Five ridiculous myths you’ve heard about your period

MYTH: You can’t get pregnant during your period.

There’s always a chance—particularly at the end of the menstrual cycle.

MYTH: You can’t get pregnant during your period.

There’s always a chance—particularly at the end of the menstrual cycle. What’s more, unprotected sex increases the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. Unless you’re using the pill, an IUD, or another hormonal type of contraception, there are no safe days. Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, you should always use condoms during sex, even if you take the pill or use another form of contraception.

MYTH: You can’t go swimming during your period.

Perhaps this myth started in the days before internal devices such as tampons were popular. Or it could have been a fear of cramps while swimming or that menstrual blood could contaminate the swimming pool. Regardless of what started this myth, there is no reason that you cannot safely swim during menstruation. A tampon will completely block any possible flow. Also, there has never ever been a single documented case of a shark attacking a swimmer because she was menstruating.

MYTH: Menstrual blood is gross or different from regular blood.

Menstrual blood is regular blood. This myth probably gained traction because menstrual blood flows from the vagina. And because vaginas are a normal part of the female body, there’s nothing unusual or wrong with menstrual blood. Blood is just another fluid in your body, and if you’re having sex with someone, you’re already swapping quite a few of these. Deal with it, dudes.

MYTH: Tampons contain dangerous levels of asbestos or dioxin.

I cannot tell you how often I have heard teenaged voices parroting this myth to each other. Usually coupled with “it’s to make you bleed for longer so the tampon companies make more money.” Give me a break, kids. How unbelievably illegal would that be? While there are risks with using tampons, those risks are not associated with asbestos or dioxin.

MYTH: Tampons shouldn’t be used by virgins.

The hymen is an elastic flap of skin near one side of the vagina. It is NOT punctured during sex, but may stretch to break in some places and bleed a bit. This also may happen during sports or normal daily activity. Some women never have breakage in theirs, some women do and some don’t have a hymen at all. Having sex is the only way to lose your virginity. Your choice of period protection has no effect at all, so there’s no reason why you should not use tampons before you’re sexually active.

MYTH: You can’t bake bread during your period.

WHAT? First off, your period is IN NO WAY associated with yeast. Second, yeast is a single-celled organism that responds to warmth and food by growing and reproducing. It has an optimal temperature range, like all living organisms. If the water is too hot, it kills the yeast cells. If it’s too cold, the cells can’t grow and they just sit there. You can slow yeast down by cooling it off, taking away its food, changing the water’s pH radically or adding salt. How could the state of a baker’s ovaries, uterus or vagina possibly have anything to do with the growth conditions for yeast in the bowl on the table? If this myth were true, you’d have nothing but men making all the Como and brioches down at Grand Central, since they can’t afford to hire female bakers who can only work three weeks a month.