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For people with periods, the body’s menstrual cycle can feel like one big mystery. Beyond the obvious symptoms, a lack of information and conversation about the different cycle stages and phases can leave you feeling disconnected from your body and unsure what’s actually going on each month.
To help unlock the mysteries of your menstrual cycle, Yahoo Lifestyle asked natural fertility expert Nat Kringoudis to bust some commonly held myths about periods.
Busting common period myths
According to Nat, there’s some commonly held period myths which are keeping menstruating people in the dark about their cycles.
“Whilst most women accept that at various stages of the cycle we can feel the pull of our hormones with mood swings, cravings or headaches, many women are still confused about their menstrual cycle and the clues it provides,” says Nat.
“And this confusion comes from many of the mistruths that have circulated throughout generations or that we simply haven’t been shown the facts.
5 common myths patients regularly ask about
1. You ovulate on the 14th day of the cycle, every month
“Your period is your monthly report card, but the real hero of your cycle is ovulation.
"In sex ed we were taught that a woman ovulates on the 14th day of her cycle. Truth is, only 11 percent of women actually ovulate on cycle day 14 meaning that you may actually be way off. And if you’re using an app, it’s still a ‘guess’ when you ovulate. In fact, one study showed that a woman’s fertile window may be nowhere near this day.
"To help you accurately know when you’re ovulating, I recommend investing in a quality hormone free fertility tracker. I always suggest Daysy, as it is 99.4 percent accurate in being able to predict your non-fertile days, thus increasing your chances of conception or providing accurate cycle awareness.”
2. You can’t get pregnant whilst you have your period
“Although rather unlikely, it is still possible to fall pregnant whilst you are menstruating. It all depends on when you ovulate.
A research study suggests that two percent of women ovulate by the fourth day of the cycle and 17 percent by the seventh day.
"This means that almost 20 percent of women may be fertile during their period. This is just another reason why accurate cycle tracking is valuable.”
3. Cycle Day #1 starts at the end of your period
“The first day of your cycle is the first day of bleeding that has a flow. If you observe spotting leading up to your period, this does not count as your period. Rather your ‘day one’ is the first day of flow even if it arrives at 10pm.”
4. You still ovulate whilst on the pill
“To this day, women are continuously shocked to learn that whilst using the oral contraceptive pill they don’t have a menstrual cycle.
“The pill flatlines your hormones, and as a result you don’t ovulate or menstruate. When you experience a bleed whilst using the pill, this is not a period but a withdrawal bleed.
"This isn’t a design fault – this is how the pill works. Which is why it may clear up your skin or manage your troublesome periods, but the acne and period problem comes rushing back once you stop," says Nat.
An important note on hormonal contraceptives
"Somewhere around the age of 21, a woman’s sex hormones mature. However, many young women will begin taking birth control as a teen, most likely due to unwanted symptoms like acne or period pain.
"It is important to know that since the pill halts hormones, if you start taking the pill at 15 and stop at 28, your sex hormones are as mature as your 15 year old self.
This may be a reason why your cycle does not return immediately after coming off the pill because the hormone issue hasn’t been addressed."
5. Ovulating pain is the only way to know you’re ovulating
“Whilst pain is common, it isn’t normal. And truthfully any pain, be it period pain or a migraine is your body’s way of telling you that you have inflammation.
"What’s more, ovulation pain often occurs after the event, and in a body free from inflammation, it’s unlikely you’ll have pain so using this to track ovulation is problematic and possibly not accurate. Cycle tracking helps you pin point accurately your ovulation window.
"If you suffer from pain, you might like to try reducing inflammatory foods (sugar, gluten and dairy) for one cycle to see if that helps."
Learn what your own body and cycle have to say
“Many of these myths exist likely due to guessing and trying to figure the mysteries of our cycle without hard facts.
"We are fortunate to now know more than ever before when it comes to our hormones and our menstrual cycle. With the correct information we can be more observant, prepared and learn to use our cycle to our advantage.
"Learning to love our cycle is one big step forward in helping women to not only embrace their own body but also leading an example to help our daughters and loved ones do the same."
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