Two woman and a man in underwear hold joni period care

Can Men Have Periods?

Posted by Team joni on

Can men have periods? Yes! But it's important to make a distinction between sex and gender. Simply put, only people with uteruses menstruate. But not all those who menstruate are women.


Let's get technical.


Traditionally, periods have been talked about as something only women experience but the reality of this biological process is more diverse than the gender binary.


But if you are a transgender man, non-binary, or anyone else who breaks the stereotypical gender mold, menstruation may be part of your life.


Let’s explore how menstruation intersects with gender identity and challenge some outdated myths along the way as we ask what it means to have a period.


Periods: A Definition

From a medical standpoint, menstruation is simply the shedding of the uterine lining. This process can occur in anyone with a uterus, regardless of gender identity. Scientific understanding supports the fact that menstruation is tied to reproductive anatomy, not gender identity.

Two women and a transgender man who menstruate holding up period care products


Understanding Gender Identity and Biological Sex

What’s the difference between biological sex and gender identity? 

Spoiler alert: they’re not the same thing!


Biological Sex vs. Gender Identity

Biological sex is all about the physical stuff—think anatomy, hormones, and chromosomes. It’s what doctors assign at birth based on what’s visible. But gender identity? That’s your own personal sense of who you are. It’s how you feel inside and how you identify, which might be male, female, both, neither, or something else entirely. 


The Gender Spectrum

While sex is biological, gender is cultural—and it exists on a spectrum.

You may identify fully as "male" or "female" or perhaps you find yourself somewhere in between or outside these categories altogether based on how you feel and personally define the binary. All of these identities are completely valid. And they may be fluid!

When it comes to periods, it’s not limited to those who identify as women. Any one can experience periods if they have the necessary reproductive anatomy (i.e. uterus). 

Meanwhile, not all those who identify as women menstruate.


If you were born with male anatomy, you don't have the anatomy to physical menstruate. However, trans women—especially those taking gender-affirming medicationsmay experience PMS symptoms, including cyclical emotional sensitivity, bloating, and even cramping.


Periods in Transgender Men, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming Individuals

If you were born with a uterus, you were more than likely assigned female at birth and will have periods. 


Surgical options, such as hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), can permanently end menstruation. Hormone treatments, like testosterone, can cause periods to become lighter or stop altogether, as well.


These medical choices are deeply personal. Regardless of gender, you may or may not embrace your period—and that is a completely individual and valid experience.


If you experience a feeling of discomfort or distress when you have your period, you could be experiencing gender dysphoria—and you're not alone. Reach out to professionals and organizations that can help you navigate this process.

      A transgender man on the toilet changing his period pad


      The Myth of Periods Defining Womanhood

      Just as menstruation doesn’t determine a person's gender identity, periods don’t define womanhood. Cis women (those born with female anatomy and identify as being women) who don’t menstruate for a variety of reasons, such as having had a hysterectomy or being post menopausal. By referring to all women when talking about periods implies that those born with female anatomy but don’t have periods are not women or lesser than.

      Inclusive Languages

      Language plays a powerful role in shaping perceptions and attitudes. Using inclusive language that acknowledges the diversity of gender identities and experiences with menstruation is essential. Menstruation does not define gender. Labelling all people who menstruate as "women" is not only technically inaccurate, but also alienating to those who have have periods who don't identify as being a woman. It's more inclusive and so easy to use terms like "people who menstruate" or "menstruators" instead. 


      Menstruation is Not About Gender

      At joni, we’re on a mission to make period care accessible for every body.

      Understanding and respecting the menstrual experiences of all people is crucial. By fostering an environment of acceptance and support, we can help end the stigma around all facets of the period experience.