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Decoding the Period Name-Game

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet," Shakespeare wrote in his iconic play "Romeo and Juliet." You may be wondering: what does this 16th-century poet have to do with periods? Well, sit tight: today we're delving into the idiosyncratic world of name-calling during that time of the month–aka period slang. 

Have you ever wondered why many people with periods prefer to call their monthly frenemies by more subtle, coded names? Do you feel like you can say "period" around some friends and family but maybe not around others? 

#justsayperiod (read more about this taboo-busting campaign here)

Unfortunately, across the ages, period-ers have experienced embarrassment and shame about their periods. Something as natural as eating, drinking and sleeping has been silenced and stigmatised: reduced to cutesy euphemisms that, quite frankly, beat around the bush. 

In the opening quotation, Shakespeare reminds us that the names we assign to things do not affect what they really are – a rose would look and feel and smell the same under a different name. Likewise, at the end of the day, whether you're calling it a "period" or a "monthly gift," you're referring to a bleeding vagina...and it's about time everybody just accepts that. 

Is period slang ever useful?

We're not suggesting that you trade whispering "monthly gift" with shouting "period" from the rooftops [although that is always an option ;)]. We're fans of some menstrual slang ourselves, and we understand and respect people who continue to use their favourite colloquialism. Nevertheless, we're advocating for eliminating some of the stigma surrounding your little red friend. Next time you use a code-word, consider whether you're doing it for you or for those around you. Read more about exceptions to #justsayperiod here




The Period Slang-Term Dictionary

Clue and The International Women's Health Coalition conducted a survey that received over 90,000 responses spanning 190 different countries. Turns out, there are over 5,000 different slang terms and euphemisms for the word "period"! Let's get global–see below for a list of the world's wackiest period slang terms: 

🇺🇸 🇬🇧 🇦🇺 English

  • That time of the month
  • Shark Week
  • Visit from Aunt Flo/Aunt Flow
  • On the rag/ragging
  • Surfing the crimson wave
  • Mother Nature's Gift
  • Code Red
  • Having the painters in
  • On the blob 

🇩🇪 German

  • Erdbeerwoche/ Erdbeertage = "Strawberry week"
  • Besuch aus Rotenburg = "Relatives from Rotenburg (a small town in Germany) are visiting"
  • Emma = "Emma" (lol) 




    🇫🇷 French

    • C'est la saison des fraises = "It's strawberry season"
    • Les Anglais ont debarqué = "The English have landed"
    • La semaine Ketchup = "Ketchup [tomato sauce] week"

    🇮🇹 Italian

    • Le mie cose = "I have my things"
    • Ho le inondazioni = "I have a flood"



    🇭🇺 Hungarian

    • Megjött a mikulás = "Santa Claus has arrived"

    🇳🇱 Dutch

    • Maandelijkse feestje = "Monthly party" 

    🇸🇪 Swedish

    • Ligonveckan = "Lingonberry week" 

    🇫🇮 Finish

    • Hullum lechman tauti = "Mad cow disease" [okay Finland, you do you]

    🇩🇰 Danish

    • Kommunister i Lysthuset = "Communists in the funhouse" 




    🇪🇸 Spanish

    • Andres, el que viene cada mes = "I'm with Andrew, the one that comes every month"
    • Estar del Tomate = "Be like a tomato" (aka: being crazy)
    • Descongelar el Bistec = "Defrosting the steak"

    🇷🇺 Russian

    • Красные Жигули [Krasnyye Zhiguli] = "Red Zhiguli" (Russian car brand)

    🇰🇷 Korean

    • 마법 [mabeob] = "Magic"


    🇯🇵 Japanese

    • 血祭り [Chimatsuri] = "Blood festival"
    • ブルーデイ [Burūdei] = "Blue day" 

    🇨🇳 Chinese

    • 来事 [Lái shì] = "The thing comes" 
    •  紅茶 [Hóngchá] = "Red tea"


    🇧🇷 Portuguese 

    • Eusou Com Chico = "I'm with Chico" [referring to the environmentalist and human rights activist Chico Mendes] 
    • Quebrou bacia = "Broke basin"

    🇳🇵 Nepali 

    • Nachune = "untouchable" [Unfortunately, period slang isn't always a joke; but rather directly relates to the taboo and social stigma surrounding menstruation. Read more about how menstruators are treated in Nepal here]. 

    For a more complete list, check me out. 


    Which period code do you speak? Any menstrual nicknames to add? We can't wait to read what you come up with. 

    Extra links:

    Get your party pants on...cause it's time for a Period Party! Whether it's a gift before 'the gift' or a celebration post-menarche [your first-ever period], get together with friends and family to crush taboos, debunk misconceptions, and embolden enthusiasm for this empowering next stage of life. Of course, don't skip the uterus piñata and cake! Read more here, or check out HelloFlo's video for a laugh. And be sure to include REDs in your period starter-pack too ;) 



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