Menstruation Myths

Even though it's something most women experience at some point in their life, periods are a topic that lots of people would rather not discuss openly. With this self-imposed silence, it's no wonder there are a lot of myths surrounding this monthly process.

You’ve probably heard myths about period products, hormones, and pregnancy since you first learned about menstruation in middle school. Here’s what true – and what’s not – about periods.

MYTH #1: You can’t get pregnant during your period.

Fact: Your chances of getting pregnant while on your period are slim, but they’re still there.

Your menstrual cycle happens because your body is preparing for pregnancy by releasing an egg and thickening the lining of your uterus. Many people think that once your body sheds this lining, you can’t get pregnant.

While it’s technically true that you can’t get pregnant while this is happening, sperm can live in your body for up to 5 days. That means that any sperm that enters your body can stay alive throughout your period as well as after – at which point it’s completely possible for you to get pregnant. If you’re having sex and don’t want to get pregnant, use protection – whether you’re on your period or not.

MYTH #2: You should avoid activities like exercise and sex when you’re on your period.

Fact: Exercise helps relieve symptoms associated with your period. It can make you feel better, concentrate more easily, and feel energized. It can also ease pain such as cramps, back pain, and headaches.
You also don’t need to avoid having sex. In fact, sex can actually make you feel good by releasing dopamine and oxytocin – pleasurable hormones that make sex a natural mood elevator.

MYTH #3: PMS is all in your head

Fact: There’s a very real physical change in a woman’s body during this time. In the days leading up to a woman’s period beginning — when she’s “PMSing” — her levels of oestrogen plummet, while her levels of progesterone sharply increase.
Oestrogen is linked to serotonin, the “happy hormone,” and progesterone is linked to the part of the brain associated with fear, anxiety, and depression. The effects of hormones on mood are complicated, and while progesterone may depress some emotions, it has a mood-balancing effect.

It may be tempting to write off seemingly drastic changes in moods as “just hormones,” but mood changes caused by hormones are still real. It may happen on a more monthly basis for us, but it doesn’t invalidate our feelings.

MYTH #4 if you miss your period, you are pregnant

Fact: Pregnancy is the most common reason for a missed period, but there are other reasons it could go MIA. Stress, illness, and changes in weight or nutrition can all affect your menstrual cycle. Your period probably won’t be on an exact cycle, like every 28 days. Plus, missing a period is even more common in the first year after you start menstruating. It can take from six months to a year for your period to become regular after you first get it. And for some people, it might never be regular. Still, if you are sexually active and miss a period, see your doctor for a pregnancy test, just to be safe.

MYTH #5 Periods are shameful

Fact: If we stop thinking that periods are gross, shameful, and dirty, then perhaps it wouldn’t be a humanitarian crisis. But the truth is, we have a long history of embarrassment to overcome. It’s so ingrained in our behaviour. We shouldn’t have to feel like we need to whisper about needing a tampon or hide a tampon up our sleeve. Periods aren’t anything out of the ordinary, and neither is talking about them.

Let’s do our part to change this cycle and ditch the stigma. Having your period is a completely normal process. Women should feel confident about the changes they experience each month and appreciate what their bodies can accomplish – period.
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