Menstruation is a normal vaginal bleeding that occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle, as the uterus prepares for pregnancy. ‘Vaginal bleeding’, ‘ Uterus’, ‘Pregnancy’ all these are words pertaining to women right, so why bother men? Why should they worry about something they don’t even go through?
Well, humans being social animals have designed such an intricate structure in the society which has interlinked our lives in ways we have not imagined. Right from societal practices, religious beliefs, trust in the existence of a superior being to diseases, crimes and superstitions, humans have been concatenated profoundly. Male and female, whose roles have already been laced into so well by Mother nature in order to perpetuate the population, the bond becomes even stronger among the human species, owing to their needs of companionship and love.
In other words, every man has a woman in his life, who could be anyone from the woman who welcomed him into this world, the woman who stood by him his entire life, a woman who works with him, a woman who helped him achieve his dreams or the woman he chose his life partner. All these are women who bleed. Women who undergo pain and discomfort. Women who feel surges of emotions and need support during their most vulnerable times. Having a menstruating woman in your life compels you yo go through the same rollercoaster she goes through. And this, dear men, makes you a co menstruator. Thus, it is of utmost importance for men to understand menstruation.
Firstly, talk to the woman in your life about her period experience. Communication is the key. This maybe new to them, and to you. But don’t hesitate to make the first move. Make them feel that you don’t believe it is something disgusting, and you are always there to talk about it. This necessitates your own knowledge about menstruation, so that you can be of productive help. Your biology textbook from 8th std. is not good enough! It only talks about the bleeding aspect, but menstruation is much much more. The emotional rushes, the pain and the psychological manifestations are discrete. It could be bloating sensation, breast tenderness, lower backache, nausea, headache, mood swings, urge to cry, food cravings and the list goes on. Also there are a lucky population of women who dont go through any of it at all! Try to find out what the woman in your life is going through and assist her accordingly.
Secondly, though not all, but many women feel lethargic and weak during her periods. Make sure to aid her in her chores (though this has to be done all the time irrespective of menstruating or not, yet just add an extra touch to it during these times!). Buying her sanitary napkins, tampons or menstrual cups must be normalized. Different women find comfort using distinct products. There exists a common misunderstanding that using a cloth during menstruation is a very regressive or unhygienic practice. On the contrary, cloth pads do hold an upper strata in comparison to conventional pads, lest they are washed properly and dried in good sunlight. Make sure your partner doesn’t resort to unhygienic practices just because she is sheepish to hang it in the proper place in your presence.
Now these were just the physical aspects which can be pretty easily taken care of. The genuine problem is the psychological component attached to it. Menstruation is an eccentric play of hormones. A lot of changes perpetuates in the body. This, added to the physical discomfort caused by cramps, tenderness
or the constant reminder of a blood stained sanitary pad can sometimes make a woman cranky and difficult. Dear men, that doesn’t imply that you must distance yourself from her and let her take care of herself. Because this is the time she feels most vulnerable and needs love, care and support. A short heartening conversation, something delicious to relish or your mere presence can make it much more bearable. Her thoughts influenced by her emotions, might go a bit out of tract. Just don’t dismiss it off asking ‘ Are you PMSing??’. She might be PMSing, but that doesn’t mean she is wrong. Listen and converse patiently. Food cravings and mood swings are not unheard of either, but our outlook towards it needs to change.
With all the empowerment going on in full swing, most women now belong to the working class. This means that they have taken up financial responsibility along with the responsibility of the house. But somewhere, the distribution of the workforce still remains to be unbalanced, with more number of tasks still falling to the woman’s basket. In spite of this discrepancy, women continue to excel in their areas of interest. This has led to the wrong notion that now there is no difference between men and women and that both are equal. Yes, both are equal, but no, they are not similar. Men and women are different. Physically, biologically, emotionally and psychologically, they are different. A progressive thinking should not demean this difference, instead should openly talk of theses differences and respect them. Demanding menstrual rights or support is not a victim card played by women, but a reality. No level of progress can undermine the fact that women bleed every month and go through several cyclical changes. This difference should be appreciated.
We wrongly divert this argument into who is the greater sufferer or who is better on the whole. No, both men and women are strong and vulnerable in some aspect or the other. Both of us need to accept this fact and be of support to one another. Menstruation is one such aspect. It is a process that both men and women have to go through together. It is not a ‘woman’ thing….. It is a ‘human’ thing…