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5 Period Myths You Might Have Believed

By Arlett Ramirez
Assistant Web Content Manager

Over the centuries, misconceptions and myths have grown about periods and they’re still around to this day. I’ve found some of the most common myths about periods that you should definitely know about and some that might surprise you. And if you haven’t realized, there will be blood mentioned.

1. Your menstruation cycle is always 28 days long.

It is true that the average length of a menstrual cycle is 28 days. However, cycles can vary anywhere from 21 to 35 days. The menstrual cycle begins from the first day of your period up to the first day of your next period.  Somebody whose cycle lasts 21 days can begin to ovulate around day seven and those with a longer cycle of 35 days might ovulate around day 21. It’s critically important to know and track your cycle because it will help you to know when to expect your period.

2. You can’t get pregnant when you’re on your period. 

This myth has been around for years. Who knows who started it but I’m sure everyone has heard it at some point in their lives. People believe you can’t get pregnant because the uterus is shedding its inner lining and that automatically means no baby – duh!

Blue and white positive pregnancy test
Always practice safe sex even on your period to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Photo by Andy Lederer via Creative Commons.

Well… pregnancy can still occur. 

Whether your cycle is short or long, the egg that is released during ovulation can live between 12 and 24 hours. Sperm can live for about three days. Basically, the closer you are to the end of your period, the more likely you are to get pregnant, especially if you have a shorter cycle. Those with a longer cycle are not an exception, pregnancy can still be possible. If you’re not on birth control and aren’t planning on becoming pregnant, make sure your partner wears a condom at all times.

3.Period blood has a bad smell.

This myth might be hard to believe, but trust me, it’s a myth. Everyone has their own distinct scent and menstrual blood itself has no odor. Menstrual blood is made of blood and tissue from the uterus and is mixed with the naturally occuring bacteria in the body that may smell a little… not fresh.

You shouldn’t worry about someone being able to smell if you’re on your period. Think about it, have you ever been able to smell someone else on their period? The answer is no.

However, if you notice a fishy odor or feel like something’s off you should talk to your doctor.

4. Painful cramping is something you have to put up with.

Hormones called prostaglandins trigger the uterus to help shed the uterine lining AKA menstrual cramps. Cramps can be uncomfortable and downright painful. Sometimes it feels like someone’s stabbing you in the stomach and sometimes you can swear you’re in labor. There’s even medical reasoning that menstrual cramps can be more painful than a heart attack. 

Birth control pills are often prescribed to relieve menstrual pain not just for contraception purposes. Being on birth control pills will help make periods less painful because they reduce the amount of prostaglandins produced by the body. 

Keeping track of your menstrual cycle will help you predict and know when your period is coming. If you know that you period is a couple of days away start taking some anti-inflammatory medication with food to avoid cramping. 

5. A tampon can get lost inside of your vagina.

No, just no, A tampon cannot get lost inside of a vagina. It might get stuck but it won’t be lost. The vagina isn’t nearly as deep as someone may think. The cervix is at the base of the uterus and prevents anything from going too far in. Besides a tampon will have a string that hangs outside the body and if it somehow goes inside, you won’t have trouble pulling it out. If the tampon does get stuck and you can’t get it out, call your doctor.

Everybody’s sexual education is different. In elementary school, my sex ed was straight to the point. Males had penises and Females had vaginas. In middle school, they taught us the basics, like the anatomy of a vagina and what a menstrual pad was and how it worked. Menstruation education is something everyone should know — whether you experience periods or not. 

Featured image by Arlett Ramirez.

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