For women, that dreaded time of the month can be uncomfortable and painful anyway, without being given the wrong information. Even so, there are so many myths about periods that get passed down from generation to generation or are perpetuated online. Here are some of the most popular ones:
1. You are more likely to get attacked by a shark if you are on your period
This one is one of the more common old wives tales circulating periods. If you live near a beach it may be a concern, but unless you are going on holiday somewhere there are likely to be sharks it will probably not come up. There is literally no data to support the idea that sharks are more likely to attack when someone has their period.
2. Women who are on their period are “unclean” and will contaminate food
This is widely believed in countries like India, but yet again there is no evidence to support this. As long as standard hand hygiene is practised there is no reason women who are menstruating cannot prepare food.
3. Showering while you are on your period can cause infertility
This may sound a bit crazy, but it is widely believed in Afghanistan that if you shower while you are menstruating this will make you infertile. Unfortunately for Afghanistan women not showering during menstruation is a pretty bad idea. It can lead to all sorts of infections and the time of the month is actually one of the times you should shower MORE, not less.
4. Periods are absolutely debilitating for women
Many women remember first learning about periods and thinking they sound pretty bad, and even if they are, normal life can resume if you prepare adequately. Many Asian countries let women have sick leave when they are on their period, but this is more because of it being taboo rather than an actual physical issue. Strong painkillers and a hot water bottle will usually see women through the worst.
5. You cannot participate in sports/classes
Many people often think that women are unable to take part in sports, especially things like swimming if they are having their period. As long as proper sanitary products are used, women should have no problem taking part in their favourite sports or classes, even if they are in the water.
6. You shouldn’t wash your hair when you are on your period
One of the myths about menstruation is that is you wash your hair while you are menstruating it will go limp. There is absolutely zero science to back this up.
7. You can’t get pregnant if you have sex during your period
Possibly one of the most dangerous myths about periods. You can absolutely get pregnant if you are on your period and you have sex, so you should still use proper protection. Sperm can survive in the body for up to 7 days, and if you ovulate a little early, you could become pregnant.
8. You have to see a doctor after your first period
A lot of people believe you should see your doctor after your first period. If you experience a very bad period you might do this, but it really isn’t necessary. You only need to see a doctor if you are concerned about your period or if it starts having an impact on your life i.e. bad period pains etc.
9. Periods should last exactly one week
Everyone is different. Although the menstruation period is usually around one week, this may not be the case for everyone. Some (lucky) women experience periods for just 3 days and some have slightly longer periods. It is only a concern if it is not your regular cycle. If you are using period delay medication or the contraceptive pill you may also experience different timings during your menstrual period.
10. Virgins shouldn’t wear tampons
It is a common myth that tampons will hurt virgins, but this usually doesn’t tend to be the case. A tampon can break the hymen, which is sometimes used as a cultural indicator of virginity. But the hymen can also break at other times too. Everyone is different, but tampons are designed with all women in mind, not just those who have had sex. It is all about finding what works for you.