The Best & Worst Menstruation Scenes In Film & TV

Menstruation may affect up to half of the world's population, but that doesn't mean it's always portrayed sympathetically – or even accurately – in films and on TV. Oh no. While part of the blame must lay with the male domination of the media industry, there's no doubt that the cryptic way in which we all talk about periods is part of the problem. It may be the 21st century, but they're still often considered shameful, mysterious and symbolic of many things in our culture, from entry to womanhood to a woman's "crazy", emotional behaviour.
This makes periods a versatile on-screen device. They're used for both comic and dramatic effect, to heighten anything from a heartwarming coming-of-age moment, to an awkward sitcom scene, or even – perhaps especially – a good old bloody gorefest. We've scoured through some of the most memorable periods in films and TV, both old and new, and found scenes that will take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions – from warm adoration to straight-up fury.
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1 of 9
BEST
My Girl (1991)

"I'm haemorrhaging!" shriek's poor little Vada (Anna Chlumsky) upon getting her period for the first time age 11. She may not know what has hit her, but thankfully she has an ally in her dad's friend Shelly DeVoto (Jamie Lee Curtis), who takes it upon herself to tell the pre-teen about the birds and the bees. "It's not fair, nothing happens to boys," she observes. Welcome to womanhood, kiddo.
2 of 9
WORST
Superbad (2007)

Ugh, 11 years on and this scene still gets our goat. Seth (Jonah Hill) is dancing with a mystery drunk woman at a party when her period blood ends up staining his trousers and he's quickly accosted by the woman's boyfriend, who sports a similar stain. Jezebel may have hailed the scene "a small victory for feminism" at the time for its portrayal of menstrual blood in a "gross-out comedy", but in our opinion it's a prime example of period shaming and shows an ignorance of women's bodies.
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3 of 9
BEST
20th Century Women (2016)

This scene caused quite a stir when it came out and we were overjoyed to see a film attempting to tackle the taboo that still exists around periods in social settings, despite the forward march of feminism. When free-spirited artist Abbie (Greta Gerwig) announces to the dining table that she's "menstruating" and is admonished by Dorothea (Annette Bening), she's pissed to say the least. "If you ever want to have an adult relationship with a woman, like if you want to have sex with a woman's vagina, you need to be comfortable with the fact that the vagina menstruates," she announces to the men in the room. "Just say menstruation. It's not a big deal." Damn straight.
4 of 9
WORST
Carrie (1976)

This isn't one of the worst scenes because Carrie's a lousy film, but because it's so traumatic to watch. Teenage social outcast Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is startled to find herself bleeding in the locker room showers, as her religious mother has failed to explain menstruation to her. Her nasty classmates don't provide any reassurance, either and they proceed to taunt and terrify the poor girl. Horrifying stuff.
5 of 9
BEST
The Runaways (2010)

Periods get the punk treatment in this drama about the '70s rock band – and in the opening scene, no less. Cherie Currie's (Dakota Fanning) period blood hits the pavement and she and her sister head for a gas station bathroom for a wad of toilet paper to stick in her knickers, so she can get on with living the rock star life. In times of need, improvisation is key. And who hasn't found themselves in that situation at least once? A liar, that's who.
6 of 9
WORST
Blue Lagoon (1980)

Young Emmeline (Brooke Shields) is bathing in a grotto when the water suddenly turns an ominous shade of pink. She screams for her cousin to come and help – until she realises what's going on and can't bat him away fast enough, telling him to "Just go away!" Again, it's a scene that makes us feel more than a tad awkward – especially as it's puberty that causes the child cousins to eventually fall in love.
7 of 9
BEST
Broad City (2016)

Being on your period during a flight is inconvenient at the best of times, but when the crimson wave hits unexpectedly and you're without sanitary products, there's nowhere to hide. In the priceless episode of Broad City, "Jews On A Plane," Abbi gets her period and she and Ilana begin scouring the plane for a tampon. They're unsuccessful, so are forced to construct one out of random objects (don't try that at home). It gets better: a flight attendant then overhears them talking and thinks they're planning a terrorist attack. TV gold.
8 of 9
WORST
Game of Thrones (2012)

In this chilling scene, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) wakes up to find blood on her sheets for the first time. Understandably, she's terrified as it means she could now conceive an heir with evil young king Joffrey, and desperately tries to cut the stain out with a knife before she's forced to have sex. The incident serves as a hard-hitting reminder that periods have historically been a sign of "becoming a woman" and a girl's ability to have children – often against her will.
9 of 9
BEST
No Strings Attached (2011)

Although the jury is still out on whether period syncing is actually a Thing, it's nice to think that our friends and flatmates are suffering as much as we are during that time of the month. In this scene, Adam (Ashton Kutcher) brings Emma (Natalie Portman) and her pals cupcakes and a period mixtape to lighten the mood, which is sweet. The question is: why isn't Ashton Kutcher knocking on our door each month? We must've given him the wrong address...
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