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CultureLab: Jen Gunter on the taboo science of menstruation

8 April 2024

About this episode

Half of the human population undergoes the menstrual cycle for a significant proportion of their lifetimes, yet periods remain a taboo topic in public and private life. And that makes it harder both to prioritise necessary scientific research into conditions like endometriosis and for people to understand the basics of how their bodies work.

Blood: The Science, Medicine, and Mythology of Menstruation is gynaecologist Jen Gunter’s latest book. In this practical guide, she dispels social, historical and medical myths about menstruation and offers answers to your biggest period-related questions – including why we menstruate in the first place, when a missed period is a health concern and “how heavy is too heavy?”

In this episode, Christie Taylor speaks to Gunter about how humans are part of an exclusive club of menstruators in the animal kingdom, the persisting social stigma around menstruation and menopause, and why these processes remain under-researched in science despite their vast importance. Plus, a call from Gunter to take seriously the very individual and sometimes painful experiences people may have with their periods, while also creating more access to menstrual care.  

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