It started for me as it does for many of us; inconveniently. First you’re a little girl playing with Barbies and dreaming of being an air hostess (for the travel of course!), the next you’re walking like you’re smuggling a double duvet in your pants, paranoid about the boil of a spot your chin had grown overnight.
This is my menstruation story, and it’s neither pretty or inspirational.
My Menstruation Story Begins With Lycra
It was the first week of secondary school and I was in the changing rooms of my local swimming pool when I discovered the crimson message from my womb. Like many 11 year olds, I kind of knew this moment was coming. My menstruation had arrived, and frankly I was terrified.
Yet, still, I stared blankly for a while as I tried to recall the vague information we’d been delivered in sex education years before, by our middle aged balding male teacher. Diagrams of a clinical uterus and memories of giggling boys gave no indication of what I should do next. Welcome to womanhood!
After patching myself up with the swimming pools free sanitary pad supply (which resembled wearing a rolled up bath towel shoved in my underwear) I was good to go. And here began my relationship with my period. Hide it, sort it, clean it, ignore it. The early days of my menstruation story is unfortunately similar to so many other women I talk to now.
The Mystery Of Miserable Menstruation
It wasn’t until my period became a raging siren of anger 8 years later that I diverged from this prude British approach to ’embarrassing bodily functions’ to a full blown womb healing journey.
One evening, as I was getting ready for bed, one of the most profound experiences happened. I stood up to put on my jammies and a blood clot the size of a golf ball fell out of me. Aside from being throughly freaked out (I mean, who wouldn’t be?!) I knew something was up ‘down there’. What followed was 30 days straight of heavy bleeding, then 90 days of no bleeding at all.
Here began my awareness of my highly irregular cycle; constant heavy bleeding (Menorrhagia) one minute and no bleeding (amenorrhea) the next.
I say here began my awareness because, if I’m honest, up until passing a small ball of grossness from my vag, I hadn’t really had any awareness of my cycle. I knew periods came once a month, but this information was need-to-know, and its main use was to signify my time to batten down the hatches. I wasn’t listening to my body, or mapping my cycle (to be fair this as the 90s when periods weren’t publicly even a thing). I just knew that something was up. I wasn’t a text book woman.
The Signs Of Unhealthy Menstruation
Like many women, however, I didn’t think too much more about my womb warning signals.
I swiftly got into the flow of mega period from hell, or months (sometimes years) of none at all. Aside from a brief stint on the mini pill for acne, I largely kept my hormone cycle natural; convinced that my body would re-align itself if I left it to its natural form. Wishful thinking on my part.
I know realise that my menstrual cycle isn’t just some inconvenient function which has a silent role in making babies, and should be ignored otherwise. As someone who has learnt to live without its presence, or been turned upside down by its determination not to end, my period is in fact my compass to myself. A pad or a tampon will never plug the impact it has on my hormones, my energy level or even my immunity. Whatever is going on ‘down there’ impacts the whole of my body, and essentially my emotional and spiritual health too.
Fast forward 10 years since my ‘clot incident’. By now I had tentatively seen a few specialists, received numerous ‘normal’ hormone test results and inconclusive ultra sounds. They could not confirm Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I don’t have a hormone imbalance (more on this another time), and in the western medicines view, I am fine. In my doctors words, “this is just the way your body is”. Cool, thanks for the insight doc!
But as I delved deeper into my 30s, this was no longer good enough. Not that I was necessarily wanting babies , I knew my messed up cycle could contribute to infertility, and I was concerned it signified more serious issues around my overall health. In the past I had learnt to just come to terms with my highly unpredictable body. I had even convinced myself it was part of my eccentric personality!
The Natural Chapter In My Menstruation Story
Period dramas turned to period perfection (well, almost) when I took a natural approach to my hormone health.
I began to chart my cycle; tracking my bleed, emotions, energy levels and even how gassy I was feeling! In time I began to notice patterns and triggers for when I experienced period pain.
I began to have a little more insight into the ebbs and flows of my inner rhythm, found a new respect for my need for silence, and how to utilise times of higher energy. I learnt how to nurture my body when it needed it, and dance with my strange inner cycle rather than against it.
I found a pattern of natural remedies that helped my menstrual cycle feel less frantic.
5 Natural Remedies For A Healthy Period
- Learn to chart your cycle and be mindful to live in line with the energies of each season
- Cut back on things which affect you – sugar, gluten and too much stress have a dramatic impact on my cycle
- Take Natural hormone health supplements – like Zinc, Selenium, Magnesium and Chaste Berry
- Forget comparison – your menstrual cycle may not look like other women. Get to know what is ‘normal’ for you
- Aromatherapy for menstruation – Try phytoestrogen plants like Angelica, Clary Sage and Cypress
How My Menstruation Story Ends
By no means are my bleeds perfect these days. I still have not had a formal diagnosis, and occasionally I still miss a period or two. But since taking ownership of my menstruation story I feel like I trust my body.
I now acknowledge how vital self-care is to your the health of your menstrual cycle and slowly – with the help of nutrition, yoga and Reiki – I am giving my womb all the attention it deserved all those years ago. We are getting to know each other all over again, and this time, I am listening to every word she speaks without judgement, just pure love.