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Unless you are a female, it is unlikely you understand a woman’s menstrual cycle.
From PMS (Pre-menstrual Syndrome) until the monthly period stops, a woman’s body goes through many hormonal ups and down. These hormonal fluctuations can affect her life, mood and state of mind.
For many women, it’s as easy as pie. I know a lot of women who don’t experience PMS and, luckily, don’t feel any pain during their periods. Some women—like me—have mild pain before and during the menstrual cycle. And for others, the pain experienced can be intense enough to trigger the nervous system.
From my own experience, and on behalf of the women I personally know (and all the women who go through severe menstrual pain), I can at last say the famous line often used by men:
It’s me; it’s not you.
To put your mind at rest, there is not much a man can do. In my experiences and those of my female fellows, men try their best to alleviate the pain their women go through. And we do appreciate it quite a bit, but we often fail to tell our man what not to do.
To start, I would suggest that men do a simple visualization when their woman’s period is drawing close.
Imagine her period like a campfire. The more you stack wood onto it, the bigger it will grow. However, if you leave it alone, the fire will stop burning by itself. And most importantly, don’t come close to it, as there is a big possibility you’ll burn yourself. To prevent this from happening, I advise constructing a fire ring with stones and staying at least three meters away.
I hear men asking, “What should I do?” Sadly, I can’t be of help when faced with this question, but I can absolutely offer a list of what “not to do” when I metamorphose into a wild and unrecognizable creature.
1. Keep distance.
When I’m going through severe pain, get more stones and make the fire ring bigger. Whatever men try to do—patting, cuddling or stroking—it’s advisable not to. My body during my menstrual cycle is similar to burnt skin. I can feel every tiny touch in a quite unfathomable way.
In order to prevent an accidental slap, I highly recommend you just sit next to me without any physical contact. If you touch me by mistake when I’m in pain, my hormones will appreciate a quick and short apology.
2. Don’t keep too much distance.
Yes, I know. It’s a bit confusing, but it gets easier with time. As I mentioned above, it is highly advisable to keep your distance, but don’t keep too much distance and physically disappear.
I have to admit that there is a mysterious connection between our hormones and ego when we’re in pain. Many women—including me—seek attention, presence and love when our uterus is shedding its line. Hence, to keep me satisfied and away from delusional depression, you should physically stay with me.
Remember though, no physical contact when I’m in pain.
3. Step away from the line, “I understand.”
Maybe some men do. Some were raised with sisters who went through intense periods that introduced those men to the hell through which a woman goes every month. However, whether you truly do or not, I suggest not claiming it when I’m rolling over in bed from pain.
A funny story I’d like to share without any intention of scaring you: A friend of mine once hit her boyfriend with the ashtray that was next to her bed. (Relax, nothing happened.) He only told her, “I understand what you’re going through.” And so, she picked up the ashtray and threw it at him screaming, “you don’t f****ing understand!”
Hence, to put an end to possible flying ashtrays, I recommend using, “I am here,” instead of, “I understand.”
4. If you did something wrong, keep it to yourself.
Every man knows what pushes his girlfriend’s buttons. Whatever it is, though, if you do it during my period, it is advisable to keep it to yourself until the end of the cycle.
Let me be frank here. I rarely consider something to be right when I’m in intense pain. Everything men did, are doing and will do is, in that moment, “wrong.” To avoid terrible consequences, I think you should choose the right time to tell me about any sort of wrongdoing.
5. Don’t tell me I look tired.
One thing I know for sure is that I don’t look at my best during my period. I also don’t need anyone validating it.
If I have messy hair, stay in my pajamas or have a hideous pale face, I recommend staying away from any words that describe that state. I assure you I will take it the wrong way.
Realize that my hormones loathe any comments made during my menstrual cycle—even positive ones, as I will think my man is lying to make me feel better (which in turn will only make things so much worse).
6. Refrain from disapproving.
It’s simple: Approve of everything. As a woman who goes through severe menstrual pain, I unintentionally fight with people around me when I’m on my period.
Fights are easily triggered by the oscillation of hormones. Therefore, to prevent nonsense fights I encourage men to practice tolerance and approval. Even if I suggest robbing a bank and kidnapping 15 innocent citizens, approve of it, and then talk to me about it later.
7. Don’t bring up any serious issues.
I offer men a second visualization that might be helpful. Imagine your woman has one hideous mask that she only wears five days a month. Behind that mask though, lies her true, beautiful self. However, as long as her mask is on, avoid bringing up any discussions that need serious counseling.
Keep dire issues or discussions to the end of my menstrual cycle. Trust me, if you are looking for an authentic and logical solution, don’t look for it when my uterus is contracting.
8. Refrain from giving solutions.
I know men do their best to help us decrease the pain and moodiness we go through; however, I have been there more than you, and I have literally tried every solution. Thus, if I hear more solutions, which I’m sure are coming from a good place, it is quite possible I will lose my temper.
It already wears me out to have tried all the possible means of comforting myself. Hence, it is better if you do not suggest any more formulas or guides. (But really, we appreciate it.)
I believe my most critical advice is for men to be patient and tolerant. I acknowledge that women’s menstrual cycles can be as hard for our partners as they are for us.
In a way, it’s even harder for a man, as it is almost impossible to understand what his woman needs.
The best advice I can offer is, stay with your woman, affirm that “you’re here” and provide her with what she asks.
Believe me, once I finish my cycle, I will go back in time and appreciate every single gesture you made.
Here’s a few life lessons on how to start the day out right:
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Toby Israel