In this blog, I debunk some of the most common menstrual myths.
Good to know:
In 2021, around 7.53 billion people lived on earth worldwide, of whom around 3.73 billion were born with female genitals. Virtually all of them have or will experience menstruation (period), which is the part of the menstrual cycle when the uterus sheds mucous membrane tissue through the vagina in addition to blood. The period can last anywhere from 3 to 7 days and typically occurs every 28 days, although the length of the menstrual cycle can vary widely. Although approximately half of the world's population is affected by this biological process, many myths and misconceptions still cling to our minds. Cultures around the world still denigrate menstruation and view menstrual blood as "dirty" and "unclean". Menstruation itself is often a taboo subject – fortunately in Germany and Europe things are quite different. But again, there are many minor myths and misconceptions related to menstruation that still circulate around the world.
Here's what some of the most popular myths are and WHY they're not true.
Myths about sex during your period
Some of the most common myths related to menstruation revolve around sex during your period, with probably the frontrunner being the claim that you can't get pregnant while you're menstruating. However, this notion is completely wrong. While it is true that for many women menstruation is the time when they are least fertile, this in turn actually depends on the length of their monthly cycle.
The highest fertility is reached during ovulation. This occurs about 12 to 16 days before the start of the next period, when the ovaries produce and release fresh eggs. While the literature often gives menstrual cycles of around 28 days, some cycles can be as short as 21 days. This fact affects the timing of ovulation. In addition, sperm can survive in the genital tract for up to 5 days, or even 7 days according to some sources. So, having unprotected vaginal intercourse during your period could mean that sperm stay in the body just long enough to witness ovulation and fertilize an egg. And we all know what that can mean: pregnancy.
Plus, having sex while you're menstruating without using a condom also increases your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI)—including HIV—or a yeast infection. This is due to the hormonal changes that occur during this time. However, as long as you take all necessary precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancy and STD transmission, there is no reason not to enjoy period sex. On the contrary , as sex can help relieve cramps and improve mood. There are already some studies on this.
Is It Dangerous to Keep Skipping Periods?
Another common misconception is that it is unsafe to take birth control pills to miss a period for an extended period of time. However, recent guidance from the National Women's Health Network indicates that suppressing menstruation with birth control pills is okay, and most gynecologists agree that this method is usually safe. Some scientists even argue that aside from its role in reproduction, periods are unnecessary and more trouble than they're worth. For example, James Segars of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, told The Atlantic, "Having a monthly period is reassuring, but it's certainly not necessary. And with these long-term, reversible birth control pills, the Failure rate very, very low so women can benefit a lot from it." Many women, like me, suffer from severe menstrual cramps that can affect their normal functioning and quality of life. You may experience heavy bleeding, excruciating pain, and other uncomfortable symptoms like migraines and nausea.
People with primary dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual periods) or certain medical conditions that cause bothersome symptoms, such as People with conditions such as endometriosis (secondary dysmenorrhea) may, in consultation with their doctors, decide that skipping multiple periods or continuously skipping menstruation is the best option for their health and well-being.
Bathing during menstruation
Some women believe that a bath or even a shower is unsafe during menstruation. They believe that hot water will stimulate bleeding or that the water will stop bleeding. While hot water stimulates blood circulation, it helps relieve menstrual cramps and muscle tension! In addition, the bleeding does not stop with a warm bath. But the pressure of the water can temporarily prevent blood from draining from the vagina.
So there is no reason not to bathe or shower during your period. On the contrary, a soothing bubble bath is relaxing and will likely make you feel a lot better. This also lifts your spirits and gives you well-being.
Side fact: It is better and healthier to use water and mild, unscented soap to clean the vulva than wipes or other products. Because many intimate care products can disturb the sensitive bacterial balance in the genital area and thus pave the way for infections. One study found a "strong association" between the use of intimate hygiene products and an increased risk of infection. Plus, a hot bath comes with a whole host of other health benefits: One study suggests that baths can reduce inflammation and improve blood sugar levels.
My period is aligning with my best friend's
We know it: we spend the whole summer with our best friend or we just moved into a flat share with a roommate and feel like our cycles are synchronizing! In addition, one often reads that an alpha woman releases hormones that influence the cycle of the other women around her. But is there really anything to it? After all, many of us have probably had the experience of having our periods synchronized, whether it's at school, work, or in a shared apartment.
The term "periodic synchronicity" first appeared as a scientific idea in a 1971 Nature article. This article claimed that women living in close-knit communities - e.g. B. in a student residence - or were close friends, experienced a stronger synchronicity of menstruation. The study's authors believed that this was probably because the women, who lived so close together, "exchanged" pheromones over time, eventually leading to this phenomenon.
However, later studies cast doubt on the methodology the researchers used in the 1971 investigation. The later studies pointed to numerous shortcomings and modifying factors that were not considered by the original investigators. They also found that there was a lack of empirical evidence for synchrony in the previous studies in both Western and non-Western populations. Furthermore, subsequent studies have never been able to convincingly repeat the results of the first investigation. More recently published studies by ResearchTrusted Source did not find that female college roommates experience synchronous menstruation. Researchers are now more inclined to believe that this is just a myth that persists and that any synchronicity is purely coincidental.
Alexandra Alvergne, Associate Professor of Biocultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford in the UK, told the BBC: "We humans always like exciting stories. We want to explain what we observe with something that makes sense. And the idea that what we're observing is due to chance or coincidence just isn't that interesting."
Some of the most persistent misconceptions relate to the use of tampons to absorb menstrual blood. Because a tampon needs to be inserted into the vagina, some people worry that it could cause harm. What's really true: Inserting a tampon into the vagina does not damage the hymen.
One of the biggest fears is that inserting a tampon could tear the hymen, which, as the old saying goes, is a "sign of virginity." In reality, the hymen is a stretchy membrane that lines the opening of the vagina and does not normally cover the vaginal opening. If this were the case, the hymen would prevent menstrual blood and other discharges from escaping the body. This would be dangerous and would require surgical intervention. Since the hymen is stretchy, inserting something as small as a tampon will not cause tears. And since blood lubricates the vagina during menstruation, inserting a tampon shouldn't be uncomfortable if done properly.
If you still feel uncomfortable, try using a lubricant to make it easier to insert the tampon. Tampons should always be changed regularly, about every 4-8 hours. This is absolutely necessary, otherwise the accumulated blood, tissue and bacteria could lead to Toxic Shock Syndrome
A second myth that many first-time tampon users have encountered is that a tampon can get lost in the vagina. That's just not true, because the tampon has nowhere to go. The cervix is at the top of the vagina and its opening is far too small for a tampon to enter. Also, vaginas are only about 3.75 inches deep on average, and tampons come with strings that make removal easy. If the tampon slips up a bit, you can always easily look for the thread and carefully pull the tampon out.
If you ever come across information that you are not sure about or that concerns you, speak to a doctor who can verify the facts for you. Myths and misunderstandings have no place in healthcare!