Women’s issues – especially those pertaining to reproduction – have been considered taboo for decades. Even in today’s western culture, where tampon commercials are shown on mainstream TV, there is still a whole lot of embarrassment (and, dare we say “shame?”) surrounding a woman’s menstrual cycle. This leads to women who grow up with grave misconceptions about the process and what it means – or doesn’t mean – for them.
Here are some of the Top 5 Period Myths we hear in our office on an almost regular basis. These beliefs are simply not true. You are the most empowered when you know everything there is to know about your amazing body. Make sure you ask your OB/GYN any questions you may have so you don’t run around believing – or sharing – further period mythology!
Top 5 Period Myths to Toss Out the Window
- You can’t get pregnant on your period. The “Rhythm Method” has long been used (largely unsuccessfully) to prevent pregnancy in women who abhor other forms of birth control or are from a culture or religion that forbids the use of birth control. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no foolproof way to guard against pregnancy if you’re having sex without the use of something other than your abilities to predict fertility. While chances may be slimmer during your period, long-lived sperm (they can live for almost a week inside your vagina) and an early egg release can mean pregnancy, even if you had sex in the middle of your period. Always use protection if you don’t want to get pregnant.
- Women shouldn’t bathe while on their period. This is absolute nonsense. Perhaps it really ties back to a time when showers didn’t exist and families shared a single tub of water. However, showering and bathing is perfectly safe during your period, just make sure to scrub the tub after the water drains if you opt for a bath. Showering, bathing and washing your hair does not increase your flow or disturb your flow, they just help you to feel clean and fresh while you’re on your flow.
- You shouldn’t exercise (or have sex!) when you’re menstruating. There is nothing you need to alter about your physical activity and exercise levels unless you aren’t feeling up to par. In fact, many women find that exercise helps to relieve PMS symptoms because it increases their oxygen flow and releases “feel good” hormones that act like nature’s pain relievers. Sex is also a go if you and your partner are in the mood. Obviously, it will be a little messier than normal so you may want to have a towel close by. Use birth control if you don’t want to get pregnant and always use a condom if you are not in a monogamous relationship to prevent STDs.
- Swimming is off limits when you’re on your period. Here’s a myth that has kept many a girl and woman pool- and beachside as she watched her friends having a great time. What a waste. There is no reason why you can’t go swimming. However, we do recommend that you use a tampon or menstrual cup since pads are virtually impossible to hide with a bathing suit and become extremely uncomfortable when wet. You will want to change your tampon when you’re done swimming as it will absorb water. And, by the way, you are not more prone to shark attacks or wild animal attacks while on your period either.
- Using a tampon means you’re not a virgin. This myth got started because people used to equate hymen breakage with loss of virginity. What a shame for all the true virgins who were labeled “de-virgins” for nothing. In truth, you lose your virginity the first time you have sexual intercourse that involves penetration of the penis into the vagina. Tampon use does not qualify.
Think you might be a victim of Period Mythology? Contact Overlake OBGYN and schedule an appointment with doctors who are committed to empowering women with the truth about their bodies and their reproductive organs.