Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Society has stigmatized menstruation, making this natural process something associated with shame and discomfort 🤧. This has led to misinformation and misconceptions about periods being more easily spread!
Each of these myths are ones we were told growing up, and I wish that I knew each of them were false when we first began menstruating 🌹.
Myth 1: Your period and your menstrual cycle are the same thing.
⚡ Fact: Your period is the time where you are actively bleeding. Your menstrual cycle is the time between the beginning of one period and the beginning of the next. Your period, also called the menstrual phase, is one of four phases in the menstrual cycle. The three other phases are the follicular phase, where your body gets ready to release an egg; the ovulation phase, where the egg is actually released; and the luteal phase, there your uterine lining thickens to prepare for a fertilized egg.
Myth 2: Everyone can smell your menstrual blood.
⚡ Fact: When you are self-conscious about something, your brain is more likely to fixate on that thing and trick you into thinking that everybody will notice. The truth is, period blood does not have a strong odour, and if there is any scent, it will be more obvious to you than to anybody else. As long as you are keeping up with personal hygiene by showering and regularly changing your period products, your period blood probably does not smell and will not be noticeable to others. However, if you notice a really strong odour, you should talk to your doctor to make sure you don’t have an infection.
Myth 3: Rest is the only thing you should do while you are menstruating.
⚡ Fact: Sleeping and relaxation are essential and can make you feel much better while you are on your period. However, exercise and moving around have been proven to help relieve cramp pain, increase your energy, and better your mood. This does not mean you need to partake in an intense, 2-hour workout. You could do anything you feel comfortable doing, such as a light jog or a quick walk. Even if what you’re doing doesn’t seem like it will change anything, a bit of movement is good for your mental and physical well being.
Myth 4: You should be productive everyday
⚡Fact: One of the systems we know and dread the most, the 9-5 work week, was actually designed according to the male 24 hour hormone cycle. Their cycle follows the circadian rhythm (we also have this, but we have another system that takes over). Their cortisol and testosterone levels are highest in the morning and as the levels drop, so does their productivity level.
For people who menstruate, this is not the case, we follow a different rhythm, which is linked to our periods (infradian rhythm). Our cycles have four distinct phases: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Each of these phases is characterised by different hormone levels, which activates different parts of the brain, resulting in varying productivity levels!
Myth 5: All period symptoms and menstrual cycles are and should be the same.
⚡Fact: Everybody has different experiences with their period. Many people think that there is something wrong with them if certain parts of their period or menstrual cycle fall outside of the ‘norm’. People have different levels of blood flow, intensity of their cramps, and lengths of their cycles. If you don’t have the same experiences as your friends or other menstruators, you shouldn’t feel bad. Your body is unique, and therefore, you will have a unique experience. However, this does not mean you should avoid consulting with your doctor. You know your body better than anyone else, so if you feel concerned about your period, you should seek professional advice.