As natural, normal and perfectly healthy menstruation is, a ton of shocking myths still surround the subject. And if you think these myths only prevail in India, think again!
USA: Some Americans believe odour of menstrual blood may attract bears, making it important for women on their period to be careful when camping in the woods or forest areas.
UK: A period myth in the UK is that if a virgin uses tampons, it causes the hymen to break.
Afghanistan: Menstruating women are restricted from eating rice, vegetables, meat, sour food, and also prevented from drinking cold water. It was also believed that women shouldn’t wash themselves during periods or they will be rendered infertile.
Australia: A crazy myth in the land down under is that swimming while menstruating can attract shark attacks.
If used and old menstrual cloth and/or sanitary pads are not buried, it may attract evil spirits.
Malaysia: A similar myth as Bangladesh that used tampons / pads should be washed before disposal as the period blood can attract evil energies.
Tanzania: Similar to Malaysia and Bangladesh, some superstitious Tanzanians feel that if someone sees a woman’s used menstrual pad, she could get cursed.
Bolivia: Some Bolivians think babies could get ill if menstruating women give them physical affection. Also, according to certain UNICEF studies, some traditional Bolivian beliefs misinform young women that disposing of their menstrual pads along with other garbage could cause sickness, even cancer. Still prevalent myths lead to young girls even now being asked to not mix their menstrual pads with the rest of the trash.
Ghana: Some Ghanaians opine that it’s necessary for a girl to eat a whole hard boiled egg on her very first period, or else it brings bad luck for her future kids.
India: In some rural Indian belts, people still vouch that a menstruating woman should not enter the kitchen or cook as her period makes her ‘unclean’ and hence food goes bad. Some Indians also believe that on her period, a woman should not touch or consume sour food, particularly pickles and curd. Another common myth is that women on their period shouldn’t touch or water plants. They are also advised against washing their hair during their periods.
Italy: Certain Italians are in sync with Indians about the menstrual myth that anything cooked by a woman on her period gets spoiled.
France: Some old school French folks feel if a menstruating woman makes mayonnaise, it will curdle.
Israel: Some Israelis believe taking a hot shower while menstruating leads to heavy menstrual flow.
Iran: Due to age-old stigmas attached to periods, until a few years ago, a whopping 48% Iranian girls thought of menstruation as a disease, according to a UNICEF study.
Japan: A menstruating woman preparing Sushi will cause imbalances in the taste.
Mexico: Her uterus could get damaged if a woman exercises while on her period.
Nepal: Menstruating women are asked to avoid general contact with others. In rural parts of Nepal, women are put in isolation during their period and not allowed to participate in classes, a myth tracing back to the belief that the woman’s uncleanliness could upset Hindu Goddesses.
Poland: Some Polish people believe if a woman on her period engages in sexual intercourse, it could kill her partner.
Romania: A menstruating woman touching flowers may cause them to die soon.
- From India to Nepal to Bali, a common myth is that women are “unclean” while menstruating and hence cannot visit temples, holy grounds or other places of worship. This particular “religious” myth is a highly sensitive and culturally controversial subject.
- Another widespread myth gravitates around sex while a woman is menstruating. While most consider it dirty, another top contender is that it’s not possible to conceive when a woman is on her period. While it could be true that some women are less fertile during their menstrual cycle, the actual factor is the length of a woman’s monthly cycle and when ovulation (hence, fertility) occurs. However, there’s no logic to not having sex while on the period, in fact, sex can boost mood and even relieve menstrual cramps – So long as other precautions are taken to avoid STIs.
The myths, taboos and baseless beliefs revolving around women on their period are way more debilitating than actual menstrual cycles. What is more disturbing is that most women are discouraged from talking about their periods leaving them with little to no knowledge on menstruation, and (in some places) lack of access to hygienic and modern sanitary products. If these basic issues are resolved, the above menstrual myths will definitely become a thing of the past!