The conversation around menstruation is usually in hushed tones. We usually say ‘I’m on’, ‘The red visitor is here’. While seemingly cute, these expressions often come from a place of misplaced chastity and the thought that periods are somewhat sacred. Menstrual hygiene day was recently commemorated on May 28, as it is annually, with the vision to break the silence, raise awareness and change societal norms surrounding menstrual hygiene management around the world.
These beliefs could be a genuine source of castigation and harm, as in Ghana where girls were banned from crossing a river they needed to cross to get to at the request of the river god and in India where a girl committed suicide due to ‘menstruation shame.’ Hence, it is imperative to clear the air.
As children, certain practices and beliefs about periods were passed down to us- voluntarily or otherwise. Some of them, like the idea that sharks are attracted to women on their periods, are hilarious. However, some, like in Iran where, according to UNICEF, 48% of girls still believe that periods are a disease or in certain parts of Nepal where the chapaudi practice keeps females are literally kept in isolation during menstruation.
Conversations and education centred around this regular physiological process could be the key to eliminating the stigma associated with periods. So, are these myths true or false? Keep reading!
WOMEN ON THEIR PERIOD SHOULD NOT GO SWIMMING
It is a common thought that women on their period should stay away from bodies of water as their blood may flow out while swimming.
While there is a slight possibility that this may happen, it is usually due to skipping the use of a tampon as gravity and the pressure of the water do the work to reduce blood flow outside the vagina. As long as you have a tampon in and it isn’t full, you’re good to go.
PERIOD BLOOD HAS A BAD SMELL
So you have a cut on your finger and cover it with a Band-Aid? Do you smell it?
No? I thought so.
Everyone has a unique smell and it is almost usual for us to wonder whether people around us can ‘smell’ our period. Have you really smelled anyone else’s?
Menstrual blood itself has no odour. It consists of tissue shed from the uterus and blood, which when mixed with naturally occurring bacteria and stays for a while could smell a bit off.
Since the concept that menstrual blood is bad smelling has no truth, it’s highly unlikely that anyone can ‘smell your period’ as long as proper body hygiene is put in place. However, if you notice a fishy odour, it’s best to see a doctor as it may be indicative of a yeast infection or something else.
PREGNANCY ISN’T POSSIBLE DURING MENSTRUATION
This belief stems from the fact that the uterus, which is a vital organ for pregnancy, has a part of it being shed. While the possibility reduces during your period, especially if you have a shorter cycle, there is still a chance of getting pregnant if you have unprotected sex while on your period.
Also, the myth that period sex is disgusting or unhygienic has no truth in it, so, yes, you can have sex while on your period if you choose to, but it is also important to note that you could be more susceptible to infections while menstruating.
WOMEN LOSE A LOT OF BLOOD DURING MENSTRUATION
Every woman is different, so the menstrual cycle is individualized. Everything from the pre-menstrual symptoms, cycle duration, and blood loss differs greatly as even one woman could experience multiple variations in her lifetime.
Normally, a woman would lose 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during one cycle which approximately amounts to 30 to 50 millilitres, which is still about less than 10% of your bottle of coke. This is not ‘a lot’ by any standards.
Blood clots are normal with menstrual bleeding, but blood clots larger than 1cm in diameter could be indicative of menorrhagia. This is an excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding and a loss of blood defined by losing 80ml or5 tablespoons of blood in one period.
Blood flow is usually heavier at the beginning and tends to lighten towards the end of your period.
MENSTRUAL CYCLE COULD AFFECT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Do you ever just wake up with a not-so-characteristic crankiness? Mood deflation? Depression? High irritability levels?
Have you noticed a pattern with this? Thinking it is all in your head?
Well, it could be signs of pre-menstrual syndrome. This is due to hormonal changes in your cycle and could be due to overall emotions regarding your period. Normally, hormones could deal with our emotions and an added negative attitude towards the period could lead to a less than an optimal mental state.
It is of utmost importance to pay attention to your cycle, so you may foresee the issues that come along with it and put appropriate measures in place.
VIRGINS SHOULD NOT USE TAMPONS
When talking myths about menstrual periods, ‘Tampons can take away a female’s virginity’ is definitely on a top rung of the list.
Here is the truth, at no cost; This. Is. A. Lie.
The only way to lose your virginity is by having sex, and this goes for both genders.
Tampons could be uncomfortable for new users, but this isn’t due to the state of virginity, but preference and proper application. Some people prefer plastic applicators because they glide on smoothly.
Since we are here, let us clarify that a tampon cannot get lost in your vagina. It can get stuck, not lost, as the vagina is not a bottomless pit. The cervix which is at the base of the uterus prevents anything inserted into the vagina from getting in too deep.
If a tampon gets lost in there, though not comfortable, you may need to get your clean hands in there, search for the string and take it out. Although it is not water-common, this occurs more frequently than you may think to other women.
Menstruation is the only blood that is not born from violence,
yet it’s the one that disgusts you the most.
It is important to be a part of changing the narrative. Now that we know what it true and what is pure fallacy, it is time to pay it forward to Save Many Important Lives Everyday!
Thank you for reading!
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