I got my first period when I was 13 (I think?). I can remember seeing some blood on my sheets one morning and bundling them up to hide it! This would indicate some embarrassment on my part. My Mum found the sheets of course and gave me a little ‘beginners’ pack, with pads and a booklet about periods in it. I have no conscious memory of the conversations around it. I was not made to feel shame, but it just wasn’t something that got acknowledged any month after that - it happened quietly. You carried on as normal, maybe took a feminax for pain, and maybe used it as an excuse to get out of sports, but that was it.
My Mum cannot remember my first flow at all. I can talk openly with her about my childhood, my birth, her menstrual cycles, and she tells me everything she can recall. So in respect of all those Mums and Daughters out there who may let the event pass by unnoticed (or even with embarrassment or shame) here I shed some new light on just how amazing it is to be a woman, and how you can learn to love your monthly cycle!
1 - Girls experience 4 seasons in a month
Contrary to popular belief, the monthly cycle does not consist of just PMS, bleeding and then those okay few weeks. There are four parts to it, like having 4 seasons in one month, and they are:
2. It’s okay to have ever-changing moods
We are living in a masculine structured society; there is the expectation to be the same mood, energy levels and study capacity every day of the month. HOWEVER!, we are not men and have fluctuating hormone levels that change slightly (sometimes lots) EVERY DAY. It is completely natural and normal to have moods and emotions, one day be brilliant at problem solving in class, the next feeling very quiet. Your experience of the world and how you interact with it is in a constant monthly cycle. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Once you get to know your cycle you can plan to e.g., quieter activities at certain times (late autumn and winter) and more confident and outgoing at others (spring and summer).
3. It’s not normal to have heavy painful periods
Listen up lassies of all ages! It is not normal for your bleeding phase to be super heavy and painful. Nor is it normal for it to be two days and light. If you are having super heavy and painful, or light scanty bleeds, then there could be a hormonal imbalance of progesterone to estrogen. Keep an eye on it by tracking your cycle (see 6.), eat well (cycles need nutrients), manage stress, get enough sleep, and rest when you feel tired. If you are in a lot of pain every month then see your doctor and insist on some help!!
4. The Pill is not a stand-alone solution for PMS or painful irregular cycles
When we go to a medical doctor with painful periods, raging PMS, anxiety, uncontrollable mood swings, weight gain and even acne, we get prescribed Birth Control Pills (BCPs). At the root of all these disturbances is a hormonal imbalance; the pills cover up the hormonal imbalance but only until you come off it. It’s can be more helpful in the long run to get on track with the addition of helpful nutrition, lifestyle, and supplementation.
5. Some girls naturally follow the 29 day cycle of the moon
Before BCP’s, late night lighting, 24h lifestyles and bright computer/device screens, more women were in Sync with the moon. Consider how the sunlight effects your moods and energy levels. The more sun, the more energy, the more gets done, the more robust your mind and emotions. It’s the same with the moon. The full moon provides more light and energy, coinciding with women’s summer (ovulatory phase) and the new moon with the lower energy of a woman’s winter (bleed phase). Modern life has night-time light disturbances and medications, and we are more likely to be out of Sync. (PS, this is a general rule, I personally am the opposite way around!).
6. Journaling your cycle will change your life!! Don’t believe me?
ALL girls and women can benefit by keeping a daily journal to track their cycle, noting changes in mood, mental and physical energy and more. This way, you see your patterns and they no longer take you by surprise! When you know what's coming, you can better plan life to suit you, rather than pushing yourself into something you're not enjoying. Here you can note things like:
7. Flowing women have deep intuition and wisdom. That’s ALL OF US!
The term ‘a woman’s intuition’ exists for a very good reason and you don't have to have special powers to access it. In societies gone by, and other non-western cultures today, the bleeding woman is highly respected. Girls and women experience their deepest intuition at this time, and this wisdom is used to guide the activities of the community. So listen out for any heart felt felt guidance that could influence your personal life, family, or study. You can trust yourself!
8. You are not a crazy b***h if you have PMS
If during your autumn (the 10-14 days before your period), PMS irritability arises, it’s because this is your most sensitive time. Things that usually breeze off you can really get to you. THIS IS NORMAL! If you get irritated about the same thing every month, then listen to your female wisdom. Does something in your life need to change?
9. PMS can be a big problem
If you feel unbearably down, angry, or anxious during the Autumn phase….huge rages where something gets damaged, suicidal thoughts, or unable to function because of headaches etc., then THIS IS NOT NORMAL PMS! You probably have too little progesterone in relation to estrogens and you can make yourself better. So stop blaming yourself, know it’s your hormones contributing and then start looking for solutions - a hormonal imbalance that can be healed with the right lifestyle choices and medical assistance. Getting enough sleep, having a decent poop every day (yes you read right!), eating broccoli and talking to people you trust about what is and isn't working in your life, all help to balance your hormones. ASK FOR HELP if you need it!! Whether it be from a holistic health specialist or your doctor. There is no need to suffer alone.
10.GIRL POWER ROCKS!
Gah, it sounds like a cliché now!! The Spice Girls were so long ago, but really onto something. Discover or create a close group of girlfriends that you can communicate honestly with and show them how to journal their cycles. Even if you’re not having your period yet, you can still journal every day, noting the position of the moon. Connect with your Mum and Grandma. It can feel scary to ask them about their periods but go ahead and do it anyway! If they’re embarrassed then let them know you’re asking because some things about periods are passed down through the generations; If they had problems then you want to be aware of them.
All in all, I want to let you know that having a menstrual cycle AKA SHE-FLOW, doesnt have to be miserable!! Once you start journaling, know yourself, look after yourself, and have some great chats with other girls and women, you'll come to see SHE-FLOWS as an interesting, inescapable, and very manageable part of daily life :)
Have you learnt anything from this article? Will you start journaling?
Is there anything else you need to know? What can you share to guide others? Drop me a message via the contact page, or FB page to chat more :)
For instant updates about workshops and resources that help girls and women navigate the hormonal life stages, like the FB and follow.
Eating omega 3's is one of the simplest ways to reduce your monthly pain. Better than that – if you have other pain, such as back or joint, it will likely help that too!
What are Omega 3’s?
Omega 3’s are a type of fat. They are part of the PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fatty acids). There are also Omega 6, Omega 7 and Omega 9.
Why are Omega 3 important for pain relief?
It’s not so much about how many Omega 3 you eat, it’s more about how many you eat compared to omega 6!
What am I eating with Omega 6 in it?
Most people eat these foods on a daily basis:
Meat, vegetable oils (olive, canola, palm, rapeseed, sunflower), most ready made snack/dip/baking foods in the supermarket (crisps, cakes, breads, sauces, check the label) takeouts, fried foods, margarine, partially hydrogenated vegetable fat, nuts, seeds, evening primrose oil.
Where can I find Omega 3’s?
Food sources include: Walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed (linseed), hemp seed, borage, oily fish, spinach, spirulina and mustard greens.
Additional vegetarian food sources include: turnips, zucchini, squash, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, dandelion greens.
Supplements are called: Omega 3 Fish Oils. If you buy any then make sure they are low mercury tested. Vegetarians use Flaxseed Oil Capsules.
Whats the problem with eating more Omega 6 than Omega 3?
All of your cells are walled with fat. The type of fat you eat will make up your cell walls. When cells degenerate, their cell walls get broken down and release molecules. Omega 3 breakdown encourages cause anti-pain, reduced swelling and less heat. Omega 6 breakdown causes pain, swelling, redness and heat. So you want to eat more of the Omega 3’s, and less Omega 6, to get your cell walls built of the good stuff!
Ideally we would have a 1:1 ratio of O3:O6, or at least under 1:4. Most people eat more like 1:17.
If you cannot get enough Omega 3 by food, you can suffer pain on a monthly basis, or in other ways like in your joints – then that is when you start supplementing with between 1000mg-4000mg fish oils a day.
Now you’ve named everything I eat as an Omega 6! Will I starve?
Omega 6 are not bad , it’s the ratio that counts.
The most important thing is to be aware of what has Omega3 and Omega6 in it.
Make a list and stick it on your fridge. Over time check in with it, and you will become familiar.
Focus on buying and eating the Omega 3 foods that you enjoy.
How can I track my O3:O6 ratio?
I recommend an app called Cronometer for nutrition tracking. Initially track your consumption and youll likely be surprised at how many 06 you are having (more than you imagined!). Be mindful to set up your own ideal O3:06 ratio, to max out at 1:4 (ideally 1:2 or 1:1).
Easy ways to get more Omega 3 to help relieve pain
What are some other oily fish?
The ones you will find easily in your supermarket are: Pink and Atlantic Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, Herring, Mackerel.
The best Omega 3 fish are: Anchovies, Atlantic Salmon and Atlantic Bluefish, Cobo Salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Pink Salmon, Sablefish, Sardines, Sockeye Salmon, Spiny Dogfish, Whitefish.
If you buy fish then do your best to get it from a fresh fish market. Easy alternatives are canned fish and the supermarket fish counter.
How long will this take to work?
Give it 3 months. I’ve seen some women get a rapid effect from Omega 3 capsules – in days . These healthy lifestyle additions can be used alongside painkillers, birth control pills and any other medical intervention you are using. The effects will build up over time. Let your doctor/specialist know what you are taking, especially if you are going in for surgery.
Do you need some help fixing painful periods? Contact Claire, certified Women's Integrative Health Coach at Awakening Wellbeing for personalized and group programs, available in person and online.
This is a non-exhaustive list of science backed ways to control rising blood pressure.