One way to reduce the stigma around menstruation is to talk more openly about it with the people closest to us, who otherwise might not understand. Here are some helpful strategies for how to explain a period to your boyfriend or any non-menstruator.
To start, keep in mind that menstruation is a completely normal and natural process. While many of us grew up feeling a lot of shame around our periods, we should talk about it openly and it shouldn’t feel taboo.
To keep it simple, we can apply an ABC approach for how to explain a period to your boyfriend. Acknowledge your experience and what phase you’re in (different phases of the menstrual cycle come with different challenges, physically and emotionally). Be open to questions – judgement free. And take time to convey your needs.
A – Acknowledge your experience.
Maybe you’re comfortable and already in touch with your cycle. It is a completely normal process and doesn’t have to be a big deal. But if it is for you, it can be helpful to start by sharing your experiences with someone you’re close to.
Before talking to your partner about “that time of the month”, take time to get to know your own cycle. Based on which phase you’re currently in – menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, or luteal – your needs will change, and so might your ability to convey them.
It’ll be easier to broach the topic if you’re feeling calm and confident – like during your follicular phase, when menstruation is fresh in your mind, but you’re out of the woods in terms of mood swings and painful cramps.
B – Be open to questions.
Talking about your period can be an intimate thing. Our cycles are unique to us, and it can be important to be aware of what our personal experiences are before opening up about them. Cycle tracking helps to chart emotional and physical symptoms – all month long.
When it comes to talking to your partner, be open to questions and remain non-judgmental. They might not be as well-informed. No question is a stupid question. Use this as an opportunity to get to know each other better.
C – Convey your needs.
Take note of what kind of support you could use during your period, as well as throughout the month. For example, some people experience anxiety and irritability right before their period, but also around ovulation.
Maybe you know you need some space, or you’re extra tired and would appreciate someone taking care of dinner and supporting an early bedtime. If you’re more anxious at certain points throughout the month, opening up about it ahead of time can help make discussing the feelings in the moment easier.
And if you’re not ready for that, maybe it’s as simple as letting them know that by day 2 of your period, you’ll be craving something sweet and a night in with a favourite movie.
Getting more comfortable with your own period experience is always the first step in sharing it with others. And the more we talk about and reduce the stigma around menstruation, the better we can function together with dignity and respect.
Check out this script series from self-proclaimed Hormone Hype Girls, The Balanced Beyars covering how to explain a period to your boyfriend throughout the phases of your cycle. They share scripts for every phase; menstrual, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. Each phase is unique, and each script is tailored to expressing your needs for that phase.
- Weschler, Toni. Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 20th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health. Updated, William Morrow Paperbacks, 2015.