Sex + Dating

Everything Men Need to Know About Periods

Periods
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

Periods are confusing.

There's no one blueprint for what they look or feel like. They vary from person to person -- excuse us, they vary from WOMAN to WOMAN -- and can last any length of time, at any strength in velocity, and have any number of emotional, mental, and physical effects on a woman's body.

So you can imagine how incredibly difficult it is for men, who don't have the fortune of living through this wonder every month, to understand what they are, why they happen, and what it means for them. Because let's face it: Behind every great woman with her period, there is an average man who likely doesn't have a clue as to what the hell is going on.

Here, we break down the fun intricacies of periods in a simple, easy-to-follow guys' guide to periods.

Fun intricacy #1: Cramping

What it is: When there is no sperm to fertilize an egg, the uterus will contract to expel its lining. Strong contractions can press against blood vessels, causing cramps. Additionally, the body releases hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which are also associated with pain and inflammation.

What it means for a girl: Lots of Advil, maybe a heat pack or cannabis suppository, and the uncomfortable sensation that your insides are playing tug of war

What it means for a guy: Um, nothing. Remember, periods only happen to WOMEN.

Fun intricacy #2: Bleeding

What it is: As a female's body prepares for pregnancy, the uterine wall will thicken in anticipation of carrying a baby. If you are not pregnant, over time the body will shed this thick wall along with blood. A female can lose anywhere from 1 to 6tbsp during her flow.

What it means for a girl: Ugh, SO much. It means unnecessarily expensive trips to pharmacies to pick up tampons and panty liners. It means no white clothing for a few days. It means constantly changing your sheets, towels, panties, veil of confidence, and stamina. It means shoving cotton up your vagina or gluing it to your undergarments. (To all of which we say fuck it, just by Thinx.)

Basically, it's a real party that is super exclusive with an invite list consisting of just a gal and her underwear.

What it means for a guy: Again, nothing. Don't forget -- you don't bleed from your genitals, so it really isn't your business or problem.

Fun intricacy #3: PMS

What it is:PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome, which shows up roughly a week before menstruation starts while a female's hormones are in flux. This can cause a wave of symptoms that include but are not limited to: fatigue, bloating, nausea, headaches, acne, cold or flu-like symptoms, and mild mood swings or depression.

What it means for a girl: Sometimes it can mean intense ice cream cravings at midnight. Sometimes it can make you a little weepy if you see an old person crossing the street. Sometimes it makes you just slightly more tired and slightly more invested in Shark Tank reruns. But historically, it means women have been marginalized and called "crazy" or "wild" creatures who have no control over their brains, resulting in a long history of sexism, misogyny, and discrimination in the workplace and on the home front.

What it means for a guy: Great news again, lads! You don't get PMS, which means you never, ever have to worry about your feelings or opinions being trivialized based on the false assumption that you are not in control of your emotions, actions, or words! Hooray!

Fun intricacy #4: Contraceptives  

What it is: A method or device serving to prevent pregnancy. This includes but is not limited to: birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDS), condoms, diaphragms, abstinence, or the endlessly risky but widely practiced "pull-out method" which is just about as effective as crossing your fingers and hoping.

What it means for a girl: A lot. Making the decision to protect your body and use a contraceptive can sometimes be time-consuming, expensive, and uncomfortable.

A lot of commonly used methods include hormones, which means a woman may have mental and/or physical side effects that can last a few months or hang around for the duration of the contraceptive. Some women set alarms to remind themselves daily to take their birth control pill. And if a woman settles on the "convenience" of an IUD, just know that they made the choice to pay someone to place a piece of metal or plastic permanently inside their uterus so YOU don't have to deal with the willy-nilly of wearing a condom.

YOU'RE WELCOME.


What it means for a guy: This is important, so pay close attention. IT TAKES TWO PEOPLE TO MAKE A BABY. That means you and your partner are responsible for ensuring you are covered if you want to have consensual sex and do not want to make another human being while doing so. If you do not know whether your partner is using a contraceptive, ask her. If her answer is NO and you do NOT want to have a child together, use a condom or DO NOT HAVE SEX. Don't forget, babies are made by having unprotected sex. We can't stress this part enough.

*Special fun sex tip: To protect yourself from STDs while still having intercourse, use a condom. All other contraceptives listed here do not prevent or cure STDS.

And that's it. The miracle of life, in one adorable listicle. The No. 1 thing to remember is that periods are unique and different for each female, and her reproductive system belongs to her and her alone. It is your job to respect the women in your life, respect their bodies, and never, ever, ever, ever blame their feelings on PMS.

Seriously. Stop doing that.

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Jamie LeeLo is a writer, stand-up comedian, and host of her own late-night talk show, Brunch Night With Jamie LeeLo. You can always find her hanging out on the street waiting for ice cream and taco trucks to go by. Try to keep up with her on Twitter and at JamieLeeLo.com.