From simple misconceptions right through to the downright ridiculous, there are many myths surrounding our menstrual cycles. Our very own WUKA experts discussed seven debunked myths about our periods that still exist.
Myth one: Our periods are controlled by the moon
Ok, let’s get this straight. No, your period is not controlled by the moon. But for a long time scholars believed that it was, with claims that every woman experienced her period when the moon was in its waning phase.
However, more recent studies conducted by Clue have concluded that women get their periods at varying times during the month, and during all phases of the moon—so it's fair to say that this one has well and truly been debunked as a myth and nothing more.
But this one is pretty wild, so let’s take a closer look at why this myth was so widely accepted, and what the Clue study actually found.
How long is the average menstrual cycle?
For most women, the average menstrual cycle lasts around 28 days, but for some, it can be as short as 21 days, or as long as 40 days (yeah, really). Menstrual cycles can vary greatly from person to person and just for this reason alone it’s highly improbable that every woman will get her period at the exact same time—like when the moon enters the waning phase.
Moreover, each lunar cycle is around 29.5 days long, again proving that most women will simply not get their period at the same point in this cycle every month.
Are there any links between the menstrual cycle and the lunar cycle?
Okay, but are there any links at all between the menstrual cycle and the lunar cycle? Well...yes, and no.
Menstruation, like the phases of the moon, is a cyclical process, which is what led many philosophers and scholars to question whether or not there are links between them. But really, this is where the similarities end.
Can period cycles sync?
Another common myth that links in with the age-old belief that the moon controls your period—syncing. It’s often still widely thought that women who live in close proximity to each other, like sisters or housemates, can find their menstrual cycles syncing and happening at the same time. This was again thought to be down to the moon, but later research suggested it could be due to pheromones.
But just as your period does not sync with the moon, it also doesn’t sync with other females in your home either—it’s just another debunked myth.
Myth two: You can hold your period flow in
The short answer? No. You cannot hold your period flow in, although wouldn’t that make life so much easier sometimes?! But where did this myth come from and how can we prove it’s false?
Where does period flow out from?
It's thought that this myth came from somewhat of a misunderstanding of the female anatomy, namely the vagina. Since we can hold our urine in, it’s been suggested that we can do the same with our period flow too… but urine and period blood actually come out of two different places.
Urine flows from the urethra, which is regulated by the urethral sphincter—muscles that we can contract to hold in our pee. But period blood flows out from the vagina, which does not have sphincters, so cannot be controlled. This means that you can hold in your pee, but you can’t hold in your period blood.
Is it normal for my period to stop at night?
In the same vein as holding your period blood in, it might seem like your period stops at night, but it doesn’t really. Although you feel like you experience a lighter, or no flow while you’re in bed, it’s all down to your position rather than an ability to hold in your flow.
It's down to simple physics—when you're upright, gravity helps to push the period blood out of your vagina a lot faster. When you lie down, the force of gravity is less, meaning less blood is being moved through the vagina. You might have noticed a heavier flow when you first get up in the morning which is because the blood that has collected overnight is finally able to flow more freely.
For some though, blood flow can still be heavy at night, so make sure you go to bed with adequate protection! Our Heavy and Super Heavy period pants were made especially for overnight use and will protect you against any leaks, even when your flow is at its heaviest.
Myth three: Sharks can smell your period blood
Definitely not true. Sadly though, this is one that lots of girls and women tend to hear time and time again…
How much blood you lose during your period plays an important role in debunking this myth. The average woman will lose around three teaspoons of fluid each cycle, and while it definitely feels like a lot more, this is actually a very small amount.
So, when you factor in an entire ocean filled with water, the chances that even a shark with the most powerful sense of smell might detect your flow are extremely minuscule.
If you do experience heavy bleeding during your period, speak to your doctor about possible causes, but don’t let it put you off swimming—if you’ve got suitable period protection, you will be fine!
What’s the best period protection to use during swimming?
Your period doesn’t stop in water (another common misconception, stemming from the fact that water pressure around the vagina can fight against gravity, creating a kind of ‘block’ so that fluid isn’t able to flow as freely—again, myth), it’s not going to attract sharks either but you will need to get your hands on the right kind of period protection.
Our WUKA swimwear collection is made for lighter days and will protect you against leaks while swimming. We use recycled nylon and we made them super thin so you can comfortably wear them underneath your usual swimwear.
Myth four: Chocolate can fix period cramps
This one isn’t entirely false as such, but it’s also not a magic fix for period cramps- sorry! That said though, if eating chocolate makes you happy, then who are we to argue?!
What causes period cramps?
Period cramps occur as your uterus contacts to expel its lining. Prostaglandins trigger these contractions and are responsible for causing pain and inflammation too. Certain conditions can make period cramps worse, such as:
- Uterine fibroids
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
Knowing the physiological reasons why period cramps happen, it makes it a little more unlikely that chocolate can be a cure for them!
If you suspect any of these conditions, you should speak to your doctor about treatments available to you.
Natural remedies for period cramps
There are some natural remedies for period cramps, and this is probably where chocolate comes in. Good quality, dark chocolate contains magnesium, which is helpful in easing cramps as it can relax the muscles. But you can also take a magnesium supplement for the same, probably better, effect. Other natural remedies include:
- Hot water bottle to the stomach
- Gentle exercise such as yoga
- Gentle massage
- Taking a hot bath
- Drinking water
- CBD oil
- Switching sleep positions
What can I eat for period cramps?
Alongside chocolate, there are other foods that could be helpful for period cramps. In fact, some will probably be a lot more beneficial than chocolate too!
Foods such as fruit, leafy green vegetables, ginger, turmeric and nuts are all great foods to try. Avoid sugary, processed foods and excess salt.
What can I drink for period cramps?
There are also drinks that you can choose to help with period cramps. Warm drinks such as peppermint tea, ginger and lemon tea or green tea might help. Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks, energy drinks and milk.
Before we put this myth to bed, let’s touch on premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It’s not all in your head. It’s very real and don’t let anyone tell you any different. If you find that your PMS symptoms are interfering with your every day life, speak to your GP. You should not be in pain, period.
Myth five: The only reliable period protection is tampons and pads
Where to start with this one?! We all want reliable period protection. We want to know that the products we spend our money on are going to work. But to tell us that only tampons and pads are reliable is just simply not true
Disposable period products are not sustainable
Most tampons and pads are disposable and the bottom line is that most will end up either flushed into our oceans or dumped into landfill. These products may be reliable in absorbing your period flow, but they are most definitely not reliable or trustworthy when it comes to protecting our planet. Your period can, and should, be sustainable.
Reusable period protection
Reusable period protection methods are, thankfully, becoming more widely accepted now. There are lots of decent brands out there making a difference in the world of reusables, so check them out for yourself.
Reusable period pants
Yes, we’re biased but we have every reason to be! Period pants are not only reliable, reusable, safe for all and convenient to use- they’re sustainable too, so they won’t destroy the planet.
WUKA period pants are made ethically and are designed to fit your cycle with a variety of absorbencies and fits. Choose from light, medium, heavy or super heavy flow and rest assured that each breathable layer will catch all types of bodily fluid, without leaks and without compromising to comfort or style.
Tampons and pads? No need!
Myth six: You can’t change your period cycle
We don’t like this myth, because it implies that if you’re experiencing issues with your cycle, there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s just completely wrong! There are so many reasons why we experience issues with our cycles, and so many different ways that we can treat those issues, often making changes to the cycle in the process.
If your periods are irregular, you can speak to your doctor about the reasons why this might be the case, and the treatments available to you.
Spotting between periods can also be a sign that something is amiss, and again, depending on the cause can be easily treated. Always speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing spotting before or after your period.
Again, heavy periods can be a sign of another condition that can be identified and treated by a doctor.
Hormonal birth control
Hormonal birth control can change your cycle too. Some pills can be taken consistently through the month to delay or skip a period, and sometimes your doctor might prescribe them to regulate your cycle too.
Myth seven: Having a period means you’re dirty
Our final myth is one that has, sadly, become entrenched in some communities. There is a very real and very dangerous belief in some cultures that having your period means you’re dirty, and it’s entirely grounded in misconception and ignorance.
What is period blood?
To debunk this myth, we need to examine what period blood is actually made from. It’s not just blood (which is, of course, not dirty either)- it’s made up of endometrial tissue, cervical and vaginal mucus and vaginal microbes too. So far so good.
Is period blood toxic?
Next, let’s look at whether or not period blood is toxic, or harmful in any way. The answer? No, of course not. Unless you have a blood-borne illness, period blood is completely harmless and free from toxins. In fact, if there were any toxins present in period blood, it would indicate that your uterus is not a safe place to grow a baby!
Hygiene habits during your period
We’ve established that period blood doesn’t make you dirty, but we’re not denying that having your period can sometimes be messy. Maintaining good hygiene habits is always important during this part of your cycle.
Change your period protection regularly, wash daily (just water down there is fine!) and try to wear breathable fabrics such as cotton. If you do suspect something isn’t right down there, seek medical advice to rule out a bacterial infection or yeast infection.
Just as being on your period does not mean you’re dirty, it also doesn’t mean you can’t still have sex. Period sex between two consenting adults is absolutely fine.
We really do need to end period shaming. Your menstrual cycle is one of the most natural occurrences in the world, a mark of fertility and essential in the continuity of human life.
And yet, a study carried out by Action Aid UK found that a quarter of UK women have faced period shaming, with 11% even saying it came from their own partners. Millions of women skip exercise, education or work due to their period.
A quarter of 16-24-year-old women reported that their period made them feel anxious and 31% of women surveyed reported feeling ashamed or embarrassed about their period. This needs to change.
Debunking period myths
So there you have it, 7 of the most common period myths around. Want to debunk more myths and learn more facts about your period? Why not send us the craziest period myths you've heard for debunking.