Proper Period Care Happens All Month Long
My Dear Loves,
Have you looked to the sky in the recent evenings and witnessed that sliver of the re-birthed moon? This might be one of my favorite moon phases to take in visually. The shape of the scythe present in the hours before darkness falls speaks something to my heart.
What is your favorite phase lunar phase? Is it the way the full moon brings you energy and creativity? Or is it the darkness of the new moon, inviting you to rest and come inward?
A client said to me recently “I feel like I have phases, like the moon, but I know that’s total garbage.” And I was like “Grrrrrl, listen to your inner wisdom!” And then we had such a beautiful opportunity to talk about the phases of the menstrual cycle and the very real changes in our energy levels, food cravings, nutritional needs, social desires, sexuality, etc. etc. etc.
Menstruating bodies experience so many changes throughout the month, and they’re supposed to. In fact, those changes are some of the sources of our super powers. Menstruating people hold a god damn portal in their bodies capable of brining new life into the physical plane. And even if your womb never brings a baby earthside, it’s still working it’s magic for you monthly in your other creative pursuits.
If you’re one of the millions of people who experience debilitating pain or fatigue when you bleed, or your emotional stability totally takes a dive off the deep end, it can be really difficult to appreciate the ongoing changes in your body and psyche every month. In fact, those symptoms tend to drive us out of our wombs and as far away from our pelvic power centers as possible.
My experience working with menstruators has taught me some very important lessons
1) The state of our menstrual cycles is tied to our felt sense of comfort and safety in the world
2) REST is necessary, respectable, and does not need to be paid for with being “productive enough”
3) Living in alignment with our menstrual cycles will alleviate the majority of “PMS” symptoms such as cramps, fatigue, headache, sugar cravings, heavy bleeding, or recurrent infections, etc.
To be honest, my own internalized patriarchy still tries to gaslight me that these self-evident truths are hogwash. Internalized messages around what’s expected of my female body, what’s the proper way to conduct my life, and what’s appropriate to talk about run deep.
I want this to be a reminder to you- many of the thoughts that you have about yourself and your female body are not yours. They are what your were taught as an infant before you could talk or form memories. They’re what your classmates taught you in middle school. They’re what your gynecologist said to you when you asked for support for your heavy periods. It’s what your mother was taught, what your father was taught, what your grandparents were taught.
Most of us have been living disconnected from our deep family lineages. Whatever line we descended from, the overculture has violently insisted that we conform to the ideal of the male body. Of course, this has occurred much more forcefully and violently to people of color, and white women have often been perpetrators in this long line of colonization.
We are in a process of reclamation. Reclaiming our right to feel comfortable and holy in our human forms, bloody underwear and all. I want to give you a few ways to begin connecting with your cyclical phases and to start on your path to pleasant periods.
1) First of all, if you DO NOT MENSTRUATE because you do not have a uterus, are male, or have reached menopause- your role as support team is of utmost importance. Although I have not gone into detail on this post about all the magic of menstruation, for now let’s just trust that it’s an important and functional human experience, and as such, deserves support.
Do you have a partner who menstruates? Make sure you bottom line meals, cleaning, and kid care as much as possible during her/their bleed days.
Find out how your partner likes to be supported. It might be alone time, loving touch, or to make sure the hot water bottle and cup of tea are filled.
2) If you have a menstruating body you will need more rest around the start of your womb cleanse. You probably already notice a dip in energy right before you begin bleeding or during your first couple of days. Take this time to REST.
Say not to social engagements, take the day off of work (the better you get a planning, the easier that will be!), and snag yourself an extra nap. Let your kids know that you’re bleeding and not available for big, energetically expensive adventures.
3) Digestion slows in our luteal and menstrual phases. To support your digestive system, focus on foods that are easy to digest. This looks like:
a. Warm. Don’t just snag cold leftovers from the fridge, and definitely skip the ice cream (in addition to being cold and hard to digest, the dairy and sugar are both inflammatory).
b. Well cooked. As handy as a bag of chips is, their dehydrating nature will tax your already tired GI system. Go for soups, broths, or oven roasted meals.
c. Warming. Think about the spices you’d find in chai or phô: ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, black pepper.
4) Ditch your tampons.
Seriously. I know that tampons have allowed us to go swimming, play soccer, and show up to work as if nothing is happening, but they’ve come at a cost.
Standard tampons contain dioxins, a known endocrine disruptor. They’re toxic, and your vaginal tissue is highly absorbent.
As well, tampons are what I refer to as a ‘plugging product. Yes, they absorb. I know they aren’t actual little corks, but they act a bit like a one. Your uterus is busy trying to expel all that blood and endometrial lining, but your tampon is nosed right up against your cervix blocking the flow. This means your uterus has to work extra hard to expel all that fluid. A uterus only has one way to expel things: contractions, aka cramps.
Ditch the tampon and notice if your cramps lessen.
Many people are able to use menstrual cups without cramping. For my body, it depends where I am on my cycle. On the first day of my bleed I usually skip the menstrual cup, as my vaginal and vulvar tissues are more tender and having anything inside of my vagina does not feel good. After that, though, I can usually use a cup without pain if I choose to.
5) Help your hormones regulate themselves.
Endocrine disruptors are every-frickin-where in our environment right now. Scented laundry detergents, cleaning products, non-organic food grown with pesticides, standard pads and tampons, plastic dishware, cosmetics, nail polish, non-stick pans, fire retardant in our kids’ clothing…the list is endless.
Do yourself a solid and replace your scented laundry detergent, chemically based cleaning products, and plastic dishware ASAP. You and your kids are absorbing that in every moment of the day, and this can have disruptive impact on brain development, hormone production, and immune function.
And while we’re talking about hormones, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention hormonal birth control (HBC). HBC has played an important role in our history and the ability for women to take control of their fertility, AND, it’s come at a very high price.
Buuuuut, it’s a much bigger conversation that I’ll save for an upcoming post.
Remember, if you’re a menstruating person, you do have phases, just like the moon. The moon does not feel self conscious for shining brightly, nor does she apologize for going dark.