It's important to recognize that we all go through different experiences based on the reproductive systems we're born with. Yes, the penis and vagina do different things. I want to understand what it's like to walk around with a pair of balls and I'd hope others are curious about what it's like to bleed once a month, endure infertility issues, and just have a uterus and identify as a woman.
I'm not going to lie — I was pleasantly surprised by the answers I received when I asked 12 men about some basic reproductive health. Here's what they had to say.
1. Why do women get their period?
"The little eggs die off and exit the uterus." – 25 years old
"As an excuse to not do... pretty much anything. You want to go hiking ('oh, I'm on my period') you want to go swimming, ('I'm on my period')." – 23 years old
"Shedding the lining in the uterus." – 19 years old
"So they can get new cycles of eggs." – 18 years old
"To remove the unfertilized egg from their body. But a period could start from a plethora of reasons like stress anxiety paranoia rough sex after a long period of time etc." – 21 years old
Approximately every month, if the egg isn't fertilized, the uterus releases unwanted tissue – also known as the uterine lining.
2. When do women get their period?
"Approximately every 30 days, between 9-12 years old until their mid to late 40s." – 25 years old
"When the moon circles the earth." – 24 years old
"Normally the ending week of their 4-week cycle. I say normally because many women have irregular periods and it varies for every woman." – 21 years old
"Once every month for 5-7 days." – 23 years old
Girls usually get their first period anywhere between 8 and 15 years old and from then on it's a 28-day menstrual cycle.
3. Name as many birth control methods as you can:
"The birth control pill. The IUD. I can't remember if the IUD is the one in your arm and if it is the one that is placed inside the vagina. I forget the name. Plan B — I saw a list of many. I didn't know of somewhere." – 21 years old
"Condom, abstinence, oral birth control (the pill), Plan B, pull out method." – 25 years old
"Condoms, birth control pill, UID, and something else that is put into the arm." – 28 years old
"Femidom, birth control pills, injections." – 23 years old
"Condoms, birth control pill, abstinence, vasectomy, IUD." – 19 years old
"The only true birth control is giving yourself to God." 24 years old
There are a plethora of different birth control methods including but not limited to male and female condoms, the IUD, birth control shot, the birth control pill, vaginal ring, contraceptive implants, birth control implant – the list goes on and on.
4. How many months are women pregnant for?
Everyone either said eight or nine months, so hats off to them. A full-term pregnancy is technically anywhere from 39 to 40 weeks, which is nine months.
5. What are some fertility treatments?
"Healthy eating is the best I know of. I also think there are vitamins." – 21 years old
"IVF, surrogates." – 23 years old
"Not sure." – 28 years old
Some treatments include medications to help with hormones and ovulation and others include surgical procedures. Some common ones are intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, freezing one's eggs, and surrogates.
6. What does the birth control pill do?
"Good question...I'm assuming it prevents the egg and sperm from being viable. Not sure how though." – 25 years old
"Send you to hell." – 25 years old
"Prevent ovaries from getting fertilized." – 23 years old
"If my knowledge is accurate it causes not contractions tightening and stops sperm from traveling." – 21 years old
"It allows a woman to regulate how often her period comes, and it serves as another method to prevent pregnancy." – 28 years old
"It increases estrogen and progesterone levels in the female body to prevent any sperm from sterilizing the egg in the uterus." – 21 years old
There are different kinds of birth control pills, but "combination pills" use the hormones estrogen and progesterone to prevent ovulation: "the release of an egg during the monthly cycle."
7. What does it mean when a pregnant woman is "X cm dilated?"
"They are about to eat everything in sight." – 24 years old
"I don't know." – 23 years old
"The uterus is expanded X cm" – 25 years old
"I don't recall. My mother is an OBGYN nurse and she's talked about it before, but to her colleagues." – 21 years old
"However much the cervix has opened during labor." – 21 years old
Dilation refers to the opening of the cervix in preparation for childbirth. Yeah, I know, scary but beautiful.
8. What does it mean when women get their tubes tied?
"Is that like getting their hair and nails done? JK not sure the process but the result prevents the woman from being able to get pregnant." – 25 years old
"They cannot conceive a baby." – 23 years old
"When the fallopian tubes are tied as a form of birth control." – 21 years old
"The surgery to stop reproduction." – 21 years old
Formally called tubal ligation or tubal sterilization, getting one's tubes tied refers to the surgical procedure of cutting or tying the fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy.
9. What is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
"I don't know. From the name it sounds like many cyst along the ovaries possibly benign or harmful. Like I said I don't know." – 21 years old
"A condition where women can get multiple cysts on their ovaries causing issues with menstrual cycles and hormone levels." – 21 years old
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that causes cysts to develop on the ovaries, and women with PCOS are at higher risk for various other issues.
10. Who can be affected by PCOS?
"Women?" – 25 years old
All women can be affected, specifically 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.
11. What does it mean when a woman is ovulating?
"She is in prime pregnancy mode." – 18 years old
"It is the 2nd~ week of her cycle where she's not only more fertile due to her body's natural hormones but also the window the body gives to even fertilize the egg." – 21 years old
"She is going to be pissed and no you can't go fishing." – 24 years old
"Her uterine lining is being shed." – 19 years old
"The ability to get pregnant is much higher." – 25 years old
When a female is ovulating it means that they are halfway through their monthly cycle and a mature egg is released from the ovaries. Yes, this is when they're most fertile.
12. When do women start experiencing menopause?
"Could happen at any time but most likely 50." – 21 years old
"Too soon." – 24 years old
"When they hit age 50." – 23 years old
"Late 40's." – 23 years old
Menopause occurs naturally after age 45.
Author's note: Gender identity is not about what reproductive organs you were born with, all identities are valid.