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Weird & Wonderful : Five common menstrual myths debunked

The menstrual cycle is a normal process that happens to nearly all women during their childbearing years – from puberty until menopause.

Despite this, there are still a lot of inaccurate ideas revolving around menstruation — possibly because many women (and men) are uncomfortable talking about it. So, this could possibly be the main reason why there are a lot of myths about menstruation.

Let’s see what the medical definition says.

It’s just a natural biological process among women. Each month, a woman’s body prepares itself for pregnancy, but if no pregnancy occurs, the uterus will shed its lining and the woman’s period will commence. Menstrual blood leaves the uterus through the cervix and then it is released from the body through the vagina. Menstrual blood consists of blood as well as extra tissue from the uterine lining. It also can contain the remnants of the unfertilized egg that traveled down the fallopian tube into the uterus during ovulation period.

What are the common myths around you?

Myth (1) Women shouldn’t exercise or do strenuous activities while on their periods.
Unless you have severe cramping (dysmenorrhea) or excessive blood flow (menorrhagia) that interferes with your ability to participate in physical activities, there’s no reason to refrain from exercise or regular strenuous activities when you have your period. Your period is a normal function of your body. In fact, many health experts recommend exercise during menstruation to help reduce cramping since aerobic activities like walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, or swimming produce chemicals that help block pain.

Myths (2) Period blood has a bad smell.

Every woman has their own unique scent, menstrual blood itself has no odor. It’s made of blood and tissue that is shed from your uterus and when mixed with the naturally occurring bacteria in your body may smell a little less “fresh”. Not to worry though. It’s highly unlikely that anyone else can smell it. Have you ever been able to smell when someone else was on their period? Doubtful. Vaginas aren’t meant to smell like a bed of flowers despite what conventional sanitary pad and tampon commercials might make you think. Still, keeping yourself clean by changing your sanitary pad or tampons or regularly and washing your vulva with soap and water would help. (Never use a vaginal douche—it can throw off your pH balance and leave you prone to infections) Since the idea of menstrual blood smelling bad is pure fiction, there’s no need to worry if other people can smell it. However, if you notice a fishy odor or sense that something’s off, talk to your doctor. A bad smell down there could be indicative of a yeast infection.

Myth (3) You lose a lot of blood during your period.

This idea is pure fiction. The average woman only loses about 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood during her period. Even if you’re someone who experiences menorrhagia (a.k.a. heavy bleeding), your uterus still only releases about 4 tablespoons of blood. Of course, there are outliers to these numbers. The only time to worry is if you’re losing so much blood that it’s affecting your life. Going through more than seven sanitary pads or tampons a day, bleeding for more than seven days, or becoming anemic are all signs that you could be losing too much blood and you need to see a doctor. Remember, though, heavy bleeding isn’t normal or healthy and most women do not lose even close to too much blood during their period.

Myth (4) Don’t Wash Your Hair or Take a Bath When You’re Menstruating

There is absolutely no reason not to wash your hair, take a bath, or shower during menstruation. In fact, a nice warm bath can do a lot to relieve menstrual cramps and premenstrual tension.

Myth (5) It’s Unhealthy to Have Sex during Your Period.

While some women may feel uncomfortable about having sexual intercourse during menstruation, it’s perfectly OK. Likely, this myth comes directly from religious teaching that prohibits sex during menstruation. There is no health risk associated with sex during your period. There is even evidence to suggest that it may help relieve menstrual cramps. So, if you choose to, go ahead and have sex during your period without worry.

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