The majority of men reading this article will already be in a rush to quickly flick through (yes, you be woke man) or have already lifted their eyebrows in outrage (ok boomer!). But if you think it’s not essential for you to have this conversation, wake up to the cacophony of 2020.
My team and I have launched a sanitary pad for heavy flow, and have deep dived into types of menses, PCOD complications, blood-clot expulsions, age of menarche, odour control, fibroids and flow-frequencies. Simply put man, if you feel awkward to talk about it, you don’t understand it.
My wife suffers from PCOD. For 16 years, I thought, ‘How bad can it really be?’ After stuffing a pile of used sanitary napkins in the garbage for it to stay in; for the first time I thought, Huh?! How?? Later when I asked to check my wife’s used pad for how a clot looks, she freaked out and called me a perv! That showed me that we have a long road to traverse to start having open conversations. There cannot be any talk of equality, awareness, or education, until we stop censoring the biological truth of half our population.
Let the menses mediation commence:
KNOW: You need to know the basics. You must know why the body releases blood. Why every month. This isn’t the place to rehash the basics. GO, take a refresher. We’ll wait.
CHOKE: No matter how woke or prepared you will be, you will choke. There’s no shame in it; you are fighting decades of social conditioning.
You are going to feel awkward; just power through while maintaining eye contact. Speaking is half the battle; that’s why all life-coaches ask you to vocalize your dreams about a fancy car and Thailand vacays. Say it loud. PERIODS.
NO ONE KNOWS IT ALL: I’ve freaked out enough women by being too candid by now. So I’ll tell you this, no one knows it all. Women themselves counter with scorn and ridicule when hearing about heavy flow (who uses 10 pads, kuch bhi!!) and regressive practices (what nonsense, who washes their disposable sanitary napkin?). So rest easy knowing that if you come across as honest and well intentioned, that’s all you need.
DON’T SHAME: STOP making ‘monthly’ jokes. There’s being witty, and there’s being rude. Don’t demean women, or condescend their suffering. Don’t trivialise their emotions. Women don’t need you to feel better; they need to know that you know, so they can drop the mask for a damn second,
if they want to.
HELP: Carry spares! Emergency pads take less space than a pack of smokes, or a fat wallet. Keep two and please tell the women in your life that you have spares; give them this modicum of comfort.
My personal journey is littered with examples of me being wrong, surprised and staggeringly shocked. We as men cannot begin to understand what being hormonal is or how debilitating the pain can be. Can you imagine a crotch strain when at the temple with your family? Or expelling blood-clots the size of a Re10 coin? Men are not conditioned for this; a man peeing in his pants is the ultimate insult.
The least you can do is to stop sniggering at PMS jokes, and to stop trivialising the pain and turmoil that menses bring. Most importantly, you can learn more and be patient. And if you are a secure man; please reference it openly and respectfully with your leading ladies. You will be surprised at suddenly how normal it all seems.
For the men who scrolled to the end, the TLDR version is: stop making cheap jokes and stop tolerating them in your presence. A true gentleman never degrades others to prove his strength. You owe it to yourself, to be a true gentleman.