Ylvar is a guy in his thirties that menstruates. The bleeding itself is not very complicated for him. He works within the healthcare system and finds it quite easy to talk about it in general.
- At my job we have a pretty rough way of speaking. Nurses and doctors alike joke about body fluids during the lunch break even though others are still eating. It's the same thing with menstruation, it's not taboo to talk about. People hand each other tampons or pads and we know who keeps a stash. It's a very open environment in this way.
Ylvar looks upon his menstruation as a natural part of his body. He thinks about bleedings as he reflects upon dirt under his fingernails and says that it usually feels good.
- I like it when I feel dirty, but dirty in a positive way. Not dirty as in shameful or emotionally heavy but just as a part of not being 100% clean and sanitized. Just letting things be as they are with the body. Being "manly" in that way.
Almost all of my memories from menstruation and bleedings during my adolescence are connected to sports and exercise. To fighting. We nosebled, scratched our hands and knees and everything else, and it was sort of the same blood.
When he first got his bleedings, they became connected to sports, efforts and struggle. He was 13 and was playing basketball with some friends when he suddenly was hit with the ball in his head and fell to the ground. He became dizzy and went home. Then he discovered that his menstruation had started.
- Almost all of my memories from menstruation and bleedings during my adolescence are connected to sports and exercise. To fighting. We nosebled, scratched our hands and knees and everything else, and it was sort of the same blood.
- I remember that thinking that the ball had pushed on my body and ejected the blood, or that the blood had come from the head. It was more connected to the struggle than to being a girl.
- I remember that people used to say that now when my bleedings had started, I was a woman. But I didn't feel like that. And I had to learn early on that I had to cover it up so I wouldn't get laughed at. But that was all about the environment and not about my body and how I looked upon myself.
It can feel quite challenging to seek help and contact the healthcare system for issues connected to being a woman, when you are not. For some trans guys, it may be a fear of being questioned or told that you are in the wrong place. For non-binary people, there may be a fear of not being taken seriously. Ylvar, who hasn't had any gender confimation treatments, has some experience about not passing as a guy when contacting healthcare facilities.
I remember that people used to say that now when my bleedings had started, I was a woman. But I didn't feel like that.
- The worst response I ever had was during a drop-in cell sampling. They even had the rainbow flag over their door and yet the nurse started to talk about "us women" without knowing anything about me.
- That was a bit of a shock, lying there with my legs spread apart. It's so good for us women to take this test, she said. Yes, but it's good for me too, I thought. It was a shock, I just wanted to get away from there.
It's important to listen to one’s body and seek medical attention when it's necessary. But to stand up for oneself when meeting with a doctor can be hard. Asking a friend to come along as company can be a great aid. Sometimes one might need to help the medical staff by explaining what words and pronouns they can use, or if you have another name than the one written in your journals. When meeting with a doctor he knows that he is about to meet with again in the future, Ylvar usually brings up the subject.
- It's of course easier when it's a long-term contact. In those cases, I always talk about this and ask them to make a note about my name and the pronoun I identify as in the journal. I don't expect them to get it right the first time but I see it as me helping them not having to feel bad for making a mistake.
And it's of course not only my own responsibility, after bringing this up it's the other person's responsibility to remember and treat me accordingly. Nothing prevents them from using the name or pronoun that a patient asks for. Giving me a positive experience and treatment is their job. When seeking medical attention related to menstruation, one’s gender should not really matter. When having myoma, PMDD or endometriosis the focus should be on finding the right treatment to the condition or illness, not one's gender.
"It's so good for us women to take this test", she said. Yes, but it's good for me too, I thought.
Ylvar has had to seek medical attention due to premenstrual issues, such as anxiety and depression. He has been severely affected by these conditions in periods. That has been more sensitive to him than the menstruation itself.
- I have always been annoyed with PMS because it has made me feel so much worse. Talking about PMS is also hard. It's more related to being a biological female to me. But yet I have had to talk about it, because I needed medication.
- I take antidepressants all the time but I think I really only need it when I have PMS. I was on sick leave for a while because of fatigue syndrome, which made this topic come up. I told the doctor that I was feeling a lot worse when I had PMS but he didn't seem to know anything about adjusting the treatment to mood changes connected to the menstrual cycle. That can make it an even bigger problem, when you already feel that this is a sensitive issue to talk about.
Some guys and non-binary people may have the same need for treatment as many cis-women, depending on what your body looks like and how it functions. That is also one’s right. Many care providers have become more trans-friendly but there are still many problems. Ylvar thinks that the healthcare system needs to improve the ability to adapt to individuals, not to genders.
- I only wish for them to know more about trans. That they could distinguish between gender and person. They should be able to distinguish between how one identifies, how one feel and how one’s body react.