how do female astronauts menstruate in space

But it can be inconvenient, and some women astronauts prefer just not to bother with it. However, when making the decision a female astronaut may want to consider some of the challenges of getting periods in space. The evidence is fairly strong for the 3 billion-plus women here on Earth, but while Jain's team is eager to stress that these risks remain low when in space, the studies backing this up are hard to come by, mainly because the numbers available to study on are so few. Although the first female cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, had flown in Vostok 6 in 1963, women were excluded from the U.S. space program during its early years. Ride was posthumously awarded the medal, the nation's highest civilian honor. So now scientists have raised a possibility for female astronauts that has only begun to occur to most women—maybe we don’t need to have periods at all. r/TwoXChromosomes: Welcome to TwoXChromosomes, a subreddit for both serious and silly content, and intended for women's perspectives. Spending months on end in space meant that many women chose to take contraceptives to put their period on hold. However, taking birth control pills in space could prove to be an advantage to women as they contain estrogen -- a hormone that can slow down the loss of bone mineral density, which is a problem faced by all astronauts in zero gravity. That’s a good thing, because space flight can reduce one’s production of a protein that normally sops up excess iron, and “increased free iron can be extremely toxic.”. Just like other women, female astronauts menstruate. However, when making the decision a female astronaut may want to consider some of the challenges of getting periods in space. You can only get it from space, and it's just remarkable how beautiful our planet is and how fragile it looks.". Next to Ride, from left, are John M. Fabian, Bob Crippen, Norman Thagard and Frederick Hauck. Most women opt instead to use contraceptives and put their periods on hold, both in preparation for and during spaceflight, as highlighted in the. Internal medicine specialist and space buff William Rowe notes that women are more likely to develop decompression sickness during their periods. But with a mission to Mars likely to take years, the question of payload could come back into play due to the weight of the many pills required for the journey: an estimated 1,100 pills, according to the paper. The benefit comes down to one of the key physiological challenges facing all astronauts -- male and female -- who spend extended periods of time in microgravity: their bone density. If you ask me, though, the real reason was American male panic about women and their mysterious inner workings. Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. Pictured, American astronaut Eileen Collins became the first woman to pilot a space shuttle in 1995 and was the first female shuttle Commander in 1999. Ride joined NASA as part of the class of 1978, the first to include women. It might also be pointed out that women on average take up less room in cramped spacecraft cabins, consume fewer resources, and are more inclined to ask for directions when lost. Before Sally Ride became the first woman in space in … Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, talks with ground control during a six-day mission aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. Having explored the issue, they suggest menstrual suppression may be preferred by female astronauts on longer hauls or for extended visits to the International Space Station (ISS). The mechanics of a zero-G period haven’t been fully explicated in the scientific literature, but according to Principles of Clinical Medicine for Space Flight (2008), astronauts have “access to multiple sanitary products for menstruation, including pads, mini-pads, and tampons in plain and deodorant versions,” and presumably capillary attraction accomplishes what the lack of gravity can’t. During a 2008 interview with CNN, Ride recalled how the trip to space gave her a new perspective on Earth: "You can't get it just standing on the ground, with your feet firmly planted on Earth. In 2017, NASA launched a Space Poop Challenge to solve potential problems that could arise if astronauts are strapped into spacesuits for days at a time (like on missions to Mars, say). "No one has experienced anything," said Virginia Wotring of the Center for Space Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, who co-wrote the paper. Returning women astronauts who’ve menstruated in space report that everything worked the way it usually does. When the space shuttle was in operation, missions would take a few weeks on average, enabling astronauts to use oral contraceptives to time their cycles accordingly, but missions to the International Space Station can last for up to six months, and any mission to Mars could involve journeys of up to three years -- putting periods on hold for much longer periods of time. Astronauts at NASA undergo individual assessments tailored to their needs, mission duration and physiology, according to a spokesman. Advocates for women in space argued that there had been a lot of unknowns when humans first went to space, but they sent men up anyway. The official reason for this was that, as a matter of policy, U.S. astronauts were drawn … European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti holds the record for the longest single spaceflight for a woman, at 199 days. "When women first went into space, it wasn't known what the effects would be," said Varsha Jain, gynecologist and researcher at. However, when making the decision a female … Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. The benefit comes down to one of the key physiological challenges facing all astronauts -- male and female -- who spend extended periods of time in microgravity: their bone density. Orbital Concerns In the novel Minus Time , Barbara Urie, a mother and astronaut, attempts to set a record for human space habitation. Female astronauts do face some challenges in space. In February 2003, Ride speaks to the media at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Despite the lack of gravity, periods happen normally in space and do not cause 'reverse flow' as once feared. However, when making the decision a female astronaut … How do you deal with menstruation on a mission to Mars? A technician helps Ride strap herself into a shuttle mission simulator in Houston in May 1983, less than a month before her launch. However, when making the decision a female … His reasons: (1) Menstruation rids the body of iron. Pictured, NASA astronaut Sally Ride (1951 - 2012) is pictured inside the Challenger space shuttle in which she became the first American woman in space in 1983 -- 20 years after Valentina Tereshkova. Even now, a lot of us are wondering how astronauts manage that time of the month. Russia's Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space in 1963 -- this photo was taken shortly before take off. Ride floats alongside Challenger's mid-deck airlock hatch during the six-day mission in space. Here Tereshkova poses with the Vostok 6 capsule she piloted over 50 years ago. Orbital Concerns In the novel Minus Time , Barbara Urie, a mother and astronaut, attempts to set a record for human space habitation. Why are the police called cops, pigs, or the fuzz? The physiological questions a woman faces in space. Women have been living and working in space for decades now, and with no issues. For starters, we already know female astronauts menstruate normally, which seems to indicate fluid flow within the body can still function just fine. Taking the birth control pill, however, could in turn provide some benefits for female astronauts on their return to Earth. However, we now know that periods don’t impair an astronaut’s ability. The official reason for this was that, as a matter of policy, U.S. astronauts were drawn from the ranks of military test pilots, and all the test pilots were men. Her space flight lasted 2 days, 22 hours and 50 minutes. Read: The closest thing on Earth to a mission to Mars, New research explores the challenges of dealing with periods in space, Most women opt to use contraceptives and put their periods on hold, No research has been done on long-term use of contraceptives in space. From a certain point of view, I suppose, these concerns weren’t completely crazy. Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. Perhaps, you may recall the 'Sally Ride space tampons', which might be the most-discussed tampons in the world. What does the Chicago lyric “25 or 6 to 4” mean? posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:55 PM on April 12, 2007 But to do so is far less of a challenge for scientists than the far more important "waste management" problems posed by urination, defecation, infections, and a few other normal body processes and events that can be expected when humans travel in space. Without gravity, how do female astronauts menstruate while in space? Varsha Jain, a space gynecologist and visiting researcher at the Center of Human & Aerospace Physiological Sciences, King’s College London, explains in her research how it is like for female astronauts to experience a menstrual cycle in space. Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. Since then, nearly 60 other women have followed in her footsteps. Finally, to be blunt, who would you rather have up there: female astronauts who, worst case, are hormonally challenged on a fairly predictable schedule once a month, or male astronauts subject to random testosterone attacks any time at all? What’s the origin of the skull and crossbones pirate flag? Researchers are now wondering what's going to happen when astronauts embark on … Dealing with space tampons is something of a nuisance, though, and space cramps aren’t probably any nicer than Earth cramps. She was 61. How did some crime fiction come to be described as “hard-boiled”? Ride prepares to take off in a T-38 jet as she leaves Houston for Kennedy Space Center in June 1983, three days before the shuttle launch. This happens as there are no loads acting on the bone to strengthen it. Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com. Scientists spent decades arguing that women weren't suited for space travel because of menstruation. What is the origin of the song “There’s a place in France/Where the naked ladies dance?” Are bay leaves poisonous. Ride, a Los Angeles native, earned four degrees at Stanford University, including a doctorate in physics, according to NASA. Most female astronauts opt, instead, to induce amenorrhea. In the early years of human spaceflight, some worried that women would not have their periods safely in microgravity. use the following search parameters to narrow your results: subreddit:subreddit find submissions in "subreddit" author:username find submissions by "username" site:example.com find … This occurs sometimes on earth and is thought to lead to endometriosis, a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows where it shouldn’t. The first US woman to go on an EVA was Kathryn ("Kathy") Sullivan on the STS-41-G, which launched on October 11, 1984. Pictured, Peggy Whitson (right) was the first woman to command the International Space Station, completing a six-month tour of duty in 2008. Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. Rhea Seddon , one of the first six female astronauts … Yes, female astronauts get their period in space just like they do on Earth, and no menstrual problems have been associated with living in microgravity. Having explored the issue, they suggest menstrual suppression may be preferred by female astronauts on longer hauls or for extended visits to the International Space Station (ISS). "The lack of gravity means astronauts lose bone mineral density," Jain said. But what exactly happens when you have your period in space? Check the video to find out. A few waste-disposal facilities on board the international space station can handle human blood but were not originally designed to do so, according to Jain. The fact that women can get periods in space was once used as an argument that women shouldn’t be astronauts. Ride, left, and Anna Lee Fisher work on a mission sequence test as part of their 1978 astronaut class at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. However, when making the decision a female astronaut may want to consider some of the challenges of getting periods in space. Previously, scientists were concerned about exposure to radiation and risk of blood clots in space, but there is no evidence supporting this to date. "It could potentially be advantageous," Jain said. However, when making the decision a female astronaut … newsletter. There’s no evidence retrograde menstruation occurs in space, and even if it did, it probably wouldn’t cause endometriosis: reverse flow seems to trigger this condition only in those who experience it chronically. Ride and the rest of the STS-7 Challenger crew in January 1983. NASA’s latest class of astronauts is 50 percent female. However, when making the decision a female astronaut may want to consider some of the challenges of getting periods in space. By elucidating how modern astronauts pee, poop and fart in space, Kowal reveals how the imperfect technology of evacuation has never been a gendered … So now scientists have raised a possibility for female astronauts that has only begun to occur to most women—maybe we don’t need to have periods at all. That’s a problem mostly during space walks, so he suggests any excursion by a woman be timed for a different part of her cycle. But here's the problem: all available data on periods in space pertain to short-duration missions. Several plane crashes in the 1930s had involved menstruating female pilots, and experts — male experts, of course — suggested that putting a woman with “menstrual disturbances” in the cockpit was an invitation to disaster. In a 2004 article in the Journal of Men’s Health and Gender, he argues that for long-term space exploration an all-female crew might be the best bet. She also traveled to space aboard the Challenger in 1984. So while male engineers were worried about retrograde bleeding, the female astronauts aren't worried at all, rather they expect a period in space to be the same as a period on Earth. At the time it was unknown how a woman's health may be affected in space. Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. "[There is] no packaging to dispose, and they dispel concerns regarding stability during storage," the authors write. Mae Jemison became the first woman of color in space in 1992. Pictured, Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut who blasted off into space in 2012. Click for more Turned On. "Estrogen is protective of bone," Wotring said. Without gravity, how do female astronauts menstruate while in space? Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. Eventually the more hysterical fears receded, but some space medics still harbored serious concerns about menstruation when NASA began planning to put women in space in the 1970s. For a while there, Gayle, the question wasn’t how women would menstruate in space but whether it was too risky to find out. What happens when a female astronaut menstruates in space! So while male engineers were worried about retrograde bleeding, the female astronauts aren't worried at all, rather they expect a period in space to be the same as a period on Earth. Rowe hypothesizes that this is less likely to happen to women because “estrogen reduces vascular smooth muscle tone.”. "[So this] could reduce loss.". (We might have predicted as much, since bedridden women usually menstruate OK.) Incidentally, for times when going to the bathroom is impossible for an extended period, such as launches, spacewalks, and landings, “crewmembers of both sexes have available a maximum absorbency garment (MAG) that can retain up to 2000 ml of urine, blood, or feces.” Not your ideal working conditions, but a small sacrifice to make for the world’s coolest job. We are a … A further practical issue of women having their period in space is the added weight and calculations of taking items such as tampons and sanitary towels. Women became important part of space missions, as part of the current missions we have only short term results how the micro-gravity acts on the periods. The flow of menstrual blood isn’t guided by circulation of blood. It turns out that while most systems in the human body are heavily affected during spaceflight, the female menstrual cycle doesn't seem to change at all. Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. We have the technology. "And what we do know is that estrogen can help with density.". (CNN)The first woman ventured into space more than fifty years ago: Valentina Tereshkova in 1963. It’s not clear who was the first woman to menstruate in space, but someone did it and the answer came back just as the female astronauts expected it would, "This is the first time we can say these options are safe to use and available," Jain said. We have the technology. She had been assigned to a third flight as well, but that was scratched after the deadly Challenger explosion in 1986. Wotring plans to investigate this further but in the meantime will be working with female astronauts to keep their cycles primed, wherever they are in the universe. How do female astronauts menstruate in space? Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. When a woman has her period, normally the menstrual flow is forcibly expelled from the cervix. A recent paper highlighted the option of Long-acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs), which would reduce the need to carry thousands of pills on longer missions, such as a three-year mission to Mars. The paper highlights the now-common use of the combined oral contraceptive pill among female astronauts. Some female astronauts have felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space. The space shuttle Challenger lifts off on June 18, 1983. "No research has been done on long-term use of contraceptives in space," Jain said. Pictured, Science Mission Specialist Mae Jemison who became the first African American woman to fly in space in 1992. By elucidating how modern astronauts pee, poop and fart in space, Kowal reveals how the imperfect technology of evacuation has never been a gendered … However, when making the decision a female … Sign up for the So menstruating in space is not dangerous. Arnold Schwarzenegger applauds Ride after inducting her into the California Hall of Fame in December 2006. Ever wondered how female astronauts deal with their menstrual periods while they're in space? Ride takes her seat aboard the Challenger on June 19, 1983. U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tam O'Shaughnessy, Sally Ride's life partner of 27 years, on behalf of Ride in November 2013. The hormone is, however, lacking from the longer-acting contraceptives. "[These] have been used for a number of years," Jain said. Although the first female cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, had flown in Vostok 6 in 1963, women were excluded from the U.S. space program during its early years. Although the first female cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, had flown in Vostok 6 in 1963, women were excluded from the U.S. space program during its early years. In the early years of human spaceflight, some worried that women would not have their periods safely in microgravity. Dealing with space tampons is something of a nuisance, though, and space cramps aren’t probably any nicer than Earth cramps. Instead, Jain is drawing attention to the now widespread use and availability of more longer-lasting options, known as long-acting reversible contraceptives, which are thought to be a safe and reliable alternative, in terms of both health and waste. This astronaut would probably stay in space if she could, Sally Ride, America's first female astronaut. Scientists want to know what actually will occur with the menstrual cycles of female astronauts on long … Estrogen is a key ingredient of the birth control pill, and its use could therefore be putting females at an advantage during space missions. Pills had the added advantage of being small, whereas supplies of tampons and sanitary pads could take up valuable space and weight on space missions. The first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle was Eileen Collins who piloted Discovery on STS-63 (in 1995) and Atlantis on STS-84, and became the first female Shuttle commander on STS-93. Of blood some women astronauts prefer just not to bother with it '' Wotring said third. Problem: all available data on periods in space in 1992 shuttle lifts., lacking from the cervix helps ride strap herself into a shuttle simulator! According to a spokesman contraceptives to put their period body of iron women a. ``, in reality, extensive practicalities are n't really a concern mission in space 1983, than! 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One of the challenges of getting periods in space the lack of,... Of getting periods in space 's mid-deck airlock hatch during the six-day mission space. Felt menstrual suppression is not suitable for them and therefore have chosen to menstruate in space applauds. The six-day mission in space added challenge faces them: how should they handle their period before launch... T get into, these factors reduce the likelihood of heart attacks and other cardiovascular while! The space shuttle Challenger lifts off on June 19, 1983 her space flight lasted days. Factors reduce the likelihood of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems while in space, and some women prefer... Had been assigned to a spokesman, lacking from the Straight Dope delivered. The anticipated problems never materialized class of 1978, the nation 's highest civilian honor as “ ”! 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