Let’s talk about our periods. I have (as I should) zero shame about this subject. In the last year I have been learning (which is sad because I should have learned about this a decade ago in health class) all about hormonal health, the menstrual cycle, and how that translates to my emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing.
“Period Talk” is still a taboo topic for some (and that’s why it’s so important to talk about it). Unfortunately, stigmas and stereotypes rooted in larger gender, health, social and cultural issues still exist. This not only perpetuates shame and embarrassment but prevents us from fully understanding, appreciating, and claiming control over our bodies. It also prevents many women from seeking the help they need to manage their periods whether it be PMS, pain, or other more concerning issues like excessive bleeding.
So many women struggle in silence with these issues, but knowledge is power, and because we aren’t being taught this information in school, we must be proactive about our health and seek it out ourselves. I also believe when we are equipped with the right words to describe how we are feeling it allows us to have open and honest conversations about our experiences with our partners, friends, and even our bosses. This will ultimately allow them to support and understand us better.
Did you know (because I didn’t until a year ago ugh) that there are 4 phases of your period? I have found understanding the different stages to be so empowering and validating.
healthline.com outlines each phase below!
Menstrual Phase- Day 1. The menstrual phase is the first stage of the menstrual cycle. It’s also when you get your period.
Symptoms- cramps, bloating, mood swings, low back pain
Follicular Phase- The follicular phase starts on the first day of your period (so there is some overlap with the menstrual phase) and ends when you ovulate
Symptoms- increase in energy
Ovulation Phase- Ovulation happens around day 14 if you have a 28-day cycle
Symptoms- Rise in body temperature, discharge
Luteal Phase- Lasts on average 14 days. Rise in hormones, mainly progesterone and some estrogen. During this phase, if you don’t get pregnant, you may experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Symptoms- Weight gain, change in sexual desire, mood changes, double sleeping, headaches
My strategies and tips?
Be comfortable with and understand your body.
- Your period should not be a mystery. Learn more about hormones and the female cycle. This will allow for a better awareness and understanding of what your body is actually going through, and what are “normal” symptoms and those that are not.
Check these out:
The CYCLICAL Podcast on Spotify, hosted by Dr. Cassandra Wilder
Naturopathic Doctor & Cyclical/Menstruation Expert
The WomanCode & In the Flo by Alisa Vitti
- Keep a journal of your symptoms. This will help you prepare for the next month and help you with any discussions you might want to have with your doctor.
Find a good doctor.
- Your health is vital and having a supportive, understanding and knowledgeable health care partner is so important. You really can ask them anything -don’t be shy! Also, don’t hold back -share your concerns. If you feel they aren’t “listening” or “hearing” you or the relationship is not feeling open and supportive, then look for a new doctor. Consider a nurse practitioner or a naturopathic doctor.
To me Period Self-Care means:
- Mind & Body awareness- knowing where I am on my cycle and what that means for me emotionally, mentally, and physically (I’m most emotional when I’m ovulating…I’m talking bawling my eyes out during a comedy).
- Balance – setting healthy habits, doing what feels good, not overdoing it, and forgiving myself if I slip-up.
- Sleep –creating a good sleep environment and establishing healthy sleep habits. I need my humidifier, my lavender essential oil, clean sheets, and a 11pm bedtime at the latest.
- Movement -listening to my body to guide my method of exercise. I usually lean into slower more restorative movements. I love Yin Yoga whenever I’m feeling achy or sore.
- Diet -drinking lots of water, eating more foods high in B vitamins and omega fats. If you’re craving red wine and chocolate (my specific period cravings) don’t stress, this is a great time to gift yourself things that make you feel good. Moderation is key with this though, because nothing is worse than period cramps plus a tummy ache from over doing it with junk food.
- Self- Compassion- If I’m feeling dull and down or feeling like I’m losing control over my emotions, I remind myself that there are strong hormonal changes happening in my body and I try to be gentle and kind towards myself. Instead of getting frustrated that you are low energy and bloated, ask yourself what you could do to honour those feelings and make yourself feel supported and safe.
Remember, every human, woman, body, and period are unique. No one knows your body and experiences better than you. Trust yourself when it comes to your health.
I hope this article brought you some value. I’m excited to dive even deeper into this subject and continue to bring you along on my journey.