There are way too many people out there who don’t know anything about women’s health – women included. Lately, this fact has been made much more obvious, mostly thanks to the Trump administration. I’ve seen more arguments about abortion, birth control, and the female sex life on my social media feeds in the last few weeks than ever before, and I’m positive I’m not alone. That, unfortunately, is just the beginning. An alarming amount of women and men don’t really know what’s happening in a female body because of the crazy myths so many believe about women’s health. Honestly, it’s kind of scary.
This kind of attitude also isn’t very surprising. When it comes to teaching students about women’s health, programs typically cover periods, breast cancer, pregnancy, and some basic vagina/boob stuff. Many girls never learn what discharge is or that it’s normal, how female orgasms can be so much more complicated than male orgasms, or even that it’s par for the course for all vaginas to look different. These are basic facts about women’s health that we should know, especially those of us who identify as women, and it’s terrifying to think that there are grown people walking around out there who don’t know any of it.
This Ask Reddit thread about the worst myths people believe about women’s health is eye-opening. You shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t know this stuff, but you definitely should educate yourself about it now.
The Vagina Should Smell and Taste GoodThere are a disturbing amount of people walking around out there who assume that a vagina should smell good and taste good - and if it doesn't smell good, if it has some sort of odor, the girl must be dirty, skanky, or just plain gross. This is ridiculous. User IfWishezWereFishez explains: "One that I find particularly harmful is that a woman's vagina is supposed to smell fruity or floral or something. If not then she needs to douche to make herself smell nice. A vagina is part of the human body, what part of the human body just 'smells nice?' Literally none. And douching can cause yeast infections so it shouldn't be encouraged." Yup, pretty much. It's not even just dudes who think this about vaginas - a lot of women perpetuate the stereotype too. Listen, your vag isn't always going to smell great. Sometimes your period makes it smell, sometimes it's normal discharge, sometimes it's sweat, sometimes it's just your body odor. It happens. It's not gross. Stop freaking out. Source: iStock
Terrible Period Cramps Are Totally NormalThere's this image of a woman on her period we all know and have heard of a million times: a girl lying in bed, clutching her lower stomach, crying about her cramps. This makes it seem normal. It is not. User Robinspeakeasy explains: "Uh...no, it's not. Normal bodily functions aren't supposed to hurt you. If they were, you would rather starve than eat and hold in your pee than urinate. We would never talk about stomachaches as being a normal symptom of digestion...so how come we talk about periods as if they should hurt? This myth is damaging because it keeps a lot of women in unnecessary pain. First, because normalizing menstrual pain makes it easy to dismiss. That's why there is so little medical research on treatments and why it can take years to diagnose some women with menstrual disorders. And two, it makes women unaware of options to prevent or manage it. In my case, I used to get horrible pain and thought it was normal, until someone told me I should add more iron to my diet. It worked. A plate of salad every day throughout the month eliminates cramps for me. I never thought a nutritional change could work better than a painkiller." Yup. Painful cramps are normal - they're cramps, they'll hurt. But taking a pain reliever like Tylenol or Aleve should help, and they should go away after a while. If nothing is helping and you're in so much pain that you can't move, you need to talk to a gyno. Source: iStock
Women All Get Their Periods At The Same TimeUser withbellson makes a good point, saying, "Menstrual synchrony, the thing all my friends used to love to compare notes on, is not a thing. What gets me about this one is people still use it to say shit like "oh you women are all mad at the same time, your periods must be synced up!!"" I'm sure you've all heard, at some point, that when women live together or spend a lot of time together, their periods sync up. You've probably heard of that because of old research that said it was true, but doctors aren't so sure anymore. It's probably not a thing. Source: iStock
A Vagina Gets Loose After Having A Lot Of SexUser sodabrothel says one of the worst myths about female health is, "Probably that a woman's vagina is always 'tight' when she is a virgin, but can get 'loosened up' by having too many male sex partners. So stupid. First of all, vaginas are like rubber bands; they stretch while aroused and during intercourse to accommodate a penis, and return to a narrower, shallower size when dormant. Thinking that sex 'stretches out' a vagina is like thinking that eating permanently stretches your mouth. It doesn't. I can't help but laugh at these douche canoes who brag about their female partners who are so 'tight,' they can barely get it in. Probably just means your partner wasn't turned on by you. Way to go. That was the best explanation I've heard about this absurd AF statement. So many men and women believe that vaginas should be tight, and that "loose" ones means a girl has had way too much sex. It's a way of slut shaming and bringing girls down, and there's no truth to it at all. Source: iStock
Only Sex With Lots Of Different Guys Makes A Vagina LooseBefore we move on from this topic, let's talk about the other part of it that makes no sense as user liveerasnettim says: "The idea that having sex with multiple guys makes your vagina looser, but having sex with one guy has no change." This LITERALLY ruins the entire argument we just discussed. To think that sex with different penises would loosen a vagina but just as much sex with the same penis wouldn't is just plain dumb. Sorry. Source: iStock
Everything Happens In The Same Hole Down ThereAs user BeckyDaTechie points out: "All genital functions DO NOT use the SAME HOLE." There isn't just one hole that we pee out of, bleed out of, and have sex in. There are three holes down there: the anus, which you already should know about - that's where you poop from. The urethra is the other hole, this is where your pee comes from. The vagina is the third hole, and that is where a penis (or something else) goes in when having sex. I know, I know - why do we constantly refer to your down there area as a whole as a "vagina" if the vagina is actually just one hole? I... don't have an answer for that, except to say that language is weird sometimes. I guess that when talking about our genitals, it became easier to just refer to the whole thing as a "vagina," just one word, instead of all the different things. Grab a mirror and look at yourself down there so you can really see what's going on! Source: iStock
You Can't Use Tampons If You're A VirginWhen I was younger, I believed that you couldn't use tampons unless you had had sex before. Why? Because everyone I knew thought that too. User crossfitgirl94 says, "My grandma definitely believed that using a tampon before marriage meant you weren't a virgin. Which is why my mom always told me that I could use tampons as soon or as late as I was ready! She was forced to wear pads all the time until she basically moved out." See how this kind of thinking gets passed down? Tampons can be used by anyone. People think that you can only fit one in if you've already put a penis there, but that's ridiculous - first of all, tampons are (usually) much smaller than a penis, and second, the whole process is completely different! Source: iStock
Birth Control Pills Only Prevent PregnancyOne of the most frustrating things about the fact that birth control pills are so hard to find is that they do so much more than just prevent pregnancy. User GinSmokeLies says, "Lately there's been an argument on Twitter about whether birth control should be covered by insurance (ugh) and I am astounded at the number of people who don't know it can be used to treat other conditions, and especially those who, upon being told this, will insist it isn't true." Politicians and many other people seem to think that the Pill is only for sex, and it isn't! The Pill can help with acne, bad PMS, irregular periods, and a lot more. Please educate yourselves! Source: iStock
The Labia and The Vagina Are The Same ThingAgain, anatomy of a vagina is not everyone's strong suit, even when it comes to women. User turingtested said one of the worst myths is, "The confusion about the difference between labia and vagina. Not to be crude, but your labia are your lips, and the vagina is the pocket/hole. You shouldn't use harsh soap on any of the regions, but you can cleanse your lips and taint with mild soap to stay fresh, or give them a thorough working over with warm water. You should never use soap or water in your vagina. Some women get confused by the terminology and don't clean their labia, leading to unpleasant smells, smegma build up, and the possibility of infection." Source: iStock
Women Can Control Their PeriodsWhen I first heard that there are some people out there who believe women have some sort of control over their periods, I laughed because I thought it was a joke. It wasn't. Then I wanted to cry. User AlwaysDisposable says, "I've seen it mentioned on a few threads about guys who thought/think women can turn their periods on and off. Like...we choose when to have it..." I get that guys don't know everything about periods - I don't pretend to know everything about a penis or balls, so whatever. But come on. They should know the basics, and that includes knowing that menstruation happens to all women and is definitely not something we can turn on and off. Source: iStock
Women Can Prevent A Pregnancy During Sexual AssaultAs user pierogi_party says, one of the worst things ever said about women's health is this quote: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." No, this wasn't said by a child or someone who has never been educated before - it was said by a politician, Republican representative Todd Atkin. He literally said that he thinks women can stop pregnancy from happening when she gets raped. This was in response to someone questioning his pro-life policy when it comes to sexual assault victims. This is quite literally one of the top five dumbest things I have ever heard another person say in my entire life. It is completely absurd. There is too much to say about how utterly ridiculous it is that this man is a politician, so I'll stop now. Source: iStock
Teaching Women About Safe Sex Will Make Them SluttyUser Thomzzz says one of the worst myths is, "That providing education/access to reliable birth control will make women 'promiscuous.' That the HPV vaccine (Guardasil) is unnecessary unless you're sexually active ("why would I give my 9 year old THAT vaccine?!")" Yup! People really think like that! Source: iStock
Which one of these myths do you think is the worst? What did we forget to add? Share in the comments.