Menstrual education should uphold the highest standards, especially when it comes to scientific facts, compared to, say, subjective experience. Obvious? Not so, sadly.
Female bodies have long been considered smaller versions of male’s, and until today, women are under-represented in clinical trials.
Doctors cannot study the anatomy of the clitoris, since it is not featured in any medical textbook (it was mapped out for the first time in 1998, not yesterday). Sagittal portions of the clitoris do not count. They are missing the whole, beautiful picture.
What is more, bestseller books written by women considered forerunners in menstrual education got the science all wrong. This is as alarming as poor methodologies and social bias affecting many peer-reviewed papers
Far from being someone who bases all her beliefs in science (Albert Einstein didn’t, why should I?), I believe in correct scientific information, when available. I am not talking about complex issues that depend from many factors and different methodological approaches. The very ABC of science is what is at stake here!
Quality, trust and integrity are non-negotiable
Many of you read Moon Time by Lucy H. Pearce and loved it. Well, it does have some good ideas. This book presents many tips and strategies to harness the full potential of our cyclical beings.
Unfortunately for us, she makes at least ten serious mistakes in her first chapter “Our cycles: a biological understanding”.
“Well begun is half done” Oratio, Epist., I, 2, 40. Not this time.
Debunking ten mistakes
- “Day one is the first day of bleeding“. Misleading: day one is the first day of flow. Spotting belongs to the previous cycle (and points to hormonal imbalances and potential problems in getting pregnant).
- “This usually lasts four to six days“. Actually, menstrual flow is healthy when it lasts between three and seven days (also see point 3).
- “Only an egg-cup full of blood is lost“. Menstruation should be more than 25ml and less than 80ml. An egg-cup holds much less than 25ml. Just use a menstrual cup and you’ll see.
- “(…) the pill (induces a) state of quasi-pregnancy” could not be furthest from the truth. The fact that many doctors have repeated this mantra does not make is less wrong, inaccurate and misleading (e.g. pregnancies protect women from several forms of cancer and osteoporosis, the pill increases the risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis).
- “Oestrogen increases leading to the development of the egg follicles, stimulation of breast tissue and uterine walls“. It is quite the contrary: the development of follicles leads to estrogen increase, which, in turn, stimulates the growth of breast tissue and uterine walls.
- “At ovulation time (around day 12-16) usually one egg is released from one of your fallopian tubes (they tend to alternate each month).” Not true on several levels: #1: ovulation day varies, and it can be on day 8, 14, 21, or any other day. This is a horrific mistake, it caused so many abortions or unwanted children in this world. #2: released from the Fallopian tubes…..Seriously? It is the ovary that releases the ovum, sweet lord!! #3: ovaries do tend to alternate, but not necessarily each month, it can be quite random (if you do, you are the exception, not the rule).
- “The egg becomes a corpus luteum“. No. The egg travels toward the uterus to meet its destiny. The follicle that used to contain the egg stays in the ovary and is transformed into a brand new gland, the corpus luteum (hey, she got the Latin right at least).
- “The premenstrual stage can last for six to ten days”. It is actually called “Luteal phase” and calling it premenstrual is not only incorrect (any phase before next menstruation is technically pre-menstrual) it also suggests the combination premenstrual + syndrome. Luteal phase must be between 12 and 16 days in length to be able to sustain pregnancy (if you chart, 10 higher temperatures is the minimum you should have).
- “There is a biological need for increased REM sleep from day 25 onward“. How did she decide on the number 25 will always be a mistery. We need more sleep when progesterone is high, i.e. in our luteal phase. In addition, REM sleep is facilitated by progesterone – cause and effect are a bit mixed up here.
- “cycles of varying lengths (14-40 days).” The menstrual cycle should be between 23 and 35 days. Not 14, not 20, not 40. Exceptions are puberty plus the first 10 years of the cycle (i.e. until we are 25 years old) and perimenopause (which starts around 45 years of age but can vary greatly). In puberty and perimenopause cycle length can be shorter or longer than 23-35, and more variation between each cycle length is normally observed.
We are hungry for knowledge, information and self-awareness. This hunger can be dangerous.
This book has been #1 bestseller for menstrual health on Amazon for a long time.
We must always keep our guard up and make sure our sources of information are reliable, ethical and well-prepared. It is our health. It is our soul. Quality is non-negotiable.
NFP AG, Sensiplan Praxisbuch, Trias, Cologne 2011
and many others, but the above book is very authoritative and based on nearly 40 years of research at University of Düsseldord and Heidelberg, where they maintain a database with more than 40,000 cycles. Anna is being trained by NFP AG to become a certified Sensiplan teacher.