In our last post, “Can a Woman’s Cycle Affect Her Relationships with Men?” we

 

looked at how a woman’s cycle impacts her most intimate relationships. It’s clear

 

that a woman’s menstrual cycle does affect her male partner. But are men really

 

interested in understanding how a woman’s cycle works? What do they already

 

know? And at the end of the day, does a guy’s knowledge of the menstrual cycle

 

affect a couple’s relationship?

 

We had to do some digging to come up with answers.

 

MEN WANT TO KNOW

 

After reviewing surveys and conducting our own interviews, we have been

 

pleasantly surprised to learn that many men believe they should be

 

knowledgeable about a woman’s cycle regardless of what family planning option

 

they use. They believe such knowledge would lead to better communication with

 

their female partner and to a more “harmonious” relationship. We were surprised

 

to hear this. One man we interviewed said, “It is very important. Men should

 

know about the whole cycle.”

 

“OTHER MEN” DON’T WANT TO KNOW

 

But it turns out men also think that “other men” are generally not interested in

 

learning about a woman’s cycle and do not usually take the time to do so. “Most

 

men probably think it’s not their problem,” was a frequent response. “A guy

 

figures, if he’s got condoms, he doesn’t need [to know] anything else,” said

 

another interviewee. Of course its interesting that most of the respondents said

 

that they themselves were interested, it was just “other men” who wouldn’t be.

 

Indeed, whether they are interested in learning about it or not, studies show that

 

men usually have incomplete and inaccurate knowledge about a woman’s

 

menstrual cycle.

 

NEGATIVE ATTITUDES

 

A lot of men also have a negative attitude about the menstrual cycle. Women are

 

probably partially to blame for this as most men learn about women’s cycles from

 

their girlfriends and wives. There may be a tendency in those conversations to

 

complain and focus on menstruation and the negatives. One respondent summed

 

up in a single word, a common attitude among men when they hear “menstrual

 

cycle”… “Eww.”

 

 

MEN WANT PEACE…AND SEX

 

 

So why do men want to know about women’s cycles? Two reasons – peace and

 

sex. On the peace front, men feel that if they understand their partners’ cycles,

 

they’ll be able to better cope with some of the emotional turmoil that they

 

associate (accurately or not) with the menstrual cycle. One man quipped “men

 

need a support group for dealing with their partner’s PMS and learning strategies

 

for working around the woman’s irritability…or at least to know when to leave the

 

house!”. As for sex being a reason that men wanted to know about women’s

 

cycles, one male respondent put it most succinctly, “Her Period = No Sex”.

 

FANTASY VS. REALITY

 

A dubious solution, and perhaps a fantastical one, is to eliminate the cycle all

 

together. In a recent interview with The Sexist Blog, a young woman described

 

her boyfriend’s glee when she explained to him that she takes her birth control

 

pills continuously without the normal 4th week break. He told her, “I was thinking

 

you were just magical … a cool chick with no period drama that has sex all month

 

long.”

 

Of course, most men do not have “magical” partners and the reality is that conflict

 

arises when a couple is not on the same wavelength sexually. An interviewee put

 

it this way, “When a man wants to have sex and the woman says no, he doesn’t

 

understand why she’s not sexual. It can cause tension.”

 

GOOD NEWS

 

Happily, many studies show when women communicate information about their

 

cycles to their partners, it can have a positive affect on relationships. The men we

 

interviewed seemed to intuitively understand this even though their reasons for

 

wanting to know might be different from their partners’ reasons for telling them.

 

This type of communication could help a man feel more in tune with his partner

 

and also address a belief expressed by an interviewee, “The man knows he is not

 

in control of anything [in regard to her cycle], but understanding it makes it seem

 

less precarious and mysterious.”

 

No doubt, it takes the willingness of both sides to communicate and do so

 

effectively, but if both partners are in tune with the cycle and able to plan

 

together for their sexual expectations, it could well diminish a source of stress in

 

the relationship.