By tabú writer Ana Paulina Valencia
Hero image illustrated by tabú designer Marcy Gooberman
Something about periods can really scare people who've never had one. It's a tricky subject, and pop culture–in which (most) depictions are wildly exaggerated–might have been their only source of information.
This can be a problem if you're dating someone who doesn't know what a period feels like or how to act around someone who's currently shedding their uterine lining. They may have even been advised to "stay away" when it's that time of the month.
The truth is your whole cycle (and not just your period) can have an effect on your physical and emotional well-being, and it's important that you talk about it with your significant other.
If you're dating someone who doesn't menstruate, the following tips might help you ease into the subject, so they can understand you better and (hopefully!) pamper you when you need it the most.
1. Approach the subject naturally. Do it in a casual environment so it doesn't feel like a "big conversation." Maybe mention you're crampy and see where it takes you. Keep in mind that if you're comfortable, they will be more comfortable too.
Remember that if you're sexually active or planning on it, talking about your period is a very significant first step to get into the bigger subjects, like birth control. Besides, there's nothing to be ashamed of! Your period is a natural and healthy process and getting it monthly(ish) means your body is doing its job.
2. Explain what it feels like–and why. This means you have to understand your body and the reasons it behaves like it does. Before ovulation, when your estrogen and testosterone reach their highest levels, you'll probably feel sexy, energetic, focused, and generally great. "Being hormonal" is not necessarily a bad thing!
On the other hand, your premenstrual week might come with mood swings, physical pain and discomfort, and an overall feeling of "blah" caused by super low estrogen and progesterone, and other hormone fluctuations around your period that can make your emotions run wild. Explaining this will make it easier for your partner to prepare with lots of patience, hugs, and comfort food–which everyone knows means less fighting, so it's a win/win.
3. If your partner has questions, answer them. You don't have to be super detailed, especially at the beginning, but let them know you're willing to clarify any concerns they might have. In most cases, your experience will be more important than the biological tidbits, so this is a great chance to help them understand what you go through and how your period affects you.
Though the thought of bringing up your period might sound daunting at first, the benefits of this particular conversation absolutely outweigh any weirdness.
A more open, honest, trusting relationship? Check!
Someone to cuddle with when cramps are making you miserable? Check!
The possibility of a monthly supply of ice cream? Check!
Kinda makes you wish you'd talked about it sooner, huh?