Facing up to Our Periods – Why Periods are Important
I want to look at why periods are important.
So many women have a negative attitude to their periods. This is often passed down from their mothers and grandmothers.
Teachers and friends can also react to periods as if they are something to loath and if possible something to be stopped at all costs. This endorses the way women grow up to feel about their precious monthly cycle.
Tribes such as the Native Indians have for centuries celebrated a girls first menstrual cycle with symbolic dancing and cleansing rituals.
It was and still is, in some places, a rite of passage and links to mother earth. These celebrations treat women with reverence and respect.
So Why are Periods Important? How we can think differently.
It is understandable when a young girl or woman has bad experiences of heavy bleeding or pain that they can dread a monthly bleed, but today we are so much luckier than the generations of women before us who did not have the range of discreet pads or tampons or even the drugs such as ibroprofen to cope with the pain. We just need to change the way we think about our periods and realise how vital they are to our future fertility. It is not until women are struggling to conceive do they start to love their cycles. Jessica Hepburn who has had 11 failed IVF cycles and has written a book called In the Pursuit of Motherhood, says “when we were young we never thought about our future we were told we could have our cake and eat it”.
If you have a painful or heavy period there will be some reason for it. Hormone imbalances are common affecting both mood and physiology. Dr Marilyn Glenville has some good advise on her website about getting your body back in balance with advise on lifestyle, diet and nutrition. There are many clinical studies into the effectiveness of this.
There maybe be other causal factors such as endometriosis, fibroids, polyps, PCOS or even a family history of a diagnosed bleeding disorder. Anyone with any of these should go to a doctor but the best form of medicine is Intergraded medicine when you combine lifestyle and dietary changes with a good complementary practitioner, who can work along side a doctor or consultant.
Reproflexology is a very effective at regulating cycles and helping with painful and heavy bleeds.
Being aware of our hormones and how they affect us is a good way of learning to understand and cope with the changes we feel throughout our cycle. It would be wonderful if when women are having a day or two of heavy bleeds that they could take a ‘duvet day’ off work. These two days would be easily made up by the fact that when women enter their follicular phase (the phase leading up to ovulation) they are at their most creative and productive and can easily make up for the ‘lost time’ at work.
It is important that we change the way we think about our periods and realise how vital they are to us as a route to our fertility and future children. I am seeing women in their thirties who have no idea how their cycle works – these are women who have never considered their cycles significant in their lives and have often masked their natural cycle by being on the pill and other contraception since they were quite young. It is only at a time when they are desperate to conceive that they become aware of how important it is to understand how their cycle works, and it is only then that they desperately want their bodies to function normally.
There is a wonderful programme that it taught in schools throughout Germany called My Fertility Matters. It is about educating young girls and boys about their fertility just at the point of puberty.
All young women should be educated with talks given at university. It is important for everyone to learn about their bodies and how to respect them. They need to understand the potential impact of taking the pill continually, how important it is for them to have a break when not in a relationship, to be aware how STI’s affect their fertility.
TED talk by Meg Jay – Why 30 is not the new 20 explains why investing in our youth is important. When in comes to our fertility we need to be aware in our twenties that what we do will have an impact on our thirties and beyond.
It is wonderful that we have come such a long way. The pill and other contraceptives have liberated women but it comes at a cost and we need to be informed and educated about it. It is about making choices and I we need to face up to this.