Did you know that there are over 5,000 euphemisms to describe periods? It's no surprise that there are so many slang terms for this natural bodily process. Many people still struggle to openly talk about it, even as adults. Whether you refer to it as Aunt Flo, On The Blob, Riding The Crimson Tide, On The Rag, Have The Painters In, or just The Curse, you've probably heard some of these stigmatized, outdated colloquialisms since your youth.
Language like "feminine hygiene" and "sanitary products" promotes the false notion that periods are somehow unclean. I grew up watching blue liquid being neatly poured onto period pads because the idea of showing anything that resembled blood was too realistic and disgusting for the human eye. I recently watched an episode of Conversations With Friends and realized that it was the first realistic depiction of period blood (shout out to Frances' character with endometriosis) I'd seen on TV in my life!
Period shame is insidious. Society encourages us to feel embarrassed about our periods. This shame is compounded by the emotional ebbs and flows we experience each month. It's the perfect storm - a hormonal dance of shame and hatred.
No wonder so many of us jumped at the opportunity to suppress it when our doctors oh so casually offered us the contraceptive pill as teens - sold to us as a one-stop-shop for all our period woes.
I've struggled immensely with my cycle, but I've accepted that this journey can be rocky and requires an extensive toolbox to keep myself feeling sane and balanced.
I believe my period is a mark of my femininity and a massive part of my life - and I know I'm not alone. Maybe, instead of perpetuating the narrative of shame, we should be teaching young menstruators how remarkable we are. After all, our vaginas can be a portal to another realm!
With acceptance comes relief. One of the many tools I use is observing my cycles, much like the changes in seasons. Every September, as the breath of winter looms, I wish summer could last forever. But alas, it's part of nature's cycle. If the cherry blossoms were always in season, perhaps their blooming wouldn't feel as magical.
Like the seasons of the year, your menstrual cycle moves through your very own winter, spring, summer, and fall and back to winter again. Each phase brings specific resources and psychological challenges that help you grow and embody your power.
- Week 1: Inner Winter –Around day 1-6 of your menstrual cycle when you're bleeding.
- Week 2: Inner Spring –Around day 7-13, when you're in the pre-ovulation phase.
- Week 3: Inner Summer –Around day 14-21 during your ovulation phase.
- Week 4: Inner Fall –Around day 22-29 during your luteal phase (winding down again).
Although the unsavory lows and energy dips I experienced before and during my period have dramatically improved, I'm still susceptible to the effects of my natural hormone fluctuations. I've found that working with my inner seasons helps me harness the power of my hormonal dance and set boundaries when I'm feeling more emotionally vulnerable. At the same time, I pay closer attention to what my body needs. When possible, I try to arrange my calendar around my seasons. I feel abundantly creative during my inner spring and summer, but if something important comes up during my inner fall or winter, I might not be operating at my optimal energy levels. Still, the vulnerability I hold during this time bears immense power as I know my energetic boundaries.
This is about self-care and honoring our feminine essence. It's about resting and recharging when we need to so that we can move through life in sync with our cycles. This journey teaches me to accept my seasons. With the darkness of winter comes the light of summer.
🩺 SCIENCE AND SPIRIT 👁️
🧑⚕️ from Looni’s medical adviser, Dr Stephanie Colantonio
Menstruation is a sacred process. It represents the cycle of life and death that is present in nature. Every month, we shed what is dead to make way for new life. If we take a moment to think about it, it's truly magnificent.
Unfortunately, we have forgotten the beauty of this intimate relationship with the cycle of life and death. Menstruation has become taboo and is often considered dirty. We have commercial products that are marketed as "menstrual hygiene" products, a term that I find problematic. In their book Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, Elissa Stein and Susan Kim explain that even the word "taboo" is related to menstruation, as it comes from the Polynesian word "tupua," which means sacred and is also used when referring to menstruation. Menstrual blood has been both reviled as the most evil and poisonous of substances and revered as sacred and powerful.
We also see commercial products such as douches and washes to clean the vulva and vagina. However, these body parts are self-cleaning through their naturally acidic pH and microbiome. Sometimes we may need topical treatments for infections, but those are limited circumstances. In general, our bodies are perfectly capable of keeping themselves clean.
What about Yoni steams? It is a common misconception that they are done to cleanse the female reproductive system. The intention is actually to connect us to the womb space, our center of creation, to support healing.
Learning to connect with our bodies is one of the first steps to easing period challenges. Connection can come from practices of ritual, celebration, or aligning with the inner seasons of your cycle. Ultimately, the seasons serve as symbols to remind us that we are dynamic, ever-changing beings. Some days we can push ourselves, while others we need to rest. When we pay attention to the cues of these seasons, we find harmony.
from Dr Stephanie Colantonio 🌱
Yoni steams are a beautiful way to connect with your womb. Warm steam helps relax the pelvic floor while herbs help heal this energetic center. Avoid when bleeding or if you have active infections.
To perform a yoni steam, follow these steps:
- Place a handful of herbs in a large bowl. You can use a variety of plants based on your needs. Some suggested herbs include: calendula, rose, red raspberry, lavender, and mugwort.
- Place a pillow on either side of the bowl for your legs and another in front to rest your head. Make the environment cozy by lighting candles and playing soothing music.
- Pour boiling water over the herbs.
- Lean over the bowl in a puppy pose for 15 minutes. Wear a towel or sarong around your waist to trap the moisture. Relax and enjoy the experience!
Until next time,
Chelsea and Tatiana x