Take pyrogenic's Menstruation Survey here, or e-mail to menses at pico dot org. Disclaimer: Any responses may be used in a class discussion or as material for a term paper. If you don't mind the world seeing your responses, answer in a comment. Answers will be kept private (i.e. only used for class) if you email them to menses at pico dot org.
What is your age?
23, going on 24 on the release date of Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban.
What are the occupations of your mother and father, yourself? What is your ethnic background? (The purpose of this question is to determine your "social class" for comparison purposes.)
Mother: bachelor's degree in pond biology, homemaker/potter/quilter. Father: programmer. Self: college student (CIS), market research representative. All random caucasian.
What is done in your family for the sake of health? (diet, exercise, etc.)
Attempting to eat a low amount of junk food/highly processed food. Low-impact exercise. General cleanliness. Occasional physicals.
How about if someone gets sick?
General cleanliness, rest, plenty of fluids, occasional doctor's visits.
How did your family regard menstruation? What did you know about it before your first period? Where did you get that information? (books, friends, parents, etc.)
I had the basic biological information, and was expecting to find blood in my underwear, and was free to raid my mom's supplies. Books, school, and probably parents sharing information. My family regarded it very casually, and did not make a big fuss over it, and Mama marked the calendar to track her cycles.
What was it like the first time you menstruated?
Somewhat of an anticlimax. Boring, slightly inconvenient, messy.
How did you feel about menstruating the first few years you did so?
Inconvenient and messy. And then the cramps started. Ow.
Were there any special practices or restrictions during your period? (at work, school, home, about diet, exercise, whatever)
I'd be sure to carry tampons/pads with me, and take ibuprofen for the cramps on the first two days.
How would you explain menstruation to a young girl who knew nothing about it?
That the lining of her uterus was shedding, sort of like a snake sheds its skin or a dog sheds its winter coat in the spring.
Do you feel different before, during, or after your period?
I am crabby approximately a week before my period. This can range from occasionally snappiness to full-blown fetal position on the floor sobbing and biting my arms breakdown.
Do you do anything special or refrain from doing anything during your period?
I make sure to keep tampons on me, and take ibuprofen for the cramps. I tend to avoid swimming, and make sure to use a condom for sex if we are not already doing that, because it is messy.
Does your period affect you at school, work, athletics, etc?
I have to make sure that I will be able to visit a bathroom regularly.
What is your understanding (non scientific) of why menstruation occurs?
... ... There is a non-scientific way to think of it? Sheesh. People. *sighs*
Does it have any other significance for you? (religious or spiritual)
The mood swing beforehand allows me to pinpoint things that are bothering me that I would not ordinarily notice, so that after my mood's swung back to something that humans can endure, I can try to fix any problems or come to some acceptable compromise on unfixable issues.
Overall, how do you feel about menstruating? About doing so for the next thirty (or however many) years?
Since I don't plan to have any children of my body, it's a minor inconvenience that I have to deal with, but it does let me know that I'm not pregnant if I am being sexually active. (I do not wish to have children.)
How would you react if someone offered you the chance of never menstruating again?
I would want to see the science, and I would want to take a very close look to make sure that it was something I wanted to do -- I would not like irreversible changes that could be bad for me in the long run. Would it sterilize me? (If so, then I'd only take it after age 35 or so.) Would it lock my emotions up? I would still like the full hormonal cycle, but I could do without the mess.
Do you remember your first gynecological exam? What was it like for you?
It was somewhat stressful, because I was getting checked to see that I hadn't picked up an STD from a former lover. Other than that, it was fairly boring. Some of the equipment pinched a bit, and there was other mild physical discomfort.
Can you suggest any changes in society that would make it easier to be a woman, to be a menstruating woman?
Tampon machines that *work*. More attention paid to actually fixing the actual issues that someone who's going through the bitchy portion of their cycle brings up, sometime later when they're more prone to being able to talk about it rationally. (Example: During Bitchy Witchy Week, woman says, "Do your own fucking dishes, asshole!" A week or two later, inquire as to how she would prefer the dishes be handled.) Customizable software tracking hormone levels, moon cycles, menstruation, mood cycles, et cetera, to predict the onset of ovulation, cramps, mood swings, menstruation, and all the other lovely shit. Prescription-strength chocolate.