Menstruation is not super fun. It’s a milestone in any young woman’s life to begin menstruating. It’s a milestone in an older woman’s life to stop menstruating. It’s not fun for women. Sometimes, it’s no picnic for those around them, either.
While tracking a woman’s cycle (unless you are her doctor or her lover) is generally pretty creepy (and potentially dismissive and misogynistic, as in: “Oh, you’re just saying that because you’re hormonal”), knowing when the women close to you (your family members whom you see often or with whom you live, or female friends whom you see often or a roommate or a roommate’s girlfriend) are on their cycles can be helpful in some situations.
There is some truth to the often-exaggerated PMS-monster idea. Some women are more highly emotional at certain times because of their hormones. That does not mean that anything that they say or do should be dismissed. It does not mean that hostile, confrontational, or otherwise rude behavior should be excused due to hormones. It does mean that other people in that woman’s life might want to think about how they react to her behavior (whatever it might be) and consider what might be influencing it.
This is actually good advice for any situation. You should always consider what factors might be influencing a person’s behavior at certain times. That does not mean that it is an excuse—you should expect an apology later, at the very least.
However, there is another reason for which guys might do well to remember that the women in their lives who are not their lovers still have cycles. Guys have them too.
We don’t bleed or have cramps, true. Guys are more likely to have acne breakouts at certain times, according to the cycles of their own hormones. Like women, guys can also sync up with the women around them—whether it’s their mother, sister, girlfriend, or a couple hundred girls sharing their dorm building. Guys can sync up with each other, too. Acne is not the extent of it.
During my “time of the month,” I might be more easily angered (I keep my anger internal and keep strictly to cold rages, of course, because I am not some sort of barbarian) or I might be more likely to cry while watching television (I use television for catharsis—it’s much better than letting emotions like sadness run wild in my actual life).
This can be a problem, even between male friends. One friend might be extra grouchy and say something slightly hurtful. The other might be feeling extra sensitive at the same time and be more distressed than he otherwise might.
Now, everyone has a higher emotional range as a teenager. Internally, I’m grouchy and old (old people can be sluts, too; we just do not like to think about it), but even I had something of a roller coaster of emotions during my teen years. Though, by the time that I was seventeen, I had already given up on high-risk emotions like “romantic love” and generally mellowed out. During the hormone-fueled madness of early puberty, however, everything seems so important and feelings seem urgent and love feels like it’s life-or-death.
A lot of people, male and female, are aware of this. Guys do need to realize that hormones continue to impact them as they age, and not just in terms of hair-growth patterns and sex drive. Men, your behavior is impacted by your hormones. You’re getting off easy compared to what women have to put up with, but you need to be self-aware. And maybe that will make you a little more sympathetic to the women in your lives.