The world is inside out, the sun revolves around the earth, and the Loch Ness monster is real.
People have believed some astonishing things in the past, yet some of the most curious myths to ever grace the pages of history were about women and their bodies. Born when superstitions were rife and women were viewed as inferior to men, some of these misconceptions still prevail today.
Let's take a tour of the weirdest, wackiest and most terrifying myths ever told about women and, while we're at it, let's prove them wrong.
1. Ancient Amazonians cut off one breast
A Greek historian from 490 BC claimed Amazonians cut off one breast to improve their archery skills. But no single Amazonian art rendering depicts a one-breasted archer. Breasts don't interfere with a woman's ability to get the job done. Case closed.
2. Victorian doctors invented the vibrator to ease hysteria
Many people still believe the vibrator was invented by Victorian doctors to treat hysteria, but Victorians considered masturbation a health danger and discouraged it. The vibrator was, in fact, invented by a Victorian doctor, but as a pain-relieving tool to get rid of boring old muscle aches. Women just figured out a better use for it.
3. Vaginas should smell like a bouquet of roses
It's time to put this one to bed. Fact is, good bacteria protect your vagina against microorganisms by making it slightly acidic. This may give it a naturally acidic or musky scent. Vaginal odor may also change with your cycle. Of course, odor present with other symptoms may be a sign you need to see the doctor, but in most cases, it’s perfectly normal.
4. Getting a job will dry out a woman's vagina
Vaginas do just fine in the workplace. The real story with vaginal dryness is that it's typically caused by hormonal changes that thin vaginal walls and reduce the number of secretion cells. Things like menopause, depression, smoking, stress, douching, or low arousal before sex may also cause vaginal dryness. Having a career definitely does not make the list.
5. Your vagina never changes
Sex, pregnancy, childbirth, birth control, and menopause all have an impact on how our vagina looks and feels. Change with age includes reduced pelvic floor strength, a decrease in vulvar skin thickness, vaginal dryness, change in the pigmentation of your vulvar skin—even pubic hair can go gray. It's all par for the course!
6. Women have equal representation in clinical trials
According to scientists, women are routinely excluded from clinical trials "due to the complexity of the menstrual cycle." Yet they present different symptoms, respond differently to medication, and have a higher risk of death from certain diseases. Luckily, there are many brave women determined to change this narrative.
7. Sex stops after menopause
Menopause usually occurs in women in their 40's and 50's but can start earlier. This doesn't mean sex stops after menopause. Many postmenopausal women may find themselves feeling more confident than ever and having the best sex of their lives. We think it's time to embrace the post-menopausal glow.
8. A doctor invented the speculum to improve women's healthcare
False. The speculum was designed so male doctors could exam women's vaginas without touching them. Shortly after, the tool became controversial because society thought it would compromise women's morality. Police even used it to exam prostitutes suspected of STDs. Luckily, a San Francisco-based women-led company is finally rethinking this 170-year old device.
9. Women and men reach their sexual peak at different ages
According to legend, men and women have magical ages when they hit their sexual prime before falling into a sad decline, and they never align. This myth dates back to sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, but it's well-known that consenting adults can enjoy sex at any age.
10. The clitoris is a pointless little thing
The female clitoris is composed of two pairs of internal erectile chambers and measures roughly 5 inches long. Get this, inch for inch, women have as much erectile tissue as men, with around 8,000 nerve endings.
11. You need to wash out your vagina
This one still makes us cringe. In the early 1900s, women resorted to Lysol as douche. Despite doctors warning against it, women today still think they have to wash out their vaginas when in reality, douching can actually offset the vagina's natural pH and put it at risk of infection. Washing the external area—aka the vulva—is still a smart move, provided that the ingredients are safe and pH balanced.
12. Periods are dirty
Girls and women in certain parts of Nepal are kept in isolation, often in the dark, during their periods. Some ethnic groups in India banish women during menstruation, and nearly half of the girls in Iran think menstruation is a disease. Girls in many regions have to miss school due to periods. Clearly, there's still work to be done to ensure that periods are finally seen for what they really are: a healthy and normal part of life.