This menstrual awareness month, we are putting an end to five period myths.
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Call it Aunt Flo, Sharks Week, datang bulan (The Time of The Month), dai yi ma (Big Aunty) and so on, women have been oppressed and fed with inaccurate and misleading information on menstruation for far too long! Menstruation is a normal and natural body process that most women experience. Despite it being common, there are still numerous ludicrous misconceptions surrounding menstruation to this day and age.
According to a report by the World Bank Group, at least 500 million women and girls globally are facing period poverty and do not have proper access to adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management. With the lack of access to sanitary products comes the limited awareness and understanding of the best way to manage menstrual hygiene.
In conjunction with Aurelius Healthcare’s Menstrual Awareness Month, Dr. Azizah binti Rusly, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Aurelius Hospital Nilai is here to debunk some myths surrounding menstruation, which you may have heard or experienced. Here, we’ve also added some info about these myths.
Now let’s debunk them!
1. “My mum said I need to wash my pad because blood is dirty, and it will attract devils!”
Yes, yes we’ve all heard of “hey if you don’t wash your pads, the jins and satan will cling around to it and then come after you! Hysteria!”. Way to scare the girls, huh? Believe it or not, this is just a myth with no basis to let you dispose of your used pads accordingly.
Period blood is similar to other blood from our body and is not dirty. It is made up of blood, uterus membrane, mucus lining, and bacteria. While it can sometimes appear to be clotted or darker, such occurrences are completely normal.
You can’t expect people to wash their pads in public toilets and leave the floor and walls like it’s an FBI crime scene. Even if you wanna wash it, please be hygienic and think of the others that are going to use the toilet after you. Actually, disposable pads should be appropriately wrapped and thrown after a single-use. It’s as simple as that.
However, if you use reusable pads or menstrual cups, soak them with cold water and wash using normal detergent, baking soda, or vinegar. It is also important to keep them dry! Doing so can avoid infections.
2. “I was told that sticking a washed pad to my face gives me clear skin”
If you’ve heard of this, you’re not the only one. This act is actually unhygienic as menstrual waste or products should be disposed of properly. Your blood may be sterile while it’s in your uterus but it would be very difficult for an average woman to extract their menstrual blood in a sterile way. It could actually turn the tables and instead of curing your acne, it could also transfer other genital diseases to your face. Yikes.
The methods for getting clear skin will vary depending on a person’s skin type. A healthy and balanced diet can help you be the best version of yourself. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink an adequate amount of water and exercise at least three times a week!
3. “A tampon will break my hymen”
First of all, in case some of you are wondering (Muslims), tampons are not Haraam. One of the reasons one might think so is that by inserting a tampon or even a menstrual cup, it tears your hymen and you’re automatically not a virgin anymore. These are just cultural taboos. Virginity is associated with having intercourse with someone, not by inserting a tampon when you’re on your period.
Yes, in some cases, tampons may cause some stretch or tear of the hymen, but this could also happen when you engage in vigorous activities like riding a bike or a horse. These types of activities can’t stop us women to be active and confident while on our period, right?
Some women may experience discomfort when inserting a tampon the first few times. However, it will eventually get better!
4. “I should avoid cold foods/beverages as it will give me heavier flow and period cramps”
There are no studies to prove or disprove the effects of cold drinks or food on menstrual cramps. Menstruation is connected to the reproductive system, whereas eating or drinking is linked to the digestive system. These systems function separately and do not affect one another.
However, some women are sensitive to cold food or drinks, which might increase or induce cramps. At the end of the day, you should know what your body is used to and act accordingly.
5. “I used to hide my sanitary products as it is inappropriate and disrespectful to be shown in public”
Sanitary products are everyday lifestyle items just like tissue and toothpaste, which support and help women feel more comfortable during menstruation. Every woman should have the freedom to purchase sanitary products without feeling embarrassed about a monthly natural occurrence.