The most frequently asked question at NASA is how exactly a female astronaut would be dealing with a menstrual period in the environment of outer space.
Sally Ride was the first woman in space. She faced the issue of periods for which tampons were provided in outer space. Before she was sent on her journey aboard the spacecraft, her tampons were examined, weighed and even checked as regards their odor.
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Nobody would have wanted a malodorous environment due to a female’s periods in the cramped conditions aboard the spacecraft. The exact number of tampons that would be required in space was calculated and provided. The tampons were packaged with their strings intact so that wouldn’t fly off at a tangent.
This supply of tampons was supposedly like a lot of sausages hanging from a butcher’s shop. The fact that females menstruate made all the staff and administration of NASA a bit wary.
It is common knowledge that females tend to cry and show some mood swings during their periods. Nobody wanted things to go wrong in outer space. Such a scenario of hysterics could not be tolerated in outer space.
There were even concerns that the periods would not be regular in space. In a state of zero gravity, the flow of blood would probably not be forthcoming.
Such questions plagued NASA and a lot of deliberation went into the “only women bleed” matter. The issue of retrograde menstruation was pondered over.
Finally, when the first period in outer space occurred, it went just fine. The only irritant was the handling of the tampons which was a messy affair. So maybe the solution was not to have any periods in the first place.
Oral contraceptives taken for a particular length of time cause periods to cease temporarily. Such a scheme of things was employed by NASA and it worked in a hunky dory way.
There were other alternatives but the pill was the best choice in this matter. Although the pill comes with a few side effects, it is the best method of getting rid of the scourge of menstrual flow, Ride said in a recent interview.
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There are many women who tend to see periods as something very natural and feminine and not as somewhat of a curse. Yet for astronauts, the cessation of periods is especially important on long journeys in outer space. The messiness and hassle of tampons and all that flow of blood could be done away with at the drop of a hat thanks to the oral contraceptive pill.