There is an easy way to learn some­thing new and that is: read more books. The ques­tion is often only, which book is worth rea­ding it? In which area do I want to learn more? For me per­so­nally, the year 2019 was all about mens­trua­tion and I orde­red one book after the other because I just couldn’t get enough. Here you can find my four favou­rite books about mens­trua­tion. From light mens­trual edu­ca­tion to holistic hor­mone health to poli­ti­cal and sci­en­ti­fic period dis­cour­ses, there is some­thing for ever­yone. The dif­fe­rent dimen­si­ons of mens­trua­tion are cri­ti­cally exami­ned. For me, these books tog­e­ther are the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of mens­trual know­ledge, because the four female aut­hors have very dif­fe­rent approa­ches and back­grounds. The books are sim­ply full of know­ledge. Have fun rea­ding them and lear­ning some­thing new!

Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement by Nadya Okamoto

About the aut­hor: Foun­der of the NGO Period Move­ment and stu­dent at the Har­vard Col­lege
Publis­hed: Octo­ber 2018
Avail­able lan­guages: Eng­lish
Who is the book for? Teen­agers, people with little know­ledge about their periods

Link to the book

What is the book about? 

Period Power is exactly the book that all teen­agers should read to learn about mens­trua­tion and dif­fe­rent period pro­ducts in a simple and uncom­pli­ca­ted way. Oka­moto exp­lains in her book what mens­trua­tion exactly is and what injus­ti­ces people expe­ri­ence because of their peri­ods. But it does not stop there. She also goes into much more detail about the mens­trual taboo and the resul­ting pre­ju­di­ces. Oka­moto intro­du­ces the history of mens­trua­tion, exp­lains how the period is por­trayed in the media and does not stop at period poli­tics. She exp­lains what period poverty is and what mens­trua­tion means to a homeless per­son. Addi­tio­nally she fills the book with her per­so­nal sto­ries. And so the book starts quite dra­ma­ti­cally with her first period story.

Let us be proud to bleed

Period Power is a simple manual on how we can change the per­cep­tion of mens­trua­tion in our society. Oka­moto tea­ches us to be proud to bleed! In her book she com­bi­nes know­ledge and edu­ca­tion with a call for activism.

‘The com­mon expe­ri­ence of mens­trua­tion con­nects people all over the world. (…) It doesn’t mat­ter where you are from, how you iden­tify, or what access to resour­ces you have. (…) Mens­trua­tor or not, you still have to share spaces with many people who are. Ever­yone, regard­less of sex or gen­der iden­tity, should know what peri­ods are and should feel com­for­ta­ble tal­king about them – this is necessary in order to build inclu­sive and ega­li­ta­rian com­mu­nities. So, let’s dive in.’

Periods Gone Public: Making a Stand for Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf

About the aut­hor: Lawyer, mens­trual acti­vist and foun­der of the orga­ni­sa­tion Period Equity
Publis­hed: Octo­ber 2017
Avail­able lan­guages: Eng­lish
Who is the book for? People with an inte­rest in mens­trua­tion, poli­tics and activism

Link to the book

What is the book about?

In her book Weiss-Wolf exami­nes why mens­trua­tion has become an important poli­ti­cal issue and tells the story of the (new) poli­ti­cal mens­trual move­ment. Weiss-Wolf wri­tes in her book about her own acti­vism and the struggle for mens­trual equity. She intro­du­ces various people who are chan­ging the period world aka revo­lu­tio­ni­zing it! Because mens­trua­tion is no lon­ger whis­pe­red about. Rather mens­trual acti­vists are chan­ging poli­tics: from the par­tial aboli­tion of the ‘tam­pon tax’ to chan­ges in the law to ensure access to afford­a­ble and safe period pro­ducts. Because to achieve an equal society we need laws and poli­cies that take into account that half of the popu­la­tion bleeds mon­thly for deca­des. Weiss-Wolf also draws atten­tion to the limi­ted access to mens­trual pro­ducts in pri­sons and when homeless. In any case, the book is thought-provoking!

For more menstrual equity

For Weiss-Wolf, mens­trua­tion is both the most nor­mal thing in the world as well as power.  She calls on us all to face the mens­trual taboo and pres­ents her own poli­ti­cal agenda on how we can work for more mens­trual equity. This can be as diverse as we humans are, for example in the form of social opi­ni­ons about mens­trua­tion, acti­vism or pro­duct innovation.

‘Mens­trual equity is still an evol­ving con­cept and goal. The inau­gu­ral poli­ti­cal fights for mens­trual equity in the United Sta­tes thus far have been to push to eli­mi­nate sales tax on mens­trual pro­ducts (the ‘tam­pon tax’) and to ensure they are freely acce­si­ble to those most in need – low-income stu­dents, the homeless, the incarcerated.’

Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods by Lara Briden 

About the aut­hor: Natur­o­pa­thic doc­tor with more than 20 years of expe­ri­ence and acti­vist for womxn’s health
Publis­hed: Sep­tem­ber 2017 (second edi­tion)
Avail­able lan­guages: Eng­lish, Ger­man, Spa­nish
Who is the book for? People with an inte­rest in holistic health, hor­mo­nes and menstruation

Link to the book

What is the book about? 

Bri­den descri­bes the mens­trual cycle in her book in a very acces­si­ble, natu­ral and at the same time sci­en­ti­fic way. She exp­lains the facts behind various pro­ces­ses in the body without intimi­da­ting us as rea­ders. The book is gol­den if you want to under­stand how your mens­trual cycle works.  It is not a novel, howe­ver, but rather an infor­ma­tive book. Period Repair Manual is THE guide to impro­ving your period and rela­ted sym­ptoms in a natu­ral way. The first half of the book is about under­stan­ding your period and your body bet­ter. The second part deals spe­ci­fi­cally with pos­si­ble tre­at­ment sug­ges­ti­ons for various mens­trual pro­blems, such as endo­me­trio­sis, PCSO, cycle irre­gu­la­ri­ties or meno­pause. The focus is always on the holistic natu­ral approach. Mens­trual pro­blems are to be alle­via­ted by diet, herbs and bio­iden­ti­cal hormones.

Menstrual problems are not normal

Bri­den empha­si­zes that mens­trual pro­blems are not nor­mal and encou­ra­ges you to tackle them with natu­ral pro­ducts. In her book she refers to more than 350 sci­en­ti­fic stu­dies to sup­port her fin­dings and recom­men­da­ti­ons. The book is full of hel­pful advice, con­crete solu­ti­ons and tips for mens­trua­ting people of all ages in dif­fe­rent situa­tions. The diverse infor­ma­tion in this book is pre­sen­ted in such an inte­res­ting way that it directly inspi­res people to take a clo­ser look at their own cycle and to observe ever­ything carefully.

‘Your period is try­ing to tell you some­thing. Your period is not just your period. It is an expres­sion of your under­ly­ing health. When you are healthy, your mens­trual cycle will arrive smoothly, regu­larly, and without sym­ptoms. When you are unhe­althy in some way, your cycle will tell the story. I invite you to think of your period as your mon­thly report card. Every month, it can offer a hel­pful account of what is hap­pe­ning with your health in gene­ral. That infor­ma­tion is incredi­ble valuable.’

New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation by Chris Bobel

About the aut­hor: pro­fes­sor and Chair for Women’s, Gen­der and Sexua­lity Stu­dies at the Col­lege of Libe­ral Arts
Publis­hed: May 2010
Avail­able lan­guages: Eng­lish
Who is the book for? People with an inte­rest in sci­en­ti­fic stu­dies, femi­nism and menstruation

Link to the book

What is the book about?

New Blood offers an exci­ting inter­di­sci­pli­nary look at femi­nism and mens­trua­tion. This book requi­res an inte­rest in sci­en­ti­fic stu­dies and com­plex ana­ly­ses. It is not an easy evening read, but nevertheless very worthwhile! Bobel’s wri­ting style is easy to under­stand des­pite her sci­en­ti­fic back­ground. Fur­ther­more, the book is fil­led with per­so­nal sto­ries. From her cri­ti­cal eth­no­gra­phic per­spec­tive, Bobel gives a com­pre­hen­sive over­view of the deve­lo­p­ments of femi­nist move­ments, always in con­nec­tion to mens­trua­tion. She shows the com­plex ten­sion, con­ti­nuity, but also breaks bet­ween the dif­fe­rent waves of femi­nism. The focus lies in the change from the second to the third wave of femi­nism. Bobel ques­ti­ons the binary sys­tem of the sexes and asks who actually all menstruates.

Perception of menstruation could not be any more different

How we as indi­vi­du­als or as a society approach mens­trua­tion could not be any more dif­fe­rent. And Bobel mana­ges to por­tray and ques­tion a variety of views and opi­ni­ons about mens­trua­tion in her book. Bobel ana­ly­ses the history as well as the poli­tics of mens­trual acti­vism, which can range from Red Tents, zines about mens­trua­tion, DIY pro­jects to holistic ute­rine health. For me per­so­nally, it is a very spe­cial book that shows cor­re­la­ti­ons and gives explana­ti­ons that are not visi­ble at first glance.

‘During the 1970s, three stands – the women’s health move­ment, envi­ron­men­ta­lism, and con­su­mer acti­vism – began to slowly intert­wine to pro­duce mens­trual activism.’

COMING SOON!

Period is political – A manifesto against the menstrual taboo by Franka Frei

The book will be publis­hed by Heyne Ver­lag on March 02, 2020 and can be pre-orde­red. Per­so­nally, I am really loo­king for­ward to the book, because I am a big fan of Franka as a mens­trual acti­vist and I like to read her thoughts on her Insta­gram account. And the back of the book already sounds very promising!

Link to the book

‘We want to see blood! Mens­trua­tion is a fasci­na­ting body func­tion. Nevertheless it is con­si­de­red taboo and is often dis­mis­sed as a »women’s pro­blem«. This has far-reaching con­se­quen­ces for society. The­re­fore it is time to break one of the big­gest taboos of our time. The revo­lu­tion is com­ing. And it will be bloody’.

What are your favourite books about menstruation?

Have you maybe already read one or the other book from this list? If so, how did you like it? What are your favou­rite books about mens­trua­tion? I would love for you to share your book tips with me – by mes­sage or in the comments. Because I want to keep rea­ding more and lear­ning about other perspectives.

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Britta 
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.