Yes, today I’m talking periods. A very natural, but somewhat taboo topic when it comes to discussing in groups or around the fellas. So boys, you can cover your eyes and block your ears becuase your ladies might take notes, go ‘oooh interesting’ or be all ‘take THAT uterus’ – and that might make you uncomfortable. OR you can learn about how best to support your lady through this time and educate yourself as to what goes on during ‘that’ time.
I’m sure I’m sharing with you what you already know but here is the 411 on your period and what actually goes on during your cycle.
YOUR PERIOD 101
+ Both of your ovaries contain ALL the eggs that you will produce in your lifetime. Ovulation, where the egg is released from the ovary and travels through the fallopian tubes to your uterus, occurs once a month. Usually at day 14 of your cycle.
+ If pregnancy doesn’t occur, well, we are punished. Just kidding! The unfertilised egg triggers a number of hormonal responses which in turn cause the endometrial lining (built up in preparation to support the fertilised egg) to shed. This causes a little pain and bleeding (or a lot depending on your severity of flow) and it leaves the uterus via the cervix and vagina.
+ ‘I hear their period attracts bears. The bears can smell the menstruation’. Although Brick thought he was on to something, I’m afraid//relieved that firstly – bears don’t like period; and secondly – we don’t even lose that much blood! I know it feels like for 5 days straight (most menstrual cycles last between 3 to 8 days) we just are slowly haemorrhaging and dying, but in reality we lose on average around 4 Tbspns of blood.
+ Our hormones, namely oestrogen, progesterone, lutenising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone, interact in a series of ebbs and flows over the month of your cycle. This may result in some undesirable consequences such as water retention, moodiness, skin changes, weight changes, cravings, fatigue and so on.
To learn more, particularly you lads, check out this hilariously but intelligently written article on the fascinating processes involved in Aunt Flo’s monthly visit. I laughed out loud at the reference of it being ‘lady shark week’.
TAMPONS, PADS and FLOW CUPS (Oh my!)
Did you know the average woman uses about 12, 000 tampons over the course of her menstruating life? That’s a lotta cotton! Other ways to protect your knickers include pads and, the more recently popular, flow cups!
Tampons are wads of cotton, inserted vaginally, to collect our menstrual flow. Pads are large (well they feel large!) absorbent strips that adhere to your lady undies to catch whatever leaves your body. Ok not ‘whatever’ leaves your body, just the blood. And finally, flow cups, are reusable silicone cups (think ‘ball in a cup’ funnel shaped) that sits internally and collects the flow until it’s emptied. I was personally aversive to this concept at first but I very much see its benefit now! When cared for and washed carefully, it actually serves as the most hygienic and lifestyle friendly option of the three!
Now – if you were to ask me to hold a pesticide and chemical laden stick in my mouth for 4-6 hours – I would tell you to bugger off. In the words of Oz’s Cowardly Lion ‘No way, no how’. But for Aimee Marks, founder of TOM Organic, she realised that in essence this is what women were (unbeknownst to them) doing every single month. During a school project she came to realise that conventional tampons contained a huge list of unnecessary ingredients. Flick over the pack and have a read – viscose rayon (a synthetic); conventional cotton (containing pesticides and nasty sprays) and even plastics. Yuck. Watch this incredible Health Talks episode to get enlightened.
I started using TOMs tampons about a year or so ago and I don’t see myself ever changing from these. Well, maybe for a flow cup. I am so passionate about ensuring only the best and most healthful ingredients enter my body, through my mouth and diet and skin care, I thought – why would my vagina be any different?! It’s such a delicate and absorbent part of our body, so vulnerable to nasties, and yet we unknowingly expose it to so many nasties. AND they have affirmations and empowered messages on them. When mum saw them she was like “Of course your tampon box says ‘be the change’!”.
The pain, oh the pain.
If we are being completely honest, day one of my period makes me feel like my insides are trying to escape using the claws of a dinosaur. Seriously. Day one and two are ridic. I’m not someone who very often hits up the medicine cabinet, I try to get through pains and cramps and aches without using conventional pain relief. The following tips and tricks are just some of the ways I attempt to counter the discomfort of my lady week – BUT, I’m human, and if these don’t relieve pain then I will take an ibuprofen if all else fails. But I try to make sure this is last resort.
+ Heat bag – I apply a heat bag to my lower back AND//OR lower abdominal area during times of intense cramping and aching. I then try to rest and sleep it off, and usually awake feeling a little more comfortable!
+ Yoga poses for Cramps – I came across this article a year ago and it changed my period life! These poses SERIOUSLY reduce the pain in my lower back and internally. My favourite poses are Uttanasana (camel pose) and Janu Sirsasana A (head to knee forward bend).
+ A warm bath and meditation – bliss and relaxation for the whole body. As your mind and body relax, you send subtle messages to your muscles that they can stop contracting and constricting. It seriously invokes a huge sense of zen and comfort!
Over to you! Did you like this post? What tips and tricks can you share to your fellow sisters on tackling their period naturally?
Blessings and lots of fertility and ovulatory celebrations x