There’s no denying that at one time or another, you’ve probably believed at least one period-associated myth. It’s likely that this applies to many women and debunking the myths of the menstrual cycle isn’t easy, regardless of how many periods you’ve experienced!
From having a menstrual cycle that runs like clockwork, to using tampons on your first period, to experiencing brain fog — it’s important that we split any myth from reality.
With this in mind, we explore the facts and explain why the fictitious menstrual rumours shouldn’t be believed, letting you get on with the important things no matter what time of the month it is!
Your period should last exactly a week
Your menstrual cycle is the time from the first day of your period to the day before your next period, and every woman will have a different cycle length. A cycle lasting between 21-40 days in total is normal for women according to the NHS — and the length of your cycle can be determined by your age, genetics, health, and whether you use birth control. The length of an average period can be between 3-8 days, and this might be prone to change depending on the factors we have mentioned, so you could experience shorter or longer periods across your cycle.
Many women do fall into a routine in terms of cycle length, and any sudden changes in this could be a sign that you should see your GP for a check-up. However, there’s no set rule for how long your period will last each month, just keep a track of what is normal for your body.
If it’s your first ever period, you can’t use tampons
Girls can choose the sanitary product that suits them best and your first period doesn’t prevent you from trying tampons rather than towels. Your flow is unique and when you’ve just started menstruating, it’s likely to vary a bit as your body settles into the changes you’re experiencing, especially during your first period. When you have determined how heavy or light your flow is, you might have a better idea of the product that suits you best but remember it’s important to feel comfortable too! Girls who have just started their periods might prefer to try a variety of products before they settle on one or find a combination that suits them. This could range from applicator tampons or a tampon without applicator, to towels in a range of absorbencies and special night-time pads — deciding what the best match is for your lifestyle, flow and comfort.
Is it normal to get brain fog when you’re on your period?
If you can vouch for ‘period brain’ then you’re not alone. That feeling of general foggy/haziness is a common experience that many women have reported to some extent, over the course of each cycle. This experience can affect your memory, alertness and attention span. Studies have investigated whether the fluctuating hormones, which come part and parcel with periods, have any involvement in this. While it remains a theory, in 1995 Swedish scientists found proteins that were triggered by oestrogen receptors in multiple areas of the brain associated with memory, recall and attention. As oestrogen levels change throughout each cycle, this led to the reasoning that the ‘period brain’ concept could in fact be a genuine occurrence. However, these results were inconclusive.
If you find yourself feeling hazy during your period, try a natural remedy such as drinking green tea, eating dark chocolate or simply getting more rest and you could combat these symptoms.
You just have to get on with period pain when it strikes — no matter how bad it is
Many women will be all too familiar with the monthly cramps, back pain and the general sense of feeling unwell that accompany their period — either while menstruating or in the weeks leading up to your period. While some amount of period pain is manageable (and we all have our own go-to solutions for dealing with it), if you are experiencing severe period pain with each cycle then this shouldn’t be ignored — especially if it is interfering with your daily routine such as attending work or school. In fact, terrible period pains can be an indicator of some genealogical conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Both conditions require treatment and even impact your fertility if they go unchecked, so if you are dealing with persisting or extreme period pain then consider making an appointment with your GP.
You will have your period every single month, on the same week without fail
Some of us worry if we notice that our period isn’t running like clockwork each cycle. Your period is effectively governed by the hormones inside your body, as well as factors such as emotions, health, diet and the point at which you ovulate (which is determined by your hormones!). If you find that your period is arriving at different points compared to the month prior, then it could be worth looking into; while your general mood and any stresses could have an effect the timing of your period, it’s important to rule out any other potential causes.
It could be helpful to note down the dates of your cycle to keep for reference, but there shouldn’t be a reason to worry about it differentiating here and there. It’s extremely common in younger girls/teenagers as their cycle finds its routine, but if you’ve had a particularly stressful month then you might find that your period is delayed because of whatever it is you’ve been dealing with.
Don’t live by any of these period myths we have debunked and take on your day no matter what time of the month it is!
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