So let me start with a disclaimer, that if you have any squeamish tendencies about blood, or think that the monthly cycle of menstruation is inherently gross, then possibly reconsider reading this post.
WAIT... FIRST, let me ask you to reconsider your position. Periods are LIFE force, embodied. They are an absolute miracle of this incredible human body women were given, and I'll politely, with all due respect, ask you to toughen up a bit (men AND women). And if you are a woman, well LADIES: you'll do yourself a HUGE favor by getting over the "gross" and getting more tuned in to your cycle. We've spent too much time hiding what is a natural, zesty, womanly thing that EVERY one of us ladies goes through, and I'm sick of keeping it in the closet.
*steps down off podium*
Ok so in all seriousness, I, too, was once very grossed-out by and embarrassed of my period. I was horrified when it first arrived (on a camping trip with my Dad, and I had to tell him in horror; he dutifully went to the store and brought back pads the size of small couch pillows). I remained horrified as it got worse through my teen years. (I once drove to three different drug stores, walked in to each one see that only high-school aged boys were working at the check-out counters, and left - way too mortified to walk up to the counter with tampons.) And I really didn’t get over all this shame and squeamishness until my early 30’s.
A few things helped me get over it:
1. My friend Melissa caught me complaining about my oncoming period one day and said, shocked, “How can you hate your period?! I LOVE my period! It’s such a release, a cleansing, a renewal, a purification. It's power. It’s dark and it’s moody and it’s your body being fully ALIVE.” And in a nutshell, that made me start to think about things differently every month.
2. I started seeing an incredible acupuncturist regularly. She helped me see my cycle as a way to read what’s going on with ALL of my body - hormones, stress, sleep, moods… and that having a healthy fertility cycle can mean a body that is functioning optimally. She encouraged me to get in tune with what’s going on rather than run away from it. (She also says that bleeding directly into nature - like the ocean or a mossy river bank - is the best way to connect to the earth's energies... and I'm just waiting for the right opportunity to experiment with THAT.)
3. I learned about the moon cycles. I’m a hippie at heart, so discovering this stuff really hooked me. Think about it: The lunar cycle as a similar pattern to our menstrual cycles (28-ish days) and that can’t be all coincidence. Most women will find if they track their cycles that they bleed on or around the new moon, and ovulate on the full moon. Tradition & mythology call this a White Moon Cycle… and it makes sense, in that we go inward, become intuitive, and darker around the time of our period and the new moon, and become most fertile when the earth is most fertile, at full moon phases. Wanna hear something even cooler? Apparently if you are exactly opposite that schedule, (bleeding on the full moon and ovulating on the new moon) you have a Red Moon Cycle, which is associated with shamans, healers, and witchy, wise, medicine women. (more about this later…)
From fear to fascinating:
So once periods became fascinating rather than “ick” to me, I started thinking about how we deal with them… and I want to share a few things that have really upgraded my whole experience with it each month:
1. I upgraded to ONLY organic cotton tampons, and NO plastic applicators. Two reasons: one, I avoid pesticides in my food, so why would I want to continue putting bleached and potentially pesticide-laden cotton in my vagina? (Let us just pause to applaud the first time I’ve said vagina here on the blog!! Note to self: will weird internet searches now find me?!) And two, less plastic is a mission of mine, so eliminating potentially HUNDREDS of pieces of plastic per year that could end up in the ocean or on a tropical beach somewhere, is a YES.
So I started buying my tampons where I buy everything else, Whole Foods! And I’ve heard there are now some cool new women-run companies out there shipping organic tampons in variety packs directly to your door! (My high school self would have been so stoked!)
2. Not long after the great tampon switch, I ditched all tampons in exchange for a Diva Cup. I admit, I was skeptical for a LONG time on this one. ("A CUP? That just sits there and captures it all?! How do I get it in there? How do I get it OUT of there?? wtf…”) And I must also warn you that there is a bit of a learning curve with a menstrual cup. But once you get it, it’s nothing short of REVOLUTIONARY. For up to 12 hours, you don’t feel it or think about your period at all. Even more importantly, you can actually see what your flow looks and feels like. This may scare away the squeamish, but I can tell you that it is empowering an enlightening to know what’s going on down there – ESPECIALLY if you are working to improve fertility, or balance your hormones. (I talk about the quantity/texture/timing with my acupuncturist and she helps me interpret those signs.)
**IMPORTANT TIP: I’ve recently learned that the cup is NOT the best option when it comes to travel. I learned this the hard way when I confidently boarded a 10 hour flight with Diva cup in place, and mid way through flight noticed it may need emptying… NOT fun to do in an airplane bathroom at 30,000 feet. And should you need to empty it in an airport, be sure to find a family restroom that has a private sink, or else you’ll need to wrap your bloody cup and hand in toilet paper, come out of the stall, dump the cup and rinse it in the sink with other people alongside you, and re-enter the stall to re-insert. Yes this happened. Lesson learned: travel with easily -disposed-of organic tampons.
3. I splurged on THINX period-proof underwear. This is another one that took some talking myself into. (“Just free-bleeding into a pair of granny panties??”) But now that I have them, I love them. At about $32 per, they aren’t cheap, but they are well made, and actually come in cute cuts & shapes that work for different bodies & flow days. They are definitely a little thicker feeling than most panties, so they aren’t something I like to wear under Lululemons or jeans, but I love to wear them in the evening and overnight. You can use them on their own (and the largest size is said to hold 2 tampons-worth of flow) or as backup for a tampon or cup. They don’t feel like diapers, they don’t feel like you’re sitting in blood. They’re actually kinda elegant and make your period feel more… special! (Maybe that's just because they are my most expensive pair of underwear, lol!) Plus they are a rad company that gives back to help women around the globe. (Here's my link that will give you and me both $10 off if you buy!)
Free at Last
These things have really changed they way I feel when it comes to “that time of the month.” I no longer dread it. I don’t freak out if it happens in the middle of a scheduled vacation. I try to stay in tune with the moon cycles and where I fall within those.
PS – don’t worry too much if your period doesn’t fall on the new or the full moon cycle; but if you want to sync yourself into those natural rhythms a little more, make sure you are:
- spending time in nature
- sleeping adequately and deeply, and close to the current cycles of light and dark-times
- eating nourishing, nutrient rich foods, but also honoring your cravings
- paying attention to the moon’s cycle and spending time in the moonlight
And here is an awesome article from Nylon for you if you're interested in more about the Red & White Moon cycle and general period empowerment.
I want to to hear from YOU!
As stated by the ladies at Thinx, I think it’s important to educate, empower, and eliminate the shame and embarrassment typically associated with periods and women’s health, and I want to open up the conversation! So I’d love to know… How do you feel about periods?! Have you tried these period helpers? Have any other tips or favorite things that make you hate your period a little less? Comment below! And please feel free to reach out if you have any questions!