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World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

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Today, millions of women and girls around the world are stigmatised, excluded, and discriminated against simply because they menstruate.

Menstruation, also called a “period,” is a normal biological process experienced by millions of women worldwide each month. A period happens when the uterus sheds blood and tissue from the uterine lining and leaves your body through the vagina.

The purpose of the menstrual cycle is to prepare for pregnancy, and the cycle varies in length and intensity.

A menstrual cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days. The menstrual cycle is divided into four phases: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulation phase, and the luteal phase. The length of each phase can vary and change over time.

Good menstrual health and hygiene practices can prevent infections, reduce odours, and help you stay comfortable during your period. Myths and misconceptions around Menstrual health, however, continue to impact these practices and people’s disposition toward them. In celebration of World Menstrual Health/Hygiene Day, this article highlights and tackles some common myths. 

Myth 1: Menstrual pain is just like any other pain; women exaggerate it. 

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

The pain women get during a period is natural. It is not exaggerated. This condition even has a medical name called dysmenorrhea. Around 20 per cent of women have dysmenorrhea that’s severe enough to interfere with their daily activities.

A hormone called prostaglandin triggers muscle contractions in your uterus that expel the lining. These contractions can cause pain and inflammation. The level of prostaglandin rises right before menstruation begins. This condition affects their ability to concentrate and makes them anxious. It is not exaggerated. 

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Period blood is not rejected body fluids or the body’s way of flushing out toxins. It combines a little bit of blood, uterine tissue, mucus lining, and bacteria.

Period blood is very different from blood that moves continuously through the veins. It’s less concentrated blood and has fewer blood cells than ordinary blood.

It is a natural bodily fluid that consists of blood and tissue shed from the uterus during a woman’s menstrual cycle. Menstrual blood is sterile inside the uterus and only becomes exposed to bacteria once it leaves the body.

Myth 3: Women are emotionally unstable during menstruation

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

The stereotype that menstruating women are emotionally unstable or prone to mood swings is unfounded. While hormonal fluctuations may influence mood to some extent, the majority of women do not experience drastic emotional changes solely due to menstruation. It’s crucial to recognise and challenge these stereotypes to promote a more inclusive and understanding society.

Myth 4: All women menstruate regularly

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Verdict: False!

According to Mayo Clinic, there is a condition called amenorrhea, which is the absence of menstruation, often defined as missing one or more menstrual periods.

Primary amenorrhea refers to the absence of menstruation in someone who has not had a period by age 15. The most common causes of primary amenorrhea relate to hormone levels, although anatomical problems also can cause amenorrhea.

However, only female people menstruate.

Myth 5: Menstruation is shameful

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Menstruation is a natural and normal process experienced by many people with female reproductive systems. It’s essential to recognise that menstruation is a biological function necessary for reproduction. 

Society, through negative messages about women’s cycles and negative responses to any mention of menses, socially constructs menstruation as shameful. Lack of knowledge about the body and the menstrual cycle may put girls and young women in a position where they experience negative feelings such as shame about their reproductive body functions and lower self-esteem.

Myth 6: Virigins have cramps because they need a penis to enlarge the area

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Verdict: False!

Menstrual cramps may have no identifiable cause or result from another disorder. 

Virgins and nonvirgins can experience menstrual cramps because cramps have no identifiable cause (called primary dysmenorrhea) or can be another result of another disorder (called secondary dysmenorrhea).

Primary dysmenorrhea may be caused by the release of substances called prostaglandins into the blood or tissues during menstruation. Prostaglandin levels are high in women with primary dysmenorrhea. Prostaglandins may cause the uterus to contract as occurs during labour, reducing blood flow to the uterus. These contractions can cause pain and discomfort. Prostaglandins also make nerve endings in the uterus more sensitive to pain.

Myth 7: Using menstrual products like pads or tampons can cause infertility.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Infertility is a complex condition influenced by numerous factors, such as age, lifestyle habits, underlying medical conditions, and genetics.

The primary theory revolves around Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare but serious medical condition associated with tampon use. TSS can potentially cause damage to organs, including the reproductive system, which could lead to infertility.

However, it’s important to note that the likelihood of developing TSS is extremely low. There is no concrete scientific study that links tampon use directly to infertility. The risk of infertility potentially comes from the misuse of tampons or using super-absorbent tampons for prolonged periods, which can increase the risk of TSS.

Each person’s body is unique, and the effects of any product can vary.

Myth 8: Menstruation is a curse or punishment for wrongdoing.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Verdict: False

No, menstruation is not a curse or punishment for wrongdoing. Menstruation is a natural biological process that occurs in the bodies of many people with uteruses. It is a normal part of reproductive health and typically begins during puberty.

Historically, in some cultures, menstruation has been misunderstood or associated with negative beliefs, leading to stigmatisation or misconceptions. These beliefs can sometimes suggest that menstruation is impure or linked to punishment, but this is not based on scientific understanding.

Myth 9: When you start giving birth, menstrual cramps reduce or stop.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

It is commonly believed that menstrual cramps may reduce or even disappear after childbirth, especially in individuals who experienced severe cramping before pregnancy. However, this is not universally true for everyone. The relationship between childbirth and menstrual cramps can vary from person to person.

Some reasons for these changes include hormonal changes, urinary changes, and childbirth methods. 

While many individuals report improvements in menstrual cramps after childbirth, it’s important to note that this is not guaranteed for everyone. Some individuals may continue to experience menstrual cramps after giving birth, depending on various factors, including underlying health conditions, genetics, and individual variations in hormonal and physiological changes.

Myth 10: Women should avoid certain foods while menstruating

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Verdict: False!

There is no scientific basis for the belief that women should avoid specific foods during menstruation. 

Foods do not directly impact the uterus because, once consumed, they pass through the stomach and intestines, which are not connected to the uterus. However, certain foods may influence symptoms before and during menstruation. Selecting foods that can minimise menstrual symptoms is recommended.

While individual preferences and sensitivities may vary, there is no universal list of foods to avoid. Maintaining a well-balanced diet during menstruation can help replenish lost nutrients and relieve menstrual pain.

Myth 11:  Sex during menstruation will make you give birth to an albino.

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Verdict: False

There is no scientific basis or evidence to support the claim that having sex during menstruation will result in giving birth to an albino child. The idea that sexual activity during menstruation affects the characteristics of offspring is a misconception and not supported by biology.

Albinism is a genetic condition that results from inheriting specific gene mutations from parents, not from the timing of sexual activity. Albinism occurs due to a lack of melanin pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes, and it is not caused by the timing of conception relative to menstruation.

Myth 12: Women sometimes experience high libido during menstruation 

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Yes, a woman can have a high libido during menstruation. Libido, or sex drive, can vary widely among individuals and can also fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle due to hormonal changes. Some women may experience increased sexual desire during their period due to factors like hormonal changes, increased sensation from increased blood flow to the pelvic area, and psychological factors. 

Myth 13: Hot water can relieve cramps

World Menstrual Hygiene Day: 13 Common menstrual health myths verified

Verdict: True.

Yes, hot water can indeed help with cramps, particularly menstrual cramps. Heat helps to relax muscles and can ease the cramping sensation. Applying heat to your abdomen or lower back (commonly affected by menstrual cramps) can help reduce the intensity of the cramps. 

Heat can improve blood circulation to the abdominal muscles, which helps reduce cramping by providing more oxygen and removing metabolic waste products.

Heat can act as a natural pain reliever by stimulating the sensory receptors in the skin, which can help to block the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

However, if your cramps are severe or if you experience other symptoms like hefty bleeding, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying conditions or to explore other treatment options.

Experts Opinion

Halimat Jimoh, an experienced nurse and midwife, spoke to DUBAWA about menstrual health. She defined menstrual health as the overall well-being and functioning of the menstrual cycle, that is, the regularity and duration of menstruation, menstrual symptoms, emotional changes, and the impact of menstruation on activities of daily living.

She noted that symptoms, such as abdominal cramping, bloating, breast tenderness, and mood changes, often accompany menstruation. Although, the severity and impact can vary from woman to woman. While some discomfort may be typical, severe or debilitating symptoms can significantly affect a woman’s quality of life, indicating an underlying health concern.

On demystifying menstrual health myths and ways men can help promote menstrual health awareness, Ms Jimoh emphasised that menstrual health encompasses a woman’s physical, emotional, and social functioning, empowering them to make informed decisions about their health.

“Some myths such as menstrual blood is dirty and shameful, periods are always painful, you shouldn’t exercise during periods because of fear of splash, period syncing with your loved ones and if it doesn’t, you have a problem, tampons can break the hymen, and so on can affect the overall health of a woman. 

“So, we must address this as menstrual blood is a natural bodily function and is not dirty. It’s a combination of blood, tissue, and mucus, and the womb lining is shedding because fertilisation is not established. Meanwhile, proper hygiene practices, such as using quality menstrual products like sanitary pads correctly and changing them regularly, can be of help,” she said. 


Debunking myths surrounding menstrual health is crucial for promoting dignity, equity, and well-being. By addressing common misconceptions and embracing accurate information, we can dismantle stigma and empower individuals to prioritise their menstrual health. Together, we can create a world where menstruation is understood, respected, and celebrated as a natural and essential aspect of life.

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