This article originally appeared on VICE Germany
Every 28 days or so, the female body sheds its old uterine lining, therein marking the start of a new cycle in which a new uterine lining is generated. At the same time, follicles begin to form in the ovaries which eventually turn into an egg. The egg ultimately leaves the ovary during ovulation and, if it gets fertilised, it nests in the fresh, comfy uterine lining. If it doesn't get fertilised, it detaches and is eliminated in a bloody torrent along with the old uterine lining. This process repeats ova and ova and ova.
This, dear men, is what we call "a period". I know the subject – fuck, even the word – makes many of you slightly uncomfortable. And I know that there are others who fetishise it. And then there are the Donald Trumps of this world who seem so terrified by the thought of uterine lining that they freak out and end up accusing female journalists of "having blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever" live on national television.
The thing is, a woman's period is so natural, your mum couldn't have made you without it. Did I just make you think of your mum's period? Great. We're getting somewhere. Here's a guide to periods for men so you can finally stop crying.
Menstruation is amazing because it's basically a stream of blood that lets the world know how fertile the female body is. You bleed a bit in exchange for being able to give life – doesn't that make up for all the other crap? Well, not really. It's not that simple. You can be completely infertile and still be subjected to crippling monthly menstrual cramps. Regularly shedding your uterine lining doesn't necessarily mean that ovulation is actually occurring, either. That rumour that women can't get pregnant during their period is also a massive lie.
Photo via Flickr user
Menstruation probably hasn't forced anyone to file for bankruptcy just yet. That said, there are actually several activists and journalists that are publicly calling for necessary hygiene products (tampons, maxi pads and menstrual cups) to be subsidised by health insurance providers. It's not really about the financial burden that buying these things puts on women, it's about the principle. Let's face it, nobody buys a little cotton plug to stuff up their vagina for fun. The female sex didn't collectively decide on doing the whole menstruation thing, either. The fact that, in Australia, maxi pads and tampons aren't exempt from "goods and services tax" is completely baffling – especially given that condoms and sunscreen are.
And why does medication for "menstrual pains" have to be twice as expensive as regular painkillers? Having to shell out €8 a month just to avoid being crippled from cramps is completely unacceptable.
Guys, have you ever felt as if a pack of speed-addled moles were trying to burrow through your intestines? No? Have you ever had such relentless, disgustingly hollow cramps that you had to puke from the pain? Probably not. Were you forced to go to your job as if nothing was up because you can't call in sick two or three days each month?
You probably think I'm exaggerating, but the worst pain I've ever experienced was when I had my period and forgot to stock up on nuclear-strength painkillers. I was literally prepared to rip my own womb out just to make it stop. You guys have no idea what women have to endure each month.
Blood. Blood everywhere.
Remember that scene from The Shining where thousands of gallons of blood pour out of an elevator? That's probably the most accurate menstruation metaphor a movie has ever used. Even though women only lose an average of 200ml of blood during their period, it feels like a lot more. Especially when you wake up in a pool of your own blood.
I've actually had guys tell me that the smell of a period ("like raw steak") has something quite animalistic and arousing to it. Excitement surrounding such feminine issues should however be kept in check. Bleeding isn't something that's fun. Having to throw underwear away because of the, apparently insane, assumption that you might be finished gushing blood after four days, also sucks.
And while we're at it, since those supposedly super-absorbent pads we stick between our legs are somehow incapable of catching every drop of the red torrent – why don't they finally make a reliable, certified cleaning product that actually gets blood stains out of cloths, sheets and fabrics? No woman wants to look like a murderer when they bring things to the dry cleaners.
Sex during your period is as difficult a topic as it is diverse. There's no real consensus on the matter. Some women feel so uncomfortable during the girl-flu that they just can't have sex. Others embrace their period and actually turn sex into a messy red celebration. Either way, it's understandable that not every guy is up for burying their head into an inexhaustible flow of blood and uterine lining. Nevertheless, treating a menstruating woman like some contaminated sexual no-go area, simply isn't okay. We can't do anything about it. We're the ones who suffer the most in this situation. Doesn't it just make you guys all the more manly if you're able to deal with the less cute sides of being a woman?
At the risk of repeating myself, not everyone has to think it's erotic to suck on used tampons or to rub bloody pads on their face. But, and this is very, very important, the last thing a woman wants to hear about her period, is that it's "disgusting."
Believe me, we feel horrible enough, already. First of all, there are significantly more repulsive things than blood discharging from a body. And second of all, you probably wouldn't want us to leave the room puking if your cum tasted bad.
"She's definitely on her period!"
Darling men, you often say the stupidest of things simply because you don't know any better. Sure, you've grasped the basic (and correct notion) that women are more hormonal during their period and that it, of course, influences our mood. But that doesn't make our feelings any less legitimate. A woman on her period is a broken person thats being dragged through the depths of hell just to be able to bring your spawn into the world.
Don't ask yourselves why women don't take your ignorant babbling well. Instead, ask yourselves how we're able to withstand the sensation of a knife slowly stabbing us in the stomach.
More from VICE: