For as long as I can remember, I've been slightly obsessed with what's going on with my period. After learning about the fact that I would have one, I promptly established the “Period Club” with my three best friends in sixth grade.
But I realize the vast majority of women aren't quite as passionate about their periods. In fact, most women don't like their periods—and that's putting it mildly. The biggest problem is likely not that you have symptomatic cycles, it's that you believe a bad piece of mythology that has you believing that suffering is part of the deal.
No one teaches us to truly understand and respond to the sometimes subtle (and sometimes blatant) signs our body gives us. And those of us who receive any education about menstruation beyond proper tampon insertion are lucky; most women ride the unpredictable ups and downs of their periods without even considering what each monthly flow means about their overall health.
But it's true: Your period can provide valuable clues about not only what your hormones are doing in real time each month, but they might also help identify your risk for disease after menopause. Studies show that PMS is associated with higher levels of inflammation, which is a driving factor behind many conditions, such as heart disease.
Many of you may want to shut your eyes and avoid facing the less-than-pretty reality of how your period looks and feels, but confronting the signs head-on is the key to unlocking your hormonal health and overall well-being. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently declared the menstrual cycle to be a vital sign—similar to your blood pressure, temperature, breathing rate, and heart rate—in determining your overall health.