Periods: Icky or Divine? Why it's important to reclaim our periods!
The February full moon finally brought my period back, and I welcomed it with joy. Not only is it a sign of health and vitality, but I am back to being myself mentally and physically after 2 years of breastfeeding and recovering from the birth of my beautiful son. It’s amazing how our cycles tune in with the lunar phases, and how it synced with the recent full moon. A lot of women, when we don’t take any hormonal birth control and go with our natural flows, will experience their periods around full or new moon. It's all mamma nature and our connection to her:)
Additionally, my background is in humanitarian aid and on menstrual hygiene management, where I have been working on destigmatizing menstruation globally and have had the honor and joy to work with activists and organizations such as Rupi Kaur, Kiran Gandhi, Lilliana Tandon, Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, Global Citizen, IRC, United Nations, THINX underwear, Days for Girls, Huru International, Period, WASH United, local politicians, to name a few. I co-created the Let’s face it. Period. Campaign together with some kickass ladies. It’s been an incredibly rewarding and fun journey as we have accomplished so much together:)
Although periods have been in the spotlight for the last few years, thanks to change-makers and advocates for women’s rights and menstrual equity, we still have a long way to go. And on this blog I want to strike a more personal tone where I discuss the way we feel about our periods and the stigma and taboos and resentment we carry with us from a young age.
Many of us see menstruation as a curse, something negative and something we kind of have to suffer through. It's related to cramps, PMS, pain, and just a very emotionally unpleasant week of the month for many. Having to buy and bring menstrual products everywhere, watch out for leaks and feel bloated and blue; Not to mention the period products, that up to date kind of suck. Tampons and pads contain many harsh chemicals that can be harmful to us. (Therefor always a good idea to go with organic cotton products or sustainable reusable options.)
A colleague once said to me: had it been a male product, a tampon would already have a remote control and fly into your vagina!! This truly needs more investment and more brilliant minds coming up with better stuff ASAP, as I am not satisfied with what’s out there for sure. In the west we have various options while women in developing countries lack proper products and are forced to use often unsanitary and dangerous solutions. Girls miss out on school because they don't have access to sanitary products or bathrooms with soap and clean water.
Further, we dread our periods partly due to underlying stigmas and taboos, as well as what society has taught us. We all know you won’t take out a tampon visibly in a restaurant and tell everyone you're going to the bathroom to change it, but maybe you should. Maybe we should all be a bit more loving towards ourselves and our bodies. Periods are a part of us and who we are, and they are here to stay!!Stigmas and taboos around periods are a global problem. It is everywhere. Now, I am not sure when and where this went totally wrong, and why we have come to hate menstruation so much. May it be religious, cultural, social, patriarchal and so on, but it’s there and we need to change. As long as we feel this way, the taboos will continue.
My story is a bit different because I was actually very happy when I entered my menarche. My younger sister got her period first and I was mortified that she got to become a woman before me. So when I finally joined the club I was beyond happy!! In my mind periods are a beautiful thing and it is what makes us so unique and different. We are able to give life, and also experience a more rich and emotionally multifaceted cycle that can be a beautiful monthly journey if we allow it. Part of accepting and loving ourselves, includes loving our periods! Menstruation and even menopause is a huge part of our lives. It is blood and it’s pure and there is nothing dirty about it. Ever think about how semen is so celebrated all over the world but periods are not? This truly needs to change. And we can change it by starting with ourselves!
We need to embrace our monthly cycles and hormonal ups and downs and start working with them and not against them. Eckhart Tolle talks about this in his book ‘the power of now’ how when we are on our periods we are the most connected to the universe and creativity. We also need rest and nourishing during this time. Understanding and listening to our bodies, and tuning in to the ups and downs allows us to use our cycles to our best advantage. Click here to learn more about how.
I am a woman who is truly grateful for her period. Not that I am not in pain sometimes or feel like shit, cause I do. When I am on my period I feel a strong connection and oneness with other women, and share in our pain and the female divine. It’s about sisterhood, compassion and love. We also need to recognize that some women go through pain to a degree where they are not able to get out of bed. And when we do rest and take care of ourselves many of us experience the pain to be lessened. The benefits are magnified when our food intake supports menstruation. Read this article about menstrual cycle diet to learn more.
I think our periods are magic and divine as they are the reason we all exist and give life, and I wouldn’t exchange that for anything in the world. When I sync with my cycle and listen to my needs, I feel an enormous shift and connection to my body. I know when I ovulate and from which side as I can feel it. This happened when I stopped taking hormonal birth control and decided to take charge of my Vagina. I Track my period and ovulation with the apps that exist today using the natural method of body temperature and more. So ladies, I think we all need to start embracing our periods and loving them because they are amazing and we are amazing to have them. Your body is your temple and self love and acceptance is key not only for our own growth but also to spread that positive vibe and smash the shame. So, be a bit more open to the thought of honoring yourself by honoring that blood and let it flow.
Relaxing essential oil bath for cramps and PMS support:
(I always recommend organic oils)
Epsom salt helps relieve pain
Clary sage oil
Combine oils with 1 table spoon carrier oil such as almond oil to dilute as oils can be very strong. Only use 2-4 Drops of each.