Myths about Menstruation


When half the world’s population spends at least 10 years of their life menstruating, and on any given day there are 300 million people menstruating worldwide. It is then overwhelming to also know that for at least 500 million women and girls[1] it is a major challenge to maintain their menstrual hygiene in a private, safe, and dignified manner. Many lack access to: education about periods, adequate and affordable products, as well as safe and clean toilets and washrooms to manage their periods. Imagine having no access to a pad or tampon, no access to a toilet at home or at school, in your local health centers or at work, or the toilet that is available isn’t segregated, it doesn’t have doors that can be locked, or it has no means of disposing of your used sanitary wear. There is no soap or water to wash your hands, let alone wash your reusable pad or cup. On top of this you have no money for, or access to, pain relief medicine. Pain is often one of the most overlooked yet commonly debilitating aspects of a period. Your options and freedom to travel become limited. It holds you back from education, training and earning a living but also from visiting friends, meeting up with family and simply going about your daily routine with confidence and dignity.


At Just a Drop we have heard first-hand that girls are powerless to manage their menstrual hygiene at home and at school. It often results in school absenteeism, girls leave school less educated with lower grades and limited training, and in turn, they have fewer economic opportunities, which maintains gender inequalities as well as reinforcing the poverty cycle they’re in. But we have also heard that the challenge girls and women face is often less obvious than simply the availability of latrines and period products. They also face barriers in societal norms, cultural taboos, and belief systems. Too often, menstruation is believed to be impure. Furthermore, these taboos, misconceptions, and negative attitudes surrounding menstruation create a dangerous silence around periods, resulting in unhygienic and unhealthy menstrual practices, shaming, and even gender-based violence.

Some of the myths and taboos that have been shared with Just a Drop through our global programs so far include:



  • Girls should not cook for their families when they’re menstruating
  • Girls should not take part in church affairs when menstruating its seen as unclean
  • Girls when menstruating should not mix with other people
  • You should not attend church service when you have periods as you are usually considered impure.



  • The blood that leaves the woman during menstruation indicates that she is sick.
  • Bleeding during menstruation implies that the woman is dirty.
  • Menstruating is a dirty thing. Girls and women who have periods should be isolated.
  • No showering or washing your hair when menstruating
  • When menstruating, No Sports Should Be Done


In the communities within which Water for Cambodia (WFC) works, barriers to accessing both information about MHM and supplies/services prevail.  Taboos and cultural beliefs are widespread, for example:

  • Girls must not work hard or jump during their periods, 
  • 1st periods should be kept a secret as there is the perceived (and real) risk that someone can do ‘bad things’
  • Cold water and coconut water should not be consumed, and no chilli.  
  • Girls are not allowed to take a shower during menstruation as showering brings bad luck.  
  • Underwear cannot be put outside to dry, it needs to be hidden.
  • Girls often wash their faces with their menstrual blood as it is believed that it will give them nice skin. 
  • They are not allowed to farm as it is believed that the fruit and vegetables will die.


In terms of knowledge and preparedness for the first menses, girls normally do not know about it in advance, they are scared and surprised when they have their first menstrual period. There is a knowledge gap between rich and poor, with more urban and wealthier girls being more prepared.  Moreover, in the rural areas, some girls may have their first menstrual period later, it may be delayed to late teens due to poor nutrition and therefore a link to poverty.  It is paramount that girls are empowered with the information they need to understand the changes that their bodies will go through and what to expect.  Likewise, boys (and men) should also be aware of MHM, be able to talk about it more freely and to support the MHM needs of women and girls within the household, community, and school. 

United Kingdom

1 in 3 women and girls here in the UK feel inconvenienced every month and just over a quarter worry they might leak. About 20 percent of women dread their period each month.[2] Here we see that negative and harmful myths about menstruation restrict women all over the world, including here in the UK.


  • You can pass out from period blood loss.
  • Women on their period are likely to be attacked by sharks.
  • Exercising during your period is bad for you.
  • People can tell when you’re menstruating.
  • You can’t go swimming on your period.
  • You shouldn’t have sex on your period.
  • You shouldn’t wash your hair during your period.


 But you can help. Just a Drop's work on menstruation education and training ensures that these myths are prevented and that women and girls are allowed to live in peace and comfort during their periods. Donate now and you can help to be the difference these girls need. 


[1] FSG. (2020). Advancing Gender Equity by Improving Menstrual Health, Opportunities in Menstrual Health and Hygiene