Being a woman involves dealing with a lifelong list of battles, some self-imposed and others created by social pressures. These often include the constant need to remove unwanted hair and the requirement to always look ‘fashionable’. Other challenges just come with our gender – Mother Nature has crowned us with the task of procreation and the obvious monthly cycle.
Periods for many are synonymous with pain, and for others they represent physical and emotional discomfort. For every woman, however, there is the constant worry about an accidental and revealing spot of blood on your clothes. If you’re female, you probably agree with me when I say that periods aren’t fun to deal with but nevertheless, being a woman is still a privilege!
We women are amazing creatures but we have to start accepting, and maybe changing, the burden of negative feelings that we associate with our periods.
It is important to understand that our bodies are incredible machines and that they have specific functions that keep them in perfect working order. So, just like body temperature or blood pressure, sugar levels and digestive functions, the body uses periods as an important indicator of health.
We all know that menstrual cycles are controlled by hormones, which can change throughout life. They also vary from person to person, making “a normal period,” a relative term. These are the same hormones that race through our bodies producing mood swings, and at the same time give us the opportunity of experiencing the complexity of motherhood and the happiness of bearing a child.
We cannot stop the changes that nature enforces upon us but we can change the way that we cope with those changes. Here are some thoughts about what we can do to lighten the burden:
- If you accept that every month you will have your period, why be negative about it? It has to come, it has to pass. Why not be prepared? Make sure that you have your environmentally friendly supplies at hand. Be good to yourself and the planet.
- The arrival of your period brings two clear messages: firstly, it means you are not pregnant and secondly it means that your body is healthy and working well and if it comes without delay it means that you are leading a healthy lifestyle.
- Another positive aspect is that your body is using this time to clean itself. The menstrual period releases bacteria from inside the reproductive system and helps the body to discharge excess iron which can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Great news!
- Reduce alcohol intake. Drinking, even in moderation, while on your period, can actually cause your menstruation to spiral a bit out of control. We know that excess alcohol consumption is linked to outcomes like breast cancer, because alcohol can temporarily increase your oestrogen and testosterone levels, when you menstruate, thus causing missed or unexpected periods.
- Reconnect with exercise. You do not need to train for the Olympics! Simple movements and group exercise can improve your self-esteem even during your period. Exercise has a role in boosting the happy hormones.
- Improve your diet. I have read about the importance of Magnesium in our diets which can help to relieve menstrual cramps. It may also improve premenstrual mood changes, especially irritability, anxiety and muscle relaxation. Magnesium levels normally fluctuate during a woman’s cycle.
All in all, I just feel that if we can accept our monthly visitor with a positive frame of mind we can ease up on ourselves, lighten the burden and deal with our cycles in a more practical and friendly way.