You might have heard that you shouldn’t wear white pants while on your period, but did you know that according to one of the many superstitious beliefs about menstruation, you shouldn’t paint your nails or dye your hair either?
For thousands of years, superstitious beliefs about menstruation have been passed down amongst the generations and still often act as a source of guidance for how a woman should act — and shouldn’t act — when she’s on her period in present day. Praise be.
If you’re rolling your eyes at the thought of irrational period-related myths, you’d be surprised to know that millions of people across the world not only believe these superstitions but use them to impose behavioral restrictions and boundaries on women, too.
You know that having a period is simply a part of being a woman. Yet that doesn’t mean this natural act is exempt from cultural taboos, since even being a woman is taboo in some areas of the world. Here’s a look at some of the most common superstitious beliefs about menstruation in different cultures scattered throughout the world.
Belief #1: You’ll Contaminate Things
You might use your period cramps as an excuse not to go to the gym from time to time, but can you imagine staying away from your church on the grounds that your period will negatively impact your spirituality?
Unfortunately, many women in India are shunned from entering religious temples for this very reason. Superstitious Hindu beliefs lead some to believe that menstruation is a form of impurity that has no place in a clean place where God(s) are worshiped.
Unfortunately, this means that many adolescents entering puberty are lead to view their period as a shameful event rather than the natural, life-giving process that it is.
Belief #2: You Can’t Have Sex on Your Period
Imagine that your partner sets up a romantic evening for the both of you. You thought the stove was hot, but your eyes feast on each other — steam’s not the only thing rising. Time for some Moscato and sexy-time, but first you need to see if Aunt Flo made an impromptu visit.
You quickly head to the bathroom only to realize Flo’s checked you into the Red Roof Inn, putting a damper on your plans. Fortunately, the faux pas of not having period sex is just a superstitious way society seeks to make you feel the wrong kind of dirty.
In fact, if you’re wondering how to regulate your period naturally, a bit of action under the sheets may just do the trick — and calm the demon cramps in your gut.
A research study examining the impact of sex on a woman’s cycle found that women experienced stabilized luteinizing hormones — or the hormones responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle — after getting busy. SCIENCE!
While things may be a bit messier, that shouldn’t stop you from having sex on your period if you and your partner are both comfortable with it.
Belief #3: Everything You Touch Dies!
Yup, you’re Typhoid from “Elektra,” decaying everything around you. But at least you look good.
Sometimes when women get their period, they see it as a sign of good luck if they’re not trying to get pregnant. But for others, superstitious beliefs about menstruation say they can’t even touch a blooming flower for fear that they’ll destroy it.
In countries such as Nepal, menstruating women are not supposed to consume vegetables or fruit because social stigmas promote the idea that menstruation will ruin the food. For other women, the fear of the contamination caused by periods means they sometimes go days without seeing their family, too.
In fact, what your period says about your fertility means you give life — not stop it. After you complete a healthy menstrual cycle, your body prepares itself for potential childbearing within the next two weeks. Behold your fertility! That sounds like a woman’s capacity to menstruate means she’s full of life rather than sterility, wouldn’t you say?
Belief #4: Periods Should Never be Discussed
For millions of girls across the globe, any topic surrounding periods seems to ignite flushed cheeks and a sense of despair, especially for those entering puberty. I’m sure you know that feeling all too well of flushing the toilet or letting out a loud cough as you tried to open the pad wrapper as silently as possible in the bathroom stall.
Yeah, yeah. Men have the whole, “pee one stall over and never look” bro code — women have… this. Never let it crinkle!
But a period is about the most natural act there is. After all, you wouldn’t be here to read this article if your mother didn’t have a healthy reproductive system where periods allowed her to ovulate — leading her ultimately into having you.
Unfortunately, social stigmas and misogynistic mindsets have led women to believe that so much of their body — whether it be breastmilk, hair on various body parts or menstrual blood, is impure and something to shame.
Even though women in different cultures throughout the world go through many obstacles to hide who they are, it only serves to further feed the social stigma surrounding women’s bodies and menstruation.
Superstitious Beliefs About Menstruation Hold No Truth
If you think any of superstitious beliefs about menstruation are silly, that’s because they often hold no truth in reality. But even in a place that boasts as diverse of a population as the US, women still often tend to feel voiceless about much of what goes on with their bodies.
Although some of these myths can seem entertaining, it’s vital to take them seriously because of their effect on women who are living among them every day. We need better sexual health education worldwide so that women throughout the world do not have to feel shame for simply being female.
When people educate themselves on the reality of this life-producing cycle, they’re much more likely to replace superstitious beliefs with thoughtful insight that allows women to feel power, not shame. In Aunt Flo, we trust — Under Her flow. Praise be the period.