Busting Top Period Myths: Fact vs. Fiction
Posted byAlicia Trent
Period myths about women’s monthly flow have lingered for generations. With so much misinformation circulating, what’s a girl to believe? It’s time to bust those period myths once and for all. Read on to learn the true facts behind eight misconceptions about your period.
Myth. Period blood is different (or dirtier) than regular blood.
Fact. Period blood is the same as regular blood, with some tissue mixed in. As Kate Clancy, a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, puts it in Scientific American, “It’s time to dump the idea that menstruation is dirty. It’s blood and tissue that you ended up not using to feed a baby, and that’s all.”1
Myth. Don’t swim in the ocean on your period. You’ll attract sharks.
Fact. While one of the most well-known period myths, there’s no need to avoid a dip in the Big Blue on your period. According to Penn Medicine, the amino acids in blood that attract sharks diffuse once they hit the water. If you’re still concerned about Jaws, wade close to shore.2
Myth. Virgins shouldn’t use tampons.
Fact. Using a tampon does not take away your virginity. Only sex can do that. Yes, using a tampon may tear or break your hymen, according to Columbia University. However, many virgins don’t have intact hymens and some women are born without hymens. Hymens may also tear during activities, such as dancing or horseback riding.3 So don’t base your virginity on your hymen. Losing your virginity only happens through sexual intercourse.
Myth. Menstrual cycles are always 28 days.
Fact. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. But how many women are average? Cycles may range anywhere from 21 to 35 days in adults and from 21 to 45 days in young teens, notes the Office on Women’s Health.4
Myth. You can’t get pregnant on your period.
Fact. Au contraire! While not common, getting pregnant on your period can happen. The common belief is that since you’re not ovulating when on your period, you’re in the clear when it comes to pregnancy. But the reality is that ovulation and your cycle are unpredictable, and ovulation may happen before, during or even after the bleeding stage. Consider also that sperm can live in your vagina for up to five days. If your body releases an egg during that time, it can be fertilized, says the American Pregnancy Association.5 The bottom line? If you’re having sex, you can get pregnant — period or not.
Myth. A tampon can get lost inside of you.
Fact. It may seem that your vagina is a mysterious bottomless hole, but that’s far from the truth. A tampon cannot get lost in your vagina, because your vagina ends at your cervix and tampons cannot fit beyond the cervix, explains the National Health Service.6 Still, if you use a tampon and it goes further than your reach, visit your doctor and they can remove it for you.
Myth. You must rest in bed or take it easy during your period.
Fact. Not so. Unless your doctor advises against it, there’s no reason not to regularly exercise or refrain from physical activity during your monthly flow. In fact, exercise may alleviate menstrual bloating, cramping, and that overall feeling of yuck. Aerobic activities like jogging, cycling, dancing and swimming may stimulate body chemicals that block discomfort and increase feelings of well-being.
Myth. Your monthly period will last for one full week.
Fact. Everyone is different. While most menstrual cycles last from three to five days, some can be as short as two days or as long as seven days.4 No need to worry if your cycle is somewhat long or somewhat short. However, if you only get your period for one day or if your cycle runs for more than a week, consult with your doctor since extreme shortness or extra long duration may be a sign that something’s not quite right.
1Clancy, Kate. “Menstruation is just blood and tissue you ended up not using.” Scientific American. September 9, 2011. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/context-and-variation/menstruation-blood-and-tissue/
2“5 Myths About Swimming During Your Period.” Penn Medicine. https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2016/august/swimming-on-period-myths
3“Virgin is eager to use tampons, but worried about hymen.” Columbia University. http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/virgin-eager-use-tampons-worried-about-hymen
4“Menstruation and the menstrual cycle.” Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. February 6, 2017. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/menstruation-and-menstrual-cycle
5“Can a tampon get lost inside me?” National Health Service. January 4, 2016. http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/983.aspx
6“Can You Get Pregnant On Your Period?” American Pregnancy Association. September 2, 2016. http://americanpregnancy.org/getting-pregnant/can-get-pregnant-period/
- Posted by Alicia Trent
- On August 28, 2017