Given the lack of menstrual education in our schools and the age-old superstitions attached to menstruation, there is a lot of unnecessary hullabaloo surrounding periods in India and around the globe. Misleading information propagated through TV commercials makes it worse.
Despite efforts being made by the media and entertainment industries to bridge the gap of misinformation, it remains a taboo topic on which many false claims are floated around. Let’s address some of them today, and bust the myths once and for all:
Period Blood Is Dirty
Period blood is no different than the blood flowing through your veins in any other part of your body. The reason why it has a smell, though, is because it gets mixed with the uterine tissue, mucus lining and bacteria while being discharged from the vagina. This doesn’t make it filthy or impure in any way.
A Lot Of Blood Is Lost
Unlike popular belief, not a lot of blood is lost during periods. The uterus lining amounts to merely 2 to 3 tablespoons of blood which is discharged across 4 to 6 days. Those who are experiencing spotting or unusually high quantities of blood loss, should see a gynaecologist.
Reusable Pads Are Unhygienic
No menstrual product is superior to the other. It’s a matter of choice. Cloth pads are not inherently unhygienic. It depends on how one uses it. Ideally, they should be washed with soap every 4-6 hours and left to dry under direct sunlight, which helps kill the bacteria. Neglecting menstrual hygiene can lead to irritation and infections.
Mesntruation is The Same For Everyone
Everyone’s experience with periods is different. It’s not okay to shun someone’s emotions as ‘PMS’. It’s not okay to tell them to ‘be strong’ when they’re going through menstrual cramps, because sometimes, the pain is so bad you can’t function like a normal human being. Those suffering from menstrual disorders like endometriosis and dysmenorrhea, which are more common than we think, often claim their cramps feel like stabs. So be empathetic and don’t assume.
Only Women Go Through Menstruation
Not all women get periods and not all those who do are women. Menstruation is not a gendered phenomenon, as transgender men and non-binary people can also go through it. That’s why it’s more progressive and inclusive to use the term ‘menstruators’. It doesn’t reduce people to a biological process.
36 superstitions about periods from around the world
Can’t touch plants on your period? Or bake bread? We asked thousands of people in the Clue community from around the world about the myths they’d been told about menstruation. Some of the responses were myths we’d heard before, but many were brand new to us.
A lot of these superstitions are behavioral restrictions that, aside from being untrue, contribute to gender-based taboos and discrimination.
These myths also make it harder for women to talk about their period — which leads to silence, shame, and misconception.
Here’s just a selection of the global myths related to menstruation:
While on you’re period…
1. You’re clumsy.
2. Tampons will break your hymen and make you impure.
3. Can’t take a bath.
4. Everybody gets PMS and it always manifests as – crankiness/irritability.
5. Don’t go camping because the bears can smell it from far away.
6. Don’t perm your hair until after you’ve had your first period.
7. If you touch any vegetable before or during the pickling process they would not pickle and would go bad.
8. You can’t be in homes or have contact with anybody.
9. You get slapped on the face when you get your first period so you have “beautiful” red cheeks all your life.
10. If you shower with hot water while on your period you will have a heavy flow.
11. You can’t drink cold beverages because they will give you cramps.
12. Don’t wash or cut your hair.
13. Having sex can kill your partner.
14. You can’t touch flowers because they’ll die quicker.
15. You need to wash your pads before throwing them out. Otherwise ghosts will come and haunt you.
16. You can’t enter a kitchen or cook food for anyone else.
17. You can’t enter a place of worship.
18. You can only enter a place of prayer once you’ve washed your hair on or after the fourth day.
19. You must wash your hair on the first day of your period to clean yourself completely. Butttttt on the contrary…
20. If you wash your hair, your flow will be less and it will affect your fertility later in life.
21. You should avoid dancing to very active rhythms in order to take care of your uterus.
22. Don’t paint your nails, wash your hair, or drink lemonade.
23. You can’t wash your hair.
24. You can’t walk barefoot (you might get cramps).
25. You can’t make whipped cream, it will curdle.
26. If you take a bath, your bleeding will stop and stopping bleeding is bad for your health.
27. When you get your first period you need to wash your face with the first menstrual blood to have clear skin.
28. Dough won’t rise.
29. You can’t touch plants.
30. Everything you cook will be a disaster.
31. You can’t go to the beach or pool (no contact with water basically).
32. You can’t make mayonnaise, it will curdle.
33. You can’t make sushi because you have an imbalance in taste.
34. You must blow dry your hair after a shower.
35. Avoid shaving your bikini line as the skin will get darker.
36. You can’t cradle babies or you’ll cause them to get sick.