Broken teeth and shark attacks: 10 period lies

From curdling milk to shark bites and rotten pickles  – menstruating women are a menace to society… if you believe the myths.

For hundreds of years, women and girls have been told ridiculous stories about the dangerous super powers they possess when they menstruate. But having a period is a very normal and healthy part of our lives. In fact, 1 in 4 people worldwide have a period every month for between two to seven days. Despite this, menstruation remains a taboo topic in most settings, and the silence it can be damaging.

What you don’t know – CAN hurt you.

In a recent study involving nearly 100,000 girls in India, almost 50,000 did not know about menstruation until the first time they got their period. Many girls think that they are dying or have a horrible disease the first time they menstruate, as the pain and blood cause confusion and worry.

Some girls are told they can not participate in certain activities, and others are banished to sleep outside because of these damaging myths. So today, on Menstrual Hygiene Day, we’re busting some of these crazy myths and getting the truth out there.

  1. Walking behind someone who has their period might cause your teeth to break.
    And really, not sure where that one came from. In some places in Malawi, people believe that if you are walking behind someone menstruating, there are pretty catastrophic dental consequences.
  2. Showering when you have your period can stop you from having children.
    In Afghanistan, some women are told that washing their genitals when they are menstruating can cause infertility.

    A close-up of pickles
    UNICEF/FlanschaAre pickles safe during “that time of the month”?
  3. If you touch a pickle when you have your period, you’ll make it go rotten.
    In different countries around the world, it is believed that women who menstruate have the power to poison or spoil food.
  4. If you swim when you have your period, sharks will attack you.
    If you swim in shark infested waters, you’re going to be at risk of a bite from our grey-finned friends – but that risk doesn’t increase when you have your period.
  5. Menstruation is dirty. Girls and women who have their period should be isolated.
    Menstruation is a very healthy and normal part of life, but in some places, women are forced to sleep outside or banished to huts to keep them apart from other people and livestock. In Nepal, this practice is known as Chapudi.
  6. When girls are close, they can “sync up” and have their period at the same time.
    some research indicates it is true, but other research shows that is not the case. As a sister and female flatmate, I can vouch that synchronized periods happen, but I would struggle to show you the proof.
  7. Menstrual blood can kill.
    In some communities in Burundi, it is thought that contact with a woman who has her period can be deadly for family members.

    A group of girls talking.
    NICEF/UN064423/TadesseEthiopia: The girls club at Zengoo discusses menstrual hygiene.
  8. Girls are weaker when they menstruate.

    Women and girls around the world prove this myth wrong every single day. Girls are doing incredible things – even when they don’t have a toilet, or sanitary products, to help them manage their period.
  9. You can actually consume more chocolate when you have your period, without taking in any calories.
    This is actually a myth that we’d really like to think is true – so we’re going to just go ahead and say “unclear”. Next…
  10. I can play an important role in breaking the damaging silence around periods.
    Whether you get your period or not, you can play an important role in breaking the negative taboo associated with menstruation…Strike up a conversation, share a story, ask a question or simply just put it out there – #MenstruationMatters!Philippa Lysaght represents water, sanitation and hygiene in UNICEF’s public advocacy team.









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  1. Hi I really liked the information you shared and I want to say that the thing I hate at most about having a menstruation is being called “dirty”. I really hate that and tell everybody around me it is wrong with the hope of changing some “dirty” minds.

  2. #MensurationMatters.

    OK so i just read this article and I’m sitting like what? Why do people think like that? I’m an Indian and i know some of the “Myths” but those are just Myths. Let’s be real those things don’t happen. My Mom has never told us to any of those things like ‘don’t touch the pickle’ or ‘don’t go anywhere’. My Mom has always been like this is a natural phenomena of your body except it and be proud. We are three sisters and whenever we hear such things we are like why do people still have such backwards thinking.

  3. Thank you for trying to eliminate the stigma of a very normal and beautiful process. Even in a developed country such as Canada, there is still negativity and shame about women’s period. Thank you UNICEF for attempting to break barriers.

  4. Haha! I was even told not to visit temple during periods and few more which how much I try not to believe in them…but I do

  5. Well, It’s true mostly people believe in myths, just like faith,
    But we should focus more on scientific things, and I think there’s no shame to talk or explore about the period! It’s great to be aware, as well share awareness with other.
    Thank you, Unicef for making a change!🙏

  6. I am a young Salvadoran and my family and the church that I attended had a myth that could not enter the church during the women had the period and my family would not let me cook during was with the perido or eat. Also thank you a lot for this information I’m in a foster care and in the future I would like to work with Unicef is one of my goals.

  7. Thumbs up to this post👍 this was much needed. Must read for everyone☺️

  8. when I was living in India!! I thought differently about periods,, but after moving to Canada I realized that Indian girls should be educated about periods because some still are living in that dark!! I always talk to my Indian friends and encourage them!! But also unicef is doing a great job!! I really want to be a part of Unicef !!

  9. राज नारायण द्विवेदी

    इस विषय पर और अधिक काम करने की जरुरत है । ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में विशेष फोकस देकर काम करना चाहिए । बदलाव भी हुआ है । कुछ भ्रांतियां है ….. अब भी है । शिक्षित वर्ग के लोग भी प्रभावित है । जो रुढ़ियों में जकड़े हुऐ है ।