Strange Beliefs About the Menses

the mysteries of menstruation are manyDr. Edward Podowsky’s Sex Today in Wedded Life was written “for the average man and woman,” in the guise of this fictional tale:

“This is the story of Mr. and Mrs. William Carter who, at the very beginning of their married life, sought and obtained sexual information which proved of the utmost value to them in their married life. . . . They had many questions to ask; and the doctor did his utmost to answer these questions adequately and in simple, easy-to-understand language.”

I think both men and women will find this very interesting. And if I can save just one woman from salting butter during that “special time” of the month, my life will be complete.

1947: Strange Beliefs About the Menses

‘Today,’ said Dr. Carlton, ‘I will tell you something about the menses, a very important physiological function of all women.

‘In the Assini region of West Africa there is a taboo which forbids mentruating women to cross the river, even in a canoe. We find a sort of vestige of this superstition in Europe. Breton seamen assured a traveler that a ship’s compass will not tolerate the proximity of a woman having her periods. When such a woman is nearby the magnetic needle becomes untrue.

‘It is reported that among the Arabs the ban on coitus during the menses is so strict that the law says: “The judicial testimony of a man who has cohabitated with his wife during her menstrual period will not be acceptable.”

‘The following belief is widespread in Belgium, both in Flemish and Walloon regions: “During the menstrual period a woman must not salt butter, make preserves of vegetable or jams, etc.” In the Bas-Maine district of France certain housekeepers, if they receive female visitors during the delicate processes of cooking quince jelly and learn that these visitors are menstruating will deliberately show them out. . . .

‘There have been all sorts of silly superstitions in regard to the monthly periods. First this periodic flow was attributed to the moon. Even when it was noted that in a great many women the menses did not coincide with the moon, the belief still persisted.

‘In all ages people have been pleased to ascribe malevolent properties to the menstrual blood. It is supposed to have occult, mysterious qualities which prevent the fermentation of bread and alcoholic beverages; or cause spoilage of meats, or disturb certain liquors. . . .

‘Menses may be replaced by vicarious bleeding; that is, bleeding that arises from other parts of the body. It is not uncommon for women to have their menses replaced by nose-bleeds. . . .

‘Dr. Barnes reports the case of a young woman who menstruated through her nipples. Dr. Lermoyez reports the curious case of a girl who menstruated through the right ear.

‘The mysteries of menstruation are many. Many unusual tales are connected with this normal monthly occurrence.

It is the first definite sign of sexual maturity in women and for this reason has given rise to many strange and unusual stories.’

Source: Podolsky, Edward. Sex Today in Wedded Life. New York: Simon Publications, Inc., 1947.
~ pp. 115, 118-20 ~