I am making a note in my journal of life to teach this information to my daughters (and sons too, probably). It is interesting to me that females are taught, in this culture specifically, that having your period is something that you only talk about in health class or quietly under your breath to your girlfriends. Or that being emotional and not consistently tempered is an imperfection in your being. Little by little, the taboo subjects, like this, are coming out into the open. And we are able to talk about them without feeling insecure or radical.
My first experience embracing my menstrual cycle was at a yoga class called the Green Tent about a year ago. It was a 3 hour women's only yoga class where the subject was having your period and being a woman (only in Boulder, right?). We all sat in a circle with our mats and in the center of the room were all sorts of tasty treats that support a healthy menstrual cycle. Our facilitator insisted that we eat as much as we want and listen to the internal cues of what our bodies need. I happened to have my period that day which was great because she said if you are menstruating to enjoy lots of chocolate and tea (my two favorites).
Rachel, our spiritual leader, asked us each going around in the circle to talk about when we first got our periods. How was our experience? Was it a hush hush or did we welcome it? Most, if not all, of the women in the group said that their first period was nothing special and actually something they were ashamed of. I felt the same way. I was internally excited that I FINALLY got it (as I was a late bloomer) but didn't tell anyone. My mom never asked and I never told. I figured it out with a little help from my older sis.
As we discussed more about our period experiences, I realized that I was thankful that I had a healthy cycle but was always afraid of it. I didn't want to get pregnant and had a bad reaction to hormonal birth control. I also was afraid of being infertile because I wasn't on birth control and never got pregnant. Having my period meant I was safe, phew, but after that, I felt like I was fighting the rest of my month. My energy swings and emotions would be drastic and I didn't know why. I would randomly feel sensitive and have no idea why.
The experiences and expected behavior that we have and are taught can create trauma around our phases of the female cycle instead of being a time of celebration and embrace of each of the changes. The fact that women are not flatlined in their energy and emotions is what make this gender so beautiful and exciting. The fear and insecurities we have around not always feeling 100% our best and in turn, feeling bloated and less desirable make many days during our cycle miserable.
Now, as a 28 year old, I finally am starting to understand. I learned about the female cycle over the weekend through an amazing podcast with Doula Erica Chidi Cohen (https://thisisloom.com/) that explained in terms that hit home. I have a long way to go with learning more about my body and cycle, but this was a great place to start.
Here are a few of my take aways:
If your significant other can't appreciate your cycle and not think that it's "gross", he needs to grow up. Being able to reproduce is one of the most beautiful things in life.
Having your period is sign of health and vitality. A 2-7 day bleed that is pain free is a sign that your body is flourishing. If you are fortunate enough to experience this type of cycle, make sure you thank your body. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain, I recommend seeing a naturopathic doctor to help you uncover the underlying imbalance (it could be stress!).
My luteal phase, the week or so right before my period, is my most uncomfortable phase and it is for most women! It is where bloating, low energy and such take place. This is because there is low progesterone and you are infertile. Your body naturally wants to retreat to get ready for menstruation (the next phase) and also your phase of fertility (the following phase). Honor your phases, energy, sensitivities and feelings. You are a goddess!
You can only get pregnant 1-5ish days during the month. That's it! And it is the window right after your period, the ovulation phase, which lasts 1-5 days. So tracking that phase is huge and there is a lot of info on it. The only issue is that you feel sexiest during this time of the month so be careful. Even though your body wants to reproduce, you may not want to :)