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Menstrual Menace

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In most fiction, periods are rarely mentioned. Speculative Fiction normally does likewise, but on the rare occasions that it does mention menstruation, the characters should tremble. Menstruation in SF holds great sway over supernatural powers.

SF periods serve as the trigger for every supernatural menace you can think of. Gruesome Body Horror is the favorite, but a period can also serve as a source of great power (and great insanity), a magnet for The Fair Folk, a gateway to a hell dimension, or even a semi-sentient Reality Warper. Periods also cause all sorts of supernatural powers, from Puberty Superpower, to attunement to magic. You're gonna need more than chocolate to sort this one out.

The Menstrual Menace is particularly popular as a Monster of the Aesop. Any monster evolving out of a girl's period will serve as an object lesson of how to deal with the pain of puberty. If the moral is that Growing Up Sucks, the whole cast will be dead or insane by the end. At the more idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, defeating the Menstrual Menace will be an Anvilicious moral about the importance of abandoning childish things. By virtue of them both running on a roughly monthly cycle, periods are also sometimes compared to lycanthropy or the latter is used as a metaphor for the former.

Menstruation in Speculative Fiction also causes mundane misery and angst, which tend to lead to stupid mistakes that create all of the previous supernatural problems.

The belief systems of some cultures have often incorporated a strong positive or negative supernatural significance to the phenomenon of menstruation.

This trope is for supernatural periods only; for trouble caused by mundane periods, see All Periods Are PMS. Compare Women's Mysteries. See also Hysterical Woman and All Women Are Lustful, two beliefs brought on by this very trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The third chapter of Cells at Work! Lady has PMS as the cause of the abnormalities that attack the cells that work in the female body.
  • In Karin, the eponymous character has a monthly release of blood... from her nose (unless, of course, she injects it into a human). The similarity to a menstrual cycle is frequently lampshaded, especially in the beginning.
  • Tsukiko Sagi in Paranoia Agent suffered one during middle school. This made her drop Maromi's leash, accidentally letting her dog run to the street and get run over by a car. Combined with the stress of having to suffer her strict father's punishment, this ends up creating Lil' Slugger so she avoids punishment by saying it was him who killed her dog but not because she couldn't explain the sudden pain, given she had pestered her father to buy Maromi for her and she was raised to be very introverted.
  • In Episode 4 of the first season of Slayers, Lina Inverse has her powers of magic reduced by 99.9999999% for a few days due to her "Time of the Month", and this happens to all female magic wielders. It's never mentioned again. (The show turned out to have a larger female audience than expected, and the writers didn't want to offend them). This is also the one instance where Gourry understood pretty much immediately the reason behind something being wrong with Lina. Amusingly, though, Gourry doesn't know what "that time of month" actually is, and only knows it's something that girls don't like talking about.

    Comic Books 
  • Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol has Dorothy Spinner, a mutant who creates imaginary friends with her powers. Due to trauma, she acts like she's a little girl. A period is enough to bring back her horrible memories, and the Candlemaker — a gruesome monster that only children and lunatics can see. Artist Richard Case also made sure to draw Dorothy with red shoes, a longtime symbol for menstruation and a woman's maturation.note 

    Rachel Pollack expanded on the plot point of Dorothy's powers becoming stronger during her menstrual cycle because her first period was badly traumatic. No-one had bothered to explain to Dorothy what would be happening to her body when she finally reached puberty, and her period began while a group of boys were mercilessly bullying her. After Dorothy finally made it home, her mother belittled her over the incident and said to Dorothy's face that she should've aborted her. This horrible experience became linked to Dorothy's power because, a little afterwards, she tried to "kill" some of her imaginary friends because she thought she was too old for them.
  • Back in the '80s there was a black and white comic called MS. PMS. A woman is infected by an alien device that locks her into a permanent state of PMS; frazzled hair, bad attitude, super-human strength. The aliens were present too, wearing their environmental armor called P.A.N.T.I.E shields. This comic lasted about two issues. Yeah.
  • Alan Moore's Swamp Thing story, "The Curse," draws parallels between menstruation and the traditional lunar-cycle-based activity of werewolves.
  • In The Dark Age of Comic Books there was an independent series, Crimson Plague, about a woman whose blood contained a virus capable of wiping out a planet in hours. Cut her, your whole world is dead. And since she's female, leave her alone for a month, you're still dead...
  • In Fables, Frau Totenkinder first began to receive her magical powers after she had her first period (back in the Stone Age). It's mentioned that her shedding of blood fueled her powers, however, she soon finds that the blood of other children gives her even more power. (Her name is Mrs. Dead Children...)
  • In Hex Wives, Danali's magical powers activate when she has her first period. Isadora gives her some pretty frank advice on dealing with menstruation.
  • Played with in Runaways:
    • The first issue features Molly (around 12 years old) trying to get older female characters' attention to ask about changes in her body and unusual bleeding. They blow her off, assuming it's her first period, but it turns out to be a nosebleed associated with her mutant powers emerging.
    • Downplayed with Nico, who has to draw her own blood to call forth her magical staff. Menstruation counts, so she doesn't always have to self-harm. It doesn't have any other effect on her powers, though.

    Fan Works 
  • There's a joke in The King of Fighters Fanon that the only time Leona transforms into her Riot of Blood form is during that time of the month.
  • Played for Laughs in The RWBY Loops. Yang Xiao Long canonically has the ability to absorb power from damage and use it against her foes. In one particular loop, cramps count as hits; this makes her reckless enough that her sister and teammates hid behind various features of the landscape, whilst Nora complains about how lucky she is.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Exaggerated by Carrie (1976) as a side effect of being forced to cut the rain of stones on Carrie's house in the Distant Prologue. As a result, it seems that Carrie's telekinetic powers start when she gets her first period.
  • Dog Soldiers. The sole female character quips "It's that time of the month" as she turns into a werewolf.
  • During the superhero "tryouts" in the movie Mystery Men, a woman calls herself the PMS Avenger, sporting a red outfit.
    PMS Avenger: P.M.S. Avenger. I only work 4 days a month. Is there a problem with that?
  • In I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, a henchman tries to kidnap the heroine, and she turns into a demon on him. He thinks she's possessed by the devil, but she says, "No! Cramps!"
  • Ginger Snaps also makes the menstruation/werewolf connection.
  • In The Reaping, a little girl pretty much brings about the end of the world by getting her period. Or so it seems for a while.
  • In the 1993 remake of Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, a doctor speculates that Nancy's condition is caused by a hormonal imbalance. Her husband's response is "Congratulations, doctor. You've just discovered a new form of PMS."
  • The Devil Inside has a menstruated and possessed woman spewing her blood at the camera.
  • Roh: At one point Along wakes in the middle of the night and walks to the entrance of the family's home, where we see blood trickling down her leg. Due to the family living in a time and place without sanitary pads or running water, the only way she can deal with the menses cleanly is by going out into the woods and bleeding onto the ground. This results in another frightening encounter with the ghost of Adik, after which a terrified Along hides among the trees and when the hunter comes across her and brings her home, the blood smeared on her legs makes her mother Mak think the hunter assaulted her.

  • In Suzy McKee Charnas' short story Boobs, the narrator, when she reaches puberty, changes into a werewolf for several nights per month instead of having periods.
  • In the book Cycler by Lauren McLaughlin, every month before her period the main character, Jill, turns into a boy.
  • In Piers Anthony's Xanth books, Chameleon changes according to her cycle. At one point in her cycle, she is beautiful but dumb, at the opposite point, she is ugly but very smart and clever.
  • Inverted in the Black Jewels series, where witches lose much of their power while menstruating.
  • Justine Larbalestier's Liar (2009) also connects menstrual cycles and lycanthropy. There is an excellent scene in the book when the reader is certain that the parents are locking up their daughter for having her period until it is revealed in the second half of the book that she is a werewolf.
  • The title character of Stephen King's Carrie theretofore mild telekinetic powers become much stronger after her first period starts.
  • Characters in A Song of Ice and Fire repeatedly suggest this as an explanation for Brienne's fierce fighting style. Their tone of voice while doing so tends to vary between misogynist mockery (if she's busy or out of earshot) and outright pants-wetting terror (if she's not).
  • Nearly every Discworld book in which Angua has a significant role includes a time-of-the-month gag, but in her case, it's about lycanthropy.
  • Discussed in The Twisted Ones: One (elderly male) scholar's writings attribute a girl's supernatural experience to her first period, which he calls "a highly dangerous time in the spiritual life of women". The women who read this excerpt think he's just projecting his own fear of menstruation on the rest of the world.
  • The Last Human: Sarya mentions that her first period was perfectly normal for her species. Unfortunately, she had been adopted by a Widow and told she was an entirely different species because being human would get her hunted down and killed. The species she thought she was don't get periods; if they start bleeding like that, it means they're dying. Her mother found her hiding in the air vents, preparing for some sort of blaze of glory suicide attack so that she could "die like a Widow should," and was forced to tell her that she was human after all.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in the second episode of Garth Marenghis Darkplace. The sole female character has a psychotic break, then goes on a telekinetic rampage that kills several people. In the end, all is forgiven because she couldn't help herself — it was her inevitable female foolishness and hormones (as Thornton Reed puts it, "I think it's her time."). The point, of course, is that Marenghi is a sexist hack who thinks nothing of stealing the plot of Carrie and making it about how women's issues lead to death.
  • In a bit sketch on The Young Ones, a young woman is sent to hell and threatened with all sorts of horrific punishments by a (female) devil. Then their dialogue shifts, as the scene is revealed to be a pain-reliever commercial on TV. The young woman goes on about "that strange washed-out feeling you just can't explain", but the devil confides that she's talking about period pains. Er, so PMS is so agonizing that it's comparable to being tortured in hell?
  • Played for laughs in The IT Crowd, where Jen's very angry period sees her literally turn into some kind of hell-demon at some points. This results in the image of a red-and-white skinned woman in a business suit screaming things like "I CAN NEVER FIND A BLOODY PEN AROUND HERE!".
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer Willow tells her new (werewolf) boyfriend Oz "Yeah, okay, werewolf. But three days out of the month I'm not much fun to be around either." Which was a bit of a shock moment, considering how shy and soft-spoken Willow normally is.
  • In the sketch comedy show, Touch Me, I'm Karen Taylor, Karen invented the super-heroine Pre-Menstrual Girl, who is the alter ego of normally pleasant and cheerful office worker Penelope. When trouble arises her super-heroine power kicks in: she alters her body-clock and transforms into Pre-Menstrual Girl, a superheroine who saves peoples' lives, either by winning the villain's heart with her neurotic sobbing, or terrifying him into bludgeoned submission by screaming, being aggressive, and sniping.
  • One episode of Charmed (1998) had the sisters' periods lining up with each other and with a blue moon, which... somehow... turned them into werewolf-like creatures who attacked Whitelighters. They're unaware of the situation at first, but strangely consider it a perfectly logical reveal once they figure things out.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Werewolf stories often have a Menstrual Menace, due to the days in a lunar cycle and a menstrual cycle.
    • In the Ginger Snaps films, werewolf transformations serve as a metaphor for not just periods, but every unpleasant body change that comes with puberty. The first film sees Brigitte watching in horror as her sister goes through mood swings, hair on her body in all the wrong places...
    • Peter S. Beagle wrote a short story titled Lila the Werewolf which purposely plays with the similarities between menstruation and lycanthropy.
      "First day, cramps. Second day, this. My introduction to womanhood."
    • Angua is both the first woman and the first werewolf in the Ankh-Morpork Watch, which leads to a misunderstanding early on ("Is it because I'm a w...") Boyfriend Carrot mentions that he tends to stay out of the way around a full moon.
  • In Norse Mythology, Gjalp attempted to drown Thor in a torrent of her menstrual blood. Though in later versions, it's not menstrual blood, but urine. In both versions, however, Thor stops the torrent by throwing a rock at her and plugging up... well, yes.
  • In Celtic Mythology, Maeve (or Medb, or whatever Walisic naming you deem correct) holds back her period until the Big Battle ends. And then it's flood time, too.

    Video Games 

  • In Cursed Princess Club, Princess Calpernia's curse ultimately turns out to be related to this. Specifically: she turns into a Giant Spider on her period.
    Princess Calpernia: The were-spider curse works by latching on to some monthly phase at the time it was activated. But... instead of a phase of the moon, it latched onto a different 'time of the month' that I was on that night... if you get what I mean. I-in other words... I turn into a giant, ravenous, deadly spider once a month during my period.

    Web Original 
  • In the Whateley Universe, superpowered mage Fey has her first case of PMS in her first few weeks at Superhero School Whateley Academy. This leads to thunderstorms, lightning bolts, and rain. In the dorm hallways. For bonus points, all the magical fun also triggers menstrual discharge in every other girl in the dorm. Including the ones who had just finished with this month's visitor.[1]
  • Humon has her own Menstrual Monster, which she learned to tame with medical assistance. See here

    Western Animation 
  • Half-demon Callie in Ugly Americans undergoes "Painful Mortal Shedding", a process in which a female demon periodically molts her toxic flesh. The agony can only be minimized by near-constant sex with her boyfriend/human sex slave Mark. In the background of another episode, a calendar in Mark's apartment has two weeks marked as "Callie's Period", so apparently that's a bit different for demons, as well.


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