Roughly half of the population experiences menstruation at some point of their lives. That’s something that I, a non-menstruator, don’t actually think about enough. There are plenty of reasons to learn about menstruation, what it means, and what we as non-menstruators can do to support the often misrepresented process of menstruation.
To celebrate Menstrual Health Day on the 28th of May, I’ve compiled 5 menstruation related tips, especially for people that don’t menstruate.
1: Familiarise yourself with the definition of Menstrual Health
There’s no better time to do this, with the first official definition of menstrual health being released only a few weeks ago. The Terminology Action Group. has come to the definition of:
Menstrual health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in relation to the menstrual cycle.
I think it’s a pretty solid definition as it covers the physical, mental and social aspects of menstruation. This research also involves 5 pillars:
- Information about the menstrual cycle
- Materials, facilities and services to care for the body
- Diagnosis, care and treatments for discomforts and disorders
- A positive and respectful environment
- Freedom to participate in all spheres of life
2: Do some research
I myself have had only one 50-minute class in high school about menstrual health, so for me personally, there really was a lot more to learn. Looking into blogs and videos is especially helpful here, to gain a more personal and social understanding of menstruation. I especially enjoyed this podcast, and this TED talk.
If you’re looking for something more structured, consider reading the book Period Power. Although it’s focussed around managing periods, it’ll still provide you with all the information you need.
3: Learn who menstruates
So far, you may have noticed I’ve used terms like people who menstruate and (non-) menstruators instead of genders like men and women. That’s because one of the biggest misconceptions about menstruation I’ve encountered is that menstruation is a “women’s issue”. In fact, not all women menstruate and not all menstruators are women. As society starts to recognise gender fluidity in identity, we too should acknowledge the differences between people that extend beyond the assumptions of men and women. Whichever gender someone looks/acts/feels like, please take into account that they might menstruate as well.
4: Have menstrual health resources handy
Menstruation can happen anytime and anywhere and I can imagine there’s nothing worse than not having any products on hand when bleeding during a cycle. As a non-menstruator you should consider having tampons and a few pads available in your house, at your office or maybe even in your backpack. They might never be used, but believe me, that one time someone needs them, they’ll feel extremely grateful. You might also end up featuring as a hero in one of our other blogs ;).
If you’re unsure about what products to buy, ask a friend (or us) what kind of products you should get.
5: Start a conversation
There’s a lot to be found online about menstruation, but that still doesn’t mean you’ll be able to support menstruators. Whether you’re in a relationship with someone that menstruates, live with someone that menstruates or simply want to make the life of someone who menstruates easier, you should spark a conversation and show your curiosity.
I think it’s very important that no one in my life feels uncomfortable telling me anything. However, to accomplish this, it’s important to make sure to create a safe and comfortable environment. That includes being a good listener too. It may seem awkward at first to spark a chat about this, but I bet they’ll be very grateful for the conversation.
If you want to keep engaging in topics like menstruation, be sure to check us out on Instagram. We talk a lot about sustainability, transparency, women’s empowerment and of course, menstrual health.
To wrap up
There’s a lot more to be done on a social-economic level regarding menstrual health but there’s also a lot more that non-menstruators can do every day to debunk the myths and break the taboos around menstruation. The next time you hear the word menstruation, don’t feel alarmed or uncomfortable, talk about it openly, and teach children and young people to do the same.
For now I really hope that these five tips helped you and the people around you. In case you have any questions, please feel free to reach out!