Menstruation, in India, has always been surrounded by a lot of social stigma. No one wants to talk about it–not many even know much about it. Talk to any 15-year-old and the maximum information they would have about their periods is that it is “necessary”, and “must be hidden from the men in the family”.
This leads to a lot of myths that end up being circulated as truth–simply because no one knows any better.
So, we decided to identify four such myths around periods and invited two gynaecologists–Dr Smita Vedi, senior Consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology at Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur and Dr Jyoti Khatri, obstetrics and gynaecology, Motherhood Hospital in Noida–to set things straight.
1. If You Don’t Get Your Periods Every 28 Days, You Have A Problem!
The regular and healthy interval between periods is 21 to 37 days in adults and 21 to 45 days in teenagers–counting from the first day of your period to the first day of your next period.
So, if you don’t get your periods every 28 days, but if you get it within 37 days, then it is considered as normal. People generally assume that if their periods are precisely 28 days for the last few months, and now it’s extended to 35 days that something is wrong. But it’s not that! It could be because of your fluctuating period cycle, diet, stressors, hormonal changes, and environmental factors. In case the range goes beyond 37 days, then that can indicate some health issues.
-Dr Smita Vedi
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2. Period Pain Is Just Stomach Ache…
Period pain and stomach pain are totally different. Stomach pain can have many causes. But period pain is due to spasms of the womb. The pain will come for few seconds and go, making the womb a bit relaxed. This is called spasmodic pain of periods or dysmenorrhea. This condition is different from tummy pain and makes women more anxious, and can make them feel unpleasant too.
-Dr Jyoti Khatri
3. Period Blood Is Dirty Blood
That’s not true! It’s just that period blood is very different from the usual blood that moves through your veins). It is less concentrated and also has fewer blood cells than ordinary blood.
-Dr Smita Vedi
4. You Can’t Get Pregnant While On Your Period
This is a big myth! While you are most likely to become pregnant in the middle of your menstrual cycle, which is when the ovary releases an egg in a process called ovulation, there is a remote chance of getting pregnant while you are on your periods. It is rare but it is not negligible.
-Dr Jyoti Khatri
If we stop treating periods as something that is gross or shameful, we will give room to open up healthy conversations around it. Let’s do our part in getting rid of the social stigma around it.
Don’t be afraid to talk, and ask questions about menstruation. Also, don’t wait to have a “problem: before you go to the gynaecologist. Schedule regular visits and ask questions so that you can ensure that you stay healthy and hygienic during your period cycle, which, by the way, is a completely normal bodily function.