There are many myths and truths about menstruation and the functioning of the female body that have been disseminated for years. Although it is a natural process that women go through during their reproductive life, closely linked to women’s health, throughout history there have been many myths about menstruation that still survive. Who has never heard that washing your head is bad during this period? Or did you get scolded for walking barefoot? In today’s text, I have separated some of these most common beliefs, in addition to true facts about menstruation. See now 20 myths and truths about menstruation!
- Where do the myths and truths about menstruation come from?
- 20 myths and truth about female menstruation
- Demystifying menstruation
Where do the myths and truths about menstruation come from?
Before science and medicine, religion was the authority to explain natural occurrences. How would you explain why women bleed every month when they are not pregnant? Most major religions gave a negative touch to menstruation, saying it was a period of impurity in women. The concept of a menstruating woman being impure, or even potentially bad, led to cultural practices that isolated and excluded them. These narrow, punitive views of menstruation have disappeared in most cultures, but society still attributes a taboo to menstruation and many myths and truths about menstruation still remain.
Information on the network
Being able to easily find information online about your period is a relatively new concept. In the past decades, a lot of misinformation was propagated and menstruation was rarely discussed, except in secret. School health classes tried to fill the information gap, but generally fell short of expectations. Usually, any information you received was from your mother or relatives. Much of this information was based on the remnants of religious beliefs mixed with some practical observations from our ancestors. Let’s take a look at some myths and truths about menstruation:
20 Myths and truths about menstruation
1. You cannot get pregnant during menstruation
MYTH – If you thought that menstruating is a VIP pass for unprotected sex, you can get that idea out of your head. Having sex without a condom during your menstrual period can actually result in pregnancy. Everything depends on the moment when the sex happens.
It is almost impossible to get pregnant during the first days of menstruation, but the situation changes when the relationship occurs during the last days of the menstrual period. The sperm are able to survive in the woman’s body for up to three days, that is, they can “last” until the woman is in the fertile period, which will make fertilization possible.
2. You cannot have sex during the period
MYTH – Some women may not be comfortable having sex due to bleeding, but having menstruating sex is not harmful to health. Many even find it exciting. Just remember to take birth control methods if you don’t want to get pregnant.
3. You need to menstruate every month for your body to detoxify
MYTH – It is one of the most widespread myths: the woman must menstruate every month for the health and detoxification of the body. In fact, menstruation consists of tissue from the endometrium (the lining of the uterus to promote pregnancy) and blood from the uterus, which is completely free of toxins. It is a process that occurs only to accommodate a pregnancy, and that material is simply eliminated if fertilization does not occur. That is why menstruation is not a detoxification process.
This myth started to be propagated due to the appearance of contraceptive methods that allow women to have longer periods or to simply end the period. These contraceptives can help decrease the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, decrease the volume of bleeding, as well as improve endometriosis and reduce ovarian and endometrial cancer.
4. Menstruation is the same for all
MYTH – Although it is normal for menstruation to last three to five days, every 28 days, the truth is that there are a large number of women who have menstrual periods outside this rule. Younger girls often have irregular periods, with cycles of up to 7 days and with intervals of 30 or 32 days. As they get older, it is normal for this frequency to decrease to 25 or 26 days. But it all depends on each woman, so don’t worry if your period is not the same as that of your closest friends. Women in birth control often experience lighter periods, or sometimes no periods at all.
5. It is forbidden to practice physical activities
MYTH – Unless you have severe cramps (dysmenorrhea) or excessive blood flow (menorrhagia) that interferes with your ability to engage in physical activity, there is no reason to abstain from regular exercise or physical activity when you are menstruating. Your period is a normal function of your body; it is not a disadvantage. In fact, many experts recommend exercise during menstruation to help reduce cramps, as aerobic activity, such as walking, running, cycling, dancing or swimming, produces chemicals that help block pain.
Virgin girls cannot use tampons
MYTH – There is no reason to avoid using tampons during the first few periods. The hymen, which is a thin and elastic membrane at the entrance to the vagina, already has a natural opening that is where the blood comes out. What happens when we talk about “rupture of the hymen” is that this membrane is a little wider when there is penetration.
In general, tampons whose size is smaller, when placed correctly, do not break a woman’s hymen. However, it can be broken more easily with the use of the menstrual collector, so it is important to take this into consideration before purchasing it. It is best to talk to the gynecologist to assess which is the best choice for each woman. But remember: in fact, a woman only loses her virginity when she has real intimate contact.
7. Women living together or close may have the period in sync
MYTH – This is a little controversial. Initial research in the 1970s suggested that the body’s chemical compounds called pheromones synchronized the cycles of women who lived together. The production of these hormones depends on routine factors such as diet and stress. Women who spend a lot of time together tend to experience the same external factors that influence the menstrual cycle. This ends up making hormone production and menstruation time similar to each other. However, other studies have failed to support these findings and stated that synchronization was more of a random event.
9. Does walking barefoot make colic pain worse?
MYTH – What causes colic is a hormone called prostaglandin, which in excess causes contractions. Colic is defined in two types: primary, which is the common type, which most women have, and secondary, which comes from another disease such as endometriosis and fibroids.
Although uncomfortable, walking barefoot on the cold floor does not make the pain of colic worse. Probably what happens is that it is more of an annoyance for those who are in pain, giving the impression that menstrual cramps get worse due to the cold.
9. Having sex with menstruation increases the risk of contracting and spreading diseases
TRUTH – This is because blood works as a kind of food for microorganisms and this provides them with the perfect environment for proliferation and, of course, the development of diseases.
So, if a man has an STD, women are more likely to contract the disease; and if the menstruating woman is ill, she can also more easily spread the disease. This is because the number of microorganisms in the blood can be higher, making it easier to infect humans.
10. PMS doesn’t exist, it’s just an excuse for women
MYTH – PMS is real and occurs due to the large hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle. It is characterized by a variety of symptoms that usually start a week or two before menstruation and disappear when the period begins. Approximately three in four menstruating women experience the physical and / or emotional symptoms of PMS, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of PMS commonly include breast tenderness, acne, swelling or weight gain, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, desire for food, mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability and others. Many women and girls find relief from PMS through lifestyle changes, medications and vitamin or herbal supplements.
Taking contraceptives in a row to avoid menstruating is bad for my health
MYTH – Avoiding menstruation does not harm health, as it only represents that the egg has not been fertilized and that the uterus needs to prepare itself again for a possible pregnancy.
However, it is important to remember that the absence of menstruation when you do not take contraceptives can signal a problem. In addition, women who take contraceptives to avoid menstruating should see their gynecologist at least once a year.
12. Having sex with menstruation does not cause problems for women
TRUTH – If intimate contact is safe and with a condom, it does not cause any problems for the woman. In addition, there are already special pads to use during this period that facilitate sex time, do not bring the cord and work as an internal sponge, absorbing everything without disturbing the woman or the couple.
13. Having a very heavy menstrual flow causes anemia
MYTH – In general, strong flow is not a cause of anemia, as it usually only occurs when menstrual losses are very high. Abundant bleeding is usually caused by problems like uterine fibroids and in the case of an ectopic pregnancy.
Thus, a woman should only be concerned when the menstrual period lasts more than 7 days or if the menstrual cycle is less than 21 days.
14. Women get more tired
TRUTH – Many women function normally, however, most have low energy levels and are very sleepy. This is not an invention, our body really asks for more rest in this period. In addition, according to the Study Dysmenorrhea & Absenteeism in Brazil (DISAB), developed by gynecologists and published in the Revista Brasileira de Medicina, colic decreases by up to 67% the production capacity of women at work.
15. Chocolate helps with PMS
TRUTH – Although it is often said that dairy products during the period inflame the belly or fill us with gas and cause colic, eating a little chocolate calms that anxiety and encourages us in the face of the depression that oppresses us due to hormonal changes.
During PMS, there is a slight drop in magnesium levels, which makes the body feel the need to consume foods that replenish or stimulate the production of this mineral, and this is where chocolate comes in. In addition to compensating for the reduction in magnesium levels, it also contains substances with a stimulating and antidepressant effect (serotonin). That is, eating it brings a feeling of pleasure and comfort that alleviates these symptoms.
ery heavy menses are a cause for concern
DEPENDS – The amount of blood flow varies from woman to woman and can also vary at different points in the menstrual cycle; some days the flow is heavier than others, and this is normal. But abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding, known as menorrhagia, is definitely a cause for concern, as it can lead to complications such as iron deficiency anemia or dysmenorrhea (severely painful menstrual cramps). Not to mention that it can “harm” your lifestyle, limiting your desire – or physical ability – to engage in daily activities, cause weakness, fatigue and headaches, and make you feel self-conscious.