What Should Men Know About Periods?
- A vast majority of men know so little of what menstruation exactly involves, except that it's 'that time of the month' when women bleed.
- Easy Q&A guide to what guys should know about periods.
- Easy ways for men to emerge a pillar of support to women on their menstrual cycle.
According to the scientific journal 'The Lancet', on average, each woman experiences more than 400 menstrual cycles in her childbearing years. Despite being such a regular biological occurrence in the life of every woman, menstruation is rarely talked about openly, and there are a few important things men should know about periods, that they do not.
In nearly every culture all around the world, the taboo surrounding a woman's period has shaped it into a matter of embarrassment, shame and awkwardness - so much so that even women are never encouraged to speak of their menstrual flow or discomfort freely enough.
It's hardly surprising then that a vast majority of men know so little of what menstruation exactly involves, except that it's 'that time of the month' when women bleed. The abundance of funny PMS quotes and memes on women's moody behavior that are shared so widely these days do not exactly help dispel the ignorance.
The following Q & A has been thoughtfully put together to help men be more educated about periods and the resulting changes in a woman's body. When men take the trouble to fully understand what goes behind all that bleeding, it becomes easier to be a stronger pillar of support to the women who are part of their lives.
Menstruation 101- A man's guide to a woman's period
What is menstrual bleeding?
Every month, a woman's uterus prepares itself for pregnancy by thickening its natural lining (the endometrium), in response to increased levels of key female hormones. The thicker endometrium then 'waits' to host an embryo.
When pregnancy doesn't occur, the hormone levels drop and signal the shedding of this thickened lining. The body then ejects the lining as blood through the vagina.
At what age does a girl have her first period?
Girls can get their first period between the ages of 10 and 15; most girls tend to get it just before they hit their teenage years—an obvious physiological sign that indicates the end of puberty.
What does menstrual blood contain?
Besides blood, a woman's menstrual discharge consists of extra tissue from the uterine lining. It could also contain remnants of the egg that traveled down the fallopian tube into the uterus during ovulation but wasn't fertilized.
What is a 'normal' period?
There are many variations in what is considered to be a normal period. The average menstrual cycle is 24 to 38 days, and a period can last for anywhere between four to eight days. Though monthly periods are a sign that a woman's cycle is normal, each woman has a unique physiological profile that makes their body behave differently.
Some women may have short or very light bleeding; some may have a long, heavy flow; some may have infrequent menstruation, and others may have to endure bleeding every 21 days. As long as there is no sudden abnormal shift in a woman's regular pattern and underlying complications are ruled out, all of the above could be regarded as part of a normal menstrual profile.
How much does a woman bleed during her period?
A woman could experience a blood flow anywhere between 10-80 ml over 2 to 7 days. The average amount of blood that a woman's body expels during her menstruation can be about 35 ml.
Can stress change a woman's period?
When under stress, the human body produces cortisol. In women, an increased level of cortisol can trigger irregularities in their menstrual cycle. Depending on how a woman's body tolerates stress, the cortisol may fuel an aberration in her usual menstrual pattern - early period, light period, or no period at all.
If the stressful phase prevails for an extended length of time, it's not unusual for it to coincide with a sudden halt in her menstrual cycle. It's best to see a doctor after three consecutive cycles of missed periods.
Is period painful for all women?
More than 50 percent of women in the world experience some measure of pain during their period. For some, the period can be extremely painful and made worse with cramps, bloating, back pain, physical discomfort, food cravings, irritability, and mood swings.
Among all these symptoms, cramps can be the most painful to endure. It's caused by a hormone called prostaglandin that is released by the body to help the uterus contract and shed its thickened lining. Besides being painful, excessive bleeding can cause fatigue, dizziness, and poor circulation.
Is PMS real?
Absolutely! PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) is very real and starts a week or even 10 days before the actual period. As reproductive hormones—estrogen, and progesterone fluctuate—they can unleash an array of emotional /p>
However, all of these can be managed ably through lifestyle changes and medication.
How does a woman's menstrual cycle affect her sexual desire?
It's not uncommon for a woman to experience a surge in libido during her period. This can be attributed to enhanced vaginal lubrication and also the increased flow of blood to her pelvic and genital area, which makes those parts more sensitive and engorged.
Typically, though, a woman's sexual desire starts peaking during her ovulatory phase (when one of her ovaries releases the egg) 14 days before her period is set to begin. This is when she is at her most fertile. The increased libido is also Nature's way of facilitating the process of mating.
Can a woman get pregnant during her period?
This depends on her ovulation cycle rather than her period. For some women, ovulation follows shortly after their period. If a woman has sex on the last day of her period, and a persistent sperm lurking in her uterus comes in contact with the egg, there are high chances of her getting pregnant.
This also means that unless men or women use birth control, there are no safe days to have sex without the chance of pregnancy.
How can men be more supportive of women during their periods?
- If your partner is having her period, do not be grossed out with menstrual stains or even the sheer awareness that she is bleeding. There is no such thing as 'dirty' blood. A woman's period is an indispensable and vital force that caters to the process of human reproduction.
- Many women tend to have sore breasts as their body gets into the ovulatory phase. While this would be the time when she is at her most sexual and attractive self, a gentler hand during sex can prevent things from being uncomfortable for her.
- Mittelschmerz is a one-sided pain in the lower abdomen that many women suffer during ovulation when their body releases the egg - typically 10 to 14 days before her periods. The pain is sharp enough to make women irritable, impatient, and emotional. In case that happens, take it in your stride and avoid rolling your eyes. Understand that there is a valid reason for her behavior, and she is not being selfish.
- If you are at the department store or the chemist, buy menstrual pads or tampons for your partner, your sister, or your mother. This is one way to normalize periods, make way for an easy, respectful conversation around it, and erase the shame that has prevailed over it all along.
- In case of period pain, a gentle circular massage around her abdomen and a hot water bottle held to her belly can go a long way in making your partner realize that you are sensitive to the agony that she is going through even if you cannot fully erase it.
Now that you know what guys should know about periods, try and find out how you can help the women in your life when they are on their period. At home, it could be taking over the chores, at work, it could be helping as much as possible with the workload.
Get to know more about menstruation and menstrual hygiene products. Share informative articles on the topics with your partner.
Finally, do not disregard your partner's dissent or displeasure towards any matter by asking if she is PMS-ing. Do not ridicule a pain that you have never experienced.
To know more about menstrual health, click here!
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