Periods aren’t a fun business for some, but that said, they’re not new either. They’ve been around, well, since Human Erectus has. Despite their omnipresence, much of society is still grossed out by periods. It’s one of those things that we are taught to hide or hush our mouths about because it’s not polite. It can be an especially touchy subject if your partner is grossed out by your period and it bothers you.
If you’re partnered up with a cis man, it’s likely he knows what menstruation is, but he may not understand it. If he grew up with all sisters, he may be period-educated. Men aren’t historically repellant to blood itself; you know, war and football and all. However, vaginal blood is a whole other story. It’s been mythicized and demonized. It allegedly makes women crazy and capable of unspeakable acts. It’s somehow the devil’s sinful evil sauce. As a woman, you know that isn’t true (I hope), but sadly we still live in a period-averse society. We need to keep talking and making strides toward changing that.
So, until that change comes, how do you manage a relationship where your partner can’t deal with your period? Here are some steps to having a positive conversation about your partner’s period aversion.
Identify the Elephant in the Room
What’s bothering you about their actions? Is your partner claiming you’re overemotional, they won’t be affectionate or have sex during your period, or says things outright about the biology of it such as the smell or sanitary item disposal? Does your partner want you to not even mention your period? Once you have identified exactly what bothers you (and this isn’t a time to be vague) figure out how you want to bring the subject up and prepare to have a positive conversation.
Get Your Message Together
Know that you know what is really bothering you, go out and do your research. If your partner can’t understand why your period is seven days long when his last girlfriend’s period was only a light three days, break down the science behind period differences. If your partner won’t do more than cuddle during your period and you’d like to have sex, start a dialogue about it. Give anecdotal evidence that says you’re more likely to orgasm and other men really enjoy the way a vagina is more sensitive, engorged, and warm during this time of the month during sex. Give statistics if they are more logically minded. If you just want your partner to cut it out with the outdated and offensive, “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for three days and doesn’t die,” sort of humor I know every woman is sick of, then say it. Don’t just say, “I don’t like how you act when I have my period.” Make your points clear and exact.
Solution-Based Conversation vs Accusations and Anger
Approach your conversation in a solution-based way rather than firing off accusation after accusation. For instance, if you and your partner don’t engage in sex during your period, say, “I would really like it if we started being more intimate during my period.” It’s a good way to open up the conversation. Some partners assume it’s just a temporary shut-down and never talk about it. If your partner says, “I think it’s gross; I don’t want to,” ask why and talk about it from there. Try to find common ground in whatever your issue is. Create a space to ask questions, discuss feelings, and come to positive conclusions.
To Thine Own Self Be True
Hopefully, your conversation yields fruit. You shouldn’t feel ashamed, dirty, or impure for having a period—it’s biology! If your issue is wanting sex on your period, don’t feel shame about that either! If your conversation didn’t come to any sort of understanding or change, you have to decide if this partner is a good fit for you.
Most of all, take care of yourself during your period. Curate your perfect period time. If that’s rock climbing—great. If it’s a Netflix binge of Handmaid’s Tale—wonderful. Do you during your period. And remember, you have a huge sisterhood of women young and old who are there with you or have been there before; you are not alone (and you aren’t gross either!).