We Asked 2 Gynecologists Our Most Embarrassing Period Questions

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You know those slightly uncomfy period questions you’ve always been too shy to ask? We got you. We asked two OB/GYNs, Maria Sophocles, M.D., a gynecologist and sexual medicine specialist at Women’s Healthcare of Princeton and Monte Swarup, MD, FACOG, a board-certified OB/GYN and founder of the leading vaginal health information site Vaginal Health Hub, for the deets on period poops, tampon lifespans and whether or not you should avoid the ocean while menstruating (because, sharks).

1. Can Sharks Really Smell Period Blood? Should I Not Go in the Ocean During My Period?

“Sharks have a powerful sense of smell and can smell [significant amounts of] blood from hundreds of yards. Still, there’s no reason or evidence that going in the ocean while on your period leads to shark bites.” – Dr. Swarup

2. How About Bears? Should I Postpone a Camping Trip if I’m Menstruating?

“No. A woman was attacked by a bear in 1967, and, because she was approaching her period, a myth began that this is why the bear attacked her. [But] absolutely you can camp on your period.” – Dr. Sophocles

3. Why Do Fibroids Cause Heavier Periods?

“Fibroids cause heavier periods because they press against the uterine lining and this causes more bleeding than would usually occur, and this bleeding doesn’t stop since the uterus won’t contract normally. Fibroids also cause the growth of blood vessels, which will contribute to heavy bleeding as well.” – Dr. Swarup

4. Why Do I Poop More When I Have My Period?

“This is because substances called prostaglandins are released by the smooth muscle of the uterus, and these cause many reactions in the body, including the relaxation of the smooth muscle of the bowels, causing more bowel movements and even diarrhea.” – Dr. Sophocles

5. How Often Do I Really Need to Change My Tampon?

“Every four to eight hours, [but] try not to leave one in more than eight hours.” – Dr. Sophocles

sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...