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Auntie SparkNotes: My Girlfriend's Periods Make Her Miserable. How Can I Help?

Auntie SparkNotes: My Girlfriend's Periods Make Her Miserable. How Can I Help?

Dear Auntie,
So, I have a girlfriend, and I have a few questions about periods. I live in England, and we English have a kind of strict code of taboo, so I cant really ask my girlfriend about this without it getting pretty awkward between us. (Also I try to keep out her way when she is on her period so she doesn't shout at me). Basically, I know some girls are unaffected by their periods, but my girlfriend isn't really one of the lucky ones (or so I've heard). She gets angry, which I think is to do with hormones, but my main worry is that she seems very ill and upset and sad during the time of the month. I was wondering if there is anything I can do to make her feel better, or happier, during the pain she is feeling, since I have no clue what it is like, and therefore have no idea what might help. Any help would be greatly appreciated, as it's really upsetting to see her so fragile and hurt.

Fragile and hurt? Oh for the love of... I mean, geez! It's not that bad!

But wait, first things first: you’re a good guy, and a thoughtful boyfriend, and pats on the back for you. Wanting to lift your ladyfriend’s spirits when she’s stuck in the menstrual doldrums is a noble and sweet idea.

BUT! In the interest of being factual and informative, let's dispense with the notion that periods are a barely-endurable agony which no male person can ever, ever understand. Because honestly, even though you’ll never experience one, you (and any other dudes in the audience) can probably empathize your way to a reasonable comprehension of what it’s like to be crampy, cranky, bloated, and bleeding from unmentionable places for several days at a time. As in, of course it’s not fun. At best, having your period is a nuisance, and at worst it can be messy and miserable. (And yes, for an unlucky few, it can be incapacitating to the point of requiring medical intervention. Remember this poor girl?) But here’s the thing: you deal with it. (And by “you,” I mean “people who have periods,” so... yeah, I don’t actually mean you at all. But anyway.)

So while it’s great to be sweet to your girlfriend when she’s surfing the crimson wave, it’s not great that you take for granted that she’s going to treat you badly every time it’s that time of the month. The idea that girls are uncontrollable rage-bombs for the duration of their periods is a bunch of baloney, propagated by two types of jerks: obnoxious girls who use it as a free pass to act like turds, and obnoxious guys who want to paint girls as a bunch of over-emotional head cases who can’t be taken seriously. So if she’s really being nasty to you, and using her period as an excuse, please don’t reward her awful behavior by giving her the royal treatment in return, okay?


But hey, that said, far be it from me to dissuade a caring dude who wants to help a lady out during her monthly Bloat’n’Bleed. So, without further ado, here are a few general suggestions:

- Keep a big bottle of ibuprofen in your bag/locker/car for cramp-related emergencies.

- Bring her a cup of hot ginger tea.

- Don’t make comments or jokes about how weird and disgusting menstruation is. (Top on the list of phrases that should never cross your lips: “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die.”)

- Join her in endorphin-releasing activities—physical activity if she’s up for it (moving around helps combat cramps and moodiness), or couch time with a comedy film if she’s really ill.

- Offer to pick up a box of tampons on your way over to her place, and take the time to get the brand she prefers. (Guys who do this are generally known amongst ladyfolk as “keepers.”)

And finally, if you really want to be helpful to your girlfriend when Aunt Flo is in town? Then I’m afraid you’ll have to do the one thing you’d rather not: go straight to her, and ask. Because she’s the one who knows best what she needs! And also, because a kind and non-specific “What can I do to help?” is always the right way to let a person know you’re there for her. Even an English person.

Has an S.O. ever done something sweet for you while you were camping in the red tent? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at

Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: Tampon Terror

Topics: Advice
Tags: auntie sparknotes, relationships, boyfriends, periods

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About the Author

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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