Before her first trip into space, Nasa famously asked astronaut Sally Ride whether 100 tampons "would be enough" for her journey. She was going up to space for a week.
This happened 36 years ago but it could very well have happened yesterday, such is the lack of common knowledge about periods.
About half of the population of New Zealand spends an average of six years of their life bleeding. Yet, in 2021, we still talk about it in hush hush tones, calling it ridiculous names like "aunt flo" or "the monthly visitor".
Each menstruating woman will have, on average, about 450 periods in their lifetime. That's a lot of times going through a biological process you don't know much about and don't feel comfortable discussing.
While we're talking about numbers, here's some more depressing data: If you menstruate, over your lifetime, you'll probably spend more than $2500 in period products.
Period shaming and period poverty are very real - and not just in faraway lands, but right here in our country and our cities and our neighbourhoods, too.
While the Government took a good step forward in recent times, with the introduction of free period products in schools, there's still a lot of ground to cover.
A survey from KidsCan in 2018 showed nearly a quarter of New Zealand women had missed school or work because they couldn't afford period products.
The same survey showed 53.1 per cent of women found it difficult to access sanitary items because of their cost at some point, and 23.6 per cent of women said they had had to miss school or work because they did not have sanitary products to wear.
A third of the survey respondents revealed they had to prioritise buying food over sanitary products. Most (53.8 per cent) said they resorted to toilet paper, while 7.7 per cent said they had used rags, 3 per cent used old cloths and many mentioned using disposable or cloth nappies.
Since I can't declare paid menstrual leave mandatory for every workplace in New Zealand today, and also can't put a swift end to taxes on period products or ensure that every single person who menstruates can afford them, I'll just talk about it a bit (and remain hopeful that the Government, which can actually act on that to-do list, eventually gets around to it).
We fight stigma by talking about things openly. We fight poverty by addressing the structures keeping people in that poverty.
Today, May 28, is World Menstrual Hygiene Day. I'm 36 years old and have been menstruating, much against my will, since I was 12. Fewer things in my life occur more naturally than that. Yet, there is so much I don't know about it.
I didn't know, for example, until a few years ago, that I don't actually need to have a period. I'm not ashamed of how long it took me to learn this because, as a woman, it genuinely feels like there's a whole structure set up to stop me from easily gaining access to vital information relating to my body.
So let's talk about it. Talk about it with your daughters, talk about it with your sons, talk about it with your friends. And call it by its name. Not "aunt flo", not the "monthly visitor", not the "menses", not the "monthlies" and it sure as hell is not "the curse".
It's just a bloody period.
Ten facts about periods nobody bloody tells you about
1. Orgasms can make periods less painful.
2. It is not unsafe to skip periods when taking oral contraception.
3. For about 30 per cent of menstruating people, diarrhoea is one of the symptoms. It is not commonly discussed and lots of people still think they're the only ones to whom that happens.
4. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen, can reduce the pain of menstruation and can also reduce the volume of blood.
5. Contrary to popular belief, you can get pregnant while on your period - and many do.
6. Period products cost, on average, $2500 over a person's lifetime.
7. Nearly 50 per cent of Kiwi girls get their first period before high school.
8. Period pain cost women nearly nine days in lost productivity each year.
9. Cold weather can impact your period, making it longer and heavier than in warmer climates.
10. Women have between 400 and 450 periods in their lifetime.