The Menstrual cycle reconsidered
The menstrual cycle has stepped into the spotlight in the past couple of years, and for a good reason! Without the menstrual cycle, human life could not continue. After decades of being taboo, dirty, and generally being a “big pain” in a women’s life, are we coming back to a place of respect, honor, and even awe?
I vaguely remember when I started my menstrual cycle, there was no special ceremony or fancy dinner. It was just another day. I don’t remember anything being made of it, besides the fact that it finally came (I was the last one in my friend group at the time). What message does a lack of celebration or ceremony send to a young woman when she’s embarking on a new era and stepping into womanhood. I’m not blaming anyone. I think this a matter of culture. However, I believe it needs to be reexamined and given more intention to honor this passage.
Do you recall your start? What was the experience? How did you feel? What was the conversation around this experience? If you’ve never given much thought to this time, it is a great topic to bring to meditation or journaling.
“Do these themes and the values placed on your menses play out in your menstrual life or fertility now? Can you see any patterns?”
Connecting with and understanding our menstrual cycle can be a most empowering and health-promoting relationship. When we know our menstrual cycles, we can experience all their glory and the beauty of each step.
We can also adjust our lives
and flow to be in sync with the rhythm of our hormones. Below you’ll find a few of my favorite ways to begin to connect to your monthly flow.
Connecting with your menstrual cycle
- Start tracking your cycle on a calendar, not book or app- (For apps, I recommend Kindara with my clients when we’re working on fertility and hormone balance.) Knowing exactly how long your cycles are is an essential first step, and it will also help you see variations more easily.
- Notice your flow- you can observe your menstrual flow- heavy, light, dark, clots, pale, pink, watery, etc. The flow can tell about nutritional status and hormone balance (pale and pink could be a sign of deficiency or anemia, while dark and heavy could indicate estrogen and progesterone balance).
- Cervical mucous- increases with increased estrogen levels and is usually most abundant during the fertile window leading up to ovulation. Knowing about the mucous patterns can help alert you to your fertility and help prevent or achieve pregnancy. The mucous can appear dry, clumpy, stretchy, or thin and vary in quantity based on hormone levels. You can also note this in your tracking.
- Notice symptoms- do you feel great and have robust libido around the middle of your cycle? Perhaps you crave withdrawal and stillness the week leading up to your bleed. Acne at ovulation or spotting before the menses? These can all tell you more about your needs, imbalances, and how best to support yourself throughout the month.
- Track the moon- women used to cycle with the moon more often due to the light’s impact on our hormonal symptoms. They would ovulate with the new moon and menstruate with the new moon. Tracking the moon phases is a great way to connect your cycle with the lunar month, and you might find that your menstrual- cycle begins to sync back up with the moon.
Supporting your Menstrual cycle
- Having the basics in order is a significant first step for menstrual health and balance– i.e., sleep at night, eating whole natural foods, drinking water, and moving your body regularly. If you’re not doing these things, decide what you need to do and make a plan to integrate these habits gradually.
- Adjust your lifestyle and habits to compliment and go with your hormone fluctuations– For example, leading up and during your menses, hormone levels are at their lowest. Menstruation is not a time for your most intense workouts and high-level mental activity, but rather a time flow reflection, creativity, and going within. If menstruation were a season, it would be winter.
- Know when and if you ovulate each month- The fertile window is an approximately six-day period in your cycle when you’re able to get pregnant. Ovulation is the main event of the menstrual cycle, and knowing when and if it happens is paramount to your health and hormone balance.
- Learn about the various sex hormone and their impacts- Estrogen, progesterone, LH, FHS, and testosterone are all key players in the monthly cycle. Understanding their effects and what they do will help you to identify
imbalances and know what to expect during various points in the month.
- Let your cycle teach you- honor the wisdom of your body and take time to listen and connect within. The moon cycle is a portal into understanding our bodies, emotions, and deeper longings and needs. Trust the intuition in provides you and make space through ritual or meditation/prayer practices to help you grow in understanding and appreciation.