8 things women wish men knew about periods

There's so much more to periods than cramps and tampons.

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  • To the men in our lives, we know you tend to shy away from this topic, and it might make you uncomfortable, but we'd like to help with that. Since half the people you live on this world with experience it, (including your wife, girlfriend, sisters, mom and daughters), we thought a little menstruation education couldn't hurt. In fact, hopefully it can make both of our lives better during that time of the month.

  • 1. We don't want you to act uncomfortable

    There's a stigma in society about periods - the less they're publicly discussed, the better. Doing anything else just makes others uncomfortable. But feeling like we have to keep something so natural a secret makes us feel ashamed; no woman likes sneaking around just to slip a tampon in our pocket on the way to the bathroom. Or lying about having a headache when it's really cramps. We know you don't mean to, but when you act uncomfortable about it, we get the message that having a period is something to be ashamed of.

  • 2. We hope you at least know the basic mechanics

    Our bodies do differ, which might make us uncomfortable with the opposite sex's basic anatomy. For you to feel more comfortable about periods, it's helpful to know how menstruation works.

  • 3. Women have different period experiences

    Some women's period lasts three days while other women have their periods for seven days (or more). Cramp severity and emotional changes also vary from woman to woman. Some girls bleed very heavily while others can get away with panty liners the whole week. Women don't want men to assume they know what our personal period is like based on someone else's experience. Understand that it's unique to each person.

  • 4. Periods can cause us severe pain

    While this isn't the case for all women, severe cramping is a common effect of menstruation, and boy, can it bring us to our knees (or the fetal position). Women sometimes describe cramps as feeling similar to labor contractions. Sometimes, the pain can be so severe it makes functioning in normal day-to-day activities extremely difficult. Bringing us a heating pad or hot water bottle, or doing something to distract us from the pain are highly welcomed ways you can help.

  • 5. We absolutely hate being (mockingly) asked: "is it that time of the month?"

    Please never do this. It's not funny, it's demeaning. Period jokes only shame women for something they can't stop from happening.

  • 6. Periods change us physically and emotionally

    There's so much more to periods than tampons and cramps. Women commonly experience increased acne, bloating, mood swings, back pain, tender skin, headaches and migraines leading up to and during menstruation.

    Diana Schwarzbein, MD, explains how (during a woman's period), "There are going to be corresponding fluctuations in other hormones that are definitely going to affect emotions, processes of thought, and physical well-being." We'd love for you to be understanding and patient as we go through several changes.

  • 7. It just makes us feel even worse when you complain about our periods

    We know we're no walk in the park while we're experiencing the effects of a period. We may be a bit more snappy with you than normal or spend our time lying down when there's work to be done, but please don't complain about us while we're going through this extra stress and pain - it'll only make things worse for both of us.

  • 8. We're so grateful when you show us extra compassion that week

    The best thing you can do is show the women in your life a bit more love while we're going through our period. Pick up a treat on your way home (that cliché about girls craving chocolate on their period does have some truth behind it). Show us extra patience while our mood fluctuates. You can even offer to go on quick tampon run so we can avoid driving to the store with painful cramps. In return, we'll be more grateful than you know because you helped make the roughest part of the month more bearable.

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McKenna Park is a staff writer at FamilyShare. She's a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd.

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