Here we look at some of the biggest women’s health menstruation myths and share the light.
August is Women’s Month in South Africa, where we pay tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. It is also a time to shine a spotlight on women’s health, so this month we are dedicating our health content to the greater cause of spreading valuable information and awareness.
Myth 1: A woman’s cycle is 28 days.
Actually, a woman’s menstruation cycle can range from anything from 21 up to 35 days, but 28 days is the average. If you’re worried about the irregularity of your period, consult your doctor about methods to create a more regular period, like going on the contraceptive Pill. It’s also important to do regular health check-ups to make sure that nothing else may be causing the irregularity.
Myth 2: You only need to go for a Pap Smear every five years.
You may have heard that it’s only necessary to go for a test every three or five years, but the truth is that one in every 42 women in South Africa has a lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer – and it is much easier to treat if detected early. If you have a history of cancer in your family, it’s really important to go for your annual Pap test. The good news is that Medshield Medical Scheme members receive a free pap smear test per annum, included in their wellness benefits. Read more on why you should go for your pap test here.
Myth 3: You only need to change your tampon every 8 hours.
It is advised that tampons are changed every 4 to 8 hours (maximum). Why? TSS – Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS is caused by a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus Aureus and it can affect both men and women. Tampons, especially super-absorbent tampons, that are left in the vagina for a long time may encourage the bacteria to grow. Symptoms and signs of TSS may include a sudden fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, fainting, dizziness or a rash that looks like a sunburn. If you have any of these symptoms during your period, contact your doctor immediately. Rather use a tampon with a lower absorbance and change more frequently, if possible, to lessen the risk of TSS.
Myth 4: You shouldn’t exercise during your period
Women experience different levels of pain or discomfort during their period, but, really, there is no reason to skip your workout just because you’re on your period. Once your period actually starts, you enter the next phase of your cycle: the follicular phase, where women often report an increase in energy and pain tolerance. In fact, working out may feel harder in the days leading up to your period due to the drop in hormone levels. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and how you feel on the day.