Interactive Menstrual Cycle Exhibit Using Paper Undies





Introduction: Interactive Menstrual Cycle Exhibit Using Paper Undies

Menstrual cycle education isn't an area that's seen much innovation until now!  So here are instructions for making an interactive menstrual cycle teaching tool that's great for all ages and learning styles.   Think of it as the menstrual cycle as you've never seen it  before!  I am including the instructions for making this exhibit.  

Students will learn the different phases of the menstrual cycle concretely and visually.  The paper panties show and explain  the changes a woman's body undergoes throughout her entire 28 day cycle.  The visual design on each pair of paper panties gives viewers cues as to for what's happening on that day.  The tags on the sides of the panties show the cycle day and a brief description of what's happening on that day.

For example, there are big red polka dots for the first day of the period when the flow is heavy.  The red polka dots get smaller and smaller as the panties go from Day 1-Day 6.  

On the days where a woman is close to ovulation and is fertile, the panties are colored in pastel baby colors to show that pregnancy is possible on these days.  

During the second half of the cycle, the panties transition slowly from solid white to solid black indicating the darkening of one's mood and attitude as estrogen and progesterone fall creating PMS symptoms.

I am assuming that the niche internet community that will dig this project already knows a lot about the menstrual cycle.  Because of this, I will not be including detailed medical or biological information about all that happens during a typical menstrual cycle.  But if you have question, get in touch!

Step 1: Gather Supplies

All you need to put this display together is: 

-a garment rack
-hangers with clips
-printer with 57 pages of 11x17 white paper
-extra people to help cut out all the panties and put them together (it's a big job!).  With two of us it took about 2 hours to assemble all the paper panties

I've included the PDF document which includes the paper panties and the section labels.

Print out the PDF and start cutting out the panties.  Make sure you keep the matching fronts and backs of each day together.

Step 2: Assemble the Panties

Using tape and or staples, attach the two side tabs together so that the label lies flat and is clearly legible.

Step 3: Label Cycle Sections

Using the labels provided from page 1 of the PDF, create labels for the large sections of the menstrual cycle and add them to the rack.

Now I know every woman's cycle is different and that for some peak fertility will come on day 20 of a 34 day cycle, or that PMS can last longer than just three days (mercy!)  but this educational tool shows the most typical 28 day cycle with the most common sequence of events.

Step 4: Rack It Up

The last thing you need to do is put the assembled panties on the hangers and put them on the garment rack.

Step 5: Educational Handout

Here is an accompanying handout for the rack of panties.  I'm attaching the PDF so you can print out copies for your students/participants/patients.



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    28 Discussions

    That's awesome! What do you teach? I have another project related to this one that you might like to see. Let me know if you're interested. It's a guide book that goes thru your 5 hormone personalities using googly-eyed finger puppets

    How I wish you had been around all those years ago!!! Concrete, concise, non-intimidating, and educational. Thanks for your creativity!!!

    Brilliant graphical presentation of a complex subject. I am reminded of Edward Tufte's work.

    1 reply

    Here are some more in-depth explanations on how the menstrual cycle works. They will only take you 15 minutes to read.

    1 reply

    Thanks for sharing this link. There is certainly lots of good information out there about the cycle but almost all of it is in text format/books etc which require the audience to be self-motivated to go out and read it, and need to be the type of learner who learns well from text. My project is about getting people to engage in the topic in a visual and concrete way which is lacking in most of the literature out there now.

    Wow! Very clever and educational exhibit. This might even be the beginning of men understanding women!

    3 replies

    LOL... Never gonna happen. That be like getting a dog to learn A complete performance of all the Chopin Etudes while juggling flaming chainsaws..:-) At least speaking for myself of course.

    Mind you ! My dog knows how to play all the Chopin Etudes while juggling flaming chainsaws and chasing his fiancée !!!!…

    Still, I do not see the point. We all know women have periods and this is a thing we should talk about in the couple if they wish to.

    Or women understanding themselves! Having spent my master's thesis on developing strategies to combat the stigma around menstruation that ladies know very little about what's going on and men know even less! And considering we only get education on this topic once, maybe twice in a lifetime (sex ed in school and if there are infertility problems) it's not wonder women are fooled by PMS and surprised by their periods month after month, year after year, decade after decade until we've had 400 cycles by the time we reach menopause! 400! I made a video about this for my thesis too - check it out

    Great idea, Loretta. I'm curious what you did your work in. This sounds silly, but my mother's dream is for me to write my thesis on the history of sanitary supplies. I've not yet come across a program under which I could do that.

    1 reply

    Look up "Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation" - your thesis topic is basically covered there. You could also read "The Curse: Confronting the Last Unmentionable Taboo: Menstruation". I got my masters in Communication Design from Carnegie Mellon. This project was all about different strategies for combatting stigmas and I worked with the stigma of PMS and menstruation.

    Being a "man" I said ugh. Even my wife was said "what"?.

    But, after reading on and reading the comments, my wife and can now say great!

    We are now further enlightened.

    I got here from the newsletter, thinking this was going to be a system for arranging and dispensing panties so that you're wearing the dark ones on your period. I feel both disappointed and pleased at what this really is.

    In the newsletter the tittle of this is abbreviated to "Interactive Menstrual Cycle" the bizarre concept brought me here but this looks like a really cool way to break down and explain a very complex concept!

    This is absolutely brilliant. I volunteered for many years in a family planning clinic and could have used this. Thank you!!