BY MONIQUE QUINTANA
Not all individuals that identify as women menstruate, but if a woman does menstruate, it’s important that you honor their experience. Their bodies bleed for a reason and they should not be shamed. Menstruation is a complicated thing. It can be both painful and joyful. Here are some ways we can honor a friend or lover when she menstruates.
Don’t Pressure Her to Go Anywhere She Doesn't Want to
For many women who menstruate, the first day of their period is not just another day, and the way they experience their period is dependent of many factors. Some women bleed for one day, some bleed for four days. Many experience cramps, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Let’s not criticize women who call in sick to work or miss school because they’re on their period. Menstruation can take a significant toll on the body and the mind.
Don’t Make Assumptions About What She Wants And Needs When it Comes to Sex
A woman will usually speak up if she doesn’t feel comfortable having sex while menstruating. If she doesn’t want to have sex, respect that. If she wants to have sex, be respectful to her body. When you express disgust for a woman when she’s menstruating, you're not honoring her body or her experience. You’re telling her that she is less desirable because she’s bleeding. Is that really the message you want to send to someone that you care for?
Don’t Ask Her to Hide Her Period
Don’t ask a woman to not talk about her period or call it by some ridiculous nickname. If a woman wants to talk about her period, then listen to what she has to say instead of expecting her to keep it a secret. When women are allowed to talk about their bodies, we are better able to understand their bodies and respect their bodies.
Do Her Small Favors
Doing day-to-day tasks can often be difficult when a woman is menstruating. You can help out by cooking them a meal, running an errand, or feeding their pets. This can help them have more time and energy to care for themselves.
Give Gifts of Warmth
Hot and warm water is healing for menstrual pain. Gifting a woman something for their bath or shower can mean a lot. Learn what scents they respond well to when they are menstruating. Menstrual pain can also be soothed with hot herbal teas. Gifting them tea can bring them warmth and light on the inside. Drink tea with them if they want company or let them drink the tea alone, if they need time to themselves.
Carrying extra supplies is important. Keep them in your purse, the trunk of your car, or your desk at work. Years ago, I read about a high school where girls kept a locker filled with pads and tampons for whoever needed them. That’s a beautiful thing. That’s honoring women and their bodies.
Know a Woman is Not Defined by a Menstrual Period
While we should honor a woman’s body if it menstruates, we should also honor bodies that do not menstruate. If a woman has never menstruated that does not mean she is not a woman. If a woman has stopped menstruating, that does not mean that she is not a woman.
Monique Quintana is the Editor-in-Chief of the literary blogazine, Razorhouse and the Beauty Editor at Luna Luna Magazine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among others. She is a Pocha/Chicana identified mother, daughter, sister, lover, and teacher from California’s Central Valley.