Why Your Period Is NOT Your Enemy
For real! She's not. I'm here to challenge the mental battle we face every month when "Aunt Flow" comes around.
Periods in general aren't something our culture celebrates. The narrative I've gathered through my own conversations and observations is that a period is seen as a nuisance.
Tell me if you can relate to the below worries... Ugh, I got my period. That means I can't...
-Be sexy or feel sexy
Basically, it's a week (or week and a half if you include PMS), of feeling crappy, being moody, and posting up on the couch with a heating pad and some Advil feeling like "Someday my prince will come" and by prince I mean feeling 'normal'.
Y'all, of course we don't want this. Who would? I'm here to tell you that this isn't how it has to be. A period isn't a prison sentence for 1/3 of each month. There's a reason you have PMS, and a reason why you don't feel so hot.
It's your hormones. Does that sound too simple? Okay, it's actually an underlying hormonal imbalance which can be caused by a variety of factors. Given that I am NOT a medical professional, I am not here to diagnose you. However, I share what I've learned from personal experience so that you will know you're not alone.
Your Body Is Wise
Our endocrine system, responsible for all hormonal regulation, is a delicate system. It can be disrupted by something as simple as your morning cup of coffee, and we certainly aren't briefed on that alongside Folgers telling us they're "good to the last drop."
Yes, it's true that hormonal imbalance causes PMS. Any time our body is lacking in a mineral or nutrient it needs, those effects are going to be felt in the body. Like anything, it doesn't happen overnight, however thinking about the compounding effects of the diets a lot of us have had (mac n cheese w/ a side of frozen fish sticks is a complete meal, right? - guilty!) it's not shocking that many of us have imbalances.
Strangely, we've been led to believe that eating should be about convenience more than it should be about informed nutrition. We've been led into busy lives and solutions have formed around that. I will save the fast food epidemic rant for another day.
It's not all on you, boo. I mean, let's be honest, we have to dig HARD to find information about what to avoid, what to eat, etc., it's not exactly pushed on us like processed foods are. Hiiii Conagra Foods, hiiiii Monsanto. As I'm writing this and considering my diet growing up, it's not too far off to think that perhaps the reason why my period cramps were heavy AF was diet related, along with a combination of hereditary traits and perhaps another medical reason that I wasn't aware of. However, the option I was given to relieve my PMS was...dundundun... the birth control pill!
The pill was the holy grail. Pregnancy prevention, fewer and lighter periods, and less PMS symptoms AKA cramping, which for me was so painful that I literally had to leave class to go sit on the toilet and breathe through it. Yes, I'll gladly take a pill at the same time every day to help subside those worries. Every time I asked my doc, hey, any long term effects of this thing? I received the same answer: nope.
The truth is that the pill doesn't fix or address any underlying hormonal imbalances, it simply treats the symptoms caused by them. Many women report coming off the pill and having the same issues that were there before. To be clear, I am not against the pill; I believe you should have ALL of the information available to make an informed decision.
For me, the pill made it simple for me to manage my period, my PMS, and prevented me from getting pregnant on top of other measures taken. The pill also took my mind off of this natural body function of the full "cycle" and I know now that I was completely missing the point. I didn't understand the cyclical rhythm my body wanted to beat to, and I had no idea how the pill was affecting it.
What I understand today is that my ability to menstruate is amazing. I know that my body works its ASS off to make it possible for me to carry life one day, when I decide to. I also know that I need to honor that sacred cycle, and be OK with being winter one week and spring the next. I have an arsenal of resources that feel like a "secret weapon" although they really shouldn't be secret. I want to share them with you, with the world, so that we may all understand our bodies and the incredible work that they do.
I do not want to fight with my body, I want to be at peace with her.
If you're here, I'm guessing you feel the same. Welcome, I'm glad you are here. Hormonoscope is a place where you'll meet other menstruators who feel the same. It's a space to learn about your cycle and ways to work alongside it. We break down the information into bite sized chunks, so you can begin implementing small changes. Remember, the ocean is made up of a million droplets. Small practices can make a huge difference over time.
If there's anything you take a way from this writing, please let it be that you are NOT broken, your body is wise, and it will heal itself the more that you support that healing.
What will it take for you to embody the above quote by Nayyirah Waheed, and become your body's ultimate advocate and best friend? I'd love to hear your takeaway in the comments below.
All my love, Christina Kostar
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