Your Period is Not "Gross" and 4 More Menstrual Myths, Debunked
I was just about to re-create the whole scene of when I first got my period for you, but then I realized, we’ve all been there. And besides, it’s already in littlefoolbook (the book that's not yet a book), so if you really want to know about it, you’re just going to have to buy the book (when it actually becomes a book).
Anyway, it’s a pretty monumental time in a young girl’s life when we get our periods for the very first time. We’re women now. We’re capable of conceiving. We suddenly have really strong pheromones. Those are major responsibilities thrown onto our little spaghetti-strap wearing shoulders.
But instead of talking about it, it’s like, once we get our periods, everyone is *hush hush* about it. Like, it’s this big secret that no one dare utter a word about — not in the hallways at school, not to our teachers, and definitely not to any boys, anywhere, ever (heaven forbid they know the TRUTH about women!).
Subsequently, social conditioning leads us to believe that our periods are gross. We don't talk about our periods. We hide our tampons in our sleeves when heading to the washroom. We mask our period pain in public, so as not to show signs of weakness. Or blood.
We’ve spent so much time hiding from our periods, or hiding our periods from the public, we have subsequently missed a lot of really important information, or gotten a lot of really wrong information.
I’d just like to take a second, to set the record straight (as best I can).
Your Period is Not “Gross” and 4 More Menstrual Myths, Debunked
Myth # 1: Periods are gross.
Contrary to popular belief, your period is not gross, shameful, or something to be embarrassed by.
Okay, I’ll admit, if you’re queasy like me, the blood can be a little gross, but not in the sense society makes you believe it’s gross. Like it’s not gross that you’re a woman and you bleed. It’s actually, kind of f*&king magical.
In fact, in ancient times, women were considered to be like gods or demi-gods because they could bleed for several days and still survive.
And because women are the key to procreation. Because women actually create life within themselves.
And what is more magical than that?
Myth #2: Being on my period, makes me a b*tch.
No. Being on your period doesn’t make you a b*tch. I hate that. Even more, I hate when boys automatically assume you’re on your period because you have the audacity to speak up about the fact that you don’t appreciate him “liking” her photos. Or something.
Back to what I was saying. Being on your period doesn’t make you a b*tch. Being on your period and made to do things you don’t want to be doing (BECAUSE YOU’RE ON YOUR PERIOD) is why you may feel like a b*tch in some situations.
You are in the throes of period cramps, and you’re feeling all bloated, and dare I say, even gassy, when your S.O. comes home from work and is all like, “babe, don’t forget, we have to go to that work party this evening,” and you’re all like “RAWWWWWWWWRRRRR!” But you put on your heels, and a shift dress that hides your bloat and you go like the devoted goddess of a GF you are.
Except, when Paul from the office with the stinky breath starts invading your personal space and you have to excuse yourself mid-convo and all the people you were standing with watch you slink away and you can hear them mutter under their breath, “ugh, what a b*tch!” and you do kind of feel like a b*tch for peace-ing like that, but you couldn’t partake in the conversation anyway because you were gritting your teeth so hard due to the stabbing pain in your lower abdomen. IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.
Trust me: you’re not a b*tch.
And if you would have been able to stay at home and binge-watch Scandal on Netflix, like your period really wanted you to do, the next time Paul and associates from the office host a dinner party, they would never have to think twice about inviting you.
Yes: I’m an adult, and I realize that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do. But I also know, that sometimes, we really just need to take care of ourselves.
Myth #3: My period is supposed to hurt like this. I’m supposed to suffer.
After all the excitement of finally getting my period and becoming a “real woman,” the allure of bleeding every month quickly wore off. I soon realized that it wasn’t the putting-the-tampon-in part that hurt, it was my body’s natural biological routine — the shedding of my uterine lining — that hurt. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had bad periods.
My doctor says “I’m lucky,” because it means labor will be a breeze for me. Like, I’ve had 15 years of coping with contractions practice, and so I’m going to be really good at giving birth.
Awesome. Can’t wait.
But, until recently — when I actually started researching and digging into what exactly was going on inside of me during “that time of the month”— it never really occurred to me that my periods didn’t have to feel so bad. (BECAUSE NOBODY EVER TALKS ABOUT IT.) I didn’t realize that periods aren’t meant to be so painful and that maybe my PMS symptoms were actually a sign that something isn’t quite right in my body.
As Alisa Vitti, functional nutritionist and women’s hormone expert puts it, on her website, floliving, “your period shouldn’t be a monthly pain in the ovaries...it wasn’t designed to be a monthly punishment.”
“In reality, your period should be easy, painless, regular, and symptom-free.” However, hormonal imbalances caused by our environments, our habits, even our beauty routines, can curse our cycles with cramps, headaches, nausea and other PMS symptoms.
If you experience periods like mine — painful, miserable, cursed — Alisa Vitti’s program The WomanCode, “provides the foundation for clearing your body of imbalances so that you can have regular, easy, pain-free periods.”
Myth #4: I can’t go swimming because I’m on my period.
Never mind the sheer agony of having to put on a bikini when you’re feeling all bloated, and then having to spend the entire day at the beach making sure your tampon string isn’t hanging out, the worst part of all, is not being able to go in the water (even though it’s a bajillion degrees outside and your face is melting off, and the heat is exacerbating your already pungent pheromones) because YOU MIGHT GET EATEN BY SHARKS.
Except that’s not true.
There’s never been a documented case of a woman being attacked by a shark because she was on her period. According to Google, there is also no scientific evidence showing that women are more susceptible to shark attacks when they’re menstruating. Or bear attacks, for that matter.
Myth #5: I can’t get pregnant when I’m menstruating.
Everyone’s favorite period myth to believe. Because it’s convenient. However, it’s simply not true.
While it is a whole lot less likely, it’s still absolutely possible to become pregnant if you have sex while on your period.
The math looks something like this: sperm can live in your vagina for up to 5 days, so even though you’re not ovulating when you’re menstruating, it’s possible that you could have ovulated right before your period, or that you may ovulate within 5 days of having your period. This is especially plausible if your period isn’t regular, or if your cycles out of whack. And we all know what happens when sperm meets egg.
There are other myths out there, too. Like, you can’t wash your hair when you’re on your period (wtf?), or that your period just magically stops when you’re submerged in water (I know from experience, this isn’t true). I don’t think I need to debunk these for you.
The bottom line is this: We need to start talking about our periods, more.
Because I’m tired of dreading that time of the month.
Because the moment we start a conversation about this stuff, is the moment we start learning more about our bodies (always a good thing) and realizing just how amazing they are, how good they’re made to feel (menstruating or not), and how lucky we are to be female.
Because our periods make us powerful. And no, this isn’t some sort of voodoo speak, this is the truth.
Think about it: Every month we experience a cycle of four distinct phases (more on those phases, next week) that have major implications on our outward life, and ultimately results in us being able to procreate. Kind of freaking amazing, right?