Yes, really – you can enjoy your period! I know that for a lot of women menstruation is painful, you’re knackered and generally you just wish it was all over and done with. I know because I used to feel that way too.
My own story with my period is a bit of a tale, after being on the pill for 10 years I came off it and didn’t menstruate – you can read more about my story with HA and getting pregnant here. When my period returned when Finley was 11 months old it was irregular (I continued to breast feed Finley until he was 2 and a half years old) but now it’s gradually settled into a pattern. Due to my experience with HA, every single time I get my period it feels like a blessing, so I do have a bit of an advantage in the enjoyment stakes. However, there are a lot of things you can do to help make your period a much more liveable experience, and yes, even enjoyable whatever your history with menstruating is.
Track your cycle
If you don’t already, start tracking your cycle using an app like Clue or MyFlo. Knowing when your period is likely to show up means you can prepare yourself for it. I have also found that learning more about my body’s cycles in general has been like discovering a whole new part of myself – knowing when I’m ovulating and how different that feels to when I’m premenstrual (and just want to eat my weight in chocolate) has helped me understand and be more forgiving of myself.
Think of your period like Winter
Energetically, your period is like the season of winter (with pre ovulation being spring, ovulation being summer and pre menstrual being autumn). Think about how you would take care of yourself in winter. You would maybe rest more, hygge down and eat more warming nourishing foods. When you view your period in this way and go with that flow of energy, it’s going to feel so much better than if you push against it and try and do all the things.
Do only restorative exercise
I can remember when I was a teenager, the advice for girls seemed to tell us to be active on our periods to help cramps. Well I don’t know about you, but the last bloody thing I feel like doing when I’m bleeding is going for a run! However some of us resist that and try and push through and continue performing and exercising at the same level throughout our cycles, which can definitely lead to some burn out. Choosing to focus on restorative exercise like yoga during your period will be so much more enjoyable, trust me.
Create some period rituals
Lisa Lister, all round Goddess of menstruation (check out her amazing books Code Red and Love Your Lady Landscape if this topic is interesting to you) has a box filled with things she only uses when she’s bleeding, such as a journal and a red pen. Why not create your own period box and rituals to go with it? You could have some chocolate in there, a book, a DVD, some special essential oils for a lovely bath etc.
Review your menstrual products
So, a bit TMI but I’m not a fan of tampons. Thankfully there are a lot of different options now available. Lisa noted in one of her books that women who experience cramps may want to try experimenting with pads that allow the blood to flow more easily. It’s also worth noting that many conventional pads and tampons contain chemicals that can irritate and of course, aren’t the best for the environment. You can purchase organic pads and tampons from TOTM, reusable pads, moon cups and other similar reusable cups or even something like THINX period proof underwear – I’ve just ordered a pair of pants so will report back!
If you can, take time off (or time out)
I’m actually writing this after experiencing the absolute bloody most hideous of period cramps (seriously like the contractions I had when giving birth to Fin, the pain was radiating down my legs!) I was very thankful to be able to get a hot water bottle, pop a couple of painkillers (which I only take when the pain is BAD) and watch an episode of GLOW on Netflix. Taking time off if you can, and if you need it (although if you regularly find that your period negatively impacts your life, don’t hesitate in seeing your doc), makes your period a kinder experience as you can actually let your body do what it needs to do in this phase of your cycle – rest!
Reframe how you view your cycle and period
The single biggest thing that has helped me find the joy in my period is completely reframing how I view my cycle as a whole. Thanks to people like Lisa Lister, Christiane Northrup, Alisa Vitti and Claire Baker I can understand that our cycles help us access our feminine power – and yes I know how woo woo AF that sounds, but it’s true! Our cycles are literally connected to life itself. Our period blood is what nourishes life – it’s what nourished you when you were only a few cells collected together. It’s incredible. We’re incredible and our period should serve as a reminder of that.
I know that for some women with chronic conditions like endometritis and PCOS, your period can feel like hell on earth, and obviously do whatever you need to do to manage that – but in healing those, alongside conventional means, I’m sure that some part of the equation is those things I’ve listed above – rest, understanding and learning more about your body, and recognising the power that our menstrual cycle should be reminding us of.
How’s your period? Enjoyable? Total Hell?