Why Boys Need to Know About Menstrual Cycles

It will make them better men.

Photo by J. Cain. That’s me and the boy. YEARS ago.

My son and I talk about almost everything, and I mean everything. If he asks me a tough question, I answer as honestly and as age-appropriately as possible. I don’t lie. I don’t sugarcoat. I don’t skirt the issue.

From when he was little and would follow me into the bathroom, like toddlers do, he would see The Red. He’d say, “Why do you make red pee-pee?” I said something like, “A woman’s body tries every month to make a baby. If she can’t, then there is red but it is not pee-pee.” This satisfied him at 3 years old. As he aged, I added more information. He would usually signal in some way that he’d heard enough. Occasionally, I would gently push passed that comfort zone and provide a piece of critical information.

This is a diagram of a uterus, fallopian tube and cervix I drew to give my boy better information about where the babies actually are when gestating and where all that period blood comes from. I saved this because I’ve never drawn a nicer eggplant in my life. :-)

When it comes to menstrual cycles, the last thing I want is for my son to be grossed out or put his hands over his ears and shout “la la la la la I can’t hear you la la la la!” Instead, I want him to appreciate a little bit of what women go through each month and be compassionate instead.

Around here, sometimes a kid forgets to flush. No one gets freaked out, we just flush the toilet but then one day, the water was a light shade of pink and my son reacted. I said, “You don’t even flinch when someone leaves a floater in there but now you are grossed out by pink water? Get over it.” He did.

My cycle has always been a heavy one. For the first few days, it is best to just stay home and close to the bathroom. This is a hereditary thing. To be honest, I’m one of the few women in my family, on my mom’s side, that still has a uterus as she’s pushing fifty years old. My mom had hers removed at 29. I’m not sure if being the one in the family with the longest surviving uterus is something I should be proud of but back in the day, I guess they just yanked it out if you were done with procreating and had a really heavy period.

Nowadays there are options for women with heavy cycles who are done with having babies. Doctors seem to resort to a hysterectomy less. Yay. That being said, I still have mine and it is getting wiley. Hello, peri-menopause. How you doin’?

Back to the point. I talk with my son about a bunch of stuff, my menstrual cycle being one of them. He is not weirded out when I ask him to grab my tampon and pad stash bag and put it in my purse. He is not weirded out when I bleed through my clothes but he helps me instead. He understands that I am in pain or uncomfortable. He gets it.

I do this because I want him to be compassionate and loving toward any girl or woman he encounters who is going through that time of the month. Especially now that he is a pre-teen. Instead of ridiculing or avoiding, I would prefer he be accommodating. He was bummed out one day because I had to postpone an activity due to my period. He was upset but then I asked how he thinks I might be feeling since I cannot do the activity either. He realized that I might also be upset at missing out on some fun. #empathy

We have a trip planned soon. We are traveling down to the sunshine state to attend a family memorial. My husband’s family doesn’t seem to do funerals but memorials since the family is spread out all over. Easier to arrange a wake/party of sorts to give people time to plan it than expect folks to fly in from the four corners on a moment’s notice.

Before, when things were regular and predictable, I could actually plan my vacations or events around my period so that I wasn’t horribly inconvenienced by flow the equivalent to a stuck pig and ruin my trip. Nowadays, not so much. I’m going through The Change.

For me, it is a long, slow, “Am I pregnant or just getting old” time filled with uncertainty. It is reverse puberty that is stretched out for over a decade thus far. I’ve been in peri-menopause for 11 years. I gotten pregnant twice. Thankfully, very few hot flashes.

Our trip was approaching. I hadn’t gotten my period and I really didn’t want to be on the coast at a memorial and worried about bleeding on the chairs or in someone else’s bed. It’s bad enough having a Godfather Moment in my own bed, but then the signs started. I felt the pangs. I’ve been at this crap for 33 years, I know the deal. Yet, it was only 18 days ago that I had the last one. I was hoping they would get farther apart and lighter each time but alas, it is not to be. Yet.

I had mentioned this to my husband and my son was in earshot. My boy chimed in that he thought it would truly suck that I would be sidelined by this thing I have to go through, sometimes upwards of 2 to 3 times a month. Aside from the memorial, we are going to check out some stuff that my hubby used to do. This area of Florida was where they would spend part of their summers, my hubby and his sis. Call us creepy but we are combining a short vacation with a family memorial. I call it frugal.

It started, thankfully, and the first few days were like they always are: a hot mess. Literally. A hot mess. It’s October and over 90+ degrees here and it shouldn’t be like that. Just everything about a heavy period in the heat is horrible. Anyway, it should all be over by the time we leave for this thing we gotta do. My son knew that I had started my period without asking or hearing me say it. He saw the signs. He said, “Yay! I’m glad that you will more comfortable.”

If that doesn’t make a woman (and a mother’s) heart sing, I’m not sure what does.

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