It’s fair to say that in-depth conversations about women’s menstrual cycles are not common place among groups of men.
In fact, even broaching the topic often leads to an awkward silence or a sudden urge to talk about, well, anything else.
But one local woman is committed to opening up the discussion amongst men, particularly fathers with daughters.
Next month Karin Lucia Gisler will run a workshop for dads (and other men who are interested) about coming of age and menstrual education.
‘There has been this myth that menstruation is women’s business,’ Ms Gisler says.
‘But it’s something that has always had an important role within relationships between men and women and particularly within families.
‘Unfortunately, because of the taboo around these topics there is a lot of misunderstanding or just lack of knowledge among men.’
While most men know about certain aspects of a woman’s cycle, such as the fact that women often feel tired or depleted while bleeding and ‘emotional’ or ‘on-edge’ in the lead up, they are often less aware of the hormonal shifts that occur across the cycle as a whole.
‘There are moments where she’s naturally warm and receptive and other times when she’s not,’ Ms Gisler says.
‘When she’s bleeding her estrogen level is very low, then after a few days it kicks in and that’s when she’s more caring, more warm and more receptive.
‘It peaks when she’s ovulating and straight after that the estrogen drops. Those lovely feelings can change… It’s more of a time of reflection, a bit of a reality check.
‘Men often don’t grasp that the changes that occur are, essentially, nothing to do with them. It’s not that you’re not loveable anymore, or that she doesn’t care. For many men that’s a big challenge.’
The lack of understanding amongst men can have serious consequences for their daughters, particularly when they are going through puberty.
‘Puberty is a very important time in women’s lives – where we start realise that we have a role in the world and to step into that role,’ Ms Gisler says.
‘The beliefs that are formed in this time have a big impact on our future lives.’
This, Ms Gisler says, can feed into the societal pattern of pushing women to be constantly focused and productive, rather than respecting the natural changes in their bodies.
‘We need to change this and come to a more healthy understanding,’ she says.
‘And men being involved is a big part of that.’
The coming of age and menstrual education workshop will take place at Wildspace in Mullumbmby on August 18 from 2–5pm.
Early bird tickets are $55 each or $65 those signing up later in the piece. Groups of three or more men get a discount of $5 per person on the early bird price.
For bookings and more info go to https://www.stickytickets.com.au/68057/coming_of_age__menstrual_education_for_dads.aspx or call Karin on 0415 886 113.