Author Archives: Jacqueline Harrison

About Jacqueline Harrison

Jackie is a board certified Physician Assistant. She was born and raised in Scottsdale Arizona. She completed her undergrad at ASU (Go Devils!) where she attained a BS in Biology. She then moved to Roanoke, Virginia where she completed her Masters of Physician Assistant Studies at Radford University Carilion. She has 2.5 years of experience working in OB/Gyn. She is very excited to join Arizona Gynecology Consultants and serve the community she grew up in. Learn More About Jacqueline Harrison 

Debunking Common Myths About Women’s Health

This entry was posted in Ask An Expert and tagged on by .

For most of recorded history, women’s health has been the subject of countless misconceptions and harmful misinformation. Even the healthcare industry spent precious years mystified about many aspects of women’s health – and too many haven’t been forthcoming about the truth. For that reason, even now, as we enter a digital age ripe with information and staffed by more women healthcare providers than ever before, it can be difficult to know who to trust and where to turn when you need answers to your biggest questions.

To help, Arizona Gynecology Consultants is prepared to debunk several common myths and misconceptions about women’s health. Read on for the truth, as well as some helpful advice when you need answers.

Myth: Penetrative Sex on Your Period Is Bad for You

Simply talking about periods can be hard enough for women. To make matters worse, the many misconceptions about periods mean it’s unsurprising that discussions about period sex for women are viewed as taboo. Even religious texts frequently label a woman as “unclean” during her period.

The truth is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong or unhealthy about having sex on your period. Just keep in mind that not everyone will be comfortable with doing so, and you should inform your partner first. Depending on what a period looks like for you, it will likely be a little messier than normal, but as long as all involved are comfortable with it, you can have penetrative sex during your period.

Myth: Douching Helps To Clean Your Vagina

Women’s cleanliness myths extend further than period misconceptions. For centuries, the vagina has been regulated in a way that suggests that it is dirty when in reality, it is nothing of the sort. The great thing about the vagina is that as long as it’s healthy, it’s incredibly effective at self-cleaning. Unfortunately, society has long held the misconception that douching is the way to achieve a clean, healthy vagina.

The truth is that douching can actually be unhealthy for your vagina and may expose the body to health risks and vaginal infections, including bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and excessive yeast growth. Douching strips the vagina of its protective bacteria, leaving it exposed to the conditions listed above. You don’t need to clean inside the vagina; instead, just gently cleanse the outside of your body with warm water and gentle, unscented soap.

Myth: You Can’t Meet With Your OBGYN on Your Period

Meeting with you OBGYN

Many women believe they can’t keep an OBGYN appointment if their period arrives early or stays beyond its original schedule. This isn’t necessarily true.

The truth is that it’s fairly important to keep any appointments you have scheduled with your OBGYN – and whether you keep one on your period is dependent on a few factors. Consider your comfort level first, then think about where you are in your menstrual cycle. If your flow is heavy, it might not be viable to have a Pap smear performed, but if you’re on the final day of your period and your flow is light, there should be no reason to feel obligated to cancel your appointment. If you’re unsure, it’s best to contact your doctor and see what their recommendations are based on your specific needs.

Myth: You Need to Have a Pap Smear Every Year

For a long time, Pap smears were recommended every year for women over the age of 21. However, this is no longer the automatic recommendation.

The truth is that how often you need a Pap smear is based on your own health history. If you’re at risk for cervical cancer or you’ve had HPV, it may be recommended that you have a Pap smear more often. Keep in mind that having a Pap according to your doctor’s recommendations can help prevent the development or advancement of cancer.

Myth: I Don’t Have Symptoms, So I Don’t Have an STI

Sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections are notoriously contagious, and having sex just one time, with or without protection, can leave you with an unwelcome infection. While you may have read all about the unfortunate symptoms of STIs back in sex ed, it’s important to know the truth behind the most common of them.

The truth is that just because you don’t have symptoms doesn’t mean that you don’t have an STI. Many STIs are asymptomatic, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HPV, which are all commonly present without the person experiencing any symptoms. Chlamydia, in particular, only creates symptoms in 10% or fewer male carriers; for women, the number is a little more varied, between 5 and 30%. That’s why chlamydia is often called a silent infection.

It’s incredibly important that you’re honest with your OBGYN so that they can determine what’s best for your health. Keep in mind that your doctor may not always test for STIs when they do your regular Pap smear. That’s why it’s so vital to discuss any concerns and your sexual history so that you can determine the best course of action together.

Myth: My OBGYN/Healthcare Provider Will Judge Me

Since the topic of being honest with your provider has come up, it’s important to recognize that many women are hesitant to seek healthcare or provide full details of their concerns for fear of being judged. We wish that bias didn’t exist, but it is still a reality for some to believe that their OBGYN is silently judging them.

The truth is that your healthcare team is here to help you, and regardless of your question or concern, we can assist you. Our goal in debunking women’s health myths is to ensure more people get the help they need, regardless of their circumstances. That only comes with honesty, compassion, and understanding on the part of both doctor and patient.

Myth: Extreme PMS Symptoms are Normal

PMS has often been the butt of jokes, but it is a reality for many people who experience periods. Symptoms like mood swings, food cravings, headaches, fatigue, and breast tenderness are common and typical of PMS.

The truth behind more extreme PMS is that you may be experiencing PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Sufferers of PMDD experience more intense mood swings, painful breast tenderness, and debilitating fatigue, in addition to the other symptoms. They may also experience depression and anxiety. If these symptoms become too difficult to manage on your own, your healthcare provider can help answer questions and offer treatment options that may help you.

Myth: Wearing a Bra Can Cause Breast Cancer

Can wearing a bra cause Breast Cancer?

For many years, the myth linking breast cancer and bras has been perpetuated. The misconception was linked to a suggestion that wearing a bra, specifically an underwire bra, restricted the lymph fluid of the breasts, causing cancer. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The truth is that there is no clinical link between wearing bras and cancer. Whether you wear a bra on a regular basis or not, it is important that women 40 and older have regular mammograms to screen for breast cancer. While breast self-examination is important, mammograms can reveal many otherwise silent breast cancers.

Myth: Feeling Severely Depressed After Giving Birth Is Normal

We’re not here to tell you it’s wrong to feel the “baby blues” after delivery. In fact, up to 20% of women may experience mild postpartum depression, and it’s much more common than people realize.

The truth, though, is that while a little bit of the baby blues post-delivery is incredibly common, postpartum depression can be serious. Feelings of anxiety, anger, hopelessness, insomnia, restlessness, mood swings, and panic attacks are just some of the common signs of postpartum depression. If your post-birth symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks, you should seek advice from your healthcare provider. Postpartum depression is manageable and treatable.

Myth: You Cannot Get Pregnant After You Start Menopause

Pregnancy after Menopause

Menopause is a signal that you’re at the end of your childbearing years. It coincides with the waning of your menstrual cycle and the fluctuation of many hormones in the body. However, just because you’ve begun menopause doesn’t mean that you cannot get pregnant.

The truth is that unless you start menopause and do not experience a menstrual cycle for twelve consecutive months, you may still be fertile. If you’re simply irregular or start and stop your periods, you may still be able to get pregnant. If you’re having sex and want to prevent pregnancy, keep taking your birth control or use another contraceptive.

Myth: I Only Need an OBGYN for Pregnancy

Many people may think that the only reason they need to see an OBGYN is because they’re pregnant or have a pressing gynecological concern, such as STIs. However, regular visits are important to maintain your health.

The truth is that the screenings, preventative care, and discussion about your gynecological concerns mean that regular visits to your OBGYN can help you stay ahead of your gynecological health. It’s important to get comfortable with your team for those instances when the truly pressing concerns do occur. The best way to do that is by scheduling regular visits.

Myth: I’m Getting Older, Of Course, I’m Not Interested in Sex

Too often, women’s sexual needs are written off as they age. It’s taken as fact that as women age, their sexual desire diminishes or goes away altogether. While a loss of sexual desire can be common for women – and you shouldn’t feel as if you’re unusual if you do experience diminished desire – it’s not always age-associated.

The truth is that loss of desire can stem from many sources, like depression, hypothyroidism, social influences, and even medication. If you’re concerned about your diminished desire, speak to your healthcare team, and they can help you determine the best course of action. There’s no typical amount of desire or sex you should be having at any age, so it’s all about what you’re comfortable with.

Women’s Health Myths Debunked

Women’s Health Debunked

We know that it can be tempting to listen to all the myths you’ve heard over the years. From harmless ideas like “certain foods can help you get pregnant” to more serious myths like “no symptoms means no STI,” misconceptions can run the gamut from silly to dangerous. Instead of perpetuating these claims or worrying about your gynecological health, consider speaking to your healthcare provider.

Here at Arizona Gynecology Consultants, we have an intimate knowledge of the women’s healthcare industry, and we aim to debunk and demystify the myths surrounding women’s health. We know how important it is that women have access to comprehensive healthcare throughout their lives, including gynecological care. We provide a safe, nurturing environment that employs clinically tested methods as well as new technology and innovative techniques.

Whether you’re ready to schedule your regular checkup or have a gynecological concern, look no further than Arizona Gynecology Consultants. Choose from one of our locations across Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa to schedule your office or telehealth visit today. Reach out to us and take your health into your own hands.


Resources :

  1. World Action on Salt and Health. (2010). Serbia: “Action on salt” to prevent heart attacks and strokes. https://www.worldactiononsalt.com/media/qmul12/processedextracted/wash/docs/news/2010/serbia_jun_10.pdf#page=12
  2. Gillespie, C., Kuklina, E. V., Briss, P. A., Blair, N. A., & Hong, Y. (2008). Prevalence of hypertension and controlled hypertension — United States, 2003–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(Suppl 3), 144-148. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0889854507000861
  3. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Chlamydia – CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed). https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia-detailed.htm
  5. UpToDate. (n.d.). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): Beyond the basics. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/premenstrual-syndrome-pms-and-premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder-pmdd-beyond-the-basics
  6. Pearlstein, T., & Steiner, M. (2014). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Burden of illness and treatment update. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, 39(4), 291. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4184992/
  7. Sharma, V., & Sharma, P. (2020). Postpartum Depression: Diagnosis and Treatment. StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519070/
  8. Moreland OB/GYN Associates, S.C. (n.d.). Gynecology myths. https://www.morelandobgyn.com/blog/gynecology-myths
  9. Oregon Health & Science University. (n.d.). Mythbusters. https://www.ohsu.edu/womens-health/mythbusters
  10. University of Utah Health. (n.d.). Patient education. https://healthcare.utah.edu/womens-health/patient-education
  11. Ochsner Health. (n.d.). Women’s health myths: 11 facts to know. https://blog.ochsner.org/articles/womens-health-myths-11-facts-to-know