Men and menstruation are not known to share a headline. What we are saying is that they should. This conversation must be had. Let’s sift the facts from the noise.
- Women will get their menses. That is like clockwork so let’s not beat ourselves to it
- Fathers of daughters or men who have women in their lives will have them go through menses.
- Cultures and traditions are coming in the way of engaging in a healthy conversation around menses.
How do I know about this last part? Because I asked men from different cultures how they view menses. Here is a sample.
Samuel Kosgey is a 35-year-old Kalenjin man. He admits that his culture will not allow him to talk about menstruation in public. Never mind that he is married.
“I cannot sleep with a menstruating woman in one bed, leave alone talking about it because according to my culture, she is unclean”, explains Kosgey.
“I prefer sleeping in a simba or the boy’s hut than with her. If I share a bed with her when she is on her menses, I have to go through cleansing rituals”, adds Kosgey.
Job Nyang’acha is a married man from Kisii and agrees that in his culture, it is disrespectful to talk about menstruation
“We are not allowed to talk about such topics because it is a sign of being disrespectful to men”
When Men Won’t Talk About Menses
Due to these barriers, girls suffer in silence in most parts of Kenya. Some learn about it in their respective schools. However, there are those men who have come out of their shell and have embraced discussions that surround menstruation.
Jethro Navade, a 28-year-old married man sees no harm in talking and supporting women during this phase.
“I have grown with my sisters, so I understand. I always support my wife when in her menses because I understand how painful and stressful it can be sometimes”, explain Jethro.
“I have a son, and when that time comes, I will equally teach him how to care for a woman during this period”, adds Jethro.
“I have a 10-year-old daughter, and now I am preparing to introduce the topic to her because I know sooner, she will start the journey”, says Flavian Mwaniki, a father of two.
According to Janet Mbugua, a media personality and advocate of Menstrual Health Management, it is time to include men in sensitizing the society about menstrual hygiene.
“Men should be included in the menstrual hygiene campaigns and sensitization. This should not be reduced to woman’s affair alone”, says Janet.
Speaking at a menstrual forum in Uasin Gishu County, Janet urges men to support their girls and women.
“Menses come with so many complications including cramps, mood swings, hormonal imbalance among others, depending on individuals, what women want is support during this period”, explains Janet.
“The more children understand about their bodies, the better they are able to make good and healthy choices. It is good when they get reliable information from you or another trusted source”, adds Janet Mbugua.