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For women around the world, menstruation is a part of their daily lives. Every month, like clockwork, the female reproductive system goes through its natural cycle that ends in shedding of the liner layer of the uterus, thus leading to what is commonly known as periods. For something that happens so frequently, periods are still a topic that is shrouded in shame and hesitation.
Simply put, we don't talk about it enough.
The knowledge of how to deal with periods trickles down from great grandmother to grandmother to mother to daughter, like something passed down in inheritance. We go along with what we are told without having a proper discussion or trying to find out facts for ourselves because we are taught that there is humility in not speaking of it. Due to our silence on this matter, misconceptions and myths surround the topic of periods and impact menstrual hygiene which can lead to health complications.
Lets try and debunk some commonly believed misunderstandings about periods.
Most women are told to avoid using water and taking a bath while on their periods for a different number of reasons. Some are told that water goes inside and is harmful, others are told it can stop blood flow or cause pain.
But the truth is, water is completely harmless. Studies have proved it and experts have testified that water neither affects blood flow nor does it do any other kind of harm.
Taking a bath during your period is beneficial if anything. It helps avoid problems like skin irritation and infections such as urinary tract infections, which are the effects of poor menstrual hygiene. Hot water baths are especially relaxing as they help you unwind and ease period symptoms such as back pain, headaches and cramps.
Many women and young girls, especially those who belong to small towns and rural villages, share a common misconception that pads are not safe to use as they contain chemicals which are bad for health. So as an alternative, they use cloth during periods which they reuse after washing. Sometimes, women living in the same house use each other’s cloth pads as well.
Despite many women’s faith in cloth pads like these, this practice is actually unhygienic and quite frankly, exhausting. Cloth does not have the absorbent capacity of a pad and it restricts movement during periods. The use of cloth can also lead to infections, irritation and rashes.
According to medical experts, pads are perfectly safe to use. They are made to absorb blood and make it comfortable for women and girls to go about their everyday life.
Just make sure to change the pad at regular intervals and to not leave it on for too long, not more than 4 hours, and you are good to go.
One of the misconceptions about periods among the general public, is that period blood is dirty and women undergoing menstruation are impure. When on periods, women are made to feel ashamed and isolated. Social interactions are discouraged and their existence is limited and shunned out.
First of all, period blood is not dirty in any way. It is just like all blood from any part of the body. The second thing to emphasize here is that women on periods are not impure or dirty. Their bodies are simply undergoing a natural biological process, the menstrual cycle.
Baseless myths like these force women into silence to the point they do not talk about it even when they are in pain . Avoiding the topic ultimately makes them vulnerable to medical complications as well.
It is true that some foods, such as spicy food, can cause bloating in some people but the fact that they affect period blood flow is not.
What you eat does not affect your periods, directly or indirectly, in any way. Bloating due to different types of food is entirely possible but that is more related to the biology of a person’s digestive system rather than periods.
However, just because we can eat whatever we want does not mean that we should. Remember to eat well and stay healthy, whether you are on your periods or not.