The Myths about Periods.
It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man, a girl or a boy; myths about periods are shared among all.
In a country where bleeding is still taboo, coming generations have a lot to tackle to change this situation. And with these myths lying around in every corner, changing the mindset of people looks like a far fetched idea. Therefore, these unreasonable myths are to be corrected, and some basic information should be provided, which might come in handy while dealing with the issue or helping/guiding someone out in need.
Also, earlier if you missed your science classes in school, this is the time to gain some knowledge about the other half of the population.
Myth #1 Periods happen monthly.
We already call periods ‘monthlies’, and yes, we know that seeing it is the first in the myth countdown is quite mind boggling. Let us dive deep.
Why are ‘monthlies’ not truly ‘monthly’?– This is because every woman has her own period cycle, which is totally different from others. On top of it, there are other factors too that play their role during period cycles like weight, food, medication, clinical disorder, exercising, etc. All these factors may lead to early, late, irregular, or even termination of periods for some time, thus, hindering the period cycle.
Moreover, naturally, everyone experiences a variation of two to four days in their upcoming period cycle, and the average menstruation cycle span is generally around 28 days.
Additionally, the period cycle of most women is between 21 to 40 days, which somewhat can not be called a month.
Myth #2 Periods = Pain
Without any over exaggeration, we are going to answer this myth truthfully. Periods do come with their share of pain and discomfort; however, their intensity varies. Yes, women become sensitive and hot-headed sometimes during their cycles, but hormones are to be blamed, not the cramps. Also, some women feel the pain on the first or the second day of their periods, and some don’t experience them at all.
Menstrual cramps are mild and do not hinder daily routine or activities. One can proceed with their regular chores without feeling extreme pain. Nevertheless, there are still headaches, uneasiness, and constant pinching sensations.
Still, if you or someone you know is dealing with constant severe painful periods, it might be because of some underlying medical conditions such as endometriosis, PMS, fibroids, etc. So, without any delay, a doctor must be consulted.
Myth #3 Periods are DIRTY…
What?… We don’t know how and why this question, again and again, turns up in the period conversations, but we know that this misconception is held not only by men but also by women. Remember when your aunt or grandmother or even your mother once told you that period blood is ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’ because it somehow removes ‘toxins’ from your body? It is NOT at all like this. Period blood is not an ‘excretory product,’ it is just the lining of your uterus. That’s it.
Moreover, if people say ‘dirty’ in respect of hygiene, then it is an issue when there is a lack of water supply.
Generally, menstrual blood contains chloride, common electrolytes, sodium, water, fourteen types of proteins, endometrial tissue, phosphate, glycoproteins, cervical mucus, calcium, organ moieties, iron, etc.
Myth #4 Considering Periods as Illness.
Have you watched the short documentary released in 2018 called “Period. End of Sentence.”? If not, then you must. Set up in a rural background, just 60 km away from Delhi, this film will give you a glimpse of ‘still existing hesitation’ and ‘undereducation’ among both boys/men and girls/women.
When a boy ‘guesses’ (because you can see how all of them are genuinely confused) menstruation as an ‘illness’ or ‘mahamari,’ which is quite ‘common’ among women, at that point, we know that we still lack in imparting full knowledge about menstruation. Denoting a ‘healthy body function’ as an illness is quite degrading in itself.
Even if someone is experiencing painful periods, heavy flow, or extreme discomfort of any other kind, then also it can not be associated with ‘being ill.’ These symptoms are mere ‘disorders’ caused by some underlying medical conditions and not an illness. Although these words are used interchangeably, they hold significantly different meanings.
Myth #5 Periods are like an injury.
It’s really easy to imagine what it would feel like if someone who hasn’t had their periods yet, suddenly one day starts to bleed. The first thing that comes to mind is that they might have injured themselves somehow. And yes, it is a logical explanation for them. But this undereducation and misconception have to be revised.
Periods are not injury, yes they do hurt, but it is like a renewal process. Our body gets rid of the old uterus lining and starts to prepare for another period cycle. In simple ways, it is pretty similar to growing new fingernails or producing new skin cells.
Moreover, menstrual blood is nothing like what we bleed out when we cut ourselves. Period blood contains water and menstrual fluid. Menstrual fluid includes plasmin, glycoproteins, stem cells, cervical mucus, common electrolytes, clear vaginal fluid, and different proteins. So yeah, periods are not at all similar to injury.
Myth #6 Moon affects your Periods.
Okay… so the moon can surely convert you into a werewolf, but in no way can it possibly affect the female reproductive system. Based on the ‘no evidence carrying beliefs,’ this myth’s bubble burst when countered with the logical explanation of women having fluctuating menstrual cycles and the difference between the lunar cycle (29 days) and average span of the period cycle (28 days).
The myth believers still stand for their beliefs by claiming that modern life, stress, inactive lifestyles, contraceptive medications, eating habits, etc., has disturbed the moon’s power over female’s natural rhythm… How fictional does it sound?
Myth #7 Periods = Shame
How can a natural bodily function, which is bound to happen to half of the population on earth is a ‘shameful experience.’ And this not only happens on moral grounds, but this shaming has elevated to spiritual levels also. One is not allowed to visit temples, shrines, mosques, etc., just because they are menstruating. This kind of banning and controlling one’s freedom makes them feel guilty and harms their self-esteem. Menstruating people may start to think that they are ‘not fit,’ which is why everybody avoids them.
Furthermore, this harmless looking shaming can take a toll on the entire gender, causing a shortfall of opportunities, violence, difficult interpersonal relationships, inequality of rights, a lower standard of living, etc.
Well Wisher’s Words
Holding these types of beliefs without any proof is not going to bring any good. It is only going to suppress, stigmatize and humiliate the bleeding population. So let us get together and try to bust as many myths as possible.