It’s Time To Debunk These Five Period Myths

products of personal hygiene in bathroom

It’s time to debunk these myths for good.

Whether you’re a person who menstruates, is related to someone who does, or just want to improve your understanding of the menstrual cycle (go you!), you might have a few preconceived ideas about periods.

The taboo surrounding the menstrual cycle has influenced our attitude towards periods and our understanding of what a regular period actually is.

Though ‘normal’ looks different for everyone, working through some of the (many) misconceptions can help us differentiate between something that doesn’t feel right and something that’s ‘expected’ during your cycle.

Let the debunking begin!

Myth #1: PMS is just us acting ‘crazy’

If this is your first time hearing about PMS (premenstrual syndrome), here’s a quick introduction: a few days before beginning menstruation, mood changes can occur, causing bouts of anxiety, depression, fluctuations, and more (1). You’ve probably seen a film or TV show make a joke about this before, typically involving the male avoiding the menstruating female due to her ‘erratic’ behaviour (hilarious, right?).

You’re definitely not ‘crazy’ for experiencing PMS, and there’s actually a physiological explanation for why we’re feeling slightly out of touch with ourselves. Changing oestrogen levels during this phase causes a release of norepinephrine, the activation of which lowers acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin – key neurotransmitters modulating mood (1,2). Plus, we’re about to experience a drop in energy and bleed for 3-7 days; it’s ok if that warrants a slight dip in mood! 

It should be noted that while PMS is a regular part of the cycle if you’re experiencing severe mood changes and feelings of loss or hope, it would be recommended to explore a differential diagnosis (i.e. PMDD) with a healthcare professional.

Myth #2: Severe period pains are ‘normal’

To understand what is ‘normal’ or ‘not normal’, we must understand our approach to categorising normality. Studies highlight the minimisation of pain by teens and young adults when menstruating is common (3,4). This is especially apparent in cis women, fearing they may be seen as disruptive or dramatic for expressing pain (4).

Alongside the historical misunderstandings of periods (see myth #5), this has contributed to the stigma surrounding the discussion and understanding of menstrual health, creating difficulty for teenagers and adults alike to understand what an irregular symptom may be – and, consequently, what we feel we deserve to receive help for (3,4).

Though some cramping and pain are common in the lead-up to and beginning of menstruation, severe pains may indicate conditions such as endometriosis or fibroids (5). If you’re experiencing pain, discussing this with a healthcare professional can help to identify and receive support.

Myth #3: Everyone’s cycle is exactly 28 days

A ‘healthy’ cycle has previously been classed as anywhere between 21-37 days (6), and though understanding regularity can help us identify changes and issues we may be experiencing, everyone’s body is different. If you do not fit the typical 28-day mould but experience regularity, your cycle may differ for you – which is ok. Many factors can cause the length to change, bringing us to our 4th myth…

Myth #4: If you’ve skipped a period, you’re definitely pregnant

Numerous factors can affect our cycle length, and if you’ve missed a period recently or it’s come in later/earlier than expected, there could be a few reasons why, such as stress, calorie restriction, excess exercise, and more (7,8). When stressed, we release the hormone cortisol from our adrenal system, affecting the release and regulation of hormones. Its stimulation of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland is considered a key reason we may experience cycle changes (8). Nutrient restriction, low glycogen (stored glucose) and excess exercise can further deplete hormone regulation (8,9).

Myth #5: Periods are ‘bad’, ‘dirty’, or ‘unclean’.

As mentioned in Myth #2, historical misunderstanding and gender bias towards menstruating women have led to beliefs that periods are shameful. Studies suggest that when menstruating, we can typically feel negative about ourselves and require social isolation as we may feel ‘abnormal’ or different (4). The negative stigmatisation and shame surrounding periods also contribute to our limited understanding of reproductive health issues like endometriosis and PCOS (4).

In reality, our periods are just as much a bodily function as breathing, sleeping, and urinating – all essential.

As society develops and our acceptance of menstruation improves, we hope these myths will soon become demystified and no longer cause us confusion or fear about the menstrual cycle. Whilst they’re still widespread, we can take small steps to reduce the taboo and better understand our bodies. Having conversations with friends and family can be helpful to identify what is ‘normal’ or ‘not normal’ for your body, advocating for yourself in medical environments can help us receive the support we deserve, and getting to know your body can be a great place to start.

Do you have any myths you’d like debunked? Get in touch, and we can break them down together. For support with the issues mentioned above, check out my services! You can start to feel empowered and in control of your period – one cycle at a time.

If you’re looking for further support, please get in touch via my contact page, or email me at

  1. Gudipally PR, Sharma GK. Premenstrual syndrome.
  2. Tiranini L, Nappi RE. Recent advances in understanding/management of premenstrual dysphoric disorder/premenstrual syndrome. Faculty Reviews. 2022;11.
  3. Krebs E, Schoenbauer KV. Hysterics and heresy: Using dialogism to explore the problematics of endometriosis diagnosis. Health Communication. 2019 Apr 25.
  4. McHugh MC. Menstrual shame: Exploring the role of ‘menstrual moaning’. The Palgrave handbook of critical menstruation studies. 2020:409-22. 
  5. Armour M, Parry K, Al-Dabbas MA, Curry C, Holmes K, MacMillan F, Ferfolja T, Smith CA. Self-care strategies and sources of knowledge on menstruation in 12,526 young women with dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2019 Jul 24;14(7):e0220103.
  6. Thiyagarajan DK, Basit H, Jeanmonod R. Physiology, menstrual cycle. InStatPearls [Internet] 2021 Oct 30. StatPearls Publishing.
  7. Bull JR, Rowland SP, Scherwitzl EB, Scherwitzl R, Danielsson KG, Harper J. Real-world menstrual cycle characteristics of more than 600,000 menstrual cycles. NPJ digital medicine. 2019 Aug 27;2(1):83.
  8. Podfigurna A, Meczekalski B. Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea: A stress-based disease. Endocrines. 2021 Jul 24;2(3):203-11.
  9. Ryterska K, Kordek A, Załęska P. Has Menstruation Disappeared? Functional Hypothalamic Amenorrhea—What Is This Story about?. Nutrients. 2021 Aug 17;13(8):2827.

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