As a twentysomething woman, chances are you’re already well acquainted with Aunt Flo. Surprisingly, there are plenty of period myths out there that women still believe, likely a result of Dr. Google, older family members trying to mess with you or giving you misinformation, or that health class gossip from middle school. It’s never too late to learn the truth. Forget what you’ve heard — these period myths are finally debunked.


Myth 1: You can't swim in the ocean

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Despite what you may have heard the first time you were vacationing near the ocean on your period, sharks are not attracted to the scent of your menstrual blood. (Neither are bears, just for the record.) Feel free to swim, surf, paddle board, and chase waves at your own risk (but maybe be careful of sharks anyway, because, you know, they're kind of dangerous).


Myth 2: You can't get pregnant on your period

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It’s still possible. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s okay to skip using protection just because you’re on your period and you’re not ovulating. There is a risk of getting pregnant every time you have sex, even without being on your period. Be smart about sex and use birth control correctly and protection to prevent STDs and pregnancy.


Myth 3: Tampons can get lost in you

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Raise your hand if you or a friend has ever believed this myth and have subsequently been too embarrassed to make that trip to the gyno when you couldn't find a tampon inside you. We've all been there, but luckily, there's only so far a tampon can go. It’s not lost, it’s just out of your reach. The cervix is usually only about 3 to 4 inches high, so even if you forget you have on in, or can't feel it when you try to take it out, a tampon can’t go anywhere outside of that. 

However, while Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is incredibly rare, leaving a tampon in for more than 24 hours can cause bacteria to start multiplying (gross), meaning that even if you don't get sick, the tampon inside probably will start to develop a weird smell (sorry). 


Myth 4: You can't have sex on your period

There’s nothing gross or weird about this. As long as you and your partner use protection (like always), this is normal. It’s also true that women may want to have sex more often while they’re on their periods because of the rise in estrogen and testosterone that week. Sex coach Amy Levine suggests a few tips on how to try this out if it’s your first time.


Myth 5: PMS isn't real

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There’s nothing worse than someone dismissing your cramps, mood swings, change in appetite, anxiety, bloating, stomach issues, or tension as invalid. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, at least 85 percent of menstruating women have at least one PMS symptom as part of their monthly cycle, one to two weeks before a period. PMS is real and if anyone asks, chocolate ice cream (and over-the-counter pain relief) is the cure.


Myth 6: You shouldn't exercise while wearing a tampon

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Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? Exercise is essential at all times, but especially during your period. Regular aerobic exercise can help alleviate PMS symptoms, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you’ve ever gone jogging during your period, it’s easy to get on board with this one. It’s the natural way to get rid of cramps and bloating (and immediately give you a feel-good boost of endorphins).


Myth 7: Sour foods worsen cramps

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No. Just no. Menstrual cramps happen as a normal part of PMS, sour foods or not. You may notice a change in your appetite, food cravings, an upset stomach, bloating, or diarrhea, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the type of food you're eating. Vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin B-6, and vitamin E, have been found to help relieve some of these symptoms.


Myth 8: Your period stops in the water

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Your period continues even when you’re swimming or showering, so don’t let this one get you into a messy situation during an impromptu swim session. Be ready for adventure in any kind of water and plan ahead with an extra tampon or two.