Did you hear about the friend-of-a-friend who got pregnant after swimming in a pool with men? Although this is such a common myth that it even created a plot point on Glee, there is no proof that swimming around dudes will get you knocked up. In fact, it is just one of the many women’s health myths swirling around the Internet today.
Sure, some of these folklores are hilarious. Perusing the “Medical Myths” section of Snopes will turn up stories that claim drinking cold water will give you cancer, or that psychopaths can be detected with a single question. Thankfully, both of these stories have been debunked. Enjoy your ice water worry-free.
Though these urban legends might make you chuckle, the spread of medical misinformation is a serious problem. As far as your health is concerned, you want to know the truth – the kind of truth supported by scientific studies and peer-reviewed journals. Sure, some old wives’ tales about health are actually proven truthful, but there is still plenty of misinformation floating around the Internet and (possibly) your social circles.
When it comes to widespread misunderstandings about women’s wellbeing, such stories can be harmful, or even deadly. And in the information age, nobody has time for that. So here is a quick rundown of common myths about women’s health, carefully busted for your convenience.
1Women Are Less Susceptible To Heart Attacks Than Men
Fact: Heart disease is not just a men’s disease. According to a 2013 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States. It accounts for 22 percent of deaths for females of all ages.
Fix: Follow the American Heart Association’s tips for controlling your risk for heart disease, such as managing your cholesterol and quitting smoking.
2Pregnant Women Should Not Exercise
Fact: Many women stay true to their inner badass for the duration of their pregnancy, which includes staying active. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who exercise during pregnancy may enjoy better sleep and higher energy levels. You do not automatically become a delicate flower the second you conceive.
Fix: Talk to your doctor to set up a safe exercise regimen during your pregnancy.
3Antiperspirant Deodorant Causes Breast Cancer
Fact: According to the National Cancer Institute, “more research is needed to specifically examine whether the use of deodorants or antiperspirants can cause the buildup of parabens and aluminum-based compounds in breast tissue.” And even then, they’d need to further investigate whether the chemicals actually lead to cancer.
Fix: The jury is still out on this one, but as of this posting there is no definite evidence that antiperspirants cause cancer. Still, if you want to err on the side of caution here, it’s okay. Apparently, natural deodorant is still pretty good.
4Women Have Smaller Bladders Than Men
Fact: A 1975 study found that both men and women have about 500 ml of bladder capacity, without any significant size difference between the sexes. Although women may take more trips to the restroom, this is due to bladder placement rather than size. In women, the bladder has to share space with the uterus, whereas men’s bladders have more room to fill up without causing as much discomfort.
Fix: When you gotta go, you gotta go. There is no shame in hitting the stalls as often as needed.
5Women's Periods Will Eventually Sync Up
Fact: This persistent myth has yet to be solidly proven. For one thing, there are a lot of factors to consider: How many hours must you spend in the presence of another female to sync up? What defines synchronization -- do your periods have to overlap by a couple of days, or does this means that your cycles occur in lockstep? This whole idea is amorphous and difficult to define.
Fix: Learn more about the facts behind “that time of the month.” Review these period-related reasons to see a doctor. Also, check out these crazy period myths from history to learn more about the misinformation surrounding shark week.
6Women’s Sex Drive Decreases With Age
Fact: There are plenty of women, middle-aged and up, who still have an active sex life. In fact, according to researcher David Buss, women in their middle years may have more sex than their younger counterparts.
Fix: Your libido can be influenced by a number of factors, including pregnancy, medications, and your relationship status. So there is no need to put pressure on yourself to be in the mood all day every day. But if you are concerned that your libido is too low, consider talking with your doctor to find healthy ways to address your concerns.
7It’s All In Your Head
Fact: It sucks, but sometimes gender stereotypes can interfere with your healthcare.
Fix: If you feel like something is wrong, don’t let your healthcare provider just dismiss you out of hand. You know your own body, so speak up or find a doctor who will listen to you. There is no need to suffer in silence.