We all hear women a lot of the time complaining about periods. Cosmopolitan magazine just love to give periods and vaginas a great deal of cover but the majority of their audience are women. I think it’s so important and necessary for men to understand just what going through menstruation is like, so if you’re a man and you’re reading this, thanks for taking a look and not believing you’ll be emasculated from increasing your knowledge of something that exclusively happens to females. Periods have been (and still are) such a contested subject, which is baffling considering it’s an entirely natural process. People are more willing to talk about their shit and piss than they are periods because, well, that happens to men too so it’s alright. That’s the bloody patriarchy for you.

I am so sick of being made fun of for being ‘bitchy’ or ‘emotional’ when I’m due on by men who have never tried to understand why periods make you like that. It’s not just 3-7 days of hell and that’s it. There’s a whole process people.

Now, some lucky women breeze through their periods with minimal inconvenience, although this is rare. 85% of women suffer from at least 1 symptom of PMS every cycle. Not only do you tend to suffer from stomach cramps that make you feel like the devil has moved into your uterus and set fire to it, which I know many women (myself included) have to take prescription medication for to relieve the pain. I have fainted from period cramps before because the pain was so intense that I couldn’t breathe properly and my heart was beating too fast. You can suffer from headaches and migraines. You can get back pain and general body aches. You can feel weak and lethargic. You can feel dizzy and faint from a decrease in blood pressure. You can feel nauseous. You can get heart palpitations and heart burn. You can get constipation and/or diarrhoea. Your body is generally more sensitive and your immune system is weaker, thus making you more vulnerable to catching illnesses. You can get acne. Your body temperature rises so you’re more susceptible to excessive sweating. You can bloat. You can have tender breasts, sometimes so extreme that moving too much is incredibly painful. Your sleep can be disturbed and disrupted and you are more prone to nightmares.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you literally bleed constantly for approximately a week. Sometimes it can be so heavy that it seeps through your choice of protection, which by the way is expensive as fuck. Understand, now, why we might protest against having to pay for something that protects ourselves against a completely natural process that is out of our control and natural, without which we are shunned by society for being ‘gross’ and ‘dirty’.

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Thought we were done? No no compadre, we haven’t got to the mental symptoms yet. Obviously your body is going through a hormonal change and with that brings havoc to your emotions. Naturally, things irritate you more than usual, you have less patience. Is it any wonder when you feel like you are physically breaking down? But most of the time, this is not the reason why our mental state is so fragile. Believe me when I say, WE CAN’T HELP IT. We really do have no control. You have a constant anxiety that you’re going to bleed through your clothes and everyone will know that you’re menstruating – the horror.

As someone who likes to stay positive and project good vibes, when I PMS it is an entirely different story. For example, earlier this week I woke up and thought I was fine. My period wasn’t due until another few days and I felt totally normal. After having a shower I began to get ready to go to uni, but I realised it felt like there were tears pushing against the back of my eyes, desperate to come out. I spent the whole day on the verge of tears, for no reason whatsoever apart from the fact that my period was due. In some cases, women can get so low that they fall into depressive states. Walking to uni, I had to give myself a mental pep-talk, telling myself to pull it together and ignore how I felt, that this was just my period and not really me. When I got there I was determined to be productive as I had lots to get through, but I couldn’t focus at all. This wasn’t because I was distracted by social media or my friends. I was by myself, laptop out, staring at the screen for minutes on end, but the words were blurring and getting mixed up in my head and I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t make sense of my essay plan that I had only finished the day before. It was as though my brain was simultaneously going too fast and being too slow. You can feel sad one minute, angry the next and be laughing your arse off the next and the most infuriating thing is it’s out of your control. Yet, in this mental state, we still have to sit exams, go to school, meet our deadlines, go to work and carry on with our responsibilities.

But what do we do? We grit our teeth and we bear it, even when women begin to go through the menopause where a lot of the symptoms listed above are intensified. So forgive us if we complain every now and then that we feel shit. Forgive us if we snap at you. Women constantly keep it together out of fear of being called ‘weak’ or ‘emotional’, but mainly because we realise the whole world doesn’t stop just because you’ve got your period, as much as we might wish it did. Life goes on and so must we. So instead of mocking a female for being on her period, or joking that she’s PMSing, you should applaud her on her strength, on managing to get on with it when comparatively, men seem to fall to their knees at the first sign of flu.