At some point while you’re dating, your partner should get her period. A period is when a female bleeds into her underwear for about 5 days (1). If she has a regular cycle, this will happen every month. If her cycle is irregular, she might not get them as often.
When your partner gets her period, it means she is not pregnant 😅 But, it also means she could get painful cramps, painful boobs, diarrhoea, acne and mood swings, and feel bloated. Not fun 🙁 Some girls get very light, “friendly” periods. Some girls get very crampy, painful “mean” periods. Periods can also be affected by her birth control, which I will explain later. Your job is to figure out:
What are my partner’s periods like?
How can I make her feel better?
Bleeding during a period is normal and not optional! The best kind of male partner is respectful, mature and supportive, no matter what. The more you can treat her how she wants to be treated, the better partner you’ll be.
“Ask her what she needs!”
Step 1: Learn her cycle
First, you need to understand what is “normal” for your partner in terms of her period. Each girl’s period is unique to her, and you need to know what to expect. If she uses a period tracking app like Flo or Clue, ask her if she will share her data and login with you. Or find out by asking her:
- Do you get your period every month and how long does it last?
- Do you get painful cramps? Do you take painkillers?
- Do you get anxiety, mood swings, acne or tender boobs too?
- Do you get any mood swings the week before your period (PMS)?
- What types of pads or tampons do you use?
“With a period tracking app, you’ll pick up on subtle mood changes before we do and instead of walking on eggshells and trying to figure out what happened, you can just check the app and be like “Okay, her period is about to start.””
Once you can predict when her next period will be, plan in advance how you’re going to help her if she is sad or in pain. Many girls also experience PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), which is when they get period symptoms, such as mood swings, acne, bloating or irritability, the week before their period starts (2). Not fun! 😊
Here are examples of two different people who have periods, and the symptoms they experience:
Step 2: Find opportunities to help her
What is it like?
Some girls get no cramps at all. Others get cramps that are very painful below the belly button and these last for days.
“My dad described bad period cramps to my brother: it’s like having your testicles violently gripped and then twisted and crushed with no relief for days on end 😱 ”
“There were times I would lay in the foetal position on my bathroom floor in pain.”
How can you help?
- Carry extra ibuprofen pills in your bag or at home
- If she is having bad period cramps:
o Make sure she has taken pain killers
o Find a place for her to lie down
o Help her relax by making her some tea, giving her a back massage or lighting some candles
“Get a heating pad and a thick throw blanket and her favorite snacks.”
“Don’t compare one person’s pain to another! Just because your ex could still go hiking, could exercise and didn’t complain about cramps doesn’t mean your next partner will be the same. She may have cramps so bad she can’t stand up.”
What is it like?
Girls bleed for 2-7 days during each period (3), with more blood in the first day or two. The blood can be anywhere from bright red to dark brown in color, and every period she will lose about 3-5 tablespoons of blood (4). On heavier period days, she might need to change her tampon or pad every two hours during the day. At night, she’ll also be bleeding, which can be inconvenient. Remember, bleeding isn’t optional. Girls have to get pregnant or be on certain types of birth control to stop their periods!
How can you help?
- Buy extra tampons or pads of the kind she likes and uses. Keep some in your bag, locker or at your house.
- If you’re going on vacation, make sure you bring some spare tampons and pads.
- Understand that accidents happen. If your partner stains their underwear, or your sheets, or towels, be understanding. You can wash period blood out of most things with soap and cold water.
“Don’t act like bleeding is shameful and gross.”
“My ex refused to keep a trash can with a lid in the bathroom because he didn’t understand that I needed to dispose of my period products. Happy to say he’s an ex.”
What is it like?
Mood swings mostly happen the week before (PMS) and during a girl’s periods.
“I get very emotional during my period and can cry my eyes out for no reason 😂 ”
“Typically, a week before my period, I eat every fucking thing I see. I want it all. Sex, food, sleep.”
“Periods for some are like an inner mental battle. We get angry and happy and sad and depressed and hungry in the span of 5 minutes. It’s easy to get agitated and frustrated by the sound of you breathing, so we may need to time or space.”
How can you help?
- Check in and ask her how she is feeling.
- Be patient and understanding if she is grumpy or irritable.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it!
“My boyfriend has never ever, not once made a joke or comment that my mood or an emotion was related to my period. No one should do that to a woman. It’s beyond disrespectful, even if a woman is experiencing PMS.”
“Also, chocolate. Provide us with all the chocolate.”
How does your partner feel about having sex on her period? If you don’t know, you should ask her. Whatever her response, your biggest priority is to make sure she is feeling okay. Respect what she says, and obviously never make her feel guilty if she doesn’t want to have sex. It’s her time of the month.
“Not all girls enjoy period sex. It’s a preference, like most things. Some enjoy it, some simply don’t.”
Good luck. You can do this 💪🏽
(1) National Health Service, NHS UK. Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle. Retrieved 18:15, January 8, 2020, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/fertility-in-the-menstrual-cycle/
(2) “Up to 80% of women report having some symptoms during the one to two weeks prior to menstruation. Common symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability and mood changes. These symptoms interfere with normal life and therefore qualify as premenstrual syndrome in 20 to 30% of women. In 3 to 8%, they are severe”. Wikipedia.org. Menstrual cycle. Retrieved 18:18, January 8, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cycle
(3) National Health Service, NHS UK. Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle. Retrieved 18:15, January 8, 2020, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/fertility-in-the-menstrual-cycle/
(4) National Health Service, NHS UK. Periods and fertility in the menstrual cycle. Retrieved 18:15, January 8, 2020, from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/periods/fertility-in-the-menstrual-cycle/