Opinions about women’s bodies are ubiquitous. All of us have read something on the Internet or have heard something from “well-wishers” about our health that turned out to be untrue.
And this constant chatter can get confusing, especially if we don’t have a doctor by our side all the time to clarify each statement that comes our way. Which is why The Quint decided to contact doctors, experts and refer to medical journals to set the record straight.
Let’s bust some of these myths about our health and our bodies.
Your Vagina Gets ‘Loose’ From Regular Sex
Everyone has something up their sleeve to say about vaginas. This is one of the most prevalent myths that has been accepted as fact. It is a complete misconception that once the vajayjay is stretched, it remains forever stretched.
You’re not “tight” as a virgin and “loose” with frequent intercourse. The muscles in the vagina relax when aroused, and then return to normal afterwards.
Sex does not cause the vagina to permanently stretch out. It’s an old wives’ tale, so get your head out of the dark ages!
You Can’t Get Pregnant on Your Period
Many women and their partners who don’t want to get pregnant use periods as a free pass to have unprotected sex.
Although the odds for pregnancy are lower during your period, there's still a risk. No two women’s cycles work the same way, so a sweeping generalisation can’t be made.
Sperm can live in a woman’s vagina for up to 3 days after ejaculation. Depending on the number of days of your cycle and how many days after your period you start ovulating, there is a possibility that the sperm is still there when your period ends and your eggs are released.
Don’t Exercise During Your Period
There has always been divided opinion about whether or not one should exercise during their period. But increasingly, experts have said it’s absolutely fine to do so. In fact, it may even be beneficial in some ways.
Light workout is safe and may help with hormone levels. “It might be inconvenient but in no way is it detrimental to your health,” says gynaecologist Dr Jaya Bhat.
Having said that, don’t push yourself if you feel uncomfortable. Some yoga poses should be avoided. And high intensity workouts might not be advisable for some because of abdominal stress.
Your Periods Sync With Whoever You’re Living With
I hear you all going “this is 100% a fact.” But to burst the bubble, it’s not! This is just an illusion that’s created by chance.
There has been no scientific or medical proof to back this. Many provide a reason for it saying it’s caused by pheromones in close proximity, dubbed the McClintock effect. But studies have repeatedly shown that this not a real phenomenon.
What's really going on is that women have cycles that range from 5-7 days, and since this is a decently long time and we have many women around us, their periods tend to coincidentally overlap.
You Should Remove Your Pubic Hair for Hygiene
If you remove your pubic hair because you think it’s unclean or unhygienic, think again. If it’s not ‘unclean’ for men, why would it be for women?
Pubic hair was put there to protect your genitalia from friction and infection. While it’s important to keep it clean like any other body part, there is nothing dirty about it. Trimming it is fine, but most ways of removal actually harm the skin down there, by nicking it or facilitating ingrown hairs, that can then get infected.
There is nothing wrong with “grooming” your pubic hair, but don’t think it’s for hygiene. Say it how it is; that it’s for cosmetic purposes.
The Vagina Needs to be Cleaned
There are many products using 'health language' to try to suggest some scrubbing is a necessary part of vulvar or vaginal health.
In truth, cleaning the vulva skin with soaps often causes irritation, says Dr Soni Nanda, a dermatologist. Similarly, vaginal cleansing, such as with douches, can elevate bacteria and increase HIV risk.
There is no need to clean the area with artificial products and perfume sprays. the vagina is self-cleaning, and it doesn’t need to smell like roses. However, if you find the odour there unusually unpleasant, go see a doctor.
Your Biological Clock is Ticking
As soon as women near 30, or sometimes even before that, the pressure to pop a kid out grows. Reason given: your biological is ticking. That’s not entirely true, ladies.
While age does affect fertility, it holds for both men and women. And it doesn’t magically vanish after crossing 30. A study found that there was only a four percentage point difference between the fertility of a woman at 27 and 38.
The term “biological clock”, scientifically speaking, refers to recurrent biological changes such as changes in body temperature. Women have it. Men have it. Even amoebae have it.
So, don’t have a kid because you’re running out of time, have one because you want to.