By helengialias, Feb 14 2016 10:21PM
“Oh my God! It’s that time of the month again; I wondered why I was so moody.” “I dread my period – it’s so painful and I get really depressed.” “How could anyone talk about loving their period? It’s the worst thing about being a woman!” “Sometimes I wish I was a man so I wouldn’t have to be so up and down at different times of the month.”
These are all things I’ve heard women say – but it doesn’t have to be like that. As women we are cyclical beings and we’re not meant to be the same all the time. Each month women experience a series of changes, many of which they are unaware of, including varying hormonal balances, changes in temperature, water retention, breast size, mood, concentration levels and many more. Our menstrual cycle is often seen only in terms of the single event of bleeding with a lead up to that often being a troublesome time! In fact our cycle is made up of four phases, pre-ovulatory when the immature eggs in the follicles ripen producing the hormone oestrogen. The second phase is ovulation when the follicle bursts and releases the mature egg after which the follicle becomes a corpus luteum which produces both progesterone and oestrogen. If fertilisation does not occur, the pre-menstrual phase follows when the corpus luteum breaks down and levels of progesterone and oestrogen fall. The menstrual phase is when the uterine lining finally breaks down and bleeding begins. Of course each woman’s cycle is completely individual and the length of each phase can vary greatly. Also there isn’t a clear divide between the phases, each one merges gradually into the next subtly bringing with it physical, emotional and mental shifts.
So in each of these phases women have different needs, strengths, skills and abilities. For example during the menstrual phase when a woman is bleeding she needs more sleep and quiet time to rest and go inwards allowing her to connect with her innate wisdom and receive inspiration for the following month. In the pre-ovulatory phase on the other hand, women can feel dynamic, analytical and clear thinking and their attention will refocus on their outer life and work with renewed energy as the result of having given themselves space to rest in the previous phase. When women try to live constantly at the same pace without taking these changes into account, they create problems! These can manifest physically in the form of back or abdominal pain, heavy bleeding, irregular cycles, migraines, cystitis, exhaustion and many other symptoms and emotionally in the form of irritability, anxiety, weepiness, aggression, depression and so on. In more extreme cases women may suffer from debilitating chronic problems such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Endometriosis for example.
I recently read an article from the United States about PMDD (Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) which is an extreme form of PMS where women’s symptoms are severe enough to prevent them from living a normal life. The article stated that young women in their 20’s and early 30’s are opting for total hysterectomies rather than go through the agony of severe depression and suicidal feelings each month. That’s truly shocking and, although extreme, is an indication of how messed up society’s approach to women’s healthcare and their menstrual cycle is.
We live in a very masculine oriented society and women are encouraged to ignore their periods and push on through any of the feelings and symptoms that sometimes accompany them, using tampons so they can carry on with ‘normal’ life and often taking medication to try and get through the worst days. Women feel they can’t take time off from work around their periods, no matter how rough they’re feeling, because their boss and colleagues will not accept their monthly cycle as a legitimate reason for being absent from work and they may even be reprimanded or lose their job if they do it too often or openly!
Women often go to their GP for help with the symptoms and emotional turmoil they experience. Unfortunately GP’s have few resources available for helping with this and tend to offer painkillers, hormonal treatments such as the combined pill, oestrogen patches or implants, anti-depressants, or, in extreme cases as mentioned above, hysterectomies. As it says on the NHS website “There is no cure for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) but treatments may help you manage your symptoms so they don't interfere with your daily life. If your PMS is mild or moderate, you may want to make changes to your diet and lifestyle before resorting to medical treatment. This is because many of the medical treatments can have side effects that may be worse than your PMS symptoms.”
I agree that it’s helpful to relieve your symptoms in the short term but I do not agree that there is no cure and I know relief can be obtained without all the side effects of synthetic hormones and medication. Working with a homeopath, herbalist or acupuncturist and alongside that learning to understand and live in tune with your cycle can help you see your own individual cycle and patterns clearly, bring acceptance of the variations, thereby releasing the tension of fighting the symptoms and regaining the balance of your cycle. As a homeopath who specialises in women’s health and offers education and mentoring to help women live more healthily and connect with their cycles in this way, I have seen severe physical and emotional symptoms improve as women became more aware of and started to live in harmony with their cycles.
By cultivating a better relationship with your menstrual cycle, you not only feel better physically and emotionally, but you also realise your power as a woman and as a result you can create incredible changes in your life. This connection with your cyclical feminine self can help you unlock creativity, heal past woundings, transform your relationships and create a life you really love.
So if you’d like to learn how to do this, Red Tent Bournemouth is offering a full day workshop called Living with your Menstrual Cycle.
If you suffer with PMS, irregular periods, pain, heavy bleeding or big emotional swings around your bleeding time or if you just loathe your cycle and dread 'that time of the month' then this workshop is for you.
If you feel pressure to power through your discomfort, disregard the way you feel and use medication to ignore your needs then you need to come and find out how you can care for yourself and make peace with your period.
If any of this resonates with you, join us for this one day workshop where you will learn more about your menstrual cycle than you ever thought possible! You will find out how to work with the natural rhythm of your body instead of against it, create better hormonal balance and feel more in control of your life.
Women who have followed this path have experienced the cessation of life-long menstrual issues. Women have learned how radical self-care at the time of bleeding dissipates PMS. And through this work women have connected with their core feminine cycle which in turn has a ripple effect on all other areas of their lives. Menstrual health is vital to our overall health as women.