Videos of men and women trying a period pain simulator have gone viral on TikTok.
Women said it felt accurate, with one calling its highest level close to labor pains.
Several men expressed surprise at how violent the pain was.
A man in a cowboy hat sits down, taking a break from an annual Canadian rodeo, to feel period cramps for the first time.
"This is terrible," he says, wiping sweat away from his forehead.
The TikTok video, which has been viewed more than 20.5 million times, is part of a series from period product company Somedays to help explain just how painful menstruation can be.
Somedays hooked volunteers up to a "period pain simulator" designed to simulate the throbbing, constrictive cramps that many people experience during menstruation. In the clips, facilitators explain that their standard period cramps are a level five, though some women regularly experience up to a level 10 and above.
@getsomedays Come visit us at the calgary stampede! Booth 212 in the maker market. #periodpain #periodtips #periodtiktok #endo #endometriosis #periods ♬ original sound - @somedays
The series included champion bull riders, cowboys, healthcare workers, and couples trying the device. The simulation elicited shouts and deep breaths from many men, but relative nonchalance from women who are used to monthly cramps.
"Is it even on?" a man asks in a video of a woman sitting calmly at a level ten. "I'm used to this," she says, laughing.
Earlier this month, influencer Sarah Nicole Landry and her husband, Shane, tried the simulator together. Nicole graded a level 7 as a mild cramp, while Shane said that a level 8 cramp would cause him to call out of work.
@getsomedays @thebirdspapaya “feels like early stage labour” *doesnt flinch* 😂. #periodpain #endo #periodtiktok #periodproblems ♬ original sound - @somedays
Between half to 84% of people who menstruate say they experience pain and cramping and more than 90% of people reported experiencing other side effects, including bloating and headaches.
But despite it being a common problem, many people with periods never talk about it, hewing to repressive notions of "menstrual etiquette,"
@getsomedays Deep breathing may have been required 👀 #periodpain #periodtiktik #endo #calgarystampede #periodproblems #periodsimulator ♬ original sound - @somedays
"Menstrual etiquette," according to one study published by the American Journal of Public Health, "encourages discreet management of blood flow and discomfort, communicating to girls the importance of keeping the experience of menstruation, and their status as a woman who is menstruating, hidden from boys and men."
The period pain simulator — and the millions of views it's gaining on TikTok — aims to open up an honest conversation about what people with periods really go through.
"Honestly loved this experience," Sarah Nicole commented on the TikTok of her and her husband."Sure I'm maybe 'used' to the pain and discomfort but I feel so much more understood now by my partner."
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