by Lisbeth Endre
Myths about the menstrual cycle have been around as long as women have been menstruating. Sometimes we know the myths are just that – myths. Then there are times when we’re not sure, and times when we just believe the myth. How many of these myths have you believed?
You can’t go swimming during your period. Perhaps this myth started in the days before internal devices such as tampons were popular. Or it could have been a fear of cramps while swimming or that menstrual blood could contaminate the swimming pool. Regardless of what started this myth, there is no reason that you cannot safely swim during menstruation.
It’s unhealthy to have sex during your period. While some women may feel uncomfortable about having sexual intercourse during menstruation, it’s perfectly OK, and may even help relieve menstrual cramps. In fact, although not scientifically proven, researchers have associated sex during menstruation with decreased endometriosis, as well as with several other health benefits including an improved quality of life. While the health benefits of sexual intercourse need more study, there is no health reason not to have sex during menstruation, so, go ahead, and have sex during your period if you want to!
Don’t wash your hair when you’re menstruating. There is absolutely no reason not to wash your hair, or take a bath or shower during menstruation. In fact, a nice warm bath can do a lot to relieve menstrual cramps and premenstrual tension. You might want to avoid cold water during your period since it could, theoretically, cause uterine contractions that could increase menstrual cramps.
Girls shouldn’t use tampons during their first periods. Another complete falsehood. There is no reason not to use tampons during your first period. Just make sure you read the instructions and insert the tampon correctly. A properly inserted tampon doesn’t pinch or cause any type of discomfort. In fact, you won’t feel anything if your tampon is inserted correctly.
You won’t get pregnant if you have sex during menstruation. Don’t count on it! Unless you’re using the Pill, an internal device, or another hormonal type of contraception, there are no safe days. Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, you should always use condoms during sex, even if you take the Pill or use another form of contraception.
You shouldn’t exercise or do strenuous activities during your period. Menstruation is a normal function. Your period is not a disability, you can do anything during your period that you can do when you’re not menstruating. Once treated as a time when women were “sick,” menstruating women rested, stayed home, and didn’t socialize. By exercising consistently, you may able to achieve a lighter and shorter mentrual flow, a lower incidence of mood swings, and a stronger pelvic floor which can better support your reproductive organs.