As a woman I used to look at my period as something that bothered me, that somehow it was there by mistake that I had to deal with. It was painful, I got bloated and I would fight it internally. I wasn’t at peace with it. It wasn’t until two years ago that I started thinking, that maybe there was more to menstrual cycles that I didn’t understand yet so I started reading about it. I was not being empathetic towards my body and what it was going through during the cycle. I was ignoring my emotions and swallowing them down because it wasn’t a good time to cry although my premenstrual cycle really disagreed.
I’m the book worm type and when there is something that I want to understand I get into research mode and that’s exactly what I did. Being an empathy expert my goal was to understand my body and my nature better so I could empathise with it.
I started discovering some interesting facts about my menstrual cycle that made me get closer to my nature and how I worked physically, emotionally and psychologically depending on the phase of the cycle that I was in. First of all we call it periods but your period is just a little piece of the menstrual cycle when you bleed but, there are more stages that go unnoticed by us during the cycle that we don’t pay attention to. Let’s dive right in.
Know your menstrual cycle
Each woman has a cycle duration that varies from 24 to 35 days approximately and so each phase will have a different length depending on the duration of your cycle and how much time your body needs to be in each of them to flow.
Menstruation – Reflective phase – Winter (Day 15)
This is our bleeding phase that lasts between 2 to 7 days. At this time your oestrogen and progesterone are at rock bottom and add up to the mix that your uterus is releasing its contents via your vagina. No wonder our energy levels are at their lowest. We are tired, sleepy and our body’s are slow. We don’ want to attend our responsibilities. Obviously you can’t totally let them go but if you are aware that you need some time alone you can plan for it to let your body follow its natural rhythm as much as possible.
It’s the perfect time to release and reset, to start over. While you bleed take time to think what are your releasing from this cycle, what no longer serves you. Maybe it’s that babe on Tinder who hasn’t replied for days? Chocolate cravings? Intrusive thoughts? Let it all go with your blood. Recharge and reset. A flower doesn’t bloom all the time and neither do you. This doesn’t make us weaker nor less productive in the long run it’s just that we have a biological clock, an alarm for rest is going off and we gotta listen to it. Follow this natural rhythm that tells you is time to sit down. You might feel blue and its alright too. Feel what you need to feel, be with your self, find your space to hibernate, it’s your winter time anyway.
Pre-Ovulation Expressive phase – Spring (Day 6-12)
It’s oestrogen time babe. Your uterus is thickening and getting ready for ovulation. Your energy levels are going up thanks to sweet oestrogen and serotonin. Hello strength! Hello libido! Welcome this energy that is being created after your resting time. You are sprouting again. It’s this time in your cycle when flowers start blooming, when you start feeling your power again. We are more playful, fun and even flirtatious. It’s the inner child’s time to come out. Motivation and momentum are the keys of your spring. Your body is preparing to welcome a baby and regardless if you are looking for one or not your body is ready to make a child of yours no matter in what form it is: a new project, a new idea, a hobby… You are focused and productive, use it to your advantage. Get ahead on your to do list, do the planning for the cycle, go for tasks you postponed.
Ovulation – Dynamic Phase – Summer (Day 13-19)
Its summer! Our hormonal peak. We are full of life, full of love, power and expansion superpowers. This is the superwoman phase! If there is something that needs your energy and focus this is when will happen and grow. You’ve gotta it all in you! Your abilities and resources are working for you. Our oestrogen levels are high waiting for the release of an egg from our fallopian tubes. Oestrogen stimulates serotonin production so you can guess that we are at the happiest during this stage of our cycle. We also produce produce progesterone naturally during ovulation that helps regulate sleep, libido, mood, energy levels…
You are in full blown during your summer phase. Create, go for all your projects. Your sensual energy is flowing, your body is literally screaming I am ready for some babies. So regardless if you are looking for literal babies or for new projects or ideas to come to light its a fantastic time to give it your all.
Pre-menstrual – Creative phase- Fall ( Day 20-27)
The superwoman phase is coming to and end. Take off your cape and leave it on the chair for the next cycle. You will probably feel the need to be alone, to isolate more, to spend some time in the bathtub or enjoying a beer or a glass of wine by yourself. Poor pre menstrual phase has an awful reputation due to mood swings, cravings, bloating and anything in between. But, it’s not all bad, c’mon! It’s time to celebrate everything that has happened in the cycle. We are more sensitive, we need to take some time for ourselves and yes we can be a bit grumpy sometimes. But the truth is that being grumpy is such an advantage. We have to set boundaries and we will be less tolerant of behaviours we no longer want to accept and that is ok. I always have these wild epiphanies during this phase. Like a light bulb suddenly goes off in my head but sometimes, I hold off on the action until the epiphany comes so I don’t bite off anyone’s head in the process with my boldness, my assertiveness, my displaced anger.
This is the inner critic’s favorite time to come to play. Know she is there, ignore her speech, call her out. Dont dwell on those intrusive thoughts. Instead, its a great time to treat yourself to an orgasm or two so your body relaxes and eases into menstruation happily.
Listen to me talking about menstrual cycles and empathy at Align Don’t Hustle podcast by Myoni:
Woman, empathise with yourself
Ladies, we are cyclical. You can’t be in production mode all day every day. The sooner you get in touch with your energies during your menstrual cycle the more you will be able to use them to your own advantage and make peace with them.
I used to be an executive woman and I forced myself to be productive even when my body was giving me clear signs that was not ready for a hectic rhythym. At some point I thought I can’t fight it anymore and I had to listen to myself with all that I am.
Self empathy is listening and honouring your body, not just the physical part of you but also your emotions. How do you feel? Do you need a good cry right now? Do you feel like dancing and moving your body? Do you need a calm relaxing reading afternoon? Maybe some meditation to align yourself? Do you have intrusive thoughts? Do you feel down?
Whatever you feel, whatever you sense in you is valid. No matter if it is explosive joy or deep sadness. Some keys to get in touch with your nature and get to be the best friend you deserve for yourself, you.
Being aware of your cycle is key to understanding what are your hormones are doing and the reason behind some behaviours, thoughts and emotions that are coming out. Check in with yourself. Love yourself, in all your states. We are cyclical, there are four women that live in you depending on the cycle phase you are in.
How are you feeling physically today? Think about your energy levels. Is it one of those days that you feel you can eat up the world up or the world is going to eat you?
Are you hungry? What do you fancy eating? Any cravings? How is your libido? How does your body feel? Did you sleep well last night? Are you sleeping through the night or do you wake up in the middle of the night?
Checking in with how your body feels give you lots of information on what you need. Ask your body what it needs today.
How is your heart feeling today? Watch out for mood swings and stress. If your emotions are stable or you are on more of an emotional rollercoaster ride. Check in with your confidence levels and self esteem. Do you have any repressed feelings? There might be something that wants to come to light but there is no safe space to do so. Get in tune with what is cooking in your emotional hot pot.
How is spirit today? You might be imagining yourself with some bird feathers on your head dancing around a bonfire. If by all means this is your jam then go for it but when I say spirit I mean how connected are you with yourself and with your gut feeling.
This is the magical power of intuition we all have that knows things beyond what is rational. Is this inner knowing? The vibes we get, the special insights of the unseen. How is your creativity? How grateful do you feel?
Where is your head at? Like the air quality in cities we need to measure the quality of our thoughts. And sometimes it smells like shitty thoughts up there…and thats ok too. We just need to be aware we are having a thought shit storm and accept that all we think about isn’t necessarily true. No need to believe it! You don’t have to believe everything you think. Let thoughts go their way, no need to jump on them especially on those that harm you from the inside out.
Our little monkey minds not only contain thoughts but they dictate our mindset, our perception of reality and our attitude towards what we encounter on the way. Check in with your level of motivation and even how is your memory is today. All of it counts!
Give yourself a hand
Oh! Sadly…the picture is not illustrating exactly the kind of hand I am talking about.
Feel yourself, know what you need and give it to yourself. The more self-aware you are the better you will be able to take care of your emotions, your mental state and your body. They need you, it’s your responsibility and no one else’s to keep you happy and sane.
The more I read about menstruation cycles the more I realised that I had to make peace with my body and how I felt about my own cycle and treat my body with the care and respect it deserves. I follow a healthy flexitarian diet with very minimal processed products and occasional meat, I do some yoga and drink tea that keeps my spirit warm during the day. I use natural cleaning products and vegan cosmetics but I didn’t really think about the menstrual products I was using. Somehow I normalised that what was available in the supermarket for my period was all there was but the truth is that I was a lot more picky and careful with my food for instance. Not everything in an aisle was food to me no matter what it said on the label.
So here I was spinning in my head around the idea that I had to try products that were respectful to my body and the environment during the menstrual cycle. Products that were comfortable and as natural as possible. Products that helped me connect with my self. I started trying different types of products . I used reusable pads of different kinds, period undies, menstrual cups and even body oils designed to help with cramps and pain. During my research mode I acquired a taste for turmeric lattes to help decrease bloating during my period and it works. Try it out!
What is a menstrual cup?
If you would have told me some time ago I would be inserting a plastic cup into my inner bits I would have laughed so hard. I had a real challenge trying on contact lenses and touching my eyeballs with the tips of my fingers so you can imagine my resistance to on thinking about sticking a plastic cup in my bleeding self.
A menstrual cup is exactly what is named after, it is a silicone like cup that you put introduce in your vagina and is held in place by suction. It collects your blood and when its full or you wish to empty it you squeeze the base with your fingers to remove it.
I know what you might be thinking. Not so sure about sticking something in my vagina, what if I cant get it out? I thought that myself but the truth is whatever gets in, gets out. It’s a trust process and as everything in life is not difficult its just new. It was a surprise to me that the menstrual cup comes with some unforeseen advantages apart from the obvious:
Not carrying around pads everywhere you go
No uncomfortable feeling using tampons or pads that move around
No itchiness due to chemicals on menstrual products
But the real deal is what I couldn’t even think about being an advantage of using it. I can actually see my blood. I know, blood is not the new chocolate cake, I get it but whether we like it or not we bleed monthly and we don’t observe or connect to our blood on our cycle.
Every time I take out my cup i see my cycle’s blood. I look at it and I have learned my colours, consistencies and even the amount of flow that I am having. You can see it, you can measure it because you see how full the cup is. It might seem something that is a banality or a curiosity but you know how you look at your face in the morning and you know if there is a new pore saying hello, if your eyes look tired or if you have saggy bags under your eyes? Well, guess what? Our blood tells us a lot about what happened in the last cycle for us the same way that our cramps cry out for relaxation, the same way we observe how we feel or if we are bloated…
All of it is valuable information to get to know yourself better and make peace with the blood that will be with you for some decades at least. I am tired of seeing adds on tv for pads and tampons that apparently when you wear them make you feel clean and odourless (as if we were dirty and smelly? Wait, what?) and make you powerful and happy with women dancing around with joy with their pads on.
What are these adds talking about? Who feels like this during a period? I cant believe that someone who has periods feels this way. We are not dirty, we are not smelly. Our blood is part of who we are, and we definitely don’t feel happy and powerful during our periods and not only this is ok but its natural, normal and the sooner we accept that the sooner we can make peace with our nature.
You might have felt my slight anger on this but the truth is that its ok to feel down during our periods and this image that somehow we need to separate ourselves from the blood, cover the smell with flowers, get away from it and deny our feelings is pure denial of who we are.
What is Myoni cup?
In my adventure to find my new menstrual products that were respectful to my body and that made me get more in touch with it I found My Yoni cup. I tried several different types of cups that came with some issues. Some cups are too rigid so the pressure you have to do to take them out was a bit uncomfortable. There are tricks and pressure places where it’s easier to break the air seal and that allows it to come out but I wasn’t totally happy with the experience.
The good thing about myoni cup is that first of all is ethically made from medical grade TPE (or Thermoplastic elastomer), which means it’s safe to use and re-use and is recyclable. I have a very sensitive skin, I get rashes from a mild breeze of air and the texture of the cup only touching it it made me feel relieved, it was promising and it delivered.
The other thing I liked about it was its color that blends in with my skin. Other cups were transparent plastic too rigid for my liking and it made me feel like I was introducing a medical instrument inside of me with no personality, no human feel to me. It could be just me but I feel that the cup is an extension of me and the color helps.
The other thing that I found crucial about its design is that it’s useful to pour your blood out once you have used the cup. Most cups are completely round at the top and its quite of an adventure to get the blood out without painting an unwanted Kandinsky in the process.
I am a huge fan of the menstrual cup now. As everything in life it takes a bit of practice. It’s also a learning experience about your own body and it allows you to have a much closer relationship with your menstruation. You see its color, the cup gathers all the blood as if it was a vessel. To me it’s a spiritual practice, my little ritual of honor for the end of a cycle that allowed me to let go of what no longer serves me and it’s the start of a new cycle with new opportunities to learn and grow.
Recommended books about periods and menstrual cycles