Women's Health Myths You Can Stop Believing Right Now

Photo: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul

Myth #1: Women Who Live Together Tend to Menstruate in Sync

Any woman who's lived with sisters or in a dorm or in an urban starter apartment is familiar with the concept behind the McClintock Effect, the hypothesis that menstruating women secrete pheromones that subtly alter the cycle of other women in close proximity. Many scientists dispute this claim (as well as the existence of pheromones), says Patricia Barnes-Svarney, a science writer who's published more than two dozen books, including the recent Why Do Women Crave More Sex in the Summer?: 112 Questions That Women Keep Asking-and That Keep Everyone Else Guessing. She says that when researchers from the University of California decided to resolve the matter once and for all by asking 186 Chinese students to track their period for one year, they found no true menstrual synchronicity. So, you might be wondering, why did you always seem to have your period at the same time as one of your roommates? Barnes-Svarney explains that most women's periods last five to seven days, which is a sizable chunk of time. The potential for random overlap is very high--especially among groups.

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Myth #2: A Woman Doesn't Have an Adam's Apple

We've always imagined this neck bump as a ball of cartilage, and we've assumed that men--and only men--had it, because of an excess of testosterone. Turns out we were only half-right on both counts...which means we were completely wrong. The Adam's apple is actually caused by the bulging of a set of cartilage plates that are held together by tissues and muscle fibers, which protect the vocal cords. Women have these plates, too, but the bulge is more prominent in men for two reasons: Testosterone causes the larynx to grow rapidly during puberty, deepening men's voices and pushing out the vocal cords. More important, says Barnes-Svarney, the thyroid cartilage that forms the bump meets at an average angle of 90 degrees in males, and 120 degrees in females. "The greater the angle, the flatter the plates," she says. Need more proof of what some scientists call the "Eve's apple"? Barnes-Svarney suggests humming; the spot where you feel the most vibration is your voice box, covered by the pomme de cartilage.

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Myth #3: Babies Are the Main Reason a Married Woman Tends to Gain (and Hold Onto) Weight

Researchers who studied women's weight gain over 10 years found that while most women tended to put on pounds over time, it was nearly as likely to be due to being in a relationship as to having a baby. In a study from University of Queensland (which adjusted for several variables), an average woman weighing 140 pounds would gain 20 pounds if she had a baby and a partner, 15 pounds if she had a partner only and only 11 pounds if she had no partner and no baby.

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Barnes-Svarney says that this may be because women tend to match their eating style to their partner's, consuming more calories than they need, and also because women in a relationship tend to socialize with their partners at bars and restaurants, where it's easy to overindulge.

Keep Reading: 3 More Women's Health Myths You Can Stop Believing Right Now

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