Alongside other bodily changes, the menstrual cycle is an indicator of the puberty age. The focus of our discussion here is not to go in detail about this body process. Rather we will centre this article on the common myths that prevail around this issue. For some people (usually men) there are certain misconceptions which need to be corrected.
It is understandable that society has silenced this issue to a very large extent. Women usually shy away from talking about blood, pain which are some of the things experienced during a menstrual cycle. But these are all natural are perfectly valid. Let us now look at the myths that prevail around this topic. We will try our best to get them straight as much as possible.
“It always occurs at the same time of the month”.
Yes, this is one of the most common things you will get to hear about the period. People think that it always occurs at one specific day of the month. This is far from the actual truth. Before we go in detail on correcting this myth, let us differentiate between menstrual cycle and discharge of period. If you might have not known, both are in fact not the same. The time woman bleed is called menstruation. The menstrual cycle is hence noted from the first period to the next.
There is no specific time for how long a menstrual cycle lasts. The average duration period according to science is somewhere around 28 days. For some women, the number of days can lengthen to be 29 to 35 days. There can also be instances where the cycle is less than 28 days. The gist of this discussion is that the menstrual cycle can vary from person to person.
There are a variety of factors that come into play determining the time frame of the cycle. It is widely believed that woman going through stress will often have irregular period discharge. On the other hand, if you are travelling then your cycle might shorten in duration. Regardless of anything, it is not wise to comment that periods always occur at one specific time.
“Period pain is not real”
That is in fact not true. Period pain is real and can be as dilapidating as any other pain you might experience. So passing generalised statements like “it is not real” is highly unappreciated. By pain, the reference is not towards normal headaches or stomach aches. While they too may be experienced, period cramps are what causes a sheer amount of discomfort. Cramps can be painful to the extent where the woman finds it impossible to even get out of bed.
Dysmenorrhea is the medical term given for menstrual cramps caused as a result of uterine contractions. The condition can be so severe at times that the person needs to be shifted to a hospital for further treatment. Globally, dysmenorrhea affects around 20 per cent of the women. The other associated symptoms are mentioned as follows.
- Stomach pain and nausea
- Feeling unpleasant
- Anxiety and mood swings
- Unable to concentrate
The symptoms of dysmenorrhea can be lessened through certain medications. However, it suffices to say that period discharge is linked with complications that can cause an extreme amount of pain.
“Mood swings do not have any relation with periods”.
This is myth number three. People will disregard the emotions of a woman who is on her period. The generally accepted belief is that emotions have no link whatsoever with the menstrual cycle. This is entirely false proven to some extent by medical science.
During the menstrual cycle and period discharge, a woman may go through some hormonal changes. This hormonal imbalance becomes responsible for any mood disruption she might experience as a result. Particularly, the days leading up to the first period, estrogen level drops while progesterone increases.
Oestrogen is known as the happy hormone responsible for enhancing the mood. While progesterone level leads to fear, anxiety and depression. A woman thereby experiences great changes in her mood during the menstrual cycle.
It is not just about hormones and people will disregard feelings for this particular reason. The emotional disruption is real and can be painful to deal with at times. It is important not to invalidate any of the woman’s feelings.
“Period blood is dirty”.
Often when the discussion about women is talked about, the hygiene factor always comes into play. That is to say: there are a number of myths that disregard period on the basis of being unhygienic. Period blood, in particular, is considered to be dirty which the body tries to get rid of. In other words, the blood is a waste product of the body. This myth is also not true.
In no way, period blood is the way the body discharges its toxins. It actually comes from the breakage of the uterus lining. Think of it this way. Our body is made up of thousands of muscles which are composed of blood. Any breakage inlining does not make that particular muscle any less worthy or the woman any less unhygienic.
There is one other thing to note about period blood as well. It is far different from the normal blood that circulates in our veins. Actually, there is less number of blood cells present in them. Which actually tells how there is nothing to be greatly worried during any period discharge.
“Period is a matter of shame”.
There are about hundreds of myth circulating around the topic of period and menstrual cycle. Most of them are based certainly due to lack of knowledge and unnecessary exposure. The final myth we will consider is about periods bringing about shame.
The point is that all of us collectively need to stop degrading this issue altogether. We need to stop thinking periods as being gross and dirty. . In fact, historically, the woman’s first-period discharge of her life was considered to be a matter of utmost honour.
For women, there is nothing to be embarrassed or worried about. While it may be awkward to talk about the issue openly, but there is a need for it like never before. Lack of sanitary pads and access to other facilities can lead to a number of complications for the women.
All in all, menstrual cycle and period discharge is a normal bodily process which every woman has to go through. It is not in woman’s control how the entire cycle works. What all of us can do at this point is to stop attaching shameful labels to the issue.
Article by Samuel Mayer from Top Health Journal