Every single woman has a menstrual cycle. Me. you. Even your 90 year-old grandmother once did. In a woman’s lifetime, she will have an average of 500 cycles. Despite this reality, women never really get used to it, appreciate it, or quit trying to hide it.
Why is that?
Our society tells us to hide it. Our society tells us we should be ashamed.
It may have started with a painful and/or shameful experience of our first menstrual cycle or it may be the ongoing Tampax reminder that we should be able to wear tight white jeans every month so no one suspects that we bleed.
Women and men like to beef up PMS to excuse ourselves from foul and bitchy behavior. And though PMS is real, it doesn’t have swoop in and wreak havoc on our days and our relationships.
The truth is PMS is just your inner truth and inner chaos being revealed.
The hardest part of a woman’s menstrual cycle may be the awful pain some of us endure each month. It’s enough to make many women resentful and fuel the nuisance mentality of menstruation.
Another leading influence is our pressure and desire to live in a linear world. We want to be like men, active and available all the time. Powering through our lives without slowing down.
However, women are created differently. We have this amazing inner cyclical nature that can connect with the larger cycles of nature and our own inner wisdom.
I believe we can transform our relationship with our menstrual cycle, learn to embrace it as a useful resource, and even learn to love it.
Following are 8 ways you can begin to shift your perspective and your experience with your menstrual cycle:
Women are equipped with an internal cycle that can help foster a life of balance. Bleeding time is a time of rest and restoration. We must learn to soften and simmer down and give back to our self. Only then can we can move into our time of productivity and creation and give fully and genuinely to our lives. Without respect for this inner cycle women tend to get burnt out and experience severe PMS, menstrual cramps, and/or other reproductive issues.
2. Watch your food.
Eating plenty of protein, lots of healthy fats, and tons of fresh foods can help balance hormones, reduce PMS, and ease menstrual discomfort. Food can help heal or hurt our bodies and our bodies are a direct reflection of what we put inside it.
3. Chart your cycle.
Charting your cycle is a great way to get to know yourself and know when you can expect your period. It’s also a critical step if you are trying to get pregnant. You can chart it on paper, with online resources, or even with an app.
My favorite benefit of knowing my cycle is knowing when and how to create my schedule. I keep the first day or two of my period free, if I can, and I plan my most creative productivity during my fertile time. It’s also extremely helpful to monitor moods and to gather information on any larger reproductive issues you may be experiencing.
4. Change the name.
Please make sure you are not using a debasing name to refer to your menstrual cycle, such as the "curse." Try to use a name that can help shift your perspective a bit. Many women, myself included, like to refer it as their moontime or moon cycle, since our menstrual cycles are intricately connected to the lunar cycles.
5. Change the product.
Standard menstrual products are packed full of toxins. Do you really want that sitting next to your yoni? Or in your vagina? Think about that. While it’s absorbing your flow, you are absorbing chemicals. Yikes! If you haven’t already, at minimum make the change to organic cotton tampons or pads, to eliminate chlorine and dioxin concerns. And when using any disposable products we must consider the repercussions on Mama Earth.
I think the diva cup is a wonderful product and I have adored mine for over four years. So many women get all grossed out about reusable menstrual products, but I actually think the diva cup is perfect for those who don’t want to “deal” with their cycle. Depending on your flow, you can put it in in the morning and forget about it for up to 12 hours. You don’t have to run out to the store, or bring supplies with you on your errands, and you will save a booty-load of moola.
Some other great options are sea sponges and cloth pads. Using cloth pads can be a wonderful way of making your menstrual cycle a ritual. Soaking them and watering your plants can be a lovely offering to the planet, and wearing cloth helps us remember to slow down. Using reusable menstrual products is a great way to develop a healthy relationship with our body and the earth, as we are unable to just wad it up and throw it away to the great landfill mountain.
6. Find gratitude.
A regular menstrual cycle is a sign that your body is healthy and functioning. A cycle that is chaotic, irregular, or excruciatingly painful is your body letting you know about some deeper issues, such as hormonal imbalance, reproductive issues, or deep seated pain, so you can then begin the healing process. These are both things worth finding gratitude in.
7. Un-cramp your style.
I know this is a rough one and those of you who struggle with cramps month after month have probably cursing me by now. Find gratitude for my freakin’ period? Is she nuts? Mild cramps, I believe, can be a gentle reminder to rest. This is the time to restore your body, just as the savasana pose is in yoga.
Occasional severe cramps can be your body's way of expressing some deeper pain or stress you have experienced over the past month. Chronic terrible cramps every month can be a sign of a deeper issue, such as endometriosis, cysts, fibroids, or some emotional pain and/or shame related to body issues and/or sexual abuse.
8. Do it for your daughter.
If you have a daughter, think about what image you want her to have of herself as a woman. You wouldn’t want her to feel shame or experience unnecessary pain for something that is a completely natural part of being female. You have the potential to model for her a healthy perspective of menstruation.
All of these suggestions can help you develop a better relationship with yourself and your body, and they are ideas to encourage, not overwhelm, you. Start with the ideas that gave you a little internal nudge and come back to the rest, when and if you are ready. I simply hope to offer you a little food for thought so you can begin gathering the necessary information you need to make healthy changes.