9 things gynecologists wish they could tell you about your period
Even the most woke folks are plagued by misinformation about their periods. We blame the fact that society still stigmatizes our menstrual cycles, even insisting that we hide our tampons on the way to the bathroom so no one has to think about our natural bodily functions. Ultimately, we gather a lot of knowledge about periods on our own and from people we trust, which is why there are still some things we may not know and that gynecologists wish they could tell us about our periods.
To help combat period shame, stigma, and misinformation, we spoke to a few experts to get the ultimate period low-down.
1. You shouldn’t just deal with pain.
Dr. Alan Cooperman, medical director at Progyny and ob/gyn at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, agrees. He tells HG:
“If you’re experiencing a lot of pain or heavy flows during your period, it’s worth talking to your doctor. It could be nothing, or could be a marker of medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis. You should talk to your doctor if you think something is ‘abnormal,’ because at the end of the day, you know your body best.”
2. You can get pregnant on your period.
3. Whatever you use is your choice.
Dr. Nguyen agrees. She tells us, “Women should use whatever they feel comfortable with for menstrual hygiene: cups, tampons, or pads. One method isn’t any better.” A lot of women were raised to be afraid of tampons because of toxic shock syndrome, but you really don’t have to be.
“A tampon can safely be left in place between four to eight hours,” Dr. Nguyen explains. “With older tampons, there was an extremely rare risk of a serious infection such as Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). However, with today’s tampons, the number of cases of menstrual TSS is fewer than 1 in 100,000 women. So while TSS can be fatal, it is very rare.”
Dr. Bat-Sheva Lerner Maslow, from New York City’s Extend Fertility Clinic, adds, “From a professional heath perspective, there is no preference given to any menstrual products. They all serve their own unique purpose, most importantly of which is individual comfort. Any women having difficulty selecting a product should speak with their gynecologist who can help them find the one that best suits their needs.”
4. Not having your period isn’t “lucky.”
5. You can go to the gyno when you’re on your period.
Dr. Cooperman tells HG, “If you’re scheduled to have a pap smear, it would be best to reschedule your appointment since the blood can give you inaccurate results. However, if you’re going to get an IUD, it’s recommended to go while you’re on your period.”
Dr. Maslow agrees, telling HG, “The need to avoid your ob/gyn when you have your period is a common misconception. For the most part, there is no reason to reschedule your routine appointment. Nearly all testing and exams can be done with your period. For many of us ob/gyns, we have seen much worse and encourage you to not let your period affect your schedule.”
So if you need that checkup pronto and are mid-flow, don’t be embarrassed about it.
6. Your period doesn’t “stop and start.”
7. No, your tampons won’t get lost.
8. Menstrual blood isn’t inherently smelly.
9. There is no such thing as a “normal” period.”
Remember, if you think something is wrong with your menstrual cycle or just have questions about your period, you should always ask your health care provider. The more we talk about our periods and inform ourselves, the less shame and stigma we’ll have around menstruating.
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