A quarter of women of reproductive age are menstruating all at the same time and yet, there’s lack of education and a lot of old wives’ tales surrounding this completely normal biological function. From women on periods being impure to bleeding a bucket of blood during your menstrual cycle, the misinformation around menses is in abundance. What’s worse, these myths also make it harder for women to talk about their period openly, which further leads to silence, shame, and ignorance. 

Our in-house consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist Dr Suhasini Inamdar of Motherhood Hospitals debunks common period myths you simply shouldn’t believe.

1. A woman’s menstrual cycle is the same as her periods.

It is important to understand that a woman’s menstrual cycle is not the same as her periods because the actual time that a woman bleeds during her menstrual cycle is known as menstruation or periods. Whereas the menstrual cycle is the entire time from one period starting to the next. The menstrual cycle is of 28 days, whereas periods last for only 5-6 days.

2. The pain of a period is just like anything you have experienced.

The pain we get during a period is not like any other pain that we experience while we get hurt or bump into something. The cramps are so pinching that some women do really need to take time off work and experience an unavoidable disruption in their daily functioning. Dysmenorrhea is the name given this condition of extreme pain that women experience.

3. There is nothing called PMS. It is all in your head.

Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is not a myth and is a real physical change that happens in a woman’s body during this time. PMS is a combination of symptoms that many women get about a week or two before their periods. The intensity and timings may vary from person to person and comes with a myriad of symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of PMS are mood swings, tender breasts, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, and depression. 

4. Period blood is dirty blood your body is trying to get rid of.

The bleeding is basically the inner lining of the uterus, endometrium, which is shed monthly along with blood. It is not the body’s way of flushing out toxins or rejected body fluids. 

5. You cannot get pregnant if you have sex during your periods.

Yes, a woman can get pregnant while she is having unprotected sex during her periods. Often period bleeding is confused with ovulation bleeding. If the ovulation is happening that is the monthly release of an egg from a woman’s ovaries, then are chances of her getting pregnant. Ovulation happens within a few days after a woman’s period is over. So, if a woman has unprotected sex on the last day of her period and ovulates in the next few days, the sperm may still fertilize the egg.

6. Exercising when on your periods is unhealthy and can damage the uterus.

This is not true. Exercising on your periods is healthy and, in some cases, physical activity can alleviate cramps and even improve mood and feelings of fatigue often associated with the menstrual cycle. But, each woman is different and therefore, must listen to her body. Only indulge in physical activity that your body is comfortable taking on. Some people do yoga, other women go for walks, and then there are those who are able to do weight training and more rigorous exercises, too, because their body allows it.

7. A normal period last 5 days. Anything less or more is a sign that something is wrong.

Periods normally last for 3-5 days but there is no such rule that it should last exactly for five days week each month. Period duration varies from body to body and 3-5 days duration is considered normal. So, if you are having longer periods, you should consult a doctor.

8. You cannot enter the puja room when on your periods. 

Our ancestors were very intelligent, not allowing the women/girl to work and give her isolation. Not going to a Puja room was one of them. Basically, this was done to provide her much needed rest during periods. But over generations, the basic idea has changed. Individuals can follow the practices as per their family preferences.

9. You can faint from period blood loss.

It’s not possible to generally faint from period blood loss. When girls have severe pain or excessive bleeding with too many clots, that’s the time they may feel dizzy or lightheaded. Healthy eating and regular check-ups with their gynaecologists will ensure such rare episodes don’t occur. Because they would occur only if you’re not being mindful of rest, diet, and hydration during your period.

Disclaimer: This is for the general information of the readers. Please consult your doctor for specific health problems.