Busting menstruation myths – get the facts!
- Myth: Exercise should be avoided during menstruation. Taking part in sports and physical exercise is encouraged and has many benefits. Endorphins released during exercise not only minimise mood swings and boost your mood but also minimise your perception of pain which is good news if you suffer from PMS. The increase in blood circulation experienced when exercising is also believed to reduce cramping. Menstrual cups are perfect for your workout as they form a suction seal with the vaginal walls, which prevents leaking and they are completely internal and odour free. So go ahead, swim, run and practice yoga when you have your period but also listen to your body and take time to rest if you aren’t feeling up to it.
- Myth: You are more likely to be attacked by a shark or bear if you are menstruating. To date, there is simply no scientific evidence to support the theory that menstruating women are more attractive to sharks. In fact, a little over 6% of shark attacks involve women. A study conducted in 1985 on hundreds of grizzly bear attacks, also found no link between the attacks and menstruation. So, don’t let your period stop you having a dip in the ocean or a walk in the woods.
- Myth: A regular menstrual cycle is 28 days and a period last for one week. Cycles differ from person to person and whilst the average cycle is 28 days it may be shorter or longer and may last between two and seven days. It is also not uncommon to experience an irregular menstrual cycle at some point in time however if you have not had your period for three cycles and are not pregnant, you may have amenorrhea and should see your GP.
- Myth: PMS is all in your mind. Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) can range from mild to severe and can be debilitating for some women. This is caused by the uterus or womb contracting and pressing on nearby blood vessels, starving the uterus of oxygen. This in turn, causes belly or lower back pain. Ibuprofen, heat packs and massages can help ease menstrual pain. Avoiding caffeine, salt, tobacco and alcohol can also reduce cramping.
- Myth: You shouldn’t have sex during your period. In fact, you may feel more aroused during this time of the month. The release of endorphins during orgasms is also said to reduce PMS symptoms such as cramping and sadness. It’s often less messy than anticipated so don’t assume your partner will be ‘grossed out’ about having period sex – have an open discussion with your partner and respect their decision either way. If you do engage in intercourse while menstruating, be sure to use protection; you are still at risk of transmitting or getting and STI when you have your period.
- Myth: You can’t fall pregnant during your period. This is a common misconception. Whist the probability is low, it is possible for an egg to be fertilised whist you are menstruating, particularly if you have a shorter cycle. Ensure you practice safe sex during menstruation if you do not want to fall pregnant.
- Myth: If you miss your period, you’re pregnant. Many factors influence menses and changes including; weight and nutrition, hormonal fluctuations, stress and a multitude of other lifestyle factors. While it is very possible that a missed period following unprotected sex is the indication of pregnancy, this is not always the case. Take a home pregnancy and speak to your GP if your pregnancy was not planned.
- Myth: If you spend enough time with a friend your periods will sync up. It has been commonly thought that roomies or close friends who spent a lot of time together would synchronise their menstrual cycles however a study on women living in dorms disproved this theory.
Image source: Sourpuss