Navigating Masculinity & Femininity on Your Period

by Kate Hofmann

Even though they’re a natural thing, periods can still do a lot to mess with our heads. Menstruation comes with various symptoms that can leave us feeling out of touch with our bodies. Many of us may feel like we’ve lost the parts of us that truly make us feel like ourselves. 

If you’re trans or nonbinary, that time of the month can trigger many conflicting feelings. Periods are regarded by so many as a highly feminine thing; they can bring out parts of ourselves from the past that we don’t identify with anymore. But it doesn’t just affect trans and nonbinary people: cis-gendered females can feel out of touch with their identity as well. 

Whether you are cis, trans, or nonbinary, periods can conflict with how masculine or feminine you feel due to many factors surrounding that time. We all know periods happen, so why can they mess with your feelings of masculinity and femininity? 

Masculinity

In society, we are fed ideas of what makes up someone who is masculine or male. These ideas put masculinity in a box that has to do mainly with genitals, heterosexuality, and so-called “manliness,” which is just toxic masculinity in disguise. Throughout history, but also significantly in recent years, we as a society have been able to take back the idea of masculinity and redefine it for people who identify that way.

No matter how you identify, there is now a more flexible definition of what masculinity is. But that doesn’t mean that the issues that have come with the more strict popularized definition aren’t still there. We still identify certain clothes and behaviors as more “masculine” than others, and masculine individuals may reject the things that conflict with that status. 

The vulnerability that comes with menstruation can challenge conceptions of identity. Cis-men don’t menstruate, so identifying as a male or a masculine person while having female reproductive organs can ultimately make you feel disconnected from the body you inhabit. Even cis-females who identify masculinely may feel uncomfortable during their period. 

Menstruation can bring attention to the body in a heightened way and serve as a reminder of how little control we sometimes have over our bodies.

It may not fix the issue, but if we focus on degendering the concept of menstruation, it might help some of us cope with this feeling of dysphoria. If that doesn’t help, there are other options that masculine-presenting people can look to as possible fixes. Things like birth control, IUDs, and even a hysterectomy, can help ease dysphoric feelings. If you don’t want to go that route, there are plenty of online forums and communities of people to connect with. Just having someone to talk to that gets what you feel every month can be a weight off of your shoulders. 

Femininity

Periods are inherently feminine, so why would you feel less feminine while on your period? Returning to the feeling discussed above about the loss of control over your body, periods can warp one’s connection to femininity. The bloating, acne, cramps, and tenderness can affect how comfortable we feel in our bodies. These symptoms can make us feel gross or unattractive when they are just our body’s natural monthly process. Simply because it is natural doesn’t make it feel any easier. It is perfectly normal to feel out of touch with your body during such a vulnerable time that can vastly change how you see and feel about yourself. 

Sometimes we don’t want to be reminded that our body was preparing for a baby. Additionally, a period can even be particularly sensitive for people who have ailments like endometriosis, PCOS, or who struggle with infertility. Menstruating can be a painful reminder. It can be difficult to navigate feelings of femininity when you feel so out of control with what’s going on within your body. Finding support or choosing self-care during these times can help lessen some of these feelings, even if it doesn’t eradicate them. 

What To Do?

Feeling out of touch with your masculinity or femininity can be a struggle, especially when you’re already feeling quite vulnerable. Taking time for yourself is one of the better ways to try and combat it. 

Whether in person or virtually, self-care and finding support can do wonders to help validate our feelings when we feel disconnected. One act of self-care can come in the form of reflecting and tracking. The Orchyd app is there to hold that space. Sharing with the app how you are moving through your cycle can help you better understand how your period affects you. Taking time to note your sense of masculinity or femininity and where it aligns with your cycle can be illuminating.

Even something as simple as giving yourself time to indulge in things you usually don’t have time for can help refresh us and make things feel a little easier to handle. If your feelings are overwhelming, it may be time to seek out the help of your doctor or a mental health professional to help you find options that can make the monthly cycle less difficult to bear. 

Honestly, it all boils down to the fact that periods can suck, but your feelings are valid. Prioritize yourself during those difficult moments and try to stay positive. Periods will pass, but they don’t signify who you are.