Busting Period Myths

From the time girls have their first period, they start hearing weird and illogical concepts about periods. From whispered murmurs to strong beliefs of modern society, these misconceptions about periods have been passed through generations, but the reality gets buried in clouds of uncertainty. This has affected the overall well-being of females.

Menstrual periods are normal physiological processes of a female’s reproductive system. Education and awareness play an important role in empowering females to embrace the reality of periods, ensuring that women receive the care and understanding they deserve.

Myth 1: Periods should not be discussed publicly

Break the periods taboo and challenge the stigma around menstruation. Periods are not something that women should be ashamed of, it is not a punishment for any offense. We need to accept the fact that it is just a normal process that occurs in the reproductive age group of females.

In many countries, access to menstrual products becomes a great challenge for females due to this stigma. Women spend approximately 7 years of their lives in periods, YES! It’s a huge time span, so talking about its health aspects, hygiene, management, and abnormalities should be normalized so that it will become easy for all women out there.

Myth 2: Do not engage in physical activities during periods

It is a common belief that females should only rest during periods and refrain from any type of exercise or sports. But the truth is that any type of physical activity is safe and must be practiced. Exercise helps during periods; it boosts the mood, relieves cramps, and gives you a burst of energy to carry on with daily tasks. Exercise also helps you mentally by enhancing concentration and increasing dopamine levels.

Myth 3: Period blood is dirty and impure

Menstrual blood is just like other blood; the reason that it is expelled from the vagina does not make it impure or cursed. Menstrual periods consist of endometrial (uterus inner layer) cells, blood, vaginal or cervical mucus secretions, and bacteria from the vaginal flora.

Menstrual bleeding is just the shedding of the uterine lining, which was prepared by the body for the nourishment of an embryo, so how can it be impure?

Myth 4: Do not bathe during periods

It is unhygienic to stop taking showers during periods. It has no scientific basis. Females should take care of personal hygiene, especially during periods, as it becomes crucial. In fact, taking a warm shower helps in relieving period-related symptoms. Warm water causes vasodilation, decreases muscular tension, and relieves cramps.

Bathing helps prevent infection by cleaning the parts of the body affected by menstrual flow and wiping away any dirt or sweat that got accumulated over the day.

Evaluate your Menstruation Hygiene

Picture showing different menstruation products

Myth 5: You can’t get pregnant while on periods

Chances of pregnancy are always there, regardless of menstrual days. It is likely for those who have shorter menstrual cycles, say, a 21-day cycle. If you have periods for 7 days, then ovulation will likely occur 4 or 5 days after it. The egg can remain in the female reproductive system for 24 hours while sperm can live up to 5 days in the female’s reproductive tract. Therefore, if ovulation occurs just 4 or 5 days after periods, the likelihood of conception is high.

The chances of getting pregnant during your period are low, but the possibilities are always there.

Myth 6: Skipping periods are a cause of serious health concern

Your periods got skipped and it’s totally normal. There is nothing to worry about. A skipped period can be due to pregnancy but it’s not always the reason. Female sex hormones are always in flux. Fluctuations in these hormones can sometimes result in missed periods. It can either be due to mental stress or physical aspects such as weight loss/gain, medications, intense exercise, breastfeeding, or a changed routine.

It’s perfectly fine to get a late period for a month but if you have no periods for many months, you should consult a healthcare professional. Menstrual Portal also offers free online consultation, regarding any menstrual health issues.

Myth 7: PMS is a psychological illusion and not real

Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is a range of symptoms experienced just a week or two before getting periods. It is real and approximately every 3 out of 4 women experience PMS before their periods. It includes bloating, mood swings, headaches, breast tenderness, fatigue, muscle pains, acne, and insomnia. There is a scientific basis for these symptoms, which are caused by changing levels of estrogen and progesterone in the luteal phase (post-ovulation) of the menstrual cycle.

Myth 8: Tampons can get lost in the body

The fear of losing a tampon inside the body is not based on factual information. The anatomical structure of the vagina and cervix does not allow tampons to get lost. The vagina is not an open space, it is like a canal that is merely 2 to 5 inches long. At the other end of the vagina, there is a cervix which has an opening called an os, this opening is too narrow for a tampon to pass through.

After inserting a tampon, it sits comfortably in the vagina, effectively absorbing blood and going nowhere else. It is important to change tampons every 4 to 6 hours and avoid leaving them in for longer than 8 hours, as it can increase the risk of developing toxic shock syndrome.

Myth 9: Menstrual cycle should always have a duration of 28 days

The length of the menstrual cycle is highly variable among females and can even vary within the same female at different times. The normal range for menstrual cycle length is 21 to 35 days. Females may have different hormone levels and other physiological processes that can lengthen or shorten their cycle. Several factors can influence the length of the menstrual cycle, such as stress, sleep patterns, diet, exercise, and hormonal levels. Therefore, having a different menstrual cycle length is usually not a cause for concern.

Myth 10: Females on periods should sleep in a separate place

The belief that females should sleep in separate places during their periods is based on outdated and stigmatizing ideas. Menstruation is a natural bodily function experienced by women, and it does not pose a risk to others or require segregation.

Menstruation is a personal experience that does not involve any transferable pathogens or infections.

Myth 11: Periods should last exactly 1 week every month

Just like the length of the menstrual cycle, the duration of menstrual periods also varies from person to person. The normal range is from 2 to 7 days. Some females have a menstrual period for three days, while others might have bleeding for seven days.

The duration of menstrual periods can be influenced by factors such as hormones, the type of hormonal birth control pills or contraceptive methods being used, as well as stress levels, and other factors that affect hormone levels.

Myth 12: Sex during periods is unsafe

Sexuality and menstruation are often surrounded by misconceptions, and one myth is that sex during menstruation is somehow different or unhealthy. However, the reality is that engaging in sexual activities during periods is a natural and normal part of human sexuality.

However, it is essential for partners to have an open and honest discussion about preferences and concerns. If either partner feels uncomfortable, it is important to respect their boundaries.

Myth 13: Do not wash hair during periods

This is a sort of cultural misconception that hair should not be washed during periods. This belief is completely false and baseless as hair has nothing to do with periods. It is perfectly acceptable to wash your hair, take a shower, and maintain proper hygiene. There are no limitations or restrictions on hygiene and cleanliness during this time.

Myth 14: Eating pickles, yogurt, and spicy foods disturbs the menstrual flow

There is nothing to suggest that eating pickles or yogurt can impact the menstrual flow. Diet definitely has an influence on our overall menstrual cycle and reproductive health, but it does not directly affect menstrual bleeding or flow.

The length and intensity of menstrual flow are influenced by factors such as hormone levels, stress, overall health, and medical conditions. These factors are not directly linked to the consumption of specific foods. Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats provide the necessary nutrients and energy for the body and maintain overall health.

Myth 15: If you are on hormonal birth control pills, the uterus will fill up with blood

Hormonal contraceptive methods, such as taking progesterone pills or a combination of progestin and estrogen pills, do not cause a build-up of blood in the uterus. This is because progesterone and estrogen prevent the thickening of the uterine endometrium, which means there is no blood that would cause menstruation. Therefore, if the endometrium is not thickened, there is no accumulation of blood in the uterus.

Myth 16: A lot of blood is lost during periods

It may appear that a large amount of blood is lost during menstrual bleeding, but this is just an illusion. The average person actually loses only 30-40 milliliters or two to three tablespoons of blood during each menstrual period each month. This is just a small amount of blood when compared to a total of 5 liters or 5000 milliliters of blood in the body.

Myth 17: Intense period pain is normal

Period pain or dysmenorrhea often occurs during periods. Normally, it is mild to moderate in intensity and affects 1 in 2 women. It is due to the release of prostaglandins. Mild to moderate pain is considered normal, but if the pain becomes intense in severity, it should not be taken as normal.

It could be due to some serious underlying conditions such as PCOS, fibroids, etc. Therefore, it is important not to ignore intense period pain, and instead, consider taking analgesics and consulting a gynecologist to evaluate the underlying cause.

Myth 18: Menorrhagia only happens after giving birth

Menorrhagia refers to menstrual bleeding lasting longer than 7 days or heavy bleeding, which is defined as losing more than 80 ml of blood. It is a common misconception that menorrhagia only occurs after giving birth. However, this is not true.

Menorrhagia can be a sign of hormonal imbalance, uterine problems, and other health conditions, regardless of whether you have given birth or not. Some of the problems that can cause menorrhagia include fibroids, PCOS, thyroid disease, cushing syndrome, diabetes, and bleeding disorders.

Myth 19: Avoid eating sour foods during periods

Sour food has no influence on your periods at all. Many people believe the myth that eating sour food causes period cramps, but there is no scientific proof of this. However, it is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet for overall health.

Myth 20: One must get their first period before the age of 14

Menarche, or the onset of the first period, can occur at any age between 10 and 16. It is influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental factors, diet, and chronic illnesses. Therefore, the age of the first period can vary among girls. It is completely false to believe that one must get their first period before the age of 14.

Myth 21: The menstrual cycle is the same as menstrual periods

Although often used interchangeably, the terms “menstrual cycle” and “menstrual periods” are not the same. The menstrual cycle refers to the complete sequence of events that occur in the female reproductive system, including the release of an egg and the preparation of the uterus for a potential pregnancy. It typically lasts for 28 days and consists of the follicular phase, ovulation, luteal phase, and menstruation.

Menstrual bleeding, also known as periods or menstruation, is just one part of the overall menstrual cycle during which the uterine lining is shed as bleeding. The duration of menstrual bleeding can range from 2 to 7 days.

Frequently asked questions

Does any form of physical activity disturb menstrual flow?

No, physical activity does not have a negative impact on period flow. Exercise should be practiced as it helps relieve cramps, enhance mood, and improve overall health.

Which foods should be avoided during periods?

Avoid consuming excessive salt, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, red meat, and spicy food, as they can have a negative impact on the menstrual cycle.

If a girl doesn’t have periods by the age of 14, is it not normal?

It is completely normal if a girl does not have her first period by the age of 14. The onset of periods varies from person to person, depending on individual factors. Typically, periods start between the ages of 10 and 16.

Can stress affect the menstrual cycle?

Yes, stress can impact the menstrual cycle. High levels of stress can disrupt hormonal balance, leading to irregular or delayed periods. Engaging in stress-reducing activities, such as exercise, meditation, and self-care, can help regulate the menstrual cycle.

Can swimming during periods cause health issues?

No, swimming during periods does not cause any health issues. It is safe to swim while menstruating, and using menstrual products like tampons or menstrual cups can help prevent leakage.

Can certain medications affect menstrual flow?

Yes, certain medications, such as hormonal treatments, anticoagulants, and some antidepressants, can affect menstrual flow.

Last medically reviewed on August 3, 2023.