What happens when a female astronaut menstruates in space!
Ever wondered how female astronauts deal with their menstrual periods while they're in space? Perhaps, you may recall the 'Sally Ride space tampons', which might be the most-discussed tampons in the world.
New Delhi: Ever wondered how female astronauts deal with their menstrual periods while they're in space? Perhaps, you may recall the 'Sally Ride space tampons', which might be the most-discussed tampons in the world.
Until Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983, tampons and sanitary napkins were never part of those countless things that go into planning a launch. When NASA engineers offered 100 tampons to Ride for a one-week mission, she literally responded by telling them that would not be the right number. This indicates that the engineers didn't have a clue, and they weren't the only ones, though.
But, turns out menstruating in space is more or less similar to it is on Earth. However, the real problems lie here. As per a report on Science alert, waste disposal systems onboard the ISS are not all designed to handle menstrual blood. This is because the toilet system is connected to the water reclamation system (which recycles urine into drinking water).
Therefore, personal hygiene is less than ideal in space due to limited shower facilities and water supplies, making menstruating during spaceflight not as practical as it is on Earth.
According to a study published in the journal Microgravity, more and more astronauts are opting for oral contraceptives to skip/suppress their periods altogether during both spaceflight and training. The most common form of suppression being the oral progesterone pill or simply, 'the pill', and the second being the IUD (intrauterine device). An intrauterine device is inserted into the uterus by a doctor and can safely last for three to five years.
Another popular option is subdermal implants, which are safe to use for up to three years. Finally, there's another option via injections, particularly the depo shot. Depo-Provera, which is a hormone injection similar to progesterone, must be administered once every 12 weeks, and can be safely used for two to three years.
This shows that women, whose body structures are different from that of men, have to face difficult tasks and situations, and this happens even when you are an astronaut!