Ladies, I have something very important to share with you. You do not have to dread getting your period every month! Nope, we were not designed to be in excruciating pain or to be incredibly moody every 28 days. There are many steps you can take towards a happier, healthier period. It starts with reframing and taking time for self care. It's about reconnecting, slowing down and learning to honour the signals your body is giving you.
Your period is not evil and is not something to be shy about. It is part of the experience of half the human population. Your period mimics and connects you to the cycles of the natural world - the yin and the yang, the periods of productivity and the periods of rest. How you experience your period reflects your lived experiences every month giving you almost like a report card of how you are doing with your self care. Around ovulation time you are your most "yang" self and may feel you have lots of energy in contrast to your bleeding time when you are at our most "yin" and may feel lower energy and like you want to retreat. When it comes time to menstruate emotions bubble to the surface - big feelings are let out and we retreat, release and let go of the month that has passed. Reframing means embracing the simple fact that we are not meant to feel one way all month, that the beautiful flow of our feminine energy means that every cycle of the month is different.
2. It's Rest Time Ladies, Let's Talk Self Care
Your period is a time to rest both physically and mentally. The way you feel during your period is your body's way of signalling to you that it is time to slow it down and to listen to the emotions that are arising. This isn't easy in a society where constant productivity is valued above all else... but it is important. In Chinese Medicine a woman's period can tell us a lot about their state of health, the quality of the blood being a very important indicator. It is important for a woman to not become what acupuncturists term "blood deficient" which can result in scanty periods, dizziness, fatigue, floaters, headaches, anxiety, palpitations and insomnia to name a few. Overwork, fatigue, stress and poor nutrition are common culprits of "blood deficiency". So we need to slow it down, eat well and take care of ourselves...especially when we are bleeding. Carving out time for yourself during your period every month to do something for you is a good place to start!
3. Stay Warm & Kick the Stress
Do you get really crampy before or during your period? In Chinese Medicine the two main reasons (though there are others) that women get cramps during their period is because they are cold and they are stressed! Now cold doesn't mean that you are necessarily cold all the time but do me a favour and touch your feet. If your feet are cold and you find relief from your cramps with a hot water bottle, this one is for you. Wear socks, really warm socks...especially in winter. Go to an outdoors store and buy the warmest socks they sell (ones you might buy if you were going on a trekking adventure to the Himalayas) and wear them. Soak your feet in warm water every night and then bundle them into your warm socks. You will thank me! The yin acupuncture channels that go to the uterus all start at the feet and cold causes the body to contract and the blood flow to stagnate which can cause cramps. So #1 Keep those feet warm... #2 Kick the stress! Stress leads to what is termed Liver Qi Stagnation in Chinese Medicine which basically means that being stressed is impeding the free flow of Qi throughout your body. When the Qi is not flowing it effects the flow of blood which can lead to stagnation and cramping. Have you ever observed that your period pain is way worse after a crazy stressful month? This may be why. Everyone has different coping strategies for dealing with stress whether its exercise, meditation, a form of creative expression or socializing. Find what works for you and make stress reduction a priority in your life.
4. Seek Professional Help
If you are struggling to help your body attain a balanced menstrual cycle it may be time to seek out professional guidance. I would recommend reaching out to a practitioner/modality you feel drawn to. I will speak to the role acupuncture can play as this is my area of specialty.
Going to a Registered Acupuncturist for your period issues can be extremely helpful. Acupuncture has a wonderful ability to reduce pain,regulate hormones and calm the nervous system. Acupuncture may be of benefit if you are experiencing ammennorhea, dysmennorhea, irregular menstruation, heavy menstruation, periods that are too short or too long, pms, menstrual headaches, menstrual regulation after birth control, recurring ovarian cysts, pcos, endometriosis, peri-menopause and menopausal symptoms. Feel free to reach out if you feel Acupuncture might be right for you.
Your period should be a time of rest and of self reflection, it should be a time that you retreat a little, make yourself a chocolate cake, kick up your feet and say to yourself "wow look at what I accomplished this month, I am deserving of this break and am preparing myself for whatever next month has in store for me". The less we can resist and the more we can understand our bodies the easier it will be to surrender to and enjoy the monthly cycles we experience as women.
Malakai Button is a Registered Acupuncturist in good standing with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia. Passionate about helping women struggling with hormonal and reproductive issues, she focuses on helping women achieve hormonal balance and healthy pregnancies. She offers her home based acupuncture studio in Victoria, BC as a place for you to cultivate wellness and reconnect with your body's innate healing capacity.