Myth Busters: Menstruation Edition.
Updated: Mar 21
5 menstrual myths which we’re all better off forgetting about
So, it turns out it’s not just the vagina which is susceptible to weird and wonderful myths (check out my last post) but periods too! Who would’ve guessed that there’s also some crazy menstrual myths flying around causing confusion amongst us all.
Me and my proton pistol are back to bust some menstrual myths which would be better left dead and forgotten. Like that one pair of knickers at the bottom of the drawer which don’t quite fit but you can’t bring yourself to get rid of. So! Without further ado:
MYTH NUMBER 1: Being on your period is something you have to hide or keep a secret.
Part-myth, part-deeply-ingrained-societal-attitude, this one’s pervasive. And like everything else on this list, not true! I look back on my teenage years and remember going to such silly lengths to keep people from clocking that I was on my period. So much wasted energy! I’m going to make the following absolutely clear:
Literally half of the population has either had, or will have, a period at some point in their lives. It is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
So grab that tampon and walk to bathroom with it in your hand, tell your boss that you can’t come to work because of period pain, not because you ‘ate something funny’, and don’t feel like you need to cough/make other loud noise when unwrapping a pad in the public bathroom. Honestly, if we can’t nip this one in the bud after a year of corona then something has gone very wrong indeed.
MYTH NUMBER 2: you have to be a certain age/have menstruated for a certain amount of time to be able to use tampons or cups.
This one really grinds my gears. As soon as you’ve got Mother Nature’s Monthly Gift - it really does keep giving - you’re free to deal with it however you like.
It is TOTALLY okay if you feel like you want to wait a bit/get used to menstruating before starting to use tampons. But if you want to pop one in right from the word go, then do!
Everyone goes at their own pace and you have the right to decide what’s comfortable for you and your body. There is no such thing as ‘too young’ or ‘not been through enough cycles’ when it comes to tampons. Ditto menstrual cups.
MYTH NUMBER 3: There’s certain activities you have to avoid when Aunt Flo is in town.
Sex. Swimming. Dancing to a heavy beat, if you believe Mexican traditions. It’s always the fun stuff that seems to be a no-go for menstruators. Why aren’t there any myths saying that you’re exempt from doing your tax returns or getting your five-a-day during shark week??
I jest of course, because the point is, having your period does not alter your state of being. It doesn’t suddenly make you less capable, attractive or interesting.
It’s totally normal to feel a bit lacking in energy (I know I do), or emotional, or whatever else might come up at this time of the month. But for heaven’s sake if you feel up to doing any activity, GO AHEAD AND DO IT. You don’t need to spend 5 days being bored or sexually frustrated because of some old wives’ tales.
Be like this lady and live your best life
MYTH NUMBER 4: You can’t get pregnant when you’re on your period.
Ah, this is definitely one of those that’s born out of pure misunderstanding. Whilst it is unlikely for a lot of women, there’s no blanket rule for periods, sex and avoiding pregnancy.
Put very briefly, a woman has around 6 fertile days in a month when a pregnancy can occur, reflecting the lifetime of the sperm (5 days) and the egg (1 day). In a ‘typical’ textbook cycle, aka 28 days, aka not necessarily the one that you experience, the fertile days are up to two weeks after the start of the period.
BUT this isn’t the case for everyone, and it’s also possible for your body to be fertile earlier in the month than expected.
So unless you’re actively tracking your fertility, you can’t be sure that you won’t get pregnant when you’re on your period. #CoverYourDiddleThenFiddleHerMiddle
There’s a whole host of FAB resources on this which I’ll pop at the end of the list.
MYTH NUMBER 5: You can sync up with female friends and have your periods at the same time.
Ehh, whilst there’s some anecdotal evidence for this, the science is pretty clear that this doesn’t actually happen.
Going back to my earlier point, everyone has their own personal hormone cycle. Things like stress, moving through different time zones and diet can affect when shark week hits, but your friends’ personal period-timetables? Nope.
So, whilst I kind of wish that girls could share brain waves (womb waves?) with one another and have matching hormone diaries, that’s not the case.
This of course is only scratching the surface. There’s loads of other beliefs and wives’ tales about periods and what one is or isn’t supposed to do during 'that time of the month’. Codswallop if you ask me! Just like any other day of the year, your period is a time to listen to yourself, your body, and do what YOU feel best doing.
Some resources to check out:
Book: Period Power by Maisie Hill. Great all-round intro to periods, hormones, vaginas and vulvas.
App: Clue. It’s free and can help you track your cycle (ie not forget that next Monday is Period Time and plan a nice all-white satin number for that big zoom call) AND it has little information pages about period-related issues.
Insta: @dr.staci.t One of many certified gynaecologists on insta spreading useful info one post at a time! She’s also on TikTok.
Author; Maria Bennett
Ditch The Rag Donation Manager
Art by; @charlotte.illustrates