Myths about Periods

Edited by: Vasudha Malani (UG 2019)

As a society, we have come very far. We have achieved success in various fields and climbed several mountains. However, there still are certain things that hold us back and one among them is the taboo around menstruation. In Indian society, menstruation remains one of the most taboo-ed topics. Women are still fighting against the differentiated treatment given to them in “those” days and there is a lot left to achieve. Amidst these struggles and protests, let us look at some myths about periods still prevalent in our societies today.

1. Washing or cutting your hair during your period increases blood flow

It is believed that you should not wash or cut your hair when you are on your periods, as this will enhance the flow of blood. I am not sure to what extent this holds true, in fact, a nice warm shower and a super comfy salon session will definitely help you relieve menstrual cramps and any pre-menstrual tension.

2. Virgins should not use tampons

Tampons are believed to break your hymen and thus virgin girls are advised  not to use them. It is also believed that using tampons might cause you toxic shock syndrome-- a bacterial disease which is caused due to using the same tampon. However, there is no harm in using tampons if you change them regularly and not use it for a long time. Tampons are any day safer and comfortable than pads. The very important thing to keep in mind, however, is to make sure you have read the instructions before inserting it, to avoid discomfort. A properly inserted tampon will never hold you back from doing anything on your periods.

3. Exercise during your period is a no-no

Many believe that exercising during periods might end up increasing the blood flow and will add up to your cramps. However, yoga instructors have proven that exercising in the correct way and doing certain yogasanas during periods will help you relieve the menstrual pain and keep your cycle regular.

 

tyler-nix-1088199-unsplash.jpgPhoto by Tyler Nix

 

4. Women who spend time together, menstruate together

It is believed that women who spend a lot of time together end up having their periods together. This is a very popular but controversial myth, as no one knows if it is true or not. Studies have failed to prove this and experts think this synchronization is purely a coincidence. Researchers are still trying to prove this and until then, we can only speculate.

5. If any animal tastes your unwashed pad, you are unlikely to become a mother

I remember my grandmother telling me this when I got my periods for the first time. This is probably not true, as an animal tasting your pad has nothing to do with the reproductive system. However, it should always be your endeavor to dispose off the pad safely, so that it does not cause harm to either the animals or to the environment.

6. If you touch any plants/flowers while on your period, they will die

This myth is a very popular one; women on their periods are not allowed to touch plants and flowers in the garden, as this is believed to be the reason for their death. It is hard to believe this, and until proven, it remains a myth. However, don’t let it stop you from planting and  keeping fresh flowers in your living room, even during your periods.

7. If you touch food items on your period, they will go bad

Like the plants and flowers, even food items like pickles and curd are supposed to go bad if women on periods touch them. Such myths are created in households to purely keep women away from the kitchen, so they hardly hold any value. I have touched pickles several times at home during my periods and have never seen it go bad. So, if pickle/curd is your favorite, do not hold yourself back from tasting it during your periods, it will help you deal with those cramps!  

8. PMS is all in your head

Many people, especially men, believe that PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is all in your head and it has nothing to do with your menstrual cycle. Research has proven that this myth has no weight. Throughout the menstrual cycle, hormone levels constantly keep changing. Varying levels of estrogen affects the mood, which causes irritability and fatigue. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has proven that 85 percent of menstruating women suffer at least from one form of PMS every month.

 

element5-digital-611462-unsplash.jpgPhoto by element 5

 

9. You do not bleed in water

I have often heard this from many women, especially swimmers, that they do not bleed in water. This myth also remains controversial, as there is no backing research. Although the gravitational force in the water helps to keep the blood inside and decrease blood flow, the bleeding does not stop entirely. However, it is always safe and hygienic to insert a tampon if you are planning to swim during periods.

10. Period blood smells bad

A big problem women face during periods is odor and they believe it comes from the  blood. Research has proven, however, that menstrual blood in itself has no odor, but when it is discharged from the uterus with other bacteria from your body, it smells a little bad. But this smell has nothing to do with the blood. Still, keeping yourself clean by changing pads/tampons/cups on time and washing your vaginal areas regularly will help you feel fresh.

I believe a lot of these myths are still prevalent in many of our households and hold us back from enjoying several things during our periods. Taking a warm water shower or eating our favorite food will definitely comfort us during those bad days, so do not give a second thought while doing these. As long as you are comfortable and the surroundings do not get affected by your actions, give yourself a treat on your periods and do not let them hold you back!