Great news: Our week all about periods – the gloriously named Rag Week – is back for the third year running, in conjunction with Bodyform.
Over the past few years, the global conversation about periods has taken on a decidedly more urgent tone. And that's because, despite all the hard work that has been done, the world still has further to go to normalise periods and make them affordable and safe for women and girls everywhere.
The fight is not yet won.
After last year's outcry about the tampon tax – which included protests with activists free bleeding outside parliament – 2018 has seen the economic argument around periods continue as the fight against period poverty ramps up. There have been some really exciting successes – most notably, the triumphant news that Scotland will provide sanitary products to all school girls across the country in a world-first scheme.
For something that affects 50% of the population, periods are still a pretty under-researched area scientifically. But thankfully, things are starting to change – keep your eyes peeled for an article later in the week that says that yes, if you have the flu, and you're on your period, you're likely to be sicker. Check out, too, a first-person piece from a woman suffering with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). With an estimated 15% of sufferers thought to attempt suicide, it's a wonder we don't take it more seriously.
Your menstrual cycle is also taking its toll on your skin. Hormonal acne is a well-known subject amongst our readers and, with their help, we've put together an article documenting just how skin can change over the course of a month; the results are shocking.
Make sure that you also check out our beautiful shoot from photographer Bex Day who has been travelling around the UK and Germany talking to and photographing women who, for many reasons, don't have periods - from survivors of womb cancer to transgender women - we found out how it feels to be period, and in many cases, fertility free.
There's plenty more like this to come from Rag Week, but there are lighter moments too. Make it to Wednesday to find out what happened when we asked the men in our lives how much blood they thought women lost a month (the guesses were, er, interesting, to say the least) and to Friday to enjoy a collection of period sex stories that will make you laugh actually out loud (anyone else met a man with a designated period sex towel?).
So sit back, strap in and get ready for this year's Rag Week – it's going to be a good one.