Flow Book Summary By Elissa Stein and Susan Kim

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Flow is an informative and well-researched book about menstruation.

It dives deep into the history and culture of this topic, exploring why people have certain beliefs about it and what myths have been perpetuated about it.

Covering various aspects of menstruation and its influence on us, the book seeks to dispel misconceptions that still exist today.

The book outlines the biological, political, historical, and cultural implications associated with menstruation in a way that makes the information accessible to all readers.

Flow also looks into facts often known but rarely talked about such as possible links between periods and mood swings, nutrition, art, literature and more.

Through these discussions it shows how powerful speaking openly can be in reframing our perceptions around this natural process.

Flow Book

Book Name: Flow (The Cultural Story of Menstruation)

Author(s): Elissa Stein and Susan Kim

Rating: 4.6/5

Reading Time: 20 Minutes

Categories: Health & Nutrition

Author Bio

The author of the Flow Book Summary, Susan Kim, is a talented screenwriter and documentary maker.

She is best known for her stage adaptation of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club which has earned her five Emmy Award nominations.

But that isn't all she does!

She also writes children's programs for TV and film, with her work getting recognized by both audiences and industry professionals alike.

In short, Susan Kim is a successful artist whose work has been widely acclaimed.

Uncovering The Taboos And Misconceptions Surrounding Women’s Menstruation

Women's Menstruation

Flow Book Summary helps you get to know your body on a deeper level, going beyond the basics of understanding menstruation.

It’s filled with information that many women, who were taught not to talk about it, don’t typically have access to.

These sections break through the shame and misconceptions surrounding periods and menstrual health to give you a fuller understanding of this natural bodily process.

You’ll learn why cramps happen during menstruation, what women did before tampons and pads became mainstream, as well as how drug companies use outdated perceptions about menstruation for marketing their products.

With more accurate insight into what’s normal and what isn’t, you’ll be in a better position to make decisions that pertain to your own body without depending on external sources.

The Misconceptions And Myths Surrounding Periods That Affect Women Across The Globe

Since ancient times, menstruation has been considered a taboo topic and surrounded by misperceptions.

These myths originated from the lack of scientific knowledge regarding the process; without understanding why it occurs, people sought to explain the female trait with supernatural beliefs and superstitious stories.

The most well-known example is that of Pliny the Elder’s assertion in his Natural History book written in AD 77 that period blood could cause a horse to have a miscarriage and kill flowers.

This created an illogical notion of period blood being both sacred and toxic at once – it was thought to be sacred because its origin was attributed to unborn children while on the other hand it was deemed as evil because of its perceived toxicity.

This led to doctors developing a procedure called bloodletting, which aimed to treat illnesses by draining blood from veins.

Unsurprisingly, since this procedure only affected women due to their exclusive ability to menstruate, these false beliefs were exploited in order to subjugate them within society.

For instance, girls going through menarche (the onset of periods) had rituals performed on them and young women were caged for up to four years in New Ireland country!

In modern times too, there are still certain cultures that view menstrual bleeding as something dangerous or wrong – Islamic customs require women not take part in rituals whilst on their period and until recently, churches around the world denied entry for menstruating women.

Evidently then, these misperceptions about periods have had and continues to have far-reaching consequences in several areas throughout history and today.

The Golden Age Of Ignorance: Reexamining Our Understanding Of Female Anatomy And Its Impact On Women’S History

What we know as PMS today used to have a different name: hysteria.

In the Middle Ages, these symptoms – which range from insomnia to random laughing or crying fits – were seen as signs of witchcraft instead of being linked to women’s periods.

This change in understanding only happened recently, when the American Psychiatric Association dropped the term “hysteria” in 1952 and began using the term “premenstrual syndrome” (PMS) a year later.

The treatment of hysteria involved anything from X-rays to putting leeches on the patient’s vulva or stimulating the clitoris until orgasm.

Though it may sound barbaric, it was seen entirely from a medical perspective and not something that people would do on their own at home.

Unfortunately, we still don’t know much about PMS today.

We understand that cramps are caused by uterus contractions but little research exists around other symptoms such as insomnia or mood swings.

Furthermore, there’s no proof that PMS is actually hormone-related!

It’s also worth noting that PMS and its more serious counterpart PMDD are mainly diagnosed in Western medicine and aren’t really part of international healthcare systems yet.

So while some progress has been made in understanding premenstrual syndrome since the days of hysteria, there is still some way to go!

Breaking The Taboo: Examining The Myths Around Period Sex

Period Sex

For centuries, period sex has been largely stigmatized.

This is especially true for many religions that hold the belief that period sex leads to contamination and thus require women to take a “ritual bath” before engaging in intercourse again.

Orthodox Judaism even goes so far as to deem a menstruating woman as an “unclean” niddah, during which time physical contact between her and her husband – including sex – is not allowed.

This same distrust of menstruation can be found around the world; Muslim women are prohibited from having sex with their husbands, fasting or handling the Koran during this time, while in Poland all tampon ads were reportedly banned during Pope Benedict’s visit in 2006.

But despite this taboo, scientific research has proved that there’s no health risk involved with menstrual sex.

In fact, according to a Yale University study from 2002, women who orgasm while on their periods are less likely to suffer from endometriosis – a painful disorder where the uterine lining grows outside the uterus.

Therefore, it’s important to note that menstrual sex does not equal contamination or uncleanliness; rather it should be seen for what it really is: safe and normal!

How Tampons And Pads Changed The Way Women Live: From Ancient Times To Modern Day

The development of femcare products has been directly linked to the enhanced rights and freedoms of women.

Prior to their invention, women had to resort to materials such as rags, moss, leaves and sheepskin while they had their period, making it nearly impossible for them to fully participate in activities or events.

It wasn’t just menstrual hygiene that needed addressing – up until the early 1900s undergarments were not necessary for any other purpose than keeping warm.

Wealthier women could afford rubber-lined aprons and bloomers to keep their dresses tampon free but that was about it!

As Kotex pads became commercially available in 1920, so did the Nineteenth Amendment allowing women to vote.

This marked a new era where female participation in public life was encouraged.

Though these bulky pads had to be held together with elastic belts and pins which made them quite uncomfortable, they enabled more women to make a statement by participating in these aspects of society they had previously been excluded from.

Further progress was seen as self-adhesive pads hit the market in the ’70s; amid incredible social change taking place during the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Nowadays, femcare products have opened doors for generations of girls across cultures enabling them back into their education and careers that had previously been taken away because of menstruation.

The Femcare Industry Helps To Perpetuate Insecurities About Menstruation And Vaginal Odors

When it comes to menstrual hygiene, femcare ads have long perpetuated the outdated and damaging view that periods are something shameful, and should be hidden away.

Many of these ads, which generate billions of dollars for the industry, romanticize and objectify menstruation by representing beautiful women dressed in little clothing surrounded by tranquil landscapes.

No mention or reference to period blood is made- making it seem unclean and shameful.

The idea that periods are impure is also further reinforced through the use of a blue liquid instead of actual period blood in tv ads which were permitted back as far as 1972.

Adding fuel to this fire are marketing campaigns that exploit women’s insecurities about vaginal odors in order to sell douches.

Jokes about ‘feminine odors’ have been perpetuating insecurities for generations – when actually a healthy vagina gives off no smell at all.

Despite this fact, companies make advertising claims that their products can solve marital problems caused by odor – when they can actually do damage to the vaginal health of those who use them with some products containing bleach or vinegar!

It goes without saying that menstruation isn’t (and never was) something worthy of shame.

Yet femcare marketing franchises continue to focus on exploiting women’s insecurity rather than educating them about healthy practices – making sure their belief remains an out-dated one from the ancient past.

The Taboo Of Menstruation: Uncovering The Truth Behind Late Periods, Ovulation, And Pregnancy

Behind Late Periods

It’s no secret that many women lack basic knowledge about menstrual cycles and pregnancy, particularly when it comes to understanding the implications of a late period.

While this can sometimes be indicative of pregnancy, it may also point to far less serious things like stress, perimenopause, or simply still ovulating.

The information gap surrounding menstruation and pregnancy is largely due to the stigma created and perpetuated by American culture regarding anything period-related.

For instance, many people are unaware that women are capable of both menstruating without ovulating and ovulating without having their periods – yet for two years following the onset of menstruation, up to 80 percent of menstrual cycles don’t include ovulation.

Furthermore, some women have become pregnant despite not having had periods in months due to still being able to ovulate in this timeframe.

It’s also difficult for some women to grasp that they can become pregnant even while having sex on their period.

As humans don’t follow the same cycle as other animals in which the female is only fertile during a specific “heat” window, females remain at risk of becoming pregnant from any level of unprotected sex throughout their entire menstrual cycle – especially during post-period weeks where fertility peaks during ovulation.Moreover, even if one does practice protected sex on their period – sperm can still remain viable in a woman’s vagina for an average duration of two days!

This combined with certain levels of heavy spotting leading people to believe that they’ve begun their period when really it indicates a higher than normal chance for conception – greatly increases chances for an unwanted pregnancy.

Ultimately there exists a huge gap between what mainstream society views as acceptable female reproductive health conversations, while the facades produced by companies more focused on profit than education leaves much overlooked facts hidden behind curtains.

Without changes to these forces enforcing silence around topics such as menstrual cycles and early warning signs correlated with pregnancy – knowledge gaps cut into lives will not soon be filled.

It Is Vital To Know The Difference Between Menstruation And Bleeding While On The Pill

The bleeding that women experience while on the pill isn’t actually menstruation, though many of them don’t know that.

It’s all part of the birth control process.

When a woman is not taking the birth control pill, her body releases hormones – progesterone and estrogen – that trigger her ovaries to release an egg.

The egg travels down the fallopian tubes and, if it encounters any sperm, will attach itself to the uterus wall and form a placenta with blood supplied by three arteries from the uterus.

If there is no conception, the egg will dissolve and result in uterine contractions that expel dead tissue from her body through her cervix and out of her vagina – this is what we call a period.

However, when women take birth control pills they are tricking their body into thinking they are pregnant in order to prevent pregnancy.

These pills contain estrogen or a mixture of estrogen and progestin which are taken for three weeks followed by placebo pills during week four.

This age causes production of endometrium (lining tissue) but not to its full extent as it does during an actual menstrual cycle, therefore creating a mild version of bleeding among other menstrual symptoms such as cramping.

Therefore, chances are if you’re on the Pill and having “your period” – it’s probably not your period at all!

We Should Be Wary Of Pharmaceutical Companies Exploiting Fear Around Menstruation And Menopause

Pharmaceutical Companies

It’s undeniable that pharmaceutical companies are trying to make a profit from our negative view of menstruation and menopause.

Just look at the way birth control pills come packaged with placebo pills, as if to suggest that suppressing natural bodily functions isn’t really so bad.

Today, we have drugs such as Yaz, Lybrel, and Implanon that can reduce or eliminate periods altogether.

While they may offer some relief for women who suffer from extremely painful cramps or other menstrual symptoms, these drugs don’t need to be pushed as worldwide “solutions” when the majority of women don’t struggle with those types of issues.

The same thing is happening with menopause.

Drug companies have been exploiting women’s fear of aging since the 1930s by convincing them that Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can help prevent this natural process while simultaneously putting them at risk for blood clots, heart disease, stroke, and breast cancer — all in an effort to make a profit.

It’s incredibly irresponsible marketing and it needs to stop.

Wrap Up

Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation by Elissa Stein is an enlightening look at the history, culture and science of menstruation.

The book unpacks the wide-ranging beliefs about periods, the different taboos and restrictions that have been placed on them in various societies, as well as the treatments and remedies used over time to try manage our menstrual cycles.

Stein encourages us to value our bodies and our reproductive systems, while also introducing readers to modern research into period science that proves once and for all just how normal, natural and incredibly powerful menstruation actually is.

She encourages us to start a period diary so that we can get in tune with our own unique cycle – keep track of any changes or irregularities, so that there won’t be any more unpleasant surprises in future.

Through her thorough research into the topic and her passionate advocacy of women’s health rights and education, Flow sheds light on an important subject area which has too long been deemed unmentionable in polite society – making it an invaluable read for all those seeking a fuller understanding of their bodies

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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