Elizabeth Entenman
Updated Apr 25, 2016 @ 10:07 am
Picture of Anne Hathaway in Interstellar
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Let’s not sugarcoat it: Having your period is the pits. You feel crampy, moody and just want to spend the week curled up wearing sweatpants. So imagine how weird it would be to have your period in space. How does that even work? Turns out, menstruating in space is not that different from menstruating on Earth.

Back in 1983 Sally Ride, the first female astronaut, went to space. And people had a million questions for her — a lot of which were related to her period. What exactly happens when you combine menstruating with zero gravity? Is it messy?

“I’m not totally sure who had the first period in space,” said Rhea Seddon, a female astronaut in Ride’s class told The Washington Post, “but they came back and said, ‘Period in space, just like period on the ground. Don’t worry about it.’”

If you’re a woman planning on going into orbit any time soon, there are some things you should know. Space gynecologist Varsha Jain and space pharmacologist Virginia Wotring (yes, SPACE GYNO is a totally real job) have done a lot of research on the subject.

Don’t want to deal with your period in space? Find the right birth control. According to Jain and Wotring, female astronauts commonly take birth control pills continuously to suppress their periods. That method works great for short-term trips, but what about longer missions? Those who will be in space for an extended stay rely on options like IUDs, progestin injections and implants.

Of course, however a woman decides to deal with her period in space is all up to her!