With so much information flying around the wellness world, it can be tough to separate misinformation from trustworthy stats, especially in regards to women’s health. From busting myths to revealing facts, The Cheat Sheet is dedicated to delivering the very best data out there. This is why we’ve sifted through it all. Wonder no more: Here are some popular myths about women’s health you need to stop believing right now.
1. Myth: Women who live together menstruate together
This one may come as a huge shock, but who can blame you for believing it? From high school friends to post-college roommates, the belief that women who live together, or spend a significant amount of time together, get their periods at the same time isn’t true. We know — gasp! We hate to break it to you, but if you’ve thought your cycle successfully syncs up to your girlfriends’, you’ve been believing a lie.
Fact: There’s no proof your cycle will sync up with your friends’
OK, well, it’s not that big a deal. But still, it’s time to debunk this common myth once and for all. Back in 1971, Harvard University psychologist Martha McClintock studied young women living in the same dorm. With her findings, McClintock coined the term menstrual synchrony. However, statistical errors have been uncovered since the original findings, and additional studies have also helped determine this myth is one we can no longer believe.
2. Myth: Birth defects cannot be prevented
It’s common knowledge pregnant women should avoid drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, so as to not put their babies at risk. In this case, serious conditions, such as fetal alcohol syndrome, are 100% preventable. However, you may be surprised to hear that other major birth defects can also be prevented.
Fact: Some major birth defects can be prevented
Let’s look at nutrition. It’s highly recommended pregnant women get enough of a certain B vitamin, in particular. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine (anencephaly and spina bifida).”
3. Myth: The benefits of breastfeeding are only short-term
While most women are well-aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, you may be surprised to know just how beneficial it can be for your child later on. While it comes with some serious benefits for the mother — like boosting postpartum weight loss, and being super cheap and convenient — the baby stands to benefit from the milk itself. In fact, your choice to breastfeed just may be setting your child up for foodie success in the future.
Fact: Breastfeeding could lead to a sophisticated palate
As opposed to formula, which only has one taste, breast milk is a combination of everything you eat. The Office on Women’s Health says that, by exposing your baby to a variety of tastes, introducing solid foods into their diet will be easier. The only downside is your kid might be ordering off the adult menu sooner than expected. Trading grilled cheese sandwiches for sushi rolls will be pricey, but hey, just think about all that money you saved in formula back in the day.
4. Myth: There’s no such thing as too much exercise
Everyone’s idea of a good workout is different, so it’s important to know what’s right for you. If you’re used to walking around your neighborhood every morning, stick to that. If you’re a gym rat who needs to hammer out a cardio-and-weights routine every night, then great. However, it’s crucial women who are trying to get pregnant keep a close eye on their levels of exertion.
Fact: Intense exercise could interfere with your ability to get pregnant
According to Parents, “Very intense exercise — we’re talking hours a day — can disrupt your normal menstrual cycle and even make implantation of an embryo more difficult (since irregular periods may make your uterine lining less hospitable).” The publication does go on to say, though, that such problems tend to affect professional athletes more than the average woman. As long as you’re not thinking about competing in a bodybuilding competition out of the blue, you shouldn’t be too worried.
5. Myth: Hot flashes must mean menopause
Most women often associate dreaded hot flashes with menopause. After all, they’re one of the hallmark signs that change is coming. For fans of The Cosby Show out there, the scene where Clair Huxtable sticks her head in the freezer in an effort to ease her hot flashes is probably more drama than reality, but still, that scene was scripted for good reason. Hot flashes suck, there’s no two ways about it, and they can affect more women than you think.
Fact: Hot flashes can be a symptom of other conditions
Hot flashes are all about changes in hormones, and any woman can experience them, regardless of age or menstrual cycle. Prevention says hot flashes can be triggered by a variety of conditions. For instance, they can be a side effect of certain medications; a reaction to food allergies or sensitivities, such as red wine; a symptom of anxiety; or related to thyroid issues. Before sending yourself into a tailspin, talk to your doctor about what exactly it is you’re experiencing, and go from there.
6. Myth: You can’t get pregnant while breastfeeding
This seems to be a fairly common belief, but you need to know it’s definitely not true. When your little bundle of joy finally gives you and your partner some alone time, you mustn’t forget the basics of high school sex ed. Only abstinence is the 100% fool-proof way to ensure you don’t get pregnant.
Fact: Breastfeeding isn’t a foolproof method of contraception
The reason some people believe this myth to be true is because, oftentimes, women may not get their periods for months after giving birth. This tends to be the case for those who breastfeed. As Baby Center explains, there’s even a “contraceptive technique called the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) that’s based on the observation that breast milk production tends to delay the return of menstruation.” The article goes on to say LAM is 98% effective during the first six months after giving birth.
7. Myth: Women have smaller bladders than men
Why does it always feel as though men have to offer a rest stop disclaimer at the start of every road trip? You know, saying he won’t make pit stops for those who need to use the restroom. But though women may go more frequently, it doesn’t mean their bladders are smaller. It simply means they relieve themselves more often.
Fact: Women just go more often than men
We’re not saying women listen to their bodies more closely… but, just consider the facts. According to research, women go more often, but in smaller amounts, whereas men go less often, but in much larger amounts. How’s that for science?
8. Myth: Sex drive decreases as women age
It’s only natural that, as things change over time, so does your sex life. It’s probably not a stretch to say you’re no longer ripping your partner’s clothes off in the back seat of a car as you might have when you were 18. (If you are, of course, then more power to you.) But the oft believed myth that all women lose their sex drive as they age is nothing more than just that: a myth.
Fact: It all depends on the person
There are a lot of factors that go into a woman’s lack of desire to have sex. But to say she’s totally lost her desire just isn’t true. In fact, research suggests maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and drinking in moderation are just a few ways you can help boost your libido on the reg. It’s worth a shot.