Taking a bath on your period isn’t just safe, it’s also good for you. That said, it’s not obligatory if you’re more comfortable with a shower.

Clear your head of any urban myths you’ve heard about bathing or washing while on your period, and read on to see why you can (and should) take a bath when Aunt Flo’s in town, if you so desire.

There are a lot of period myths across cultures that have been passed down through generations Many of them stem from menstruation having once been seen as taboo or dirty. In some cultures, it still is.

There are several myths about what taking a bath can do to your flow. For instance, some people believe that taking a bath or shower in hot water will make bleeding heavier. Another popular myth is that being in water stops your period.

Is there any truth to these? There’s no evidence that taking a bath can impact your flow, but we asked an expert to be sure.

“No, taking a bath cannot affect the flow of your period,” says Lucky Sekhon, MD, a medical expert at Flo and reproductive endocrinologist at RMA of New York.

“Being immersed in water can present an illusion that the flow has stopped when really it is merely diluted due to the surrounding bath water. Your lining of your uterus continues to break down and shed, whether immersed in water or not,” Sekhon explains.

As for the hot water theory, the heat does increase blood circulation. In theory, this could make blood flow more freely, but there’s no evidence that you’ll experience heavier bleeding when you bathe in hot water.

While we’re at it, here are some other period and bathing-related myths. No matter what your grandmother told you, the following are *not* true:

  • Bathing or showering has negative consequences for your period and fertility.
  • You can’t wash your hair on your period, because it will fall out or go curly.
  • You must wash your hair on the first day of your period.
  • When you get your first period, you must wash your face with your first period blood for a lifetime of clear skin.
  • You should avoid going in water entirely during your period, including baths, showers, pools, open water, etc.

Taking a bath during your period has a few benefits, the most important of which is hygiene.

While some period and bathing myths sound harmless, their impact on menstrual hygiene can have potentially serious health implications.

Practicing good hygiene while you’re on your period can help prevent skin irritation and infections, including:

It’s also a good way to prevent funky odors down there.

Hygiene aside, taking a bath during your period offers other benefits, too, like relaxation.

A hot bath can help you unwind and relax tense muscles, providing some natural relief from cramps and other period symptoms, like headaches and low back pain. Taking a hot bath before bed can also help you sleep better.

Heat therapy to treat period cramps isn’t new. Applying local heat can relax your abdominal muscles and reduce tension, which may help with other period pain, like backaches and headaches.

Heat can also increase blood circulation in the pelvis. This can help reduce blood and fluid retention, which takes pressure off the nerves in the area, resulting in some pain relief.

If your periods affect your poop and cause constipation and gas, that increased blood flow may also help get things moving again. And since we’re talking constipation, a warm bath can help if you have hemorrhoids, which are a common side effect of constipation and straining on the toilet.

What about it? Sure, it can be a little unsettling to sit in a tub of bloody water, but period blood isn’t just straight blood. It’s also not “dirty”. It actually contains very little blood and is a combo of other vaginal secretions and cells from the uterine lining.

If you’d rather not soak in it, there are ways to keep your bath from becoming a literal bloodbath, like wearing a tampon or a menstrual cup or disc while you bathe.

If you have heavy periods or would just rather take a bath on your period, a shower is a great alternative.

A tampon or menstrual cup or disc can keep blood out of your shower if you’d rather not deal with it. But, just like peeing in the shower, bleeding in the shower is typically NBD. Any blood that comes out will just make its way down the drain with the water.

Taking a bath on your period is safe and may actually help some of your period-related symptoms. If the idea of soaking in a tub while you’re bleeding gives you the heebie-jeebies, you can always take a shower instead.

At the end of the day, good period hygiene can keep you feeling (and smelling) fresh and help prevent skin irritation and infections.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.