Periods are normal, natural and nothing to be afraid…or ashamed of. But with so many myths and stories around, it’s easy to see why you people might feel anxious or confused about them, especially in cultures where talking periods is taboo.
So, we’re throwing our support behind UNICEF’s goal to bust some of the most common period myths and accept our periods for the ordinary bodily function they are…and just get on with it.
MYTH: During their periods, girls are impure. Girls with periods should not cook or visit sacred places – like churches or temples.
FACT: Periods are nature’s way of saying you’re growing up. There is nothing impure about them.
MYTH: Sanitary products should be kept private and covered when purchasing.
FACT: Buying sanitary products (or reusable underwear) is like buying soap or toothpaste. They’re all personal hygiene products and there’s absolutely no need to bury them under the spaghetti at the checkout.
MYTH: Girls with their periods should not touch or go near plants. The plant will die if they do.
FACT: We have to confess, we hadn’t heard this one but apparently in some cultures this is a popular misconception. Let’s set things straight, plants don’t discriminate – and neither should we.
MYTH: Certain foods disturb your menstrual flow – like curd, tamarind and pickles. There are certain foods menstruating people can’t eat during their period, like meat, rice, vegetables or sour foods.
FACT: The food you eat has nothing to do with your period’s flow, and your period has no impact on what you can or can’t eat (but we understand if it’s a great excuse to eat chocolate)!
MYTH: Girls having their periods should sleep in a separate room (or shed in some countries).
FACT: Periods aren’t contagious and have no impact on anyone else. So just sleep in your usual bed. Enough said.
MYTH: Physical activity/exercise can mess with your menstrual flow.
FACT: Exercise and playing sports won’t change your flow but can actually help relieve period cramps. So pop on you runners and go play.
MYTH: You shouldn’t talk about your period in public. If you do you’ll be publicly shamed.
FACT: Do you think twice before you talk about your hair, your shoes or your sore ankle? Talking about periods is no different.
MYTH: Menstruating people shouldn’t cook food or wash until their period is over.
FACT: People with periods can do everything people without periods can do – at any time of the month. And a warm shower or bath can help relieve pain or cramps. It is true that water pressure may temporarily stop blood flowing out of your vagina, but that’s no reason not to bathe or shower.
MYTH: You’re no longer a virgin once you start using tampons because inserting them ‘breaks’ your hymen.
FACT: Your hymen is a small piece of tissue at the opening of your vagina. Hymens can be ruptured during intercourse, physical activity or by using tampons, but it does’nt ‘break’ and a change to a piece of tissue that’s different in all people has nothing to do with your virginity.
MYTH: Period pain doesn’t exist.
FACT: Like every person, every period is different. Many people have little to no period pain at all, while for about 20% of menstruating people severe period cramps (dysmenorrhea) interfere with their daily activities – like going to school.
MYTH: PMS doesn’t exist
FACT: PMS does exist, but not everyone experiences it – but about 25% of women do. In the days leading up to your period, your oestrogen levels plummet and your progesterone levels increase, both of which can impact your mood (so you might have an excuse for being cranky).
MYTH: Period blood is dirty blood or your body’s way of flushing toxins.
FACT: No it’s not, it’s part of the reproductive cycle when your body sheds the lining of the uterus each month because a fertilised egg hasn’t implanted and your body doesn’t need it (because you’re not pregnant)
MYTH: Only women get periods
FACT: Actually there can be medical reasons why a woman might not get periods, and not every person who get a period identifies as a woman. For example, transgender people might still get periods.
MYTH: Periods are gross
FACT: Enough already. Periods are not shameful, dirty or gross and we shouldn’t have to whisper about needing a menstrual product or having a period.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex during your period
FACT: You’re unlikely to get pregnant with your period if your cycle is regular, but it’s still possible your fertility window could overlap with your period. Research also suggest sperm can live in the reproductive tract after intercourse – so never risk it.
MYTH: You can’t have sex during your period
FACT: Yes you can. It’s entirely up to you
MYTH: Your period can sync with your best friend, sister, roommate or colleagues
FACT: Cute as it is, research has debunked this myth. But remember, if most people have a period one week a month, there’s a high chance you’ll overlap with people you’re close to. But that’s science, not syncing.
MYTH: Periods last exactly one week, once a month
FACT: Every cycle is unique. The average is a 5-day cycle every 4 to 5 weeks, but your period can be shorter, longer, more or less frequent, or it might change from month to month
MYTH: You shouldn’t swim in the ocean with your period because of shark attacks
FACT: Wrong. Sure, sharks are attracted to blood, but most people swim with a tampon or leak-proof swimwear during their period, and even if you don’t, the blood flow tends to be less in water, and there has never been a reported shark attack attributed to someone’s period.