7 Facts About Your Period

Here's what you need to know about menstruation

The facts about periods have not always been well-understood. Even today, people may not have all the information they need about what can and cannot be done while menstruating, and how menstruation may affect things like pregnancy risk.

This article will discuss some of the most important facts about menstruation.

common period myths debunked

Verywell / Lara Antal

Getting the Facts About Your Period

Today, it is easy to find accurate and reliable information about your period. But it hasn't always been that way. 

In the past, people believed a lot of untrue things about periods. Periods were only talked about in whispers, if at all. Schools tried to fill the knowledge gap, but it wasn't enough. Even now, menstruation is taboo. Many people will not talk about it.

In those days, you learned about your period from your mother or girlfriends. A lot of that information was wrong. Much of what people thought they knew was based on religious rules that considered menstruation impure. Some beliefs were passed down from female ancestors. 

Let's have a look at some of the big truths about your period.

Washing and Bathing on Your Period

There is no reason not to wash your hair, take a bath, or shower on your period. In fact, a warm bath can help cramps.

Swimming on Your Period

It is safe to swim during your period. The old belief that you should stay out of the water during your period may have started before tampons or menstrual cups were popular. 

Swimming without feminine protection is unhygienic, though. Any body fluid, including blood, urine, or feces, can contaminate a swimming pool.

What about swimming in the ocean? Does your period make you a target for sharks? That one is definitely an urban legend. There is no evidence this ever happens.

Exercise on Your Period

It is safe and healthy to exercise while on your period.

The belief that you should avoid exercise while on your period comes from a very old idea about menstruation. Menstruation was once treated as a sickness. Menstruating women stayed home. They rested and did not talk to anyone. 

This idea is clearly based on old religious views. Menstruation is normal. It is not a disability. Your period should not stop you from doing things you do at other times. In fact, regular exercise can help relieve cramps.

Pain medication can help if your cramps make it hard to exercise. Athletes often compete during their periods, even Olympians.  

Sexual Activity on Your Period

It's perfectly fine to have sex during your period.

The idea that sex during menstruation isn't healthy probably has religious roots. Some religious texts don't allow sex during menstruation.

You may feel uncomfortable about having sex on your period. Sex on your period is not unhealthy, though. It may even help relieve cramps. If you choose to, it is fine to have sex on your period.

Pregnancy Risk During Your Period

It is possible to get pregnant during your period. If your periods are regular, though, it is unlikely. 

You need to ovulate, or release an egg, in order to get pregnant. That usually happens after your period is over. If your periods are not regular, though, the time when you are fertile may overlap with your period. This may also happen if you bleed longer than average.

Unless you use birth control like the pill or an IUD, assume there are no safe days to have sex without the chance of pregnancy. Remember, most birth control methods do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. It is always best to practice safe sex.  

Tampon Use by Girls

You can use tampons during your first period. It's important to insert them the right way, though. Read the instructions first. Your tampon should not pinch or hurt. If it is put in the right way, you will not feel it at all.

Synchronized Periods

Some people believe women who spend a lot of time together have their periods at the same time. This is still an open question.

In the 1970s, research suggested that women who lived together had their periods at the same time. Researchers thought this was caused by body chemicals called pheromones.

Later research pointed to period synchronization as a random event. The idea won't go away though, and researchers are still trying to explain it. Until there is more evidence, this will still be an unknown question.

Summary

We understand more about menstruation today than we did even in the recent past. Some activities were once considered taboo during menstruation, like bathing, exercising, and having sex. Today we know that these activities are healthy and may even help with period cramps.

Other facts are especially important to understand. It is possible to get pregnant while you are on your period, for example. And it is safe for girls to use tampons during their first period.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hightower M. Effects of exercise participation on menstrual pain and symptoms. Women Health. 1997;26(4):15-27. doi:10.1300/J013v26n04_02

  2. Planned Parenthood. Can I have sex during my period? Can I get pregnant during my period?

  3. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your First Period (Especially for Teens). Published February 2019.

  4. Yang Z, Schank JC. Women do not synchronize their menstrual cycles. Hum Nat. 2006;17(4):433-47. doi:10.1007/s12110-006-1005-z

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