties. It’s thought that it was brought on by frequent child-bearing.
  • Periods were viewed as part of Eve’s curse by the church. Holy women often fasted, resulting in missed periods which were attributed to favor from God–rather than a nutrient deficiency.
  • Menstrual blood had “magical” properties, but it was an evil magic. It was thought that it (or the “menotoxins” inherent to the fluid) could give dogs rabies, render entire fields of crops barren, and make fruit fall from trees.
This poster describing the potential effects of menstruating women hangs in the GladRags office, where bread always fails to rise.

This poster describing the potential effects of menstruating women hangs in the GladRags office, where bread always fails to rise.

 The Menotoxin: Know Your Poison poster was created by the fabulous Laura Szumowski.


 

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.