Let’s talk about the uterus.

If you don’t have one, don’t think you can skip this article. You probably need it more than those of us who do. We’re about to get real.

Pear-shaped, and usually tucked up past the bladder, uteruses are equipped from day one with fully-stocked ovaries. Once puberty starts, they work day and night to make a special little home for any possible future foetuses. Unfortunately, this diligent work often goes unappreciated. Though they are mega cool baby-carrying superhero muscles, they are also fucking assholes. Because if you decide “hey, you know what, I’m not going to get pregnant this month, actually,” your uterus will throw a temper-tantrum. This is, of course, Shark Week.

The period

Way scarier than Discovery Channel programming, this is what makes the uterus so notoriously dickish. During the period, your uterus straight-up tears itself apart and unceremoniously dumps out blood and mucosal tissue. To the woefully unprepared, the period can be a veritable bane. On average, this carnage happens every 28 days and lasts three to five days.

Cramps

And expelling blood and guts (about 2.4 tablespoons) is often no walk in the park. Unless your walks in the park involve being punched repeatedly in the lower abdomen or back. But don’t worry, you’re not dying, it’s just your uterus contracting. If it contracts too vigorously, it can cut off blood flow to its own muscle tissue, which is what causes the pain. The only solace you can take is that if you get really bad cramps, it probably means your uterus is super jacked.

PMS

Thing is, these cramps don’t necessary just happen during the menstruation itself. Sometime your uterus likes to get a leg up on the work and those cramps can even start a couple days beforehand. Some people also experience some other symptoms around this time, and generally grouped they are called premenstrual syndrome. The hormonal changes around this time may cause a person to get more acne, become bloated, have tender breasts and might experience strange emotional side effects too.

Hormones

If you’re a total asshole, you might be wondering: does this hormonal change mean a person becomes less rational during PMS? Not at all. It just means they’re less willing to put up with your stupid freaking bullshit. And just so we are transparently clear: during PMS people's hormonal levels are actually higher in testosterone and lower in oestrogen. Not to bust out any binaries here, but you may notice that this more closely resembles the hormone levels of those identified male at birth.

Forewarned is forearmed

To the woefully unprepared, Shark Week can be a veritable bane, a waking nightmare, an exercise in mortality. But there are things you can do to make things easier, the first and foremost of which is tracking your period. You can do this with a calendar and math, or, you can be a normal human living in the 21st century and use a period-tracking app. The best one I’ve found is Clue. Easy to use, pretty to look at, and gender-neutral, Clue is free and available for both iPhone and Android. Not to mention hella educational. In additional to providing you with a way to track and predict your cycle with ease, the app is also chock-full of information about any and all aspects of your cycle, including the often-mysterious fertility window. Check it out at helloclue.com to help you understand your uterus. Even though it can be a real jerk.

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