Bleeding Out The Moisture
According to the Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, menstruation was the salvation of most women. He saw women as different from men by nature. Their monthly bleeding was a way of getting rid of excess moisture.
Menstruation was therefore considered by Hippocrates as a healthy time: without getting rid of the excess blood, women would probably get ill. The womb was seen as place of origin of female diseases. Young girls just before their menarche were most at risk: if the mouth of the womb wasn’t yet opened through sexual intercourse, the blood couldn’t flow out and would thus lead to ‘insanity and suicidal thoughts’. Nowadays, this is called puberty.
The Corpus Hippocraticum contains more interesting thoughts about menstruation: women with heavy and long periods are generally sickly and find it difficult to carry children, whereas women with light and short periods aren’t as often ill, but also don’t become pregnant that easy. In healthy women, the blood flows like that of a sacrificed animal.