New research has revealed the huge variety of terms that women in different countries around the world use to describe their monthly cycle.
While Japanese women might refer to their period as the ‘red panda’, the French – not quite in the spirit of entente cordial – say they use the phrase ‘Les Anglais ont debarqué’, literally translated as ‘The English have landed’.
Conducted by The International Women’s Health Coalition and female health app Clue, the study questioned 90,000 women across 190 countries and found more than 5,000 pet names for periods emerged.
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What do you call yours? A survey of 90,000 women unearthed some 5,000 euphemisms about periods from around the globe
Portuguese women who responded to The International Women’s Health Coalition’s survey said they might call their period ‘My ketchup’
In the UK, there’s a raft of terms that we employ to describe the menstrual cycle, with the more eccentric including ‘Aunt Flo is visiting’, ‘the painters are in’ and ‘Bloody Mary’.
Other names popular in the UK included the ‘blob’, ‘satan’s volcano’ and ‘girl flu’.
In central and northern European countries, names of local fruits seem to be popular choices with the Germans using erdbeerwoche, literally strawberry week, and the Swedes talking of Lingonveckan (Lingonberry week).
Norwegians apparently might ask ‘How’s the volcano?’ when enquiring if a woman has her period while in the Ukraine it could be referred to it as wolf week.
Across the pond, there’s also a huge variety of terms used including ‘Uncle Tom’, ‘Japan is attacking’, being ‘on the rag’, ‘the communist party’ and the ‘Red Sox are playing at home.’
A Canadian woman might reference the ‘Napoleonic war’ when talking about her period and Australians could call it ‘shark week’.
Colour-themed phrases appeared frequently with women in Portugal, Denmark, Singapore, Iran and Hong Kong all using the term ‘my ketchup’ in their native languages.
The communist party also proved popular in US, Australia, the UK and Mexico.
More pedestrian phrases such as time of the month (TOM on social media), my monthly visitor, the scarlet curse and women’s problems were common across the globe.
More creative terms, from women who didn’t specify their country also included the ‘red waterfall’, ‘code red’, the ‘red scare’, the ‘red fairy’ and ‘the circus is in town.’
According to the research, nearly three quarters of British women said they had encountered slang terms for periods.
The survey also discovered that while 85 per cent of women in the UK said they felt comfortable discussing their periods with female work colleagues, they were much less at ease talking to the men they worked with, with just 32 per cent saying they would raise the issue of their monthly cycle.
Female employees at a Bristol company will be entitled to paid leave if their period is causing them pain. Pictured: Company director Bex Baxter (centre) with staff members
Social community group CoExist, which employs 31 staff – seven male, aims to change the stigma around ‘women’s issues’
Earlier this week, Bristol social community group Coexist announced that it was introducing a ‘period policy’ to give long-suffering women time off work during their monthly cycle.
PET NAMES FOR PERIODS
UK: ‘Aunt Flo’, ‘the painters are in’, ‘Bloody Mary’ and being ‘on the blob’
USA: ‘Uncle Tom’, ‘Japan is attacking’, being ‘on the rag’ and ‘the communist party’
FRANCE: ‘Les Anglais ont debarqué’ (The English are coming)
CANADA: ‘Napoleonic war’
JAPAN: ‘The red panda’
AUSTRALIA: ‘Shark week’
PORTUGAL: ‘My ketchup’
SWEDEN: Lingonveckan (Lingonberry week)
GERMANY: Erdbeerwoche (Strawberry week)
NORWAY: ‘How’s the volcano?’
The new initiative aims to tap into female staff’s ‘natural rhythms’ in order to create a happier and more productive work environment.
Company director Bex Baxter, who employs 31 staff – seven male – said she wants to change the stigma around ‘women’s issues’.
She said of the policy: ‘I have managed many female members of staff over the years and I have seen women at work who are bent over double because of the pain caused by their periods.
‘Despite this, they feel they cannot go home because they do not class themselves as unwell.
‘And this is unfair. At Coexist we are very understanding. If someone is in pain – no matter what kind – they are encouraged to go home.
‘But, for us, we wanted a policy in place which recognises and allows women to take time for their body’s natural cycle without putting this under the label of illness.’