The Menstrual ABC by Vulvani

In this glossary you will find menstrual knowledge from A for adenomyosis to Z for zero waste.



Widespread endometriosis in the uterus.

Agnus Castus

Is a medicinal plant that is taken for the natural treatment of irregular, too frequent or too rare menstruation. The extract of the ripe, dried fruits influences the hormonal balance and is medically approved.


Absence or lack of menstruation.


Absence or lack of ovulation.

Anovulatory cycle

No egg is released during the menstrual cycle.

Anti-Mueller hormone (AMH)

The AMH level indicates how many egg cells are still in the body and whether ovulation has occurred. It is an important indicator in reproductive health


Basal body temperature

Body temperature measured in the morning immediately after waking up and before getting up. The basal body temperature changes during the menstrual cycle. Shortly after ovulation, it rises by a few tenths of a degree for at least three days in a row. This way ovulation and fertile days can be determined retrospectively. In this way, the following infertile days can be determined as well. Measuring the basal body temperature is part of the temperature method for natural contraception.

Billings method

A method of natural contraception that observes the change in the composition of cervical mucus during the menstrual cycle. Shortly before and around ovulation the consistency of the mucus changes, which allows the fertile days of the cycle to be determined.

Binary gender system

Assumption that there are only two sexes (male or female).


Cervical mucus

The milky-white to transparent secretion consists of rejected cells and water and flows out of the vagina. The daily discharge is part of the natural process of a healthy menstrual cycle and is produced by glands in the cervix. During the menstrual cycle, both colour and consistency of the cervical mucus change. It protects the uterus from germs. 

Cervical smear

The cervical smear is taken in the lower part of the cervical canal, often during the annual check-up with the gynaecologist. Among other things, the smear is used for the early detection of cervical cancer.


The cervix is the connection between the uterus and the vagina. The narrow section makes up the lower third of the uterus and projects as the opening of the cervix into the upper part of the vagina. The narrow opening, surrounded by mucous membrane, protects the uterus from germs.

Cervix opening

Opening of the uterus. The uterine canal opens into the vagina.

Cis-women or Cis-man

People who identify with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.


Years of hormonal changes, before and after the menopause. It is the transition from the fertile to the postmenopausal phase in the life of a menstruating person. Due to the decreasing estrogen level, menopause often brings about fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. 


Sexual organ, the small part of which is visible on the outside at the upper end of the labia. It consists of two thighs which connect to the front of the body and lie inside the body. The clitoris straightens up during sexual arousal due to the erectile tissue.

Cloth pad

Reusable pads are worn during menstruation to absorb the menstrual blood outside the body. They consist of different layers of absorbent material and are often made of cotton or hemp. They are washed after use and can be reused. Fabric pads are the sustainable version of disposable pads because they can be used for many years. 

Cloth panty liners

Reusable panty liners are worn during light bleeding to absorb the menstrual fluid outside the body. They are thinner and lighter than cloth pads and are also made of cotton. Fabric panty liners are the sustainable version of disposable panty liners because they can be used for many years. 

Cloth tampons

The slightly different and less known tampon version. Like other tampons, cloth tampons are inserted into the vagina where they absorb the menstrual blood directly. They are then washed and can be used again.

Cycle apps

Cycle apps help you to observe and better understand your own cycle. Based on the data entered, the app calculates the next period or the period for several months in advance. The first and last day of your menstruation are marked in the apps. In the course of the menstrual cycle, other characteristics such as mood, symptoms or temperature can also be noted.

Cycle awareness

Perceiving the body as a cyclical being and learning what influence the cycle-related hormones have on needs and mood. To better understand the different phases of the cycle and the associated qualities and to consciously integrate them into everyday life.

Cycle computer

Measuring devices with which menstruating people can determine the fertile and infertile days. They digitally support the methods of hormone-free contraception. For this purpose, various body characteristics, such as basal body temperature, hormones in the morning urine and the consistency of the cervical mucus are recorded and analysed. Regular and conscientious use must be ensured so that the cycle computer can interpret the measured values correctly. 

Cycle disorder

Changes in the natural menstrual cycle that deviate from the norm. This includes the duration, strength or rhythm of menstruation. 

Cycle length

Time from the first day of menstruation to the day before the menstruation starts again. Usually it lasts between 25 and 34 days.

Cycle phases

The menstrual cycle is divided into two phases: The first half of the cycle is called the follicular phase. It takes place between the beginning of menstruation and the next ovulation. The second half of the cycle is called the luteal phase. It takes place between ovulation and the next menstruation. 

Cycle tracking

Conscious observation of the menstrual cycle. In addition to the beginning and end of menstruation, other characteristics such as mood, symptoms or temperature are also registered. Cycle tracking can be done either analog in a menstrual calendar or digitally in cycle apps. The aim of cycle tracking is to gain a better understanding of your own body and the changes caused by your cycle. 



Painful or difficult menstruation with symptoms such as cramps and pain in the abdomen.



Sex cell containing all the genetic material of a menstruating person that is passed on to the children. With the beginning of puberty, an egg cell matures in the ovaries during each menstrual cycle. Eggs are fertilisable for a maximum of 24 hours.


A chronic, very painful disease of people with a uterus. Outside the uterine cavity, uncontrolled growths of the uterine lining form. The causes for the development of the disease are still unknown. 


Important sex hormones that are mainly produced in the ovaries. Estrogen promote the maturation of the egg capable of fertilisation and ensure that the uterine lining is well circulated with blood. The concentration of estrogen in the body changes significantly during the menstrual cycle. 


Fallopian tubes

Paired part of the sexual organs, which start from the uterus on both sides and end near the respective ovary. The fallopian tubes are lined with mucous membrane. 


Ability to get pregnant per menstrual cycle and give birth to an offspring. 


The moment in which the sperm and egg merge together. Fertilization takes place in the fallopian tube

First period

The first menstrual bleeding is also called menarche. The beginning of menstruation takes place during puberty. 

Follicular phase

The first phase of the menstrual cycle in which the body prepares for fertilisation of the mature egg. The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) increases during this phase, which eventually enables ovulation. 

Free bleeding

During menstruation, period products such as tampons, pads or menstrual cups are voluntarily not used. The blood is therefore not collected by a foreign object either inside or outside the body. It is possible to feel when blood is coming by consciously perceiving one’s own body. When free bleeding, the menstrual blood is finally discharged directly on the toilet by relaxing the pelvic floor.


Gender star (*)

The spelling with the gender star (*) is an attempt to include the diversity of gender identities in the German language.


Specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics.


Hormonal contraception

Hormonal contraceptive methods influence the hormone levels and usually suppress ovulation. The various contraceptives are prescription-only. Even if they are used differently, they often have very similar results and can have side effects. Hormonal contraceptive methods include the pill, the vaginal ring, IUD or the contraceptive patch. When used correctly, hormonal contraceptives protect against unwanted pregnancy, but not against sexually transmitted diseases. 

Hormone testing

Test strips are used to measure hormones in the morning urine. This is often done to determine ovulation.


The body’s own biochemical messengers, which are produced by glands and transported by blood. Hormones regulate various processes in the body. 


Menstruation that is too heavy. It is a form of menstrual disorder characterized by increased blood loss during menstruation. This is the case when the blood loss per menstruation is more than 80ml. 


Menstruation that is too light. It is a form of menstrual disorder characterized by a weak and short menstrual bleeding. This is the case when the blood loss per menstruation is less than 25ml. Light bleeding is often spotting.


Surgical removal of the uterus.




Incapacity to procreate or conceive. In human medicine, infertility occurs when a couple does not conceive despite the desire to have children and have had at least one year of regular unprotected sexual intercourse.

Intermediate bleeding

Bleeding from the uterus outside the actual menstruation.

Intermenstrual pain

Pain that may occur at the time of ovulation (middle of the menstrual cycle). Usually the pain is localised on one side of the lower abdomen. 

Irregular cycle

Menstrual cycles that last less than 24 or more than 35 days. This also includes menstrual cycles that vary by more than eight days from cycle to cycle. 






Part of the external genitals. The term covers both the outer and inner labia.

Luteal phase

Second phase of the menstrual cycle, which starts after ovulation and ends when menstruation begins. It is an infertile menstrual phase. 



Menstruation stops permanently, which also ends fertility and the possibility of pregnancy. 


A menstruation that is too long, which can last up to 14 days.

Menstrual Blood

Strictly speaking, menstrual blood is not just blood, but rather a mixture of blood, rejected uterine lining, the unfertilized egg and vaginal mucus. Other dead cells are also found in the tissue mix. Only about half of the fluid consists of blood. 

Menstrual cup

Small reusable containers that directly collect the menstrual blood inside the body. They mostly have a cup-like shape, are made of medical silicone and are inserted into the vagina. 

Menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle begins with the first day of menstruation and ends with the day before the next period. It usually lasts between 25 and 34 days. It is a regularly occurring process in the body of a menstruating person, which is repeated about 400 times from puberty to menopause. The menstrual cycle is characterized by hormonal changes. 

Menstrual irregularities

Irregularities of the bleeding rhythm in the menstrual cycle. A distinction is made between too frequent and too infrequent menstruation. / Irregularities of the bleeding pattern in the menstrual cycle. A distinction is made between too heavy and too light menstruation. 

Menstrual problems

Various symptoms that can occur before and during menstruation. These include, for example, cramps, nausea, headaches, a feeling of tension in the breasts, general malaise.

Menstrual sponges

Pure natural product for menstruation that can be reused. Basically, the application is similar to that of tampons, because they are inserted into the vagina where they directly collect the menstrual blood. 

Menstruating people

Term for all people who experience menstruation. Because not all women menstruate and not all menstruating people identify themselves as women.


During menstruation, the lining of the uterus is shed each month and the menstrual blood is discharged through the vagina. It is a natural, regular and biological process that symbolizes the health and fertility of a menstruating person. The menstrual period lasts on average about 5 days. Menstruation is also called period or bleeding.

Mons pubis

Slight hilly elevation just above the labia, caused by an accumulation of fatty tissue. From puberty onwards, hair grows on here.

Mood swings


During the menstrual cycle, various hormones are involved to varying degrees, resulting in natural mood swings. Depending on the phase of the cycle a person is in, the emotional situation also changes. 


Natural family planning (NFP)

Includes all contraceptive methods that do not affect hormones or the body in general. There are therefore no side effects. Natural contraceptive methods are based on the menstrual cycle and determine both the fertile and infertile days of a menstruating person. Fertilisation of the egg is prevented without the help of artificial hormones. Examples of hormone-free contraception include the symptohermal method, temperature method, cycle computer or barrier methods.


People whose gender identity lies outside the binary gender system and who identify neither as a man nor as a woman (e.g. queer)



Menstruation occurs too infrequent. It is a form of menstrual disorder characterized by a menstrual cycle that is too long. This is the case when the total cycle is more than 35 days (maximum 90). Due to changes in hormonal balance, oligomenorrhoea occurs mainly after the menarche or before menopause and is normal during this period. 

Ovarian cyst

A sack-like cavity formed in or on the ovaries and filled with fluid, which is usually harmless The ovarian cyst can have a diameter of a few millimetres to over 15 cm.


Part of the primary sexual characteristics where eggs and sex hormone are produced. 


The moment in which the unfertilised egg is ejected from the ovary and then received by the fallopian tube. In a healthy and natural menstrual cycle, ovulation takes place periodically and is often in the middle of the cycle. Around ovulation are the fertile days.

Ovulation bleeding

Intermediate bleeding that can occur at the time of ovulation (middle of the menstrual cycle). 



Inserts made of absorbent material to absorb menstrual fluid outside the vagina. Pads are worn in the underwear There are both disposable pads and washable cloth pads.

Panty liners

Inserts made of absorbent material to absorb menstrual fluid outside the vagina. It is a smaller and narrower version of pads and are therefore not as absorbent. Panty liners are worn in the underpants. There are both disposable panty liners and washable cloth panty liners.

Pelvic floor

Tissue-muscular floor of the pelvic cavity in humans.


Time between pre- and postmenopause, which is a sign of physiological aging. It lasts one to two years before and after the actual menopause. 


see menstruation

Period calendar

A menstrual calendar helps you to observe and better understand your own cycle. It can also be used to calculate the next period or your period for a few months in advance. The first and last day of your period are recored in the period calendar. During the menstrual cycle, other characteristics such as mood swings or temperature can also be registered.

Period pain

Pain that occurs during menstruation. They are a form of cycle irregularities. 

Period poverty

Period poverty exists when menstruating people cannot afford menstrual products for financial reasons. The lack of affordable products leads to people resorting to other alternatives such as (dirty) pieces of fabric or grass. This can have health consequences.

Period underwear

Menstrual underwear has several layers of fabric in the crotch area and therefore has additional functions. It is, so to speak, a pair of underwear with a washable pad sewn into it. The different fabrics ensure that the intimate area remains dry and the menstrual blood is absorbed. The menstrual underwear is washable like normal underwear and therefore reusable.

Petition “The period is not a luxury – lower the tampon tax”

Nanna-Josephine Roloff and Yasemin Kotra together launched the petition and found over 190,000 supporters on the platform. The petition demands that menstrual products be considered basic needs in Germany and be taxed at the simplified VAT rate of seven percent. This is because the increased tax rate of 19 percent discriminates against all menstruating people. The petition and the tireless efforts of the two menstrual activists were successful and from January 2020, menstrual products will be taxed at only the seven percent rate in Germany.


Hormonal contraceptive which use is widespread. There are different types of pills that must be taken orally at the same time every day (except for the week-long pill breaks). The hormones in the pill suppresses the maturation of the egg and thus also ovulation.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Hormonal metabolic disorder caused by a complex hormonal imbalance. The PCO syndrome can be the cause of infertility due to the cycle alterations. 


A too frequent menstruation. It is a form of menstrual disorder characterized by a menstrual cycle that is too short. This is the case when the total of the menstrual cycle is less than 24 days.


Duration of about twelve months after the last menstruation.

Postmenstrual bleeding

Spotting after menstruation is a menstrual disorder. 


Period of time during which a fertilised egg cell in the body matures into a child. The pregnancy calculated from the first day of the last menstruation lasts an average of 40 weeks. Traditionally, the duration of a pregnancy is given as nine months. However, the fluctuation range covers several weeks.


First irregularities in the menstrual cycle and occasional absence of menstruation. These changes in the menstrual cycle are triggered by the decline in progesterone levels.

Premenstrual bleeding

The spotting before menstruation is a menstrual disorder. 

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Pain and discomfort a few days before the start of menstruation. These can be very different complaints, such as stomach or headaches, as well as mood swings.


Is a corpus luteum hormone and belongs to the group of sex hormones. Progesterone is mainly produced in the second phase of the cycle. It promotes the growth of the uterine lining so that a fertilised egg can successfully nest there. The concentration of progesterone in the body changes greatly during the menstrual cycle. 


Part of adolescence, where the body changes and gradual development takes place. During this time the increased production of sex hormones begins. They cause the reproductive organs to become functional. 





Seed cycling

It is a natural form of nutritional supplementation. The intake of certain seeds is intended to gently support the hormone balance in case of imbalance. The aim is to bring the natural menstrual cycle into a healthy balance and to relieve menstrual problems. The four different seeds (pumpkin seeds, flax seed, sesame, sunflower seeds) are taken in the different phases of the cycle. The oils, vitamins and nutrients contained in the seeds support the body’s own production of estrogen or progesterone. 

Soft cup

Modification of the menstrual cup, which is also used to collect the menstrual blood inside the vagina. It is a plastic ring covered by a flexible foil. Due to the flexibility and material of the soft cup it takes up less space than a menstrual cup and can also be worn during sex. Many designs have to be thrown away after only wearing them once. The reusable alternative is made of medical silicone and can be used for up to two years. 


Light bleeding, which can occur between two periods. It is often an unexpected brownish discharge that lasts one to three days. Regardless of the actual menstruation, spotting can start at any time. The cause is usually a hormonal shift in the body.

Symptothermal method

Hormone-free contraceptive method, which is part of natural family planning. This method is based on determining the fertile days in the natural menstrual cycle. For this purpose, both the changes in basal body temperature and the cervical mucus are analysed together. It is a combination of the temperature method with the Billings method. The analysis and documentation can be supported by a contraception computer or software. 



Tampon tax

Menstrual products were taxed in Germany until the end of 2020 with the increased tax rate, also known as the luxury tax, of 19 percent. After much lobbying and a petition, two menstrual activists from Hamburg managed to change the tax rate for menstrual products. As of January 2020, all menstrual products (except panty liners, as they are considered everyday items) in Germany will be subject to the lower tax rate of only seven percent, which counts for basic necessities.


Tampons are used during menstruation and usually consist of compressed cotton wool. They are inserted into the vagina to directly absorb the menstrual blood inside the body. They are used once and thrown away afterwards.

Temperature method

Hormone-free contraceptive method, which is part of natural family planning. This method is based on determining the fertile days in the natural menstrual cycle. For this purpose the basal body temperature is measured every morning. Based on the cyclical fluctuations of the basal body temperature, the time of ovulation and thus also the fertile and infertile days can be determined.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)

Severe circulatory and organ failure caused by bacterial toxins. More commonly the Toxic Shock Syndrome is also known as ‘tampon disease’. 


People who do not identify with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.



Uterine lining

The thin, pink-coloured mucous membrane forms the inner wall of the uterus to protect it and enable the implantation of a fertilised egg. During the menstrual cycle, hormones influence the consistency and quantity of the mucous membrane. During menstruation, the upper layer of the uterine lining is broken down and discharged. During pregnancy, the lining of the uterus is called decidua.


Part of the genital organs that extends from the outer cervix to the opening of the fallopian tubes. The uterus is similar in shape to an upside-down pear and is a hollow organ in which the egg nests and develops after fertilisation. The uterus is also involved in the birth of the child due to its pronounced muscle layer.




Primary sexual organ, which has a tubular shape and connects the outer cervix with the vaginal vestibule. The vagina opens into the vaginal vestibule of the vulva and is between eight and twelve centimetres long. It protects the sexual organs that lie deeper in the body. As part of the birth canal, it is flexible. In everyday language the term vagina is often used incorrectly to refer to the vulva as a whole. 

Vaginal flora

Naturally existing microbial colonization of the vagina, which consists mainly of different types of lactic acid bacteria. It is responsible for ensuring that harmful germs cannot multiply disproportionately. The natural pH value of the vaginal flora prevents germs from multiplying. 

Vaginal vestibule

Part of the vulva that lies between the labias. Around the vaginal vestibule there are glands that are responsible for moistening the vagina. 


Sexual dysfunction or pain disorder, which can be both organic and psychological. It is a persistent or recurrent involuntary cramping or tension of the pelvic floor and the outer third of the vaginal muscles, making the vaginal entrance appear very narrow or as if closed. The tight muscle contraction makes vaginal intercourse or a gynaecological examination painful or even impossible. 


The entirety of the external primary sexual organs. The vulva consists of the mons pubis, the labia, the opening of the urethra, the vaginal vestibule and the clitoris. A large part of the vulva is covered by hair starting at the beginning of puberty. In everyday language, the vulva is often incorrectly called the vagina. 





Tantric term for the entirety of the vulva, vagina and uterus. The word also has other meanings, such as source or origin. Yoni is understood as a spiritual centre that connects the outer world with the inner darkness. 

Yoni steaming

Steam bath for the vulva. Also called vulva steaming.



Zero waste menstruation

Use of reusable products during menstruation in order to avoid waste. The menstrual period is designed to be plastic-free and without disposable products. 

Your glossary all about menstruation

In our Menstrual ABC you will find short and easy explanations of colloquial expressions and medical terms relating to menstruation, hormone-free contraception and the anatomy of the genitals. Here you will find menstrual knowledge from A for adenomyosis to Z for zero waste menstruation.
Are you still missing important terms in our glossary or have we explained something not quite understandable? Then send us a message with your ideas and feedback so that we can make the Menstrual ABC even more comprehensive and complete together.

If you would like to read more about a specific topic, you will find an overview of all our published articles in the archive, sorted by keywords. In our Periodico you will find all articles in chronological order.

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