Trust it or not, the world is distinctive for men and ladies. Without getting into the endless open deliberation of whether ladies are equivalent to men or not, do you ever consider what number of circumstances at the working environment are taken care of diversely by both sexual orientations? Presently, envision how diverse it could get for male and female space travelers! Correct? Right.
In 1983, just before American lady space traveler Sally Ride's first adventure into space, columnists talked with her and put forth crazy inquiries like - Would she spruce up? Would she get enthusiastic if things turned out badly? Will her uterus be fine?
Her answer was kind of obvious. She reacted by saying, “It’s too bad this is such a big deal. It’s too bad our society isn’t further along.”
However, among all the silly questions was one very vital question - how would she deal with her periods in space?
This one questions still has NASA in a fix. For decades, the way NASA had dealt with this big problem was by not sending women into space because they feared the dangers of putting “a temperamental psychophysiological human” in charge of a “complicated machine.”
While this does come across as a frivolous solution, many others have wondered if zero gravity might instigate menstrual blood to flow back up the fallopian tubes. While this has no evidence, it did led to women not being allowed in space programmes for years.
In 2010, Rhea Seddon, a member of Ride's astronaut class, said, “I’m not totally sure who had the first period in space, but they came back and said, 'Period in space, just like period on the ground. Don’t worry about it.'”
Space gynaecologist Dr. Varsha Jain and space pharmacologist Virginia Wotring did a lot of research and conducted a study on periods in space, which was later published in the journal Microgravity. According to their research, most female astronauts take daily contraceptive pills before and during space flight, but don't take the placebo pills, which suppresses menstruation.
But it is an issue for female astronauts who want to take on long journeys like the Mars mission since it lasts around 3 years! This particular mission would require each astronaut to take 1,100 pills with her. Now you're probably wondering what the problem is with that. But not many know that such a number of pills would amount to a significant amount of weight. And that’s a major problem since every ounce counts when you are travelling in space!
The best solution to this problem here would be to take long-acting reversible contraceptives, like hormonal IUDs, injections of progestin and implants beneath the skin. The injections last three months, but the downside of this is that it also causes bone density loss, which would add to the issue of bone density loss for people living in zero gravity. Hormonal IUDs last up 5 years and implants last up to 3 years, but their side effects still need to be studied further.
It would be a big risk for an astronaut if she uses an IUD and later finds out in space that it malfunctions or is too painful to handle.
Jain and Wotring's study leaves the decision on the women themselves. They write, “Respecting this autonomy is important; however, options should be available to her should she decide to suppress in consideration of her working environment.”