Men and Menstruation: Things Guys Should Know

Men and Menstruation: Things Guys Should Know

Gentlemen, this article is for you. We women know you have questions about menstruation (and so do we sometimes, so you’re not alone!) and how to navigate the emotional roller coasters, terminology, hormonal fluctuations, what you should and should not say-you name it. To get a truly accurate picture, you really need to communicate with your partner or other female in the picture (e.g., your daughter, sister, mother, close friend) to get the personal lowdown. While that may be an awkward conversation at first, we applaud you for making the effort. We really do.

Here are a dozen things (and this isn’t the end of the list) that men should know about menstruation and the menstrual cycle. Please feel free to ask us questions-but you may want to wait until our period is over.

Read about natural relief of PMS

Average is not gospel. Although the average menstrual cycle lasts 28 days and the actual menstruation time (bleeding and symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, back pain, sore breasts, headache, cramps) last 3 to 7 days, these numbers are not set in stone. Every woman is different, and every month may be different for the same woman as well.

Cramps really suck. Have you ever had someone kick you in the groin and you curl up into a ball? Well, menstrual cramps can be that bad. They are real, painful, and can last for days. Please be patient with us during this time.

Emotions are all over the map. We may cry during a deodorant commercial. A video of a kitten playing may send us into a sobbing fit. It’s not about you or the commercial or the cat; it’s about fluctuating hormones and balance. Again, be patient. Mood swings do get better. Soon.

We are still strong, capable women. Even though we may cry when we see a puppy or be irritable when the coffee isn’t hot enough or experience road rage on our drive to the office, we are still fully capable of getting stuff done.

Accidents happen. Although we hate to admit it, sometimes accidents occur and we bleed through our clothes. Sometimes we are prepared but other times we are not. So there may be a time (or two) when we ask you to step in and do a store run (see “Buying feminine products” at the end of this article).

Food cravings can be overwhelming. A few days (or weeks!) before menstruation begins, food cravings kick in. The desire for French fries, ice cream, chocolate, donuts, and other junk food can take over. We know it’s not healthy for us and you reminding us probably won’t help.

Sex drive is unpredictable. We may want as much sex as possible or we may ward you off with a string of garlic and a cross. Pay attention to the cues, and again, don’t take it personally.

Having sex during menstruation can relieve cramps. Although this tends to be true for most women, not all women want to engage in sex while they are bleeding. But if we do and you’re game, it can be a very special time.

Bloating is real. Before and during menstruation, most women experience bloating. This means our favorite clothes don’t fit correctly, we are uncomfortable, and we’re carrying around a few extra pounds of water weight. We don’t need to be reminded that we look puffy.

Menstrual blood is more than blood. The blood women release during menstruation is actually the walls of the uterus, also known as the endometrium. That’s one reason why women frequently see clots of blood in the toilet during this time.

We get tired. Easily. Many women need additional sleep (and naps) during menstruation. So if we fall asleep during a movie, don’t take it personally.

Breasts are tender. A woman’s breasts tend to be especially tender during menstruation. Please be gentle or stay away.

Read about sanitary pads and tampons: a history

Buying feminine products

On a final note, sometimes guys are asked to make a purchase of feminine products (i.e., pads and/or tampons). Understandably this can be an uncomfortable situation, but if you man up and ask the following questions of the female in question, you will be best prepared to complete the sale just in case she doesn’t have the exact packaging available to hand to you to help with your shopping experience.

For pads:

  • What brand should you buy?
  • Should the pads have wings or no wings?
  • What thickness should the pads be?
  • Which absorbency should you purchase?
  • Scented or unscented? (unscented is less likely to cause irritation). Editor’s Note: Scented products are chemically based and we don’t suggest using these products so close to this area of her body because it absorbs the chemicals so easily.
  • Is it okay to purchase another brand if the preferred brand is unavailable? (get the name(s) of those alternatives)

For tampons:

  • Should the tampons have an applicator (which are available in plastic and cardboard, we prefer cardboard since it is biodegradable)
  • What absorbency should you purchase?
  • Scented or unscented? (unscented is less likely to cause irritation-see Editor’s Note above)
  • Is it okay to purchase another brand if the preferred brand is unavailable? (get the name(s) of those alternatives)

Editor’s Note: We have covered the chemicals and plastics in feminine hygiene many times and we have even lit pads on fire to demonstrate the difference between organic cotton products and conventional products. Please do you female friends and family a huge favor, buy a brand like Natracare. They are one of our partners and they are a brand we fully trust.

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Deborah is a freelance health writer who is passionate about animals and the environment. She has authored, co-authored, and written more than 50 books and thousands of articles on a wide range of topics. Currently, she lives in Tucson, Arizona.