Explaining periods to boys: How and when to talk to your son about menstruation
We totally get it, the idea of talking about periods to boys might feel a bit awkward at first. And it might be that you’re wondering where to start. Well, the good news is, you’ve made the first step by reading this blog and hopefully, with a little help from the team at Unfabled, you’ll feel more comfortable when it comes to explaining periods to boys.
Why is it important to have these chats?
Periods happen, right? At Unfabled, we are on a mission to change the future of period talk. Our team is working hard to stop the stigma surrounding periods and help prevent people from feeling embarrassed or ashamed when it comes to chatting about the menstrual cycle. And where better to start, than chatting to future generations?
People can get their first period from the age of 10, and the last thing we want is for them to feel embarrassed about talking about it. Instead, we want to empower everyone and anyone to feel confident and comfortable when it comes to period chat, making the menstrual cycle a normal part of our lives, and nothing to be ashamed of.
Of course, we can’t forget that boys will be interacting with girls, as friends or partners, throughout their lives, so it’s important they understand, recognise and respect the emotional and physical changes they might experience.
When is the best time to start talking to your son about periods?
Believe it or not, the earlier you start talking to boys about periods the better. In fact, speaking to your son as early as possible is key to making periods normal - in your household, for your family and for your son.
You might find that those conversations happen naturally. For example, your son might be in the bathroom while you’re changing your tampon, pad or period cup, and ask where the blood comes from. Or your son might see an advert for a period product on the TV or internet and want to know more. Consider these as opportunities to teach your son about periods and start the conversation, and try not to dismiss his questions, however young he is.
If these chats don’t happen naturally, then try to speak to your son before he - and his friends - are likely to reach puberty themselves, which can be from the age of eight.
How do you talk to your son about menstruation?
Talk about puberty in general
A good starting point is talking about puberty - and more specifically the changes your son is likely to experience. Talk about how boys and girls experience a lot of the same things, like growing hair in particular areas on their bodies, and feeling certain emotions - but also discuss how things will be different too.
Here are the easy-to-follow steps to having a period that you can use to help explain menstruation to your son:
- Inside a girl’s body, she has ovaries, which contain eggs and a uterus. This place is where a baby might be able to grow.
- Around every four weeks, an egg is released from the ovaries. If the egg is fertilised by a boy’s sperm, it might then start to develop into a baby.
- If the egg isn’t fertilised, blood and tissue will come out of the girls' vagina, for a few days each month.
- This is called her period and could last for three to seven days.
- Girls might then use period products to help catch the blood. These period products can include pads, tampons, period pants and period cups.
- This monthly process is called the menstrual cycle.
A tip from Unfabled: When you’re talking about periods, puberty and menstruation with your son, it’s OK for you to show him period products. In fact, we’d recommend doing so - whether that’s talking him through our menstrual care collection, walking him down the period aisle when you’re out shopping, or simply discussing the products you have at home. From tampons, pads, cups and liners, embrace the conversation about menstrual care.
Encourage future conversations about periods
Once you’ve had that initial conversation with your son, let them know they can come to you and talk about periods or puberty whenever they want. As we all know, menstruation is an ongoing process, rather than a one-off chat, so encourage your son to come and speak to you when they are experiencing puberty or seeing his friends going through changes.
Period conversations should involve two-way chat, so encourage your son to ask questions and ask them what they know about puberty and periods too.
Keep things positive
Talking to boys about menstruation is key to normalising periods but if these period chats are full of negative language, it will make periods seem scary and something we should be embarrassed to discuss. Instead, promote period-positivity by using clear, consistent language and phrases.
A tip from Unfabled: try not to use emphasmisms when you’re talking about periods. Using language like ‘code red’ or ‘a visit from Aunt Flo’ encourages the idea that periods are something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
Talk about menstrual wellness
As part of the conversations around periods, it’s important that you talk to your son about menstruation symptoms and whole cycle wellness. Talk through the symptoms that people with periods might experience throughout the month - and not just on their period - but also explain that everyone is unique, and their period journey might be different to everyone else's.
Discuss sustainable period care
When you’re talking about menstruation with your son, you should explain how period care can be sustainable. Use Unfabled’s collection of eco-friendly period products to show your son how you can be kind to the planet while caring for yourself.
Empower your son to prioritise their own wellness and self care from a young age.
Inclusive language is important
When discussing periods with your son, it’s important to remind your son that not all women have periods, and not all people who have periods are women. Using inclusive language is just one step you can take towards making the world a more accepting, tolerant place, and a key part of breaking down stigma.
The do’s and don'ts of period chat with boys
- Do have these conversations from an early age (at least before your son experiences puberty)
- Do use clear, consistent language
- Do show your son period products as well as discussing menstruation
- Do normalise period chat by encouraging future conversations
- Do keep things positive
- Do talk about the whole menstrual cycle, including period
- Do discuss puberty in general, not just periods
- Don’t talk ‘at’ your son, but instead discuss periods ‘with’ him
- Don’t use euphemisms or negative language
Promote positive period chat with Unfabled
Unfabled was founded by women, to help normalise conversation period chat, aiming to change the way we think and talk about periods. We consciously work with a number of ethical and sustainable brands, helping you to build a more eco-friendly routine, so you can be kind to your body and be kind to the planet at the same time.