How to talk to boys about periods
How many times have we heard a boy say, “ew”, when periods are mentioned or felt that we have to hide our sanitary towels to avoid embarrassment?
With the ongoing stigma of periods, along with misinformation, it can feel hard to tackle the subject of periods with boys and men.
I once got told by a young man that girls only have periods once a year and that they only last 12 hours (if only, huh?) and this was information given to him by a male teacher. While this may have been a joke from the teacher, misinformation can be both hurtful and harmful.
First of all, I want to point out that this is not the case for all men. Many men in my life have been open talking about periods, which is something that will hopefully become more common for all of us one day.
Periods are nothing to feel embarrassed about, especially as they are completely natural, yet there is still a stigma around the subject. By discussing periods openly with boys and men, this stigma can be broken down.
Here are just a few tips on how to discuss periods with boys:
- Use scientific language and give accurate information. Using the correct terminology shows that there is nothing to be embarrassed about and can encourage boys to actively join in with discussions. There may be a few giggles at the start of the conversation, but with persistence, boys will soon become normalised to the subject
Open the discussion to boys asking questions. How else are they meant to learn if they don’t ask?
While it might feel strange at first to answer questions about periods, in the long run this will stop the spread of misinformation.
- Teach them to be understanding during a woman’s period. Boys may think that women are ‘just being moody’, without actually realising all of the hormones going on and the pain throughout their menstruation. By discussing the symptoms that come along with a period, insensitive comments can be eradicated and lead to your periods becoming an easier time of the month.
- Encourage boys to ask women what they can do to help while they are on their period. Some women may want to be left to it, while others may be grateful to have another person to go on a sanitary towel run from the shops or to simply have someone to talk to. Also, encourage boys to talk to women about how they are feeling during their period, as pain can be an isolating experience that can be lessened if there is someone to listen.
- Use online resources. If you are not comfortable yet openly discussing periods, put on a YouTube informational video. Not only will this educate, but it will open up a discussion that can feel less awkward for you.
By talking to boys and men about our periods, we are working on erasing the stigma. Take things at your own pace and remember, there is nothing to be embarrassed about! We cannot control our periods, but we can control the information given about them.