Discussing that time of the month with your partner might seem like the perfect recipe for awkwardness, but with a bit of courage it can be as easy as 1-2-3.
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.
- Approach the subject naturally. Do it in a casual environment so it doesn't feel like a "big conversation." Maybe mention you're crampy or that you have a period headache and see where it takes you. Keep in mind that if you're comfortable, they will be more comfortable too.
Remember, there’s no shame in talking about your period or the changes in your body! It’s a natural and healthy process and getting it monthly(ish) means your body is doing its job. Plus, talking about your period openly with your partner is a significant first step to get into other important discussions, like birth control or sex. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your period yet, consider whether it might be better to hold off on any decision to become sexually active until you and your partner can communicate openly about these topics.
- Explain what it feels like and why people experience periods. (Still learning? We’ve got you covered!) Everyone experiences periods differently, so this could be helpful to talk about—even with your menstruating pals. When talking about this, 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, 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—something we all want and need during PMS.
- 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. Kinda makes you wish you'd talked about it sooner, huh?
Still unsure about broaching the subject with someone you care about? Try sending them a copy of our Free Period Guide as a basis for learning and discussion.
To download in Canada, please click here.
Hero image illustrated by tabú designer Marcy Gooberman