Growing up female was not always rainbows and unicorns. Puberty, hormone changes, body hair, & menstruation were all topics of anxiety and disgust. I learned to “deal” with these issues rather than understand them and, in essence, myself.
All too often girls, especially preteen or prepubescent, are self conscious about the multiple changes that happen to their body. The receive generic and sometimes outdated, dangerous information regarding the sacredness that is feminine reproduction & all the systems that go along with it. We all have horror stories connected with our cycle…here is a glimpse into how I began to love my period instead of despise it…
I got my first period cycle in 6th grade. I remember sitting in Science class and feeling like I “wet” my pants. I sat there uncomfortably & tried to readjust when I noticed blood on the plastic seat. As the youngest of three girls and also having “sex education” in 4th & 5th grade…I knew this was coming but it still didn’t make that first time any less surprising. I remember tying my bright yellow, lined jacket around my waist and asking to be excused to the bathroom. I did not have any pads or tampons in my bag to take care of the situation so I folded toilet paper in my underwear to stop further leaking (although the damage had already been done!). In my next class I gained enough courage to ask to go to the nurses office…my teacher asked “why?”.
Oh. Em. Gee. The mortification…it was a female teacher so I knew she’d understand but I wasn’t ready to step into and own this power cycle of my life yet…it actually would take me over 15 years to fully come to terms, appreciate, and LOVE my menstruation…
My mom helped me understand how to use feminine hygiene products and I “coped” with my period for the next few years. Then, when I was a sophomore in High School, I had a terrifying experience prior to one of my cycles. In the middle of class I started having extremely painful abdominal cramps. Not like regular period cramps. These were so severe I was unable to stand, let alone walk! One of the football guys had to carry me down a flight of stairs to the nurses office. I was immediately sent home and my doctors office was almost sure I was experiencing a pancreas attack. My mom took me to the ER where they did a sonogram and found nothing wrong with my pancreas but did find abnormalities near my ovaries. Next, and the internal ultrasound…now if you’ve ever had children they do these early on in pregnancy for dating purposes, but let me tell you as a 15 year old virgin that scope is NO JOKE. I remember feeling unsure about the procedure but also wanted answer as to why I was so miserable…well, it happened and you may have guessed – cysts. One was so big my OB said if they were to do surgery they would have to take my whole ovary.
15 years old…being told my chances of having babies would be less than 50%. My mom agreed surgery was NOT an option. So we opted for the pharmaceutical route, meaning starting me on hormonal birth control to hopefully reduce and rid my body of the cysts.
I remained on various forms of birth control for over a decade. When my husband and I decided to have kids I got my IUD removed & I remember thinking how HORRIBLE my last period was before I started taking birth control. This made me anxious…would my cysts return with a vengeance? What if my fertility was already affect by them & any scar tissue that may have built up over the years…
To my surprise my cycles were less dramatic and easier to “cope” with even compared to the ones I had while on birth control. My hormones regulated and my PMS symptoms resided…I was actually happy with my body for once. Still didn’t “understand” it, but was happy.
The catalyst for my yearning for knowledge began when I miscarried our first baby at 9 weeks. I didn’t need a reason for the miscarriage, I just wanted possibilities so I could be better informed for the next time we conceived. It was during this intense research into feminine cycles that I stumbled across a whole new way of understanding my body. Our cycles correlating with the lunar calendar instead of a monthly one, what chemicals are used in feminine hygiene products that we are then absorbing into one of our most powerful chakra/energy centers (It literally creates & sustains human life!), how to better understand hormonal changes thought my cycle based of off discharge, weight, and other symptoms…this was a whole new way of living.
I only had one cycle in between my miscarriage and conceiving with our rainbow baby so I was not yet able to personally experience all these amazing things I was learning about. I had another 15 months to arm myself with knowledge after having him before my cycle finally returned. I kid you not when I say that my periods since having our son have been the best, most enjoyable experience of my life. I am so grateful to be able to celebrate the profound magic that is womanhood. My experience of ease & grace during what used to be a turbulent & shameful time for me has truly confirmed my decision to reduce, or at least limit, toxic & chemical exposure to my body…which includes no more birth control, organic & reusable feminine hygiene products, and monthly or regular self-care rituals that support me.
To each their own on this journey, but if you ever want or need to chat about how you can better listen to your body’s unique cycles and ways to naturally support it…let me know…Periods are my friend. Women are my people.