Menstruation: Myths and Facts

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Woman Stomach Ache

20 year old Ari already has a routine she follows once she commences her menstruation. This is according to laid down rules by women in the community passed on to them by preceding generations and strictly followed by all women and girls in Ari’s community.

The routine?

No cooking for the family and she cannot serve any member of the family while menstruating.

She has to sleep in a separate hut throughout her menstrual period.

One of the activities she enjoys most – swimming- has to be suspended till the end of her menses.

The above are some of the physical discrimination and psychological agonies faced by girls and women across the globe especially parts of Asia and Africa during menstruation in the name of cultural and social beliefs.

Such beliefs are termed

MYTHS AND TABOOS

MYTH ACCORDING TO THE DICTIONARY MEANS ‘a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events’.

It also refers to ‘a widely held but false belief or idea with or without a determinable basis of fact.’

TABOO ON THE OTHER HAND MEANS ‘a social or religious custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.

 

What are the origins of myths?

Such myths not only rip girls and women off their fundamental rights but it also elicits a physiological effect making them feel less of a human.

What then are these popular myths?

MYTH: A menstruating girl or woman should not take a bath.

FACT: As a matter of fact, high level of personal hygiene is recommended during menstruation which includes having one’s bath regularly and changing the sanitary material as often as required as women and girls are more susceptible to vaginal infections during this period.

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MYTH: It is impossible to get pregnant during menstruation.

FACT: Contrary to this believe, it is possible for a girl or woman to get pregnant even when bleeding from the vagina if she has unprotected sex. In some cases, ovulation does occur before menstruation is over or at times immediately after menstruation.

MYTH: Menstruation results in heavy blood loss leading to anemia (low blood level).

FACT: Blood loss during menstruation in healthy women and girls does not result in anemia. The usual amount of blood loss during menstruation is about 80mls. However, if blood loss is excessive, one must see a doctor.

MYTH: When menstruating, a girl or woman should not prepare food or even enter the kitchen. As this may result in food contamination and whoever consumes it might fall sick.

FACT: During menstruation, entering the kitchen or handling food will not harm anybody as long as general hygiene measures are consistently adhered to.

MYTH: A menstruating woman or girl is sacred and powerful with increased sensitivity and perception beyond natural range.

FACT: Menstruating girls and women are just the regular women and girls undergoing a natural physiologic process.

MYTH: A menstruating woman or girl is sick or cursed.

FACT: Menstruation is a normal healthy physiologic process that a female body undergoes monthly. Menstrual fluid is a mixture of blood and tissue.

MYTH: Menstrual Cycle should be 28 days long.

FACT: Menstrual cycle usually ranges between 21 days to 35 days and averagely 28 days. Hence a female whose menstrual cycle falls below or above 28 days is perfectly normal.

MYTH: You should not do exercise during periods. It should be avoided.

FACT: That is untrue. In fact, exercise might ease menstrual cramps

MYTH: Once you don’t get your menses, you are pregnant.

FACT: A delay in your period does not necessarily connote pregnancy. A lot of factors can be responsible for the delay in getting your period/menses such as stress, weight gain or loss, underlying health problems. However, for those that have had sex, conducting a test might be necessary to rule out pregnancy.

The essence of discussing myths and taboos surrounding menstruation is to create awareness and to help raise self-esteem amongst females.

MENSTRUATION IS NOT A SHAME AND SHOULD NOT BE TREATED AS SUCH.

Do you know of any myths or taboos that were not mentioned in this article? Do feel free to share in the comment section.

What was your first period like? Ladies tell their stories on Pinnacle Health TV

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