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Series of animated illustrations of a clitoris, speech bubbles saying "oooh" and "aahh", a watch with a sperm swimming around on it, someone rubbing their belly, an inflating condom, lighting bolts of abdominal pain, an antique vibrator vibrating, a diagram of the vagina and uterus, a computer screen with flashing hazard symbol, and a towel with splashes of blood on it.

Illustrations by Marta Pucci and Susi Vetter

Menstrual Cycle

10 health facts Clue learned in 2018

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This year the team at Clue learned a lot about endometriosis, PCOS, birth control, safer sex and STIs, and what’s “normal” when it comes to your period. Use these facts to impress people over the holiday season, or just learn something new about your body.

1-Clitoris

1. There’s more to the clitoris than meets the eye

The clitoris is not just the part of the vulva that feels like a tiny button. It’s composed of multiple parts: the glans, the clitoral body, and the paired crura and vestibular bulbs. How well do you know your clitoris?

2-Watch

2. You can’t get pregnant just any old time

Conception happens when sperm fertilize a human egg. There are ~six days during each menstrual cycle when exposure to sperm can lead to a pregnancy—the five days leading up to ovulation, and about 12–24 hours after ovulation occurs. If the egg isn’t fertilized within this short window, it begins to degrade. Like your period, the timing of ovulation can vary cycle-to-cycle, and you may have the odd cycle where you don’t ovulate at all. Find out more about how ovulation works.

3-Vibrator

3. Vibrators were not invented as a treatment for hysteria

You might have heard the story of how a doctor invented the vibrator as a treatment for hysteria. Sorry to kill your buzz, but that’s not quite how it happened. There are a lot of myths and misinformation surrounding the history of vibrators in the West, starting with Cleopatra. See some vintage vibrators in action.

4-Orgasms

4. Not all orgasms are the same

Studies have found that people can experience orgasm through stimulation of the mouth, nipples, breasts, anus, and skin surrounding an injury. How many types of orgasms are there, really?

5-PCOS

5. PCOS and endometriosis don’t only affect women

Transgender and nonbinary people can experience menstrual health conditions too. When illness is gendered, it can make it hard for people who are not women to get healthcare. Read their PCOS and endometriosis stories.

6-Pain

6. Severe period pain can be a symptom of endometriosis

Menstrual cramps are caused by prostaglandins—hormone-like substances that help the uterus contract to shed the uterine lining, the endometrium. Severe cramps or chronic pelvic pain could be a symptom of endometriosis. See your healthcare provider if you experience severe pain at any time in your menstrual cycle. Read more about why cramps happen.

7-Period sex

7. It is possible to get pregnant during your period...

You read that right, you can get pregnant during your period, although the day-specific risk varies and depends on your cycle, age, and health. Sperm can survive in your reproductive tract for several days so if you ovulate soon after your period it is possible to be in your fertile window (and therefore get pregnant) while you are menstruating. Read our tips for period sex and masturbating during your period.

8-Condom

8. ...but people are less likely to use a condom during menstruation

Together with the Kinsey Institute Condom Use Research Team (KI-CURT), Clue polled 95,000 people from 200 countries on condom use and menstruation. We found that reported use of condoms declined 15% during menstruation. This is important to highlight as a health issue, because rates of STI transmission are higher at certain times of the menstrual cycle, including during menstruation. Here’s what else we found out.

9-Computer

9. Many websites contain inaccurate information about abortion

When researching abortion, it’s important to have access to sources you can trust. A 2010 study found that even among sexual health websites, 35% contained inaccurate information. Read our science-backed guide on what to expect before, during, and after an abortion. (And here in Portuguese.)

10-Vagina

10. The vagina is more than just a tube

The vagina is an incredible organ which changes during sex, throughout the menstrual cycle, with age, and during different life stages. What’s the difference between a vagina and a vulva?

Now you know

If you still have questions write to us at [email protected] or tag us on social media—we’ll try to get you the answers in 2019.

Download Clue to learn more about your body every day.

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