Here's an important question you may rarely ask yourself: What do I really know about my period?
Aside from when I get it, why I get it, and the fact that this once-a-month flow is a natural bodily function, you'd think after getting my period for over a decade I'd know how to distinguish what's true from what's false about it.
Unfortunately, there are a ton of period myths floating around that sound accurate enough not to question them, even though the majority of you probably got “the talk” and sat through countless health classes bullet-pointing the basics.
Aside from naivety, the bigger issue is that women don't talk about their periods often enough, or in enough detail, to properly sift through the facts.
In order to debunk a few pieces of period fiction, Dr. Jessica Shepherd, OBGYN and U by Kotex partner, spoke to Elite Daily about the most common misconceptions women have about their most intimate parts.
1. You Shouldn't Work Out On Your Period
I've definitely had my fair share of awful menstrual mornings, when cramps have had me borderline disabled, and the last thing on my mind was getting off the couch, let alone sprinting on a treadmill.
However, as an athlete, I can hardly resist at least a half hour of activity when my body's feeling up for it.
You know your body better than anyone else, so if you need a rest, then by all means, relax! If not, there's no reason you can't exercise on your period.
In fact, movement can sometimes help ease menstruation.
The more you move, the more oxygen delivery and decreased prostaglandin release, which helps alleviate cramping. Exercises also trigger the release of endorphins which can induce 'exercise euphoria,' and altered pain perception, which can help women with menstrual pain and cramps.
2. Your Period Synchronizes With Women Around You
I grew up with a mother, two sisters, and a female dog (needless to say, my father and brother were easily outnumbered).
Unfortunately for them, it always seemed like us ladies started PMSing at the same time.
Coincidence? I thought not.
It turns out, there's not enough scientific evidence to support synchronization. According to Shepherd, the myth was construed as a result of a study conducted in 1971 by Nature that focused on eight women's menstrual cycles.
Countless studies have been done since, but inconsistent results show, if it happens, it's most likely just by chance.
3. You Can't Get Pregnant On Your Period
Even if the chances are less likely, there's no such thing as a guarantee.
If you're having sex, there's always a possibility you could become pregnant.
Shepherd suggests using a period tracker to get a better sense of ovulation, but you'll definitely want to continue using protection, as well.
4. You Can't Have Sex On Your Period
On the visual side of things, sex on your period can get messy and gross real quick -- but let's talk about that libido of yours.
The rise and fall of your hormones at this point in your cycle is no picnic, but fluctuation can also work in your favor.
Once PMS symptoms subside, there's no denying you're in a much better mood, or perhaps your increased blood flow and lubrication cause you to feel a little bit freer, and a lot more sexy.
Whatever the case, if you're into it, Shepherd says there's no medical reason why you can't have sex on your period.
5. Your Period Stops In Water
Personally, I used to make it a point to only swim during menstruation if my period was at its absolute lightest.
Think of it this way: Your period seems to stop in the shower or bath, but as soon as you get out, it starts right back up again.
This is actually because it never really stopped.
One-third (29 percent) of U by Kotex® survey respondents believe your period stops in water. It may seem like it, but due to counter-pressure of the water, the menstrual flow is stopped from exiting your body and does not enter the water. Additionally, if you are floating or swimming, gravity isn't strong enough to pull it out when you're standing in the water.
6. You're Always Moody On Your Period
I'm cranky AF on my period (sorry, husband!), and the attitude doesn't stop until at least the second day of bleeding.
It's either that, or I'm weeping at the drop of a hat.
No joke, I once sat through McDreamy's death on Grey's Anatomy on my period, and I cried for a solid 15 minutes straight. Mind you, I don't even watch that show, nor have I ever been emotionally invested in it.
Moodiness may be common, but it's not a guarantee.
According to Shepherd,
While hormones do change throughout your cycle, the shifts don't necessarily mean you're chemically disposed to be in a 'bad mood.' Mood changes do happen, though your period shouldn't always shouldn't be tied to positive or negative moods, and can depend on many external factors as well.
So the next time your partner blames your bad mood on PMS, you can confidently tell them to STFU.
7. Your Cycle Is Always 28 Days Long
Before I finally found a pill that regulated my cycle, my period was all over the place.
Some periods come early, some periods come late; there's a reason doctors aren't up in arms about it.
Your cycle depends on your body, so while the average cycle may be 28 days, it's "normal [for a cycle] to last anywhere from 22 to 35 days," says Dr. Shepherd.
Translation: If your period's running late, give it a second to catch up before calling the doctor in a panic.
Period knowledge is out there, you just have to ask the right questions. Take what you hear with a grain of salt, and consult with your doctor for more information.