Period. Period, period, period. There, we said it. 

It’s a easy thing, but millions of women and girls around the world are ashamed to say the word period. Women still pass tampons like a class A drug when their friends find themselves short. Women glance quickly at the supermarket shelf before grabbing a pack of pads and moving on.

It was only last month that an advert for sanitary towels actually showed period blood as red for the first time. Before then they always showed that weird blue liquid. 

But period euphemisms are a worldwide phenomenon. In fact, there are more than 5,000 different slang terms that people use instead of saying period. 

France and China talk about their periods in 91% slang terms, according to an international survey carried out last year. Denmark followed closely at 86%. 

But, while some of the euphemisms are funny, others are having a more damaging effect. They make girls and women feel tainted or dirty. It’s important because too often girls are made to feel ashamed or embarrassed when they menstruate. 

Take action: #ItsBloodyTime for World Leaders to Prioritise Menstrual Hygiene for Girls’ Education

That shame manifests in many countries as just plain embarrassment. In other countries it can be life-threatening or force a girl to miss out on her education

Now that we know what we’re up against in normalising periods, here are a few of the weirdest and worst euphemisms for periods from around the world. 

1. Strawberry Week 

Kind of nice, right? It’s used by people in Austria, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, and Switzerland, to name a few. It's also used in Germany, where it’s said ‘erdbeerwoche’,

Image: Flickr/Vanessa Lollipop

2. The English Have Landed

This phrase, used in France, Belgium, and Canada, among others, apparently refers to past wars with England. It is generally believed to refer to the British army’s red coats. 

3. I’m With Chico

Used in Brazil, “eustou com Chico”, this is in reference to environmentalist and human rights activist Chico Mendes. He was gruesomely assassinated in 1988 and the 19th rural activist to be murdered that year in Brazil. 

Read more: Vaginal Bleeding Is Tabloo in Poor Countries — and It’s Putting Lives at Risk, Report Says

4. Mad Cow Disease

A bit rude, but apparently it’s meant affectionately by the Finnish people who use it. 

5. There Are Communists in the Funhouse 

Ok Denmark, Estonia, Canada, and Sweden… You do you. 

6. I’m With Andrew. The One That Comes Every Month

A bit long-winded, but it’s quite a catchy rhyme in the original Spanish: “Andres, el que viene cada mes.” It’s used across most countries in Central and South America.

7. The Russians Have Arrived 

There’s probably a history lesson to be found in the origins of period euphemisms. This one is used across Belgium, Denmark, Greece, and Romania. 

Read more: This African Feminist Was Jailed for Demanding Free Sanitary Pads for Girls

8. Japan Is Attacking 

We’re noticing a bit of a theme here. This is used in Australia, Canada, Germany, and Finland. 

9. Shark Week

It's not too much of a surprise that this one crops up in Australia, but it is also used in Canada, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, the UK, and the US. 

Image: Flickr/Allan Lee

10. Surfing the Crimson Wave

Another on the nautical theme, this one is another favourite in Australia and New Zealand. 

Read more: Indian Girl, 12, Kills Herself After Being Shamed for Having her Period

11. Granny’s Stuck in Traffic

Um.. ok South Africa. Another variation is that granny’s coming in the red car, which we guess makes a bit more sense. 

12. I’m Untouchable

Plot twist. Period euphemisms aren’t always a joke. And they directly relate to the taboo and the social stigma that women and girls are made to feel about menstruating. This one is used in India and Nepal. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the Global Goals, including gender equality and access to healthcare. Menstruation is a fact of life for women everywhere. But the stigma means that girls aren’t being educated about what’s happening to their bodies. They’re missing school and in some cases they’re dying because of their periods. You can join us in putting an end to this, by taking action here


Demand Equity

12 Of The Weirdest And Worst Euphemisms for the Word ‘Period’

By Imogen Calderwood