Top 10 Common Period Myths - Busted!
Given that there are 8 billion people on the planet and at least 50 percent have periods at some stage during their lives, it seems odd that there are still so many myths around periods.
Perhaps that's because periods allow us to have children which, if you think about it, is sort of a miracle!
However in many cultures these myths surrounding menstruation are shaming and unhelpful. Here we give you the facts on the top 10 period myths:
- You can't get pregnant during your period
- You shouldn't have sex when you're on your period
- You shouldn't exercise when you're on your period
- Your period should last exactly one week each month
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is all in your head
- There's one best way to deal with period blood
- Period Pain is no worse than a headache
- Period Blood is unhygienic and dirty
- Periods are something to be ashamed of
- You shouldn't have a bath on your period
Sorry, not true, you can get pregnant during your period. Whilst you're definitely at your least fertile during your period, sperm are long lived little buggers.
So, if your cycle is shorter than most (say 21 or 22 days instead of the 'average' 28) and you have sex on the 6th day of your period, sperm could lay in wait in your vagina for up to 7 days which is easily long enough for you to ovulate.
The moral of this story is that you should use condoms or appropriate birth control if you're going to have sex on your period. See Myth 2!
No need to avoid sex when you're on your period. In fact at this time of the month blood can act as a natural lubricant!
Sure, it's a bit messier than usual, but you can always have sex in the shower. Alternatively, laying on a towel is generally enough to protect your bedsheets, or use a washable bed mat. Having some Cheeky Reusable Intimate wipes on hand will do a sterling job of making clean up easy too!
One really important point to note is that if you're washing bloodstains cool or cold water washing is a MUST! Blood is a protein stain and washing on anything above body temperature will 'set' the stain.
'Having used sanitary towels since my first period I thought it was about time I tried something more environmentally friendly. I order a few different sized towels from cheeky wipes and the cotton intimate wipes and handy bag for the used if I was out. I have been impressed by the products. The towels stay put and they are reliable for a heavy day. The intimate cloths do the job as well. I am happy to recommend them. And find a cold quick wash leaves them looking new. Very happy customer.' Amy via Trustpilot
This really couldn't be more wrong. You can and indeed should exercise on your period if you feel up to it as there are more benefits to exercising than not!
Exercise can release endorphins which will help with pain from cramps and improve your energy levels. In addition, aerobic exercise or strength training generally improves your mood too.
The important thing is not to overdo your exercise routine, avoid intense exercise and listen to your body.
If you find exercising tricky whilst on your period (maybe because you wear pads which move around etc) then look at alternatives such as period pants which are literally game-changing! Cheeky Pants sponsor our local ladies football team, they love our period pants for both period use and little dribbles too!
Not quite true. According to NHS UK the 'average' menstrual cycle is around 28 days long, so just short of one calendar month. And lasts for anywhere between 2 and 7 days, with 5 days being the average.
No. No. No. PMS is absolutely NOT all in your head. Again, NHS UK recognises the following symptoms of PMT:
- feeling bloated
- breast tenderness
- mood swings
- feeling irritable
- spotty skin
- low sex drive (loss of libido)
The drop is progesterone at the end of your menstrual cycle, just before your period starts is commonly believed to be responsible for PMS, which also impacts the serotonin levels in your brain.
Occasionally PMS is much more severe (premenstrual dysphoric disorder PMDD) and this is often tied into when your periods start or during the menopause. If you suffer with these symptoms, it's definitely worth chatting to your GP.
Symptoms of PMDD include:
- mood swings
- feeling angry or irritable
- feeling tired and disengaged
- feeling anxious or tense
- feeling overwhelmed
- difficulty concentrating
- suicidal feelings – if you have suicidal feelings, it’s really important to seek help
There are also physical symptoms of PMDD such as:
- breast tenderness or swelling
- pain in your muscles and joints
- feeling bloated – when your tummy sticks out more than normal
- changes in your appetite
- tiredness and/or difficulty sleeping
Personally speaking, I never really suffered with PMS until I started approaching perimenopause when my emotional symptoms appeared.
After talking to my Dr, they agreed that HRT would be helpful for me and as part of this I had a coil fitted which really helped maintain by emotional equilibrium! Please always chat to your Dr if you're finding that PMS is impacting your wellbeing.
'Great service, my pants arrived quickly and in eco friendly packaging. I've used them and all three different pairs were comfortable, in particular the high waisted (when you're a little more bloated). The absorbency seems good and I got no leaks...liking them very much so far.' via Trustpilot
As with LOTS of things, there's more than one way to deal with period blood. How you deal with your periods tends to be a habit. You might stick with the habit that you were first shown, but that doesn't mean that other methods couldn't work better for you.
Like many people, I started using pads as a youngster and then migrated to tampons. This was 30 years ago, when no one thought about the environmental impact of all the pads ad tampons we were throwing away!
Fast forward to having 4 kids and tampons / internal period protection such as a menstrual cup just wasn't suitable for me any longer. That's when we developed our range of reusable period pads and period pants which are comfy, eco-friendly and leak-free!
This is totally untrue. Some people literally find themselves doubled in two and unable to leave the house because their period pain is SO severe. This isn't normal and if you find yourself in this boat, get yourself down to your GP and pester them to look into it.
Endometriosis takes an average of 7.5 years to be diagnosed and for many women this mans battling with health professionals who don't understand it. We have a fantastic blog post from Sarah at @thefannydiaries about her journey to have her endometriosis diagnosed.
Severe period pain is NOT normal. If you're finding that normal painkillers, exercise and a hot water bottle don't help, see your GP. You know your body better than anyone.
In addition, consider switching to reusable period products. We have heard LOTS of anecdotal evidence from customers who report that switching to reusables has helped reduce their period pain.
'Amazing period pants, have not and will not ever go back to using tampons or pads. I have less pain and more comfort using period pants as well as the obvious positives for the environment! Never had a leak, more confident in sleeping the night than when I used pads, they wash and dry amazingly and I just wish I had had these years ago! I have recommended friends to use these for how brilliant they are!' Hannah via Trustpilot
Urgh, we hear this a lot and this one (and number 9) are the ones that make us most upset. Period blood is no more unhygienic than if you cut your arm and bleed from it. Or have a nose bleed!
Period blood is just like regular blood, only with some added bits such as bits of uterine lining and normal vaginal secretions. It isn't smelly or dirty, although of course if you don't wash frequently during your period you can get a strong smell. The good news is that simply washing with water is enough to keep you smelling daisy fresh and again our reusable intimate wipes are perfect for this.
We've also got a cracking blogpost on our sister site which you might like, called 'do period pants smell'...
Periods are absolutely not anything to be ashamed of and in fact should be celebrated. After all, without periods, there would be no children and the human race would die out!
No need to be ashamed and anyone who tries to period shame you isn't worth listening to.
We're not sure why or how this came to be a period myth but it's absolutely fine (and in fact recommended) to have a bath on your period. We *think* that the perception is that it might make you bleed heavier but that's just not true.
In fact, immersing yourself in warm water can relax and actually help with period pains and cramping. Using epsom salts in your bath can also help with cramps and pain too! due to their high magnesium content.
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About the Author: Helen Rankin is a Mum of 4 and founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. She went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable sanitary pads and reusable makeup removing pads. The team pride themselves on providing relatable friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.