15 Crazy Period Myths That Couldn’t Be Further From The Truth
Getting your period is totally normal human experience but, unfortunately, it hasn’t always been seen as such, and there have been crazy myths surrounding it. There are an estimated 800 million people around the world who are menstruating daily that may perceive getting their period in drastically different ways because of social constructs.
Regardless of the science behind it, there’s still a lot of taboo around periods. To this day in some parts of the world, people menstruating might be restricted from doing certain activities such as eating or going to school, according to Un Dispatch. If you think that’s crazy, just wait until you hear about how controversial periods have been throughout history.
Here are ridiculous period myths that we can’t believe ever existed, along with a few common modern ones we are here to debunk.
1. Period blood can be used to keep your partner faithful.
People believed that menstrual blood could be used in love potions.
According to Blood Magic: The Anthropology of Menstruation, one of the few positive perceptions of periods was that it could be used in love charms. The book describes a “fictional but ethnographically informed” story about how one person believed mixing menstrual blood in coffee would keep her husband from cheating.
2. Contact with menstrual blood will harm men.
Some men might not feel comfortable about period talk, but others actually believed it would physically hurt them.
In New Zealand, it was believed that menstruation could inflict the “most extreme harm to men,” according to The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation.
Men thought that contact with period blood or a woman on her period would cause them to vomit persistently, turn his blood black, “permanently dull his wits,” and eventually lead to death.
3. Period blood kills crops.
Women on their periods were blamed for a bad crop season.
Instead of blaming the weather or pests, women menstruating was considered the culprit for unfavorable crops. According to The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation, women tended to agriculture while men hunted. But people believed if women had the power to grow crops, they could also destroy them with menstrual blood as their “weapon.”
4. Using a tampon means you’re not a virgin.
A menstrual product will not affect your virginity, however you define it.
Virginity is a social construct that is commonly defined as someone hasn’t had sexual intercourse. The idea of losing your virginity has been associated with the breaking of the hymen, a thin membrane of tissue inside the opening of the vagina, according to U by Kotex.
But the hymen can be affected by other completely non-sexual physical activities and, yes, tampon use.
5. Your period will attract wild animals.
There’s a myth that period blood will lure in animals and cause them to attack.
People believe that if you’re on your period and you go swimming in the ocean, you find yourself face-to-face with a shark. Or if you go camping on your period, you might attract bears. The latter stems from an incident in 1967 where two women were attacked and killed by bears and park officials pointed the finger at “odors associated with menstruation.”
There’s even an entire page on the National Parks Service website describing periods and wild animals so “women can make an informed choice” about whether or not to hike through bear country. However, one study found no links to menstruation and bear attacks and claimed it was likely food that attracted the animals.
6. Period blood can cure disease and other ailments.
Similar to using period blood for love potions, this myth is a slightly more positive spin on menstruation.
Even though some people believed that period blood could kill crops and destroy men, others believed there was some power to it. According to The Curse: A Cultural History of Menstruation, people thought period blood could cure “leprosy, warts, birthmarks, gout, goiter, epilepsy, worms, and headache.”
To take the myth even further, it was believed that “the first napkin worn by a virgin was to be saved for use as a cure for the plague.”
7. Period blood is poisonous.
The only thing toxic about periods is this myth.
According to Women in Medieval Western European Culture, it was believed that a “menstruating woman exuded poisons.”
To go a little further, people thought that the hair of a menstruating woman could produce poisonous snakes and sex with a woman on her period would cause leprosy or sterility. If our reproductive systems had these wild murderous powers, don’t you think we’d know?
8. Women on their periods can control the weather.
We’re totally getting Karen from Mean Girls vibes.
Pliny The Elder, a Roman author, naturalist, and philosopher, wrote that women are powerful beings. According to the philosopher, “hailstorms, they say, whirlwinds, and lightning even will be scared away by a woman uncovering her body while her monthly courses are upon her.”
9. Your tampon can get lost inside of you.
Your tampon isn’t going anywhere.
Although there may be instances where your tampon string is hidden or your tampon is a little too far in for comfort, it will not travel into your body and get lost. According to U by Kotex, the opening of the cervix is too small for a tampon to get through.
If you cannot find your tampon and are panicking, you can always go to your doctor or urgent care to help get it removed.
10. Women on their periods cause flowers to die.
Was this an excuse not to buy women flowers?
In the early 1900s, Dr. Bela Shick conducted an experiment and claimed that period blood contained toxins. According to Dr. Shick, if a menstruating woman held flowers, they would wilt faster and if a menstruating woman kneaded dough, it wouldn’t rise as high.
He also concluded that women on their periods shouldn’t go near fermenting wine or handle growing mushrooms. Um… okay. Honestly, how do some of these period myths start?
11. Period blood is dirty.
Menstruating isn’t your body’s way of clearing out toxins.
In addition to the myth that being on your period means you’re impure, there’s also a myth that the blood itself is dirty.
“Period blood is made up of thickened endometrial cells that slough off if there isn’t a pregnancy, actual blood from arteries in the uterus, and sometimes clots,” women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., told SELF. So no, your period blood is not dirty.
12. You can’t get an STI on your period.
If you don’t use protection, you can still get an STI.
Don’t rely on menstruation as a form of contraception against pregnancy or STIs. According to Dr. Carolyn DeLucia, OB/GYN, “any blood and bodily fluids can pass on STIs.”
So if you or your partner have one, it’s possible that it can be passed on even if you’re on your period.
13. If you have sex on your period, you can’t get pregnant.
You can absolutely still get pregnant on your period.
Although the ovulation period is prime time for trying to get pregnant, you can still get pregnant if you have unprotected sex while on your period. Since sperm can live inside you for up to five days and it’s possible for menstrual cycles to be shorter, the chance is still there.
14. Your period stops in water.
Even if it seems like it.
According to Dr. Michele Haughton, OB/GYN, your period will still flow even if you’re in water. But we can see why some people believe this myth.
When you’re in water, there’s opposite pressure that minimizes the blood flow but it doesn’t make it stop completely, Women’s Health reported.
15. You can’t have sex on your period.
Truth is, you can have sex whenever you want to.
As long as you have a partner that consents, you’re free to have sex with or without your period. There are actually some benefits associated with having period sex. According to Thinx, having sex on your period may help relieve cramps and help with migraines. It also acts as a natural lubricant.