I got my first period when I was 13 (I think?). I can remember seeing some blood on my sheets one morning and bundling them up, as if to hide them. This would indicate some embarrassment on my part. My Mum found the sheets of course and gave me a little ‘beginners’ pack, with pads and a booklet about periods in it. I have no conscious memory of the conversations around it. I was not made to feel ashamed, but it just wasn’t something that got acknowledged or appreciated on any month. You just carried on as normal, maybe took a feminax for pain, and maybe used it as an excuse to get out of sports, but that was it.
My Mum cannot remember my first bleed at all. I can talk openly with her about my childhood, my birth, her menstrual cycles, and she tells me everything she can recall. So in respect of all those Mums and Daughters out there who may let the event pass by unnoticed (or even with embarrassment or shame) here I shed some new light on just how amazing it is to be a woman, and how you can learn to love your monthly cycle!
1 – Girls experience 4 seasons in a month
Contrary to popular belief, the monthly cycle does not consist of just PMS, bleeding and then those okay few weeks. There are four parts to it, like having 4 seasons in one month, and they are:
It’s okay to have ever changing moods
We are living in a masculine structured society; there is the expectation to be the same mood, energy levels and study capacity every day of the month. HOWEVER!, we are not men and have fluctuating hormone levels that change slightly (sometimes lots) EVERY DAY. It is completely natural and normal to have moods and emotions, one day be brilliant at problem solving, and another have a slower brain. Your experience of the world and how you interact with it is in a constant monthly cycle. It is nothing to ashamed of. Once you get to know your cycle you can plan to be e.g., quieter activities at certain times (autumn and winter) and more confident and outgoing at others (spring and summer).
It’s not normal to have heavy painful periods
Listen up lassies of all ages! It is not normal for your bleeding phase to be super heavy and painful. Nor is it normal for it to be two days and light. If you are having super heavy painful, or light scanty bleeds then there could be a hormonal imbalance of progesterone to oestrogen. Make sure you start tracking your cycle (see 6.), eat well (cycles need nutrients), manage stress, get enough sleep and don’t push through when you need rest.
The Pill is not a solution for PMS or painful irregular cycles
When we present to a medical doctor with painful periods, raging PMS, anxiety, uncontrollable mood swings, weight gain and even acne, we get prescribed Birth Control Pills (BCPs). At the root of all these disturbances is a hormonal imbalance; the pills cover up the hormonal imbalance but only until you come off it. It’s easier and more energising to get on track with helpful nutrition, lifestyle and supplementation.
Some girls naturally follow the 29 day cycle of the moon
Before BCP’s, late night lighting, 24h lifestyles and bright computer/device screens, more women were in Sync with the moon. Consider how the sunlight effects your moods and energy levels. The more sun, the more energy, the more gets done, the more robust your mind and emotions. It’s the same with the moon. The full moon provides more light and energy, coinciding with women’s summer (ovulatory phase) and the new moon with the lower energy of a woman’s winter (bleed phase). Modern life has night time light disturbances and medications, and we are more likely to be out of Sync. (PS, this is a general rule, not for everybody, as our cycles can change – check out this to find out more).
Journalling your cycle will change your life
Don’t believe me? It’s essential that ALL girls and women are keeping a daily journal to track their cycle, noting changes in mood, mental and physical energy and more. This way, you see your patterns and they no longer take you by surprise! When you know what’s coming, you can better plan life to suit you, rather than pushing yourself into something you’re not enjoying. Here you can note things like:
what day of your cycle you are on (day 1 is the first day of bleeding)
how you felt emotionally – happy/tearful/irritated/invincible?
energy levels – tried after your usual run? Able to push harder the gym?
confidence and willingness to participate – Did you miss your usual dance class because you just didn’t feel like going out? Did you unexpectedly without embarrassment introduce yourself to the new guy at school?
types of food you are drawn to – raw veggies or super stewed soups? Beef steak or avocado? Chocolate or peppermint tea?
late autumn (luteal/PMS) symptoms and bleeding phase duration, heaviness, pain etc.
Bleeding women have deep intuition and wisdom. That’s ALL OF US!
The term ‘a woman’s intuition’ exists for a very good reason and you don’t have to have special powers to access it. In societies gone by, and other non-western cultures today, the bleeding woman, in her Winter, is highly revered. Girls and women experience their deepest intuition at this time, and this wisdom is used to guide the activities of the community. So listen out for any heart or gut felt messages that could influence your personal life, family, study or work. You can trust yourself!
You are not a crazy bitch if you have PMS
If during your autumn (the 10-14 days before your period), PMS irritability arises, it’s because this is your most sensitive time. Things that usually breeze off you can really get to you. THIS IS NORMAL! If you get irritated about the same thing every month, then listen to your female wisdom. Does something in your life need to change?
PMS can be a big problem
If you truly do go off your nut during the Autumn phase….huge rages where somewhere gets hurt, intense suicidal thoughts or unable to function because of headaches etc., then THIS IS NOT NORMAL PMS! You probably have too little progesterone in relation to oestrogens and you can make yourself better. So stop blaming yourself, know it’s your hormones contributing and then start looking for solutions – a hormonal imbalance that can be healed with the right lifestyle choices. Check out this article for more about progesterone and PMS remedies
10.GIRL POWER ROCKS!
Gah it sounds like a bit of a cliché now, the Spice Girls were so long ago, but really onto something. Discover or create a close group of girlfriends that you can communicate honestly with and show them how to journal their cycles. Even if you’re not having your period yet, you can still journal every day, noting the position of the moon. Connect with your Mum and Grandma. It can feel scary to ask them about their periods but go ahead and do it anyway! If they’re embarrassed then let them know you’re asking because some things about periods are passed down through the generations; If they had problems then you want to be aware of them.
Did you learn anything from this article? Will you start journalling? What else do you need to know? What can you share to guide others?
YOGASYNC ME!! BONUS NUMBER 11: Learn how to relax.
Start here with 4 minute vid. Especially important when stressed, tried, autumn and winter. Reeeeelax!