There have been some MAJOR advancements with regard to good ole’ Aunt Flo (bluetooth tampons? Say WHAT?) as of late. But when it comes to some of our female counterparts dealing with that time of the month, protocol is far less sci-fi than you might think! We’re talking about women who will have their periods in outer space… a number that’s set to grow, given that there are now just as many women as men in NASA’s newest class.
According to gynecologist Varsha Jain, an author of a recent paper on menstruation in spaceflight, the best “time of the month” solution for female astronauts might be nixing periods altogether. While it IS possible to dispose of “lady products” in space, rather than deal with the added weight and inconvenience of tampons and pads, many are choosing “menstrual suppression” through birth control pills. While IUDs and subdermal implants are currently far less common, for longer missions like those to Mars (which would require a whopping 1,100 birth control pills — a lot of added packaging/weight in space) they may be the best option.
Of course, there’s a catch: Very little research has been done on the effects of prolonged menstrual suppression methods in space. Though proven very safe on Earth, things work a bit differently in our bodies up there, leaving the medical field with some unanswered questions about the safety of long-term use.
For the most part, Jains says our #girlboss female astronauts are actually likely to benefit from the use of contraceptives: As male and female astronauts alike have been found to lose bone density in space, the added estrogen can act to help protect bones, potentially reducing loss.
Huh! The things you never knew!
What are your thoughts on long-term birth control use? Tell us over @BritandCo!
(h/t CNN, photos via iStockphoto)