Shattering 5 Menstruation Myths You Have Heard

We really can’t believe that with almost half of the world’s population experiencing, will experience, or has experienced menstruation, we are still hearing menstrual myths about this incredible biological cycle.

In 2021, the world’s population of females was 3.905 billion! We know everyone’s cycle is unique to them but you are not alone in having worries or concerns on how to manage your bleed.

Just to recap, the monthly menstrual cycle is where the uterus sheds mucosal tissue alongside blood through the vagina. This can last between 3 and 7 days and usually occur around every 28 days, though menstrual cycle lengths can vary.

It is ridiculous that his biological process affects almost half of the world’s population, but is still a taboo subject, which the team here Bloody Marvellous intend to change.

Some cultures around the world still vilify menstruation and consider period blood “dirty” and “impure,” and menstruation itself something to hide and never discuss. For instance, although this practice is now mostly illegal, some communities still have menstruation huts, in which women on their period spend the days in which they bleed in complete isolation.

So every myth about menstruation needs to be corrected. These are the top myths we are going to shatter.

1. You can’t get pregnant when you are having your bleed – MYTH

Woman’s hand gripping sheets
Safe sex and periods

The top ranking, most asked question.

Can you get pregnant when you are having your menstrual bleed?”

YES, you can!

If your partner is telling you that you can’t get pregnant, tell them they are wrong. You absolutely can get pregnant while having your period and this is how.

Although for many, menstruation is the time when they are least fertile, it really depends on the length of their monthly cycles.

Peak fertility occurs during the ovulation stage — which usually kicks in approximately 12 to 16 days before the start of the next period — when the ovaries produce and release fresh ovules (eggs).

So while most menstrual cycles last about 28 days, some cycles can be as short as 21 days, which also impacts when ovulation takes place. What is really important to learn is that sperm can live inside the genital tract for up to 5 days and according to some sources, even 7 days.

If you have unprotected vaginal sex during your period it could mean that the sperm gets to linger for just long enough to coincide with ovulation and fertilise an egg, resulting in a pregnancy.

Plus if you have sex during menstruation without using a condom, the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) — including HIV — or a yeast infection increases, due to the hormonal changes that occur at this time.

Vaginal-penile sex during a period can also, in some cases, cause inflammation of the penis head — a type of infection called “balanitis.”

Top Tip: So to enjoy sex while having your period, take all necessary precautions to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and the transmission of STIs.

It is not safe to keep skipping your period using birth control – MYTH

Woman holding birth control pills
It is totally safe to skip your cycle bleed using birth control pills

Another widespread misconception is that it is unsafe to use combined birth control pills to skip your periods for a prolonged time. It is perfectly safe.

Recent guidelines from the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare in UK and the National Women’s Health Network in USA both indicate that it is just fine to suppress menstruation through combined birth control pills, and most gynaecologists agree that this approach is typically safe.

Some people even argue that, outside of their role in reproduction, periods are unnecessary, and can be more trouble than they are worth. So there is no health benefit by taking the seven-day hormone-free interval that’s so commonplace on the combined pill other than reassurance.

For many individuals, menstruation symptoms can be severe and interfere with their normal functioning and quality of life. They may experience heavy bleeding, disabling pain, and other unpleasant symptoms, such as migraines and nausea.

Those with dysmenorrhea (painful periods) or certain conditions that cause troublesome symptoms, such as endometriosis, may decide with their doctors, that skipping several periods, or skipping menstruation continuously, is the best option for their health and productivity.

You can’t have a bath or shower when you bleed – MYTH

Having a warm bath will relax your muscles
Having a warm bath will relax your muscles

Some think that having a bath or a shower during your period is unsafe. This is either because hot water stimulates bleeding, or because the water stops you from bleeding. While hot water can help stimulate blood flow, this can actually help relieve menstrual cramps and ease muscular tension.

Bleeding does not stop following immersion in water but the pressure from the water may temporarily prevent the blood from flowing out of the vagina. I have never taken a bath with my period and the blood just disappears in the water. When I take a shower, initially you see some blood running down your legs but it also disappears.

So not only is there no reason not to have a bath or shower during your period it is good for you.

A warm bath is relaxing and feeling cleaner as a result of it will improve your mood and help you cope with menstruation symptoms a little better. Plus having a hot bath could bring a host of other health benefits. One study covered on MNT last year suggested that baths may reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar.

Top Tip: Having a warm bath will relax your muscles is always better and healthier to use water and mild, unfragranced soap to clean your vulva instead of commercial wipes or other products. This is because many intimate care products can disrupt the delicate bacterial balance in the genital area, making it easier for infections to take hold.

A study that Medical News Today reported on last year found a “strong connection” between the use of intimate care products, such as gel sanitisers and vaginal cleansers, and a heightened risk of infection.

Women’s Spending time together have synchronised periods – MYTH

Synconisation
Synchronised periods are a myth

We love this one, we have all been told this at one stage or another. If a group women spend enough time together, at work or living together, their periods will “sync” and they will have their periods at the same time.

The notion of “period synchrony” first appeared as a scientific idea in a 1971 Nature article. This article argued that women who lived in close quarters or who were close friends, experienced increased menstruation synchrony.

The study’s authors believed that this probably happened because the women who lived so closely together “exchanged” pheromones over time, which eventually led to this synchronisation.

However, later studies that followed were never able to replicate the findings of the initial research. convincingly. Research published more recently did not find that college roommates experienced menstrual synchrony.

Alexandra Alvergne, who is an associate professor in biocultural anthropology at the University of Oxford told the BBC that, “As humans, we always like exciting stories. We want to explain what we observe by something that is meaningful. And the idea that what we observe is due to chance or randomness is just not as interesting.”

You can loose your tampon in your vagina – MYTH

Tampons
Using tampons does not change your virginity

This is a constant and frightening myth so hear it from us now for the future. By using a tampon it does not change your virginity in any way.

This is one of the most persistent myths we all know and it is not true. By inserting a tampon you cannot break the hymen, which, as popular misconception has it is a “mark of virginity.”

Top Tip: Know your body! The hymen is a stretchy membrane that lines the opening of the vagina and does not ordinarily cover the vaginal opening. If this were the case, the hymen would block menstrual blood and other types of discharge from leaving the body. This would be dangerous and would need surgical intervention to correct.

Uterus Structure
Uterus Structure

Because the hymen is stretchy, inserting an object as small as a tampon will not cause any tears.

Top Tip: Always change your tampon regularly about every 4-8 hours. It is essential that a person does this otherwise the accumulated blood, tissue, and bacteria could cause toxic shock syndrome.

A second myth that many first-time tampon users have encountered is that a tampon can get lost inside the vagina. This is rubbish, it can’t “go anywhere”.

The cervix is at the top of the vagina, and its opening is much too small for a tampon to go through.

We discussed loosing a tampon here in the office, all of us tampon user have “lost a tampon” during the years we have used then. What do you do?

  1. Breathe and relax – it can’t go anywhere
  2. Get comfortable and using your freshly cleaned finger have a feel around, especially to the sides of your vagina.
  3. The pesky tampon will just be tucked away up one side, feel for the string and retrieve.
  4. If you really can’t find it, ask a friend or your Mum, yep you are embarrassed but we have all lost one before and it is far more embarrassing going to your Doctor.

Remember an average vagina is only about 3.77 inches (9.6 centimeters) deep and tampons come with strings that aid removal.

Should you ever encounter a piece of information that you are unsure about, or which you find alarming, speak to a nurse or a doctor, who will be able to fact check it for you.

This article originally appeared on www.medicalnewstoday.com

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