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Reproductive health is vital to well-being. It enables us to have safe and satisfying sexual experiences, make informed choices about family planning, and manage infertility and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, it remains shrouded in myths and misconceptions that can lead to unnecessary fears and risky behaviors – with serious consequences. 

These misconceptions mostly come from taboos, stigma, and gender-based discrimination, and persist because of the reluctance to openly discuss intimate aspects of our lives. Read on to find out the truth behind eleven common reproductive health myths. 

Myth 1: You can’t get pregnant during your period

It’s a common misconception that you can’t get pregnant while you’re menstruating. If you have sex without using contraception at any time during your menstrual cycle, including during or just after your period, there is a chance you could get pregnant. While the likelihood is lower, it’s not impossible. Sperm can survive inside the female body for several days, and the timing of ovulation can vary from person to person. This means that if you have unprotected sex while you are on your period and you ovulate earlier than expected, you may still become pregnant.

Myth 2: You can’t get pregnant if you’ve never had a period

Even if you’ve never had a period, you can still get pregnant. Getting pregnant is related to ovulation, which is a natural process and happens when a woman’s body releases an egg from one of her ovaries. Pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg attaches to the lining of the uterus, so as soon as a woman has begun ovulation, she can become pregnant. This can happen at any age, and even if it is the first time you ovulate. 

Myth 3: Menstrual blood is impure

Menstruation is a natural process, but there are a lot of misconceptions about it. Some people believe that menstrual blood is impure or dirty. In reality,  the menstrual cycle is part of the reproductive system that prepares a woman’s body for pregnancy. Part of this process involves creating a special lining inside the uterus, and if pregnancy doesn’t happen, this lining is released as menstrual blood. It’s a completely healthy process.

 Myth 4: You can’t transmit STIs through kissing

Many people believe that sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can only be transmitted through sexual intercourse. While the risk is generally lower than through sexual contact, certain STIs, like herpes and syphilis, can be transmitted through intimate kissing, so it’s essential to practice safe behaviors. Chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhea or hepatitis can’t be transmitted via kissing.

Myth 5: You only need to worry about sexually transmitted infections if you have multiple partners

Anyone who has sex without using a condom is at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection, regardless of the number of people they have sex with. STIs can be contracted through various means, and it’s essential to practice safe sex, get regular check-ups, and communicate openly with your partner about your sexual health.

Myth 6: The ‘pill’ is only for preventing pregnancy

The birth control pill, or the ‘pill’, is an oral contraceptive that’s 99% effective at preventing pregnancy when taken consistently every day. But it serves multiple purposes: it can help regulate menstrual cycles, manage hormonal imbalances, and address health conditions like premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The birth control pill can also make your period lighter, more regular, and easier to predict. It is a versatile and essential component of reproductive health that goes beyond pregnancy prevention, but it’s important to always seek advice from a health expert or doctor first. Many women choose not to take birth control pills due to the potential side effects that come with them, like nausea, headaches, weight gain, and mood changes.

Myth 7: An intact hymen is a sign of virginity

The belief that having an intact hymen is a sign of virginity is deeply rooted in many cultures but is completely false. A virgin is someone who’s never had sex. The hymen is the thin tissue that stretches across at least part of the opening of the vagina in most girls at birth. The presence or absence of an intact hymen is not a reliable indicator of sexual history. Some women are born without a hymen, and some with a very small one. Hymens can vary greatly in structure, and can be stretched or torn through various activities other than sexual intercourse, like practicing a sport. 

Myth 8:  Using a tampon can result in the loss of virginity

As we explained earlier, hymen can stretch or tear, it does not cause a girl to lose her virginity. Any girl or woman who has her period can use a tampon, if she wishes so. Hymens have at least one opening that will allow menstrual flow out of the body. Tampons may stretch the hymen a little bit, but they don’t usually stretch it open all the way. 

Myth 9: Consent doesn’t apply within marriage

One of the most damaging myths about reproductive health is the belief that consent doesn’t apply within marriage. Historically, many societies held the belief that a woman’s consent to sexual activity was implied or even irrelevant within the confines of marriage. In reality, consent is fundamental to any sexual activity, regardless of the relationship status. It is about respecting each individual’s right to make decisions about their own bodies. Consent within marriage, just like in any other situation, is crucial for individuals to feel respected, safe, and in control of their bodies in all intimate encounters. It also promotes trust and intimacy in a relationship.

Myth 10: Reproductive health education encourages promiscuity

A prevalent misconception is that comprehensive reproductive health education encourages sexual activity and promiscuity. Education on reproductive health actually empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their bodies, relationships, and sexual health. It promotes safe practices and helps reduce the risks associated with sexual activity. Access to information and services related to contraception and family planning helps prevent unintended pregnancies and reduces the risk of unsafe abortions, maternal and infant mortality. Reproductive health education also fosters the development of healthy, respectful, and consensual relationships, promoting communication and emotional well-being.

Myth 11: Sexual education is inappropriate for young people

The misconception that sexual education is unsuitable for young people often stems from cultural and societal norms, often due to a misinterpretation of the intentions and content of sexual education. Comprehensive sex education (CSE) is designed to provide children and young individuals with the tools they need to develop respectful social and sexual relationships. Tailored to their age, CSE takes a positive approach to sexuality, emphasizing values such as respect, inclusivity, non-discrimination, equality, empathy, and responsibility. It reinforces healthy and positive attitudes concerning bodies, puberty, relationships, sexuality, and family life.

To ensure that everyone has the opportunity to make safe and informed choices, it’s essential to prioritize education and seek expert advice when necessary. Follow our Instagram page for more information on sexual and reproductive healthcare.

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