The History of Menstruation: How Periods Have Been Viewed Throughout Time

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Menstruation is a natural biological process that women experience. However, throughout history, the way periods have been viewed and treated has varied greatly across cultures and time periods. In this blog post, we will explore the history of menstruation and how it has been viewed throughout time.

Ancient Views of Menstruation

In ancient times, menstruation was often viewed as a mystical or magical process. In some cultures, menstruating women were seen as powerful or even sacred. For example, in ancient Greece, women who were menstruating were believed to have the power to cast spells or curses. Similarly, in some Native American cultures, menstruating women were believed to have a special connection to the spirit world.

Medieval Views of Menstruation

During the medieval period, menstruation was often viewed as a sign of impurity or sin. Women who were menstruating were often excluded from religious ceremonies or other important events. In some cases, they were even banished from their homes during their periods. This view of menstruation as dirty or shameful persisted in many cultures throughout the Middle Ages.

19th Century Views of Menstruation

In the 19th century, the medical community began to take an interest in menstruation. However, their views on the subject were often based on outdated or incorrect beliefs about women’s bodies. For example, some doctors believed that menstruation was caused by “toxins” in the body that needed to be “purged” through bleeding. Others believed that menstruation was a sign of weakness or hysteria.

20th Century Views of Menstruation

In the 20th century, attitudes towards menstruation began to change. As women’s rights movements gained momentum, there was a growing recognition that menstruation was a normal part of women’s biology. However, even in the 20th century, there were still many negative attitudes towards menstruation. For example, many women were still ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their periods, and some employers refused to hire women who were menstruating.

Menstruation Today

Today, there is much more awareness and acceptance of menstruation. There are a wide variety of menstrual products available, from tampons and pads to menstrual cups and period panties. There are also many organizations and activists working to break down the stigma around menstruation and promote menstrual health and hygiene.

Challenges and Inequalities

Despite these advances, there are still many challenges and inequalities related to menstruation. In many parts of the world, women and girls do not have access to menstrual products or adequate facilities for managing their periods. This can lead to health problems, missed school or work, and social isolation. Additionally, many women and girls still face stigma and shame related to menstruation, which can have a negative impact on their self-esteem and mental health.


The history of menstruation is complex and varied, reflecting changing attitudes towards women and their bodies over time. While there have been significant advances in recent years, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all women and girls have access to the resources and support they need to manage their periods with dignity and without shame. By continuing to break down the barriers that surround menstruation, we can create a more equitable and just world for all.

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