There are lots of myths and old wives tales about our bodies and about the environment. Natalie aims to make sure you know the facts from the fiction, so you can make intelligent decisions about the world. So here are some myths that I’ve busted for you!
Myth: “You should feel embarrassed when you're on your period, because vaginas and blood are dirty.”
About 50% of the world's population has them at some point and they are one of the reasons all of us were ever born, so why should you feel embarrassed about them? Vaginas and blood are not dirty or shameful – there are fewer types of bacteria in your vagina than in your mouth, and blood is just blood – nobody tries to hide it when they cut their knee, so why should you have to hide that you have a menstrual cycle? It's just silly, a leftover from a time when we understood less about our bodies and women were less respected. Never let anyone make you feel uncomfortable for the natural things that make you female – boys go on about their body functions all the time so there's no need for you to feel you have to hide yours!
Myth: “Pads need to have lots of oil based plastics and super absorbents or they won't protect you.”
This is a little connected with the myth about being ashamed of periods that I just busted, because many feminine hygiene companies play on the fear and shyness that some girls feel about their periods so that they can sell them products that they don't need.
It's not necessary to have something chock full of plastic stuck to your pants in order to be protected. The main reason for this is that it's healthy to change your pads every 3-4 hours anyway, so even if a pad can carry on for longer, you should change it. This is because things can get hot and sweaty, bacteria can grow and at the same time your skin can get irritated by being next to something damp and plastic – kind of like nappy rash!
This is worse with pads that have lots of plastic in them, and can cause something called Intimate Irritation, where your intimate parts get itchy, sensitive and sore - it can be confused for thrush. Actually it's just your body reacting against the chemical materials in contact with some of its most sensitive skin.
So the pads that many conventional companies sell you are “over spec”, meaning they have more super absorbents in them than you could possibly need and which actually have negative effects on your body not to mention the environment.
I use Natracare pads because they are made from totally chlorine, organic and natural materials and because they truly bust the myth. They come in a huge number of varieties – from maxi pads to ultra thin pads with and without wings. No plastic to irritate my skin or pollute our planet. Seems there are also thousands of happy sisters around the world telling me that they work very well for them too!
Since Natracare pads are not over specified like the plastic filled brands, I change my pad every three or four hours and it is healthier this way too.
Those plastic based pads need outing, and don’t let the marketing and advertising messages play on your insecurities – make the right choice for you and for our environment.
For more information on Natracare, the effects of conventional pads on the environment and the potential health costs of some products, go to the Sister’s wellbeing pages.
Myth: “Dieting will make you thin.”
Let me bust this one straight off. Being overweight is not good for our long term health, so we all need to be careful about what we eat and that we exercise regularly to maintain good health and wellbeing. Even thin people can be affected by poor health if they eat lots of high fat and sugary foods, so it makes sense to eat a balanced diet and to exercise each day to keep well and to protect ourselves from poor health.
The diet industry makes masses of money every year, so they're going to claim that they are the answer to all your weight loss anxieties to part you from your money. If you really need to drop some weight because your health is at risk, then crash dieting is not going to work and may even end up making you poorly. Though you may quickly lose some weight, crash diets will in the long term keep you fat and very miserable!
Evolution designed us so we could hold on to our energy stores for hard times when food was scarce! So, in order to survive, our bodies got better at storing fat and using fewer calories. If our ancestors hadn't been able to do that, we Sisters would not be here to worry about dieting! So the only course of action is do what our ancestors did, exercise. Imagine having to chase your dinner!!
So the key to good health is to eat a well balanced diet, and if you can, like me, eat organic food. Exercise regularly and in a way that you enjoy, dancing, swimming, running, playing sport, aerobic classes, skipping, cycling, even walking will do you good as long as you work it until you are out of breath but still able to talk without gasping. In this way, your body can burn the calories that you have eaten, it is a simple mantra “calories in must equal calories out.”
Myth: “Being environmentally friendly takes loads of effort and one person can't make that much difference anyway.”
Hold up there, who said that one person can’t make a difference - ever thrown a small pebble in a pond? Small changes by lots of Sisters will make a massive difference to our earth and our health.
Looking after our environment starts at home and needs us to form new and better eco habits. Most of them barely register on the effort scale, such as rinsing out a can and getting it recycled. New eco habits can also benefit you in other ways, like saving money or getting you fitter - if you choose to cycle or walk rather than get a lift think of the carbon saving!
The Chinese have a saying: “A single raindrop raises the sea.”, and that's a good way to look at it – as an important contribution, no matter how small. It's also just important that if you want something to happen for the world you do everything in your own power to help achieve that, because your own actions are the only ones you can truly control. If you want the world to be a rich, diverse, healthy place you need to do what you can to help it.
My favourite piece of philosophy is from a Native American proverb:-
“Once there was a great forest fire, and all the birds and animals rushed to escape. Little Humming Bird went to the river and collected a drop of water. The other birds laughed. ‘What are you doing?’ they asked. She replied, ‘I’m doing what I can.’ “