Menstruation is the process by which the uterus sheds its lining out through the vagina at the end of the menstrual cycle. The process of menstruation is essential to the proper functioning of the reproductive system. While women are familiar with all the details of this process, they must also deal with the many misconceptions that surround this natural phenomenon.
Let us take a look at some of the most common myths associated with menstruation and how they hold up against scientific fact.
1. Menstruating Women Are Impure
Across faiths in India, menstruating women are considered ‘impure’ and are not allowed access to places of worship or religious artifacts and idols. Many people believe that women should not cook on their period as they will ‘contaminate’ the food and turn it bad. Some even believe that menstruating women cause plants to wilt and cows to become infertile.
In many parts of the country, women on their period are made to live in isolation for fear that they will ‘pollute’ anybody they come in contact with. They often stay in a separate room or even shed or shack outside the house.
Fact: Menstruation Does Not Make Women Impure
Menstruation is not a contagious disease, nor is menstrual blood dirty or disgusting. When women are on their period, they cannot turn food bad and certainly do not pose any danger to the people and other living creatures around them.
The belief that menstruating women are impure stems from a deep sense of shame around female bodies, especially female reproduction. The stigma associated with menstruation makes women feel deeply ashamed of their bodies. These social practices, however, have no basis in fact.
2. Menstruating Women Should Avoid Certain Foods
According to a prevalent myth in some parts of the country, women should avoid sour foods like tamarind, curd, and pickles when on their period, as consuming such food can disrupt their flow.
Fact: Food Has No Effect on Menstrual Flow
There is no need for menstruating women to change their diet. While eating certain foods can alleviate period symptoms such as bloating, there is no scientific evidence that food has any effect on the flow of menstrual blood.
3. Menstruating Women Should Avoid Physical Activity
Many people believe that women should avoid exercise while on their period. It is thought that physical activity disrupts or increases flow and can even worsen period cramps.
Fact: Physical Activity Does Not Disrupt Flow
Exercising does not cause the flow to increase or decrease. In fact, several studies have shown that it is beneficial for menstruating women to exercise, provided the pain isn’t too severe.
Physical activity relieves bloating, discomfort, and reduces cramps. Exercising helps in the release of endorphins, which make you feel good. This also helps to alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
4. Menstruating Women Should Stay Away From Water
It is thought that menstruating women will ‘contaminate’ water bodies and must stay away from them. In some parts of the country, women are not allowed to have a bath while on their period.
Fact: Menstruating Women Can and Must Bathe as Per Usual
There is no scientific basis for this period myth. In fact, it is imperative to practice good hygiene while menstruating, and this includes having a bath regularly. Lack of sanitation can lead to debilitating infections of the reproductive tract.
5. Menstruation Should Not Be Talked About in Public
Menstruation is ‘dirty,’ ‘impure,’ and should not be discussed in public. According to this myth, menstruation is strictly a ‘ladies issue’ and should be dealt with as quietly as possible. This includes not purchasing or discussing sanitary products openly.
Fact: Menstruation Should Be Talked About Openly
Menstruation is a natural process. As mentioned earlier, the stigma associated with it has real consequences for women’s lives. It can only be removed if we all talk about menstruation openly, without shame or disgust.
Treating menstruation as a taboo subject makes it hard for women to get access to the medical care they need. Without the right sanitary products, many women resort to reusing old cloth, dry leaves, and even newspapers to deal with the flow. This can lead to infections and a whole host of other medical problems.
6. Pain During Periods Is Normal
It is normal to have bad cramps every once in a while. However, if women experience signs of debilitating pain during menstruation, they are often told to ignore it. As such, women tend to suffer in silence and may not even visit a doctor for the pain.
Fact: Intense Pain Could Indicate a Serious Underlying Condition
While everyone has a different pain tolerance, extreme discomfort is not normal. Severe pain, along with an irregular flow, might be a symptom of endometriosis. If left untreated, endometriosis can be debilitating and may even lead to infertility.
If you’re going through severe menstrual cramps, it’s best to seek the advice of a doctor. For the best gynaecologist in Gurgaon, visit CK Birla Hospital today.
7. Cycles Must Be 28 Days Long
The average number of days of a menstrual cycle is 28 days. If your cycle is less or more than the average, you may have been concerned about having irregular periods.
Fact: Menstrual Cycles Can Vary for Different Women
Women have reported menstrual cycles ranging from 21 to 35 days, so the number of days between your periods is not an indication of an underlying condition on its own.
Menstruation is a completely normal and natural process, like any other bodily function. Women should not be ashamed of it or try to hide it. Being aware of the science behind the process helps us take better care of our health and reach out for medical care if needed.
In case you are experiencing any difficulties or irregularities with your menstrual cycle, consult your nearest doctor. Good health comes with knowledge, and that begins by combating harmful myths about menstruation!