Do you remember the day you started your period? I was 14 when I started mine, and I was freaked out, not screaming in bathroom at the sight of blood freaked out but nervous about the whole concept of having a period meant. Having been raised in a fairly open household, I knew that having a period was normal but that was probably the only place that I discussed my period. At school we learnt in biology about the science behind menstruation but this was brief and didn’t really discuss the social taboos that come along with periods. Boys would smirk and giggle at the conversation, girls would go beetroot red out of embarrassment, and a tampon or a sanitary towel falling out of your bag at school was social suicide. The truth is there is a level of shame associated with bleeding, it is seen as gross and unhygienic when actually it is a perfectly natural and normal part of a woman’s life and it is something that is engrained in us since we were that embarrassed young girl scooping up our bag contents and our dignity.
As an adult things most certainly get less embarrassing but some women openly admit that they would never discuss their period at their work office and many of us don’t really understand the ins and the outs of cycles. Until, perhaps two years ago I couldn’t tell you how long my cycle was or even what stage I was in my cycle. After years of being on pills and then five years total on the implant I either had no period to track or a period that did what it want when it want (the downside of hormonal contraceptives ) After a bout of severe depression, headaches and terrible, painful bleeds I finally decided to come off hormonal contraception for good and it was then that I decided to try and take control of both my body as well as become aware of my cycle. It was actually a recommendation from twitter that set me on the path to discovering cycle tracking apps and I tried a few that collected data from inputting information in consistently which in turn would track the length and time of your cycle. I also collaborated with Natural Cycles earlier this year to try their version of a cycle app which is the first of its kind to be certified as a method of contraception, it accurately detects and predict ovulation and fertility with an algorithm and through the use of a thermometer which measures basal temperature (your temperature when it is at rest). This was even more effective that other cycle tracking apps I have used in determining not just my period due date, but length of cycle and ovulation times. Natural Cycles (aside of being a hormone free contraception app) are passionate about encouraging the discussion about women cycles. I am also passionate about this so today I thought I would share with you four misconceptions or 'myths' that people believe about periods, so lets get into it:
1. MENSTRUAL CYCLES ARE ALWAYS 28 DAYS LONG
Whilst a 28 days cycle is the average woman cycle length this is not the case for all women. Every woman and every cycle is unique, and nothing right or wrong when it comes to the length. If you have a cycle that is 21 days or less, it’s considered a short cycle, and if you have a cycle that is over 35 days it’s considered to be a long cycle. Remember that it does not mean that because yours doesn’t fall within the average that your cycle is irregular. It may just be longer/shorter than the average.
2. YOU CAN ONLY CONCEIVE ON TWO DAYS EACH CYCLE.
Nope not true. The fertile window lasts for 6 days and you are at your most fertile the day you ovulate and the day before. However, because sperm can survive for up to five days, having sex on the days leading up to ovulation can increase your chances of getting pregnant.
3. WOMEN OVULATE MULTIPLE TIMES IN ONE CYCLE
Ovulation is a process when hormone changes trigger an ovary to release an egg. However, both eggs will be released within 24h from the first one. So, if you ovulated on day 14 of your cycle you couldn’t then ovulate again on day 20. There are no exceptions on this, unless you have a second uterus (which you would notice at your first ultra sound, if not when your first period arrives). This is since after ovulation the body produces the hormone progesterone, which inhibits another ovulation from occurring. For example the mini pill has progesterone in it to prohibit you from ovulating. When you release 2 eggs within 24h and both of them become fertilized is how fraternal twins are conceived. Isn’t that nuts?
4. YOU CAN’T GET PREGNANT WHEN ON YOUR PERIOD
Although there is an entire seperate taboo on having sex on your period, many people don’t know that you can actually get pregnant if you do. Whilst it is said to be unlikely there is a chance that if you choose to have sex without using a form of contraception there is a chance you can get pregnant. This is particularly prevalent if you have a shorter cycle or a highly irregular cycle, where it’s possible to ovulate while you are still bleeding although this isn’t common. Sperm can also survive in the body and menstrual blood after you have sex.
*This post was sponsored by and in collaboration with Natural Cycles and all facts and information cited can be found over on their website on the Ask Natural Cycles section. I would love to hear your thoughts on cycles, periods and common taboos and myths so do leave them down below for us to chat.
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