Men and Menstruation: Periods 101

This is a series of posts for men out there that have questions about menstruation and aren’t sure where to turn. You could say, we’re putting the MEN in Menstruation

After some frank conversations with the men in my life about periods and my ambitions for this blog, it’s become clear that many men are in the dark when it comes to menstruation.

From gender separated education in which girls learn about their cycles (if at all!) and boys, well, don’t, to persistent myths surrounding menstruation in our culture, many men are missing out on the fundamental facts about periods and our bodies.

As we know, periods are a vital part of human reproduction and for many people form a central part of our (roughly) monthly rhythms and flows. Through better period education, men/ people that don’t bleed could foster a greater level of empathy for menstruators and understand how to become better allies in these conversations.

So, let’s start with the basics! This first post will talk you through what happens to the body during a menstrual cycle. Later in the series I will be explaining key terms, answering questions and providing more fact-based learning on periods for those that want to know.

Thanks to The Vagina Museum Twitter feed for introducing me to this 1946 Walt Disney produced ‘The Story of Menstruation’. I’ve chosen this as the first video as it’s not only good, it has interesting cultural and historical value. Made in partnership with period product maker Kotex, this video is believed to be the first film to explicitly say the word vagina in it and offers an interesting resource for learning the basics.

Whilst the second half of the video that encourages women to smile and wear make-up on their periods is pretty dated, the main section does a really good job of explaining the monthly cycle in a clear and non-judgemental way.

For the time period I was totally impressed with this video. Aiming to give factual information about menstruation in a time when periods were taboo, it’s a wonder that Disney made such a video!

If you want something a little more modern there’s a few options. This video from Always, a period product company, is quite good. Although it advertises products at regular intervals, which is distracting, it’s only three minutes and explains the basics clearly without the 40’s gender stereotyping of the Disney version above!

There is also this next video from Ted-Ex that provides a more scientific approach. It explains more around how menstruation has evolved and why we menstruate as we do. If you are a more scientifically minded person this could be for you!

Many of these resources tend to down-play period pains and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), I share them as an introduction to the basics of our cycles and will be covering more around the variations and problems that menstruation can throw at you later on in the series.

For now, here is your first Periods 101! For further information try checking out the NHS website. I chose videos today as a quick introduction on this post but of course there are plenty of other resources out there!

Tell me, what questions do you have around periods? What resources have you found helpful? Comment below to join the conversation.

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