I remember my first period – who doesn’t, right? It feels like a traumatic experience, even though you expect it to happen one day, it’s still a shock when that day comes.
The sudden realisation, that things are about to change in your life, as a girl.
From child into a woman, you’re changing, your body is changing, your hormones affect your mood and you no longer feel comfortable with your skin and changing body.
Perhaps that was just me, it was a lot for me to take in. I remember the night after my 14th birthday, the strange pain and a trip to the bathroom.
Looking back it makes me laugh, as I was trying to convince myself that there is something wrong with me, and that it’s not my period and that I’d have to go to the doctors next day.
After telling my mom the next morning (so lucky she was home as it was a weekday), she then taught me how to put the pads on properly.
I don’t even remember how I got through the night without a pad/protection without making a mess, I must have been in too much shock to remember.
Either way, it was the day I got to experience period pains. I’ve always suffered with quite strong pains, one time it was that overwhelming and bad that I fainted.
It was a really hot day, and there was about 6 of us staying in my nan’s 1 room flat. No doubt you have your first period story, no girl forgets that first blood spot.
I’ve learnt to love and respect my menstrual cycles, as one of the many great powers of being a woman…
Menstrual Cycle of a Woman
There are regular and irregular cycles. If they’re regular, they will occur at a regular interval each month e.g. every 28 days, every 30 days etc.
If your cycles have always been irregular, like mine, you never really know the exact date your period will start. Unless you know your body and menstrual cycle quite well, you might struggle to pinpoint your cycle to the exact day.
The irregularities of your cycle are affected by various factors, including your diet, hormone levels and overall health i.e. underweight//overweight.
I’ve gotten to know my menstrual cycle pretty well, and I now look for my body’s signs, as well as moods, to try and predict when my period might come.
I used the Natural Cycles app, by measuring my temperature each morning, which over a year, allowed me to predict when it was safe to not use protection and when I was ovulating. It allowed me to learn about each phase of a cycle despite having an irregular cycle.
You can do this yourself by noting your moods, how you feel throughout the days of your cycle and over a few months, you’ll start to notice a pattern.
The Phases of a Menstrual Cycle
There are 4 phases in a menstrual cycle, and these are:
- Menstruation – your bleeding time
- The follicular phase – first day of menstruation up until ovulation
- Ovulation – release of a mature egg, also when you’re most fertile
- Luteal phase – your egg breaks, and either ends in a pregnancy or start of your period
How Menstrual Cycle Affects the Mood
Depending on your body, genes and hormone levels (whether they’re balanced), menstrual cycles will affect everyone differently.
Most commonly, women experience changes in their moods, energy levels and overall feeling of wellbeing, security and emotional levels.
For example, I get very irritable, cranky and tired for about a week before my period. I always try and warn Ben before I burst into an angry fit or shout/cry for absolutely no reason.
The emotional and physical changes, mood swings, are also known as Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).
Research is very hit and miss when it comes to PMS, although it’s commonly thought to be associated with hormonal changes in our bodies.
I believe that the “PMS” stage is a time of truth – true emotions and feelings coming out from our feminine deep within buried. She’s screaming to get out and release all the emotions that have been suppressed.
Particularly if we don’t let “her” roar in our every day life.
I’ve noticed that I seem to get irritated with my lifestyle more when I’m “PMSing” – my thoughts become so clear in what I want from life, how I want to live, and be.
It’s a really good time for me to tune in with my soul, be with myself and my thoughts and respect what I’m feeling and thinking. This could be related to my being an empath and an extremely sensitive person.
I get affected by other people’s energies, words and feelings a lot quicker and at an intense level than “normal” people do.
If you’re a sensitive person and easily influenced by others, notice if just before your periods you get more emotional or experience strong mood swings, emotional outbursts related to anger or crying.
Why is Menstruation Important For a Woman
It’s commonly known as the transition from girl (childhood) into a woman (adulthood). You can now bear children and bring life to this earth, which is a beautiful thing.
It is also a time of changes – changes to your body, your emotions, feelings and thoughts. They all start to change. There is no way to control it, and sometimes it can be overwhelming and you’re not quite sure where or how to channel it.
Especially when you are forced to go into school each day, where the competition of whose boobs have grown and who in class/school got their period first.
You loose your childlike innocence and begin to compare yourself to others, improving your appearance to be noticed by other boys and your inner light starts to be dimmed by others opinions.
As you grow older, when you finally come to terms with your period as a normal monthly occurrence, you start to realise how important it is to respect these bodily changes and your menstrual cycles. You realise it is a time of rest, due to low energy.
It’s an important time to nurture your body, respect your body’s calls and have a rest. If you’re tired, it’s because your body is calling for a rest – so have a nap.
Do not force yourself to do things, because you have a schedule or a long to-do list. Respect your body and use it as a time to reflect, slow down and nourish yourself with nutritious food, hot water bottles and naps. Or an exercise, whatever you feel is right for your body.
Menstrual Cycle and the Moon
Some women’s cycle are in tune with the phases of the moon.
How does that work?
You either bleed on the Full Moon, or the New Moon with each new cycle and moon phase.
If you bleed on the day of the full moon – that’s called the Red Cycle, which means you ovulate on the New Moon.
If you bleed on the New Moon and ovulate on the Full Moon – that’s called the White Cycle.
If your cycle is regular, have you ever noticed whether it happens on the full/new moon? Have a look when the last new/full moon was and whether your cycle started that same day or if you were maybe ovulating.
You might be on one of these cycles, in sync with la luna and the astrological forces and not even know it yet!
There are 4 main lunar phases (the moon) and 4 menstrual phases – coincidence?
That’s why it’s so common for women to bleed around the new moon, a new beginning, a new phase of our womanly cycle and a fresh start for things to come setting new intentions for this moon.
The 4 lunar phases and matching menstrual cycles if you are on the White Cycle are:
- Follicular phase – Waxing moon
- Ovulatory phase – Full moon
- Luteal phase – Waning moon
- Menstrual phase – New moon
In contrast to women and our menstrual cycles being the same as lunar cycles, men live on the sun’s cycle. A 24 hour cycle, where every day is the same, their hormone levels are pretty steady throughout the day and nothing really changes, with things continuing as normal the next morning.
While women (mostly) live on the 28-day cycle, the same as the moon.
Does the Moon Affect Menstrual Cycles?
It depends on your cycles and whether it’s in sync with the lunar phases – so whether you are on a Red Moon Cycle or a White Moon Cycle.
If so, each lunar phase will allow you to track your menstrual cycle and you will be able to use each moon phase to better tune in with your body and rebalance emotionally.
Regardless of whether your fall within one of the two moon cycles, you can still use the moon phases to help guide you through your menstrual cycle.
You can use it in line with Moon Rituals – more in this article – to help you regain balance, feel more in control of your moods/PMS and understand your menstrual cycle.
Menstrual Cycles, Lunar Phases and Seasons
Menstrual cycles can also be explained with the 4 seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn. In line with the White Cycle, it is as follows:
The winter is your menstruation stage (new moon)
This is when you bleed, your energy is low, you’re tired and things look a little dark for a few days while you “hibernate”. A great time to reflect and set new intentions, while you nourish your body and respect its needs to rest.
The spring is your follicular phase (waxing moon)
This is when you start to regain energy, you feel new, refreshed and ready to make plans and take action.
The summer is your ovulation (full moon)
Peak of energy, you feel great and unstoppable taking action after action, while also letting go of things that no longer serve you.
The autumn/fall in the luteal phase (waning moon)
You start to slow down, quiet down and your energy is lower. This is when you might start to notice some mood swings towards the end of this stage.
We’re such complicated creatures when it comes to it – isn’t it amazing?!
Menstrual Cycles as a Taboo Topic in Our Society
We’ve come a long way, and periods and menstrual cycles might not be as taboo as they were before. And yet, they are still very much a hidden topic, nobody speaks of and you shouldn’t ever mention in a conversation, unless it’s between girls.
Would we live in the same world if men bled every month?
I think not. If that was the case, no doubt there would be a menstrual day off work once a month, as a sick day available to all men.
As we live in a man’s world and a 24 hour cycle of the sun (also man’s), that just isn’t the case for us women. I honestly believe 1 day a month of unquestionable sick day should be allowed for women.
For some women, it is such an unbearable pain, that they can’t walk, or even open their eyes because the pain is that overwhelming and strong.
There were a few times where I’ve had to embarrassingly, walk out of a small office clenching onto my stomach and driving back home with windows wide open, hoping I wouldn’t pass out or throw up in the car.
Unless your boss is a woman, they won’t understand and think you just want to lie on your sofa watching soaps and eating chocolate and sulk for a day.
It’s a taboo subject at schools, in the workplace and amongst some families – it’s very hush hush and men dare not mention it.
If someone asks you why you had a day off sick, do you tell the truth saying “I was suffering with bad menstrual pains” or do you just say “Bad stomach.”? If it’s a guy asking, would the answer be different, than if a woman asked you?
If your boss is a man and you tell them you had cramps, watch their face and eyes looking elsewhere as they draw back and dismiss it immediately to not talk any further into the subject.
It’s very much a taboo topic still, nothing to be ashamed of and a sacred part of a woman’s beautiful body.
All we can do is to make our partners, boyfriends and husbands understand and share our experiences and pains, for them to become familiar with hearing about our bleeding matters. Then to teach our sons (and daughters) with the whole truth.
Slowly, it will become as normal, celebrated and open topic as LGBTQ…
I’ve tried many different menstrual products and some were hit and miss, as with all things. My favourite products are put together in this handy list, if you need some ideas or aren’t sure of what else is available to the standard high street single-use pads and tampons.
These alternative are eco-friendly, reusable options that will make your periods more colourful (other than red) and better for the planet.