It was a Saturday morning. My best friend from Kolkata had just shifted to a new city – Karnataka – and I was with her to help set up her new rented house. The room was piled up with luggage and scattered items. We both had no clue from where to start. However, I took the first step by asking her to sit in front of the almirah to set up the things while I will pass her the items from the bags.
I was opening the bags one by one and passing her things. It was a normal event – how it should be. With that, I ended up with a bag which had four green packets of pads. I passed those packets to her and she put it in the cupboard.
Now before proceeding, let me give you some background. I am a single child of my parent. I was also a late child. I studied in a boys’ school in Kolkata. Hence, when I was growing up, I was totally unaware of menstruation.
I was a biology student and heard about menstruation in the biology class. But I don’t remember ever seeing a packet of sanitary napkins at my place. However, I had seen the advertisements for sanitary napkins.
I grew up and joined St. Xavier’s’ College in Kolkata. That was the first time I started interacting with girls – before that, I hardly had female friends. With the course of time, I learned all about the “gossips”, “rumours”, “stigmas”, “taboos”, “girl talks”, “bleeding” – all this misinformation about menstruation.
Yes, I have studied in one of the most elite colleges of Kolkata but learned only misinformation. So, it should be clear people’s class background is not the only determining factor in making a taboo out of menstruation
Then time passed and I started to become conscious about the all the taboos regarding menstruation. I also started thinking that there is something wrong in our interpretations. I started discussing menstruation with some of my female friends directly and they were very open about the issue which helped me learn the facts.
Then I took the help of Google and learned about the facts against the taboos. However, I was not very sure about the practical execution of the methods. Nevertheless, I learned about the scientific and physical aspects of menstruation.
So, let me come back to the incident. After arranging her rooms and everything, I thought that I should clarify something for her. I asked my best friend to show me what a sanitary napkin looks. She was not surprised by my question but asked, “Haven’t you ever seen a pad?” I answered, “No.”
She brought out the big packet of sanitary napkins, took out one piece and gave it to me. It looked the same as what I had seen on TV but was wrapped in a paper. I looked at it and asked some questions. Then, I finally asked her how to use it. My best friend clarified the method in simple terms regarding the technique but I was not able to understand it at all. So, I asked her to show me the method.
She unwrapped a sanitary napkin and then placed it inside a pant and explained to me the full method. I learned it. It was an experience which helped me to grow up as a person and also helped me handle many situations later in my relationships.
I shared this story because I know that there are many guys like me who have no idea regarding menstruation. But today you should understand that it is not just a “girl’s thing” and that it is a bodily process.
I will also reach out to the women who are reading this story and will urge them to come forward and talk to their male friends openly about menstruation. To break a taboo, men and women alike should come forward.
Dear men, we will never understand the pain of cramps and the other related issues. But we can empathise with our partners and friends when they need us.
Why should men be aware of menstruation?
Firstly, when we are talking about breaking a taboo then it should be beyond gender. Secondly, the society consists of both men and women hence nothing can be one specific gender oriented.
The practical knowledge of menstruation is important for men because it will help them to understand and to empathise with the society.
“Mood swing”: Men should overcome this cliched idea
Among many other misconceptions of menstruation, one of the most perceived misconceptions is the mood swing. In the time of periods, mood swing happens but it is not the only thing happen during this time and also not every mood swing is related to the periods.
A period is not only a bloody affair
To most men, what I have learned that period is all about “bleeding”. We should understand that the bleeding is the outcome of many physical conditions which take place at that point in time. In this process, hormones play a large role.
Getting knowledge about “period sex”
Anything in our body is not simple. Men have a tendency to relate the menstruation to sex and perceive some wrong ideas. Period sex can happen and it is nothing sin but you should discuss with your partner about it because the problem is not the bleeding. When a girl menstruates the vaginal area become week and there can be some sensations in that part which might increase the action of sex. This can be painful too so the best way to find it out is by discussing with the partner.
Understanding cramps, pressure issues and how to handle them
Cramps and low pressure are two main issues come with as the effect of menstruation. It is important to know the types of cramps and the remedy. Here the remedy is not always medical but also by providing physical comforts. In terms of low-pressure men should know the medicines and also the emergency steps need to take.
Going through all these points we can see that it is not a “girl things”. Menstruation is a physical condition and empathising with this by men is important because that will strengthen our relationship with the friends, partners and even family members.