Does talking about your menstrual cycle make you uncomfortable?
It’s, in many ways, still a taboo topic… Women still speak about it in code ("Aunt Flow," "that-time-of-the-month"), hide tampons on the way to the restroom, & most of us were taught little to nothing about this part of our lives. As a Board Certified Fertility Awareness Educator & High-Performance Women’s Health Coach, I teach about the menstrual cycle from a holistic perspective & talk about it every single day. Not a week goes by that I don’t hear, “wow, I wish I knew this sooner!” from women that I meet or work with.
Some women I work with were told nothing about their menstrual cycles other than to use a pad or tampon when their period starts, & that it will happen once a month… Others learned about their menstrual cycle at the same time they learned about sex, & were told something along the lines of “this happens because women can have babies….” Our parents & teachers were usually well intentioned, but lacked the tools & vocabulary to better educate us about our bodies.
I want the next generation to never know the shame & embarrassment most of us experienced around our changing bodies. I want daughters who never have to think about how quietly they can open the wrapper of a tampon or a pad in the public restroom, & who feel empowered to have conversations about menstruation & their cyclical nature...
I want daughters who feel proud of their health & who understand the power of their biological blueprint….. As someone who wants children one day & who dreams of raising kids who are confident in their health, the number one way I plan to introduce the topic of her menstrual cycle to my future daughter is by starting with health first. Since talking about her body & talking about sex are equally important, delicate, & often nerve-wracking conversations, why not separate them? There is no reason these two conversations have two happen at the same time. In truth, a woman’s menstrual cycle affects her own health, whether or not sex or pregnancy is a factor. Estrogen & progesterone are used by every system in our bodies, with zero exemptions. That means the nervous system, digestive system, cardiovascular system, skeletal system, immune system, & more… Instead of jumping to “this is how babies are made,” why not start with something along the lines of “when you’re around 8-13, your body will start going through changes so that your muscles grow, you have a strong immune system, your brain & heart healthy, you have strong bones for a long, long time….” Not only is this a truthful & factual statement, but it also serves two purposes:
It provides an entry to begin explaining her menstrual cycle in a way that is empowering & can motivate her to care about her health & love her body– not because of what it looks like, but because of what it does for her.
It’s relevant to her life now– not just her life when (or if) motherhood is a topic of discussion. It lets her know that her body is her own first & foremost… Before a partner, before children, her health is meant to benefit her. This reinforces consent & choice when sex, motherhood, & more does become part of the conversation.
I can explain the difference between different sexes by using the analogy of a calendar & a clock: the female body changes throughout the month starting during puberty, while the male body changes throughout the day. I can normalize menstruation with statements like “for a couple weeks out of the month, estrogen grows your brain cells, then for the next couple weeks, progesterone maintains & heals them… estrogen also grows the lining of your uterus, then progesterone maintains it. For a few days out of the month, both estrogen & progesterone are low, which causes the lining of the uterus to shed through bleeding & means you might feel more tired or less talkative while your brain rests.”
The phases of the menstrual cycle can be explained like the seasons:
In January, it’s winter & like menstruation, it’s the start of something new– but we also might feel like staying inside & hibernating a little more.
The springtime is like the follicular phase, because it’s all about growth. Ovulation is like summertime. Like tropical flowers in full bloom, we’re feeling more open too.
Finally, the luteal phase is like autumn, when it’s harvest– we’re cultivating the crops that have grown in earlier seasons to nourish our bodies through the winter. My hope isn’t that every conversation will go perfectly, that there won’t ever be awkward moments, or that my job will be done after talking about it just one time. My only goal is to make her feel more confident in the long run. If you have kids, how do you plan to talk to them about the hormonal changes they’ll go through?
What are some things you wish you were told about your body or health by the adults in your life?
Let's chat about it on Instagram or deepen your own body literacy. It's far from "too late" to become empowered by your body & health as a woman. Book a Discovery Call with me to inquire about my services as a Fertility Awareness Educator & High- Performance Women's Health Coach.