17 Of The Wackiest Myths & Taboos About Menstruation You’ve Ever Heard

Flickr / 欠我兩千塊
Flickr / 欠我兩千塊

1. Don’t go into the ocean when you have your period, because sharks will attack you.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYuK9jE52ig&w=854&h=510%5D

According to a scientific study wherein sharks were exposed to various human bodily fluids, the only one that attracted them was a specific stomach acid. So as long as you don’t vomit into the water, you should be cool.

2. Don’t go into the woods, either, because the bears can smell your menstruation.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfboOt1bJcA&w=854&h=510%5D

The bears are only concerned about whether you’ve brought along sandwiches.

3. Don’t go into the fields, either, because you’ll kill all the crops.

According to Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder:

Contact with the monthly flux of women turns new wine sour, makes crops wither, kills grafts, dries seeds in gardens, causes the fruit of trees to fall off, dims the bright surface of mirrors, dulls the edge of steel and the gleam of ivory, kills bees, rusts iron and bronze, and causes a horrible smell to fill the air. Dogs who taste the blood become mad, and their bite becomes poisonous as in rabies. The Dead Sea, thick with salt, cannot be drawn asunder except by a thread soaked in the poisonous fluid of the menstruous blood. A thread from an infected dress is sufficient. Linen, touched by the woman while boiling and washing it in water, turns black.

Holy shit, dude. Pardon me for thinking you may have had problem that extended far beyond having to deal with menstrual blood.

4. Sex during menstruation can yield deformed or red-haired babies.

It’s possible to get pregnant during your period, but there is no evidence it will lead to birth defects or red hair, not that the two are related.

5. Babies conceived during a woman’s period will be “monsters.”

At least that’s according to old French folklore. But the French also rolled over for Hitler and think that Jerry Lewis is a genius, so take everything they say with a grain of salt.

6. Don’t drink any menstrual blood, because you might contract leprosy.

So go ahead—chug menstrual blood by the gallon. Unless it came from a leper, you’re cool—no risk of leprosy.

7. Hanging a sack full of ashes from a burnt toad near your coochie will alleviate a heavy flow.

Such was the common wisdom in medieval Europe. It seems more likely that burnt-toad ashes would alleviate vaginal lubrication as well as killing every erection within a hundred yards, but what do I know?

8. Menstrual blood can turn wine into vinegar.

This was a common myth in Europe a few centuries ago. Presumably after the wine was turned into vinegar they called in Jesus, who turned it back into wine.

7. If you received dental fillings during your period, they will fall out of your mouth.

If, say, the dental fillings were to fall out of your mouth, chances are close to 100% that it had to do more with your dentist than with your period.

8. Dough will refuse to rise if a menstruating woman is on a bakery’s premises.

This presumes that dough is a sentient being capable of being aware that a woman is on the bakery’s premises—a shaky presumption, to be sure. But it was alleged in the 1920s by a Viennese scientist named Bela Schick.

9. Menstrual blood contains poisons known as “menotoxins.”

That same Viennese scientist theorized that “menotoxins” were a poison contained in menstrual fluid that so powerful it could cause flowers to wilt. I’d like to tell him that he was wrong, but it’s likely that his flower wilted long ago.

10. Do NOT wash your hair while on your period—period.

Not only will you cause your hair to lose its natural body and bounce, it can cause health problems all the way up to and including cancer.

11. Slipping some of your period blood into a man’s food or drink will cause him to fall madly in love with you.

This is a common misconception across several African and Asian cultures. I suppose the key is that you never tell your suitor you’ve spiked his food or beverage with your period blood, because it’ll likely gross him out.

12. Menstrual blood can ward off demons.

Everyone on Earth knows that the exact opposite is true.

13. A man should never come into contact with menstrual blood, because it will “dull his wits and lead to a slow death.”

This is according to folklore in Papua New Guinea, where the guys apparently find it difficult dealing with their girlfriends’ monthly visitor. I can’t even imagine how they deal with their mothers-in-law.

14. You can contract gonorrhea by having sex with a menstruating woman.

True—but only if she already has gonorrhea.

15. Menstrual fluids are so dirty and foul that they can even rot pickled foods.

The idea that period blood is “unclean” or “dirty” spans almost all global cultures, but in rural India, it’s thought to be so toxic that it can cause the humble pickle to rot horribly.

16. Women on their period should be kept far away from the public water supply lest they contaminate it.

This is a myth common in several Southeast Asian communities. The only way that menstruating women would contaminate the local water supply is if they purposely put poison in it to publish a community so stupid and backward that it thinks menstrual fluids are Satan’s blood.

17. Menstrual blood mixed with wine and sprinkled over a field will help crops to grow.

At least that’s what the ancient Greeks thought—probably at a moment when they were mixing everything with wine. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

More From Thought Catalog