‘Im such a big fan of the menstrual cycle! the women asking whether its possible to have a better period

Exhausted with doctors not taking periods seriously, a new wave of authors is asking whether menstruation can ever be tolerable even enjoyable

A tiny drop of blood on our bathroom floor was what gave me away. My mother took it as a sign that, at the age of 15, my period had arrived. After popping out to the shops, she came to my room with sanitary pads and a bunch of flowers; the pads came with a brief lesson on how to use them while the gerberas were left behind without explanation, some unspoken symbolism for my blossoming womanhood.


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The truth was, I had had my period for two years. It had arrived without fanfare when I was 13, but, in that short time, I had absorbed so many myths that I would smell; that sharks would attack me if I swam in the ocean (I grew up in Australia); or that I would end up mysteriously syncing with other women as in a kind of witchy coven that the thought of a period, and the dark adulthood those flowers symbolised, terrified me so badly that I had refused to deal with it. Instead, I had spent two years living in monthly subterfuge, stealing sanitary towels from friends houses and fashioning protection out of wads of toilet paper.

Years later, my increasingly erratic menstrual cycle ended when my GP gave me a prescription for the pill. Only now that I am off the pill for the first time in a decade am I truly considering the implications of this decision. I had dealt with my period by hiding it again but this time with a doctors permission.

So when Maisie Hill, a womens health expert, says she enjoys her period you could be forgiven for thinking she is bonkers (although she is no new-age type encouraging people to shove $66 (52) jade eggs into their vaginas, la Gwyneth Paltrow). Ive gone from thinking, Oh, how awful, every time it came, and counting how many periods I would have to have in my life, to wondering, How many have I got left? I really get something out of getting my period.

Hill is just one of several authors behind new books about womens bodies written not by doctors or nurses, but individuals more neatly lumped together as social activists, who are unsettled by how little women know. Some of these books are journalistic (Lynn Enrights Vagina: A Re-education; two separate books called Period by Natalie Byrne and Emma Barnett, Its Only Blood by Anna Dahlqvist); some are polemic (Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman, Nadya Okamotos Period Power, Heavy Flow by Amanda Laird); and others are more about reframing menstruation as an experience that could be more efficient and fulfilling (the upcoming In the Flo by Alisa Vitti and Hills book Period Power).

Composite: Getty

Hill says she is a last chance saloon for women with menstrual problems when all other avenues have been exhausted. Although she began training as a nurse, she saw a need for someone who could give women hours of her time (and charge for them) when most NHS patients struggle to get 10 minutes with their GP. For the 30 or so clients she sees at her clinic in Margate, Kent, she advises on ways to have a better period through avenues such as diet, acupuncture and massage and when she suspects there may be a problem, she bugs her patients doctors to perform extra tests. Once, when she caught on to a patients hypothyroidism, a doctor told her: Sorry, were just not used to acupuncturists getting it right.

Hills advice is straightforward and no-nonsense: a good orgasm is her best solution for cramps, and, while she supports the right for women to believe their cycles sync with the moon or each other due to some innate feminine power, there is no data to support either theory she says. She struggled with period pain for years, but can now say with a straight face things like: Im just such a big fan of the menstrual cycle! She even goes as far as to enthuse about menstrual tripping a sort of natural high she claims comes from the endorphins that accompany period pain. I realised that if I was able to seclude myself and rest, the gentle high would progress into a dreamlike state where I would experience visions, she writes in Period Power. I was still in horrendous pain, but Id manage to hold off on taking pain meds for an hour so that I could get the most out of it. (I tried this, and emerged grumpy and sore after 20 minutes.)

But the idea that Hill, and many of these authors are embracing, is far less radical than the concept of menstrual tripping, although it is certainly connected. It is the idea that positive outcomes can come from women being attentive to their bodies, even if it just means taking a quiet moment in a darkened room to acknowledge the pain.


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The premise that there is a right way of having a period may raise some womens hackles, as if, somehow, it is another thing they have been doing wrong, but a good period, Hill says, could best be summed up as a Goldilocks: not too long, not too short, not too light and not too heavy. She understands that for some, a good period is one that goes by unnoticed and pain-free, and thats brilliant. But there are good things about having some awareness of it, and being tuned into it. There seems to be a wave of women who coming off the pill now, because for too long, medicine has treated menstruating bodies as a nuisance. We need to recognise that there are women who want solutions that dont involve just shutting their cycle down.

Emma Barnett, a journalist and author of Period, warns against negativity about women being on the pill, if it works for them. Women should get to know their periods better, so they know themselves better, she says. But I run my pill back to back and its bloody brilliant that I dont get it. I dont need to celebrate it. She pushes for period pride, which entails not celebrating it, but not feeling ashamed to talk about it In a bid to normalise it weve gone too far the other way. There are people who feel it gives them a great power, some real woo-woo stuff, she says. And I dont think that can speak to regular women.

For her book, Barnett interviewed women who have stopped having their periods for various reasons, some of whom report missing it. It is an interesting concept to miss a period, but they did they missed the ups and downs, the energy that could come before the bleed, the libido and passion that came with it, she says. If you have a period condition, from endometriosis through to dysmenorrhea, I dont think it serves anyone to send the message that those people could or should be enjoying it. I feel no need to throw my period a party.

Hill believes there is too much focus on the days in the menstrual cycle in which women suffer, which is a mindset, she says, that prevents women from considering what happens on the days they are not bleeding. If youre dreading that first day of blood, you lose sight of how your hormones change the rest of the time. There are so many positives for having a menstrual cycle for things like bone and breast health, but also who you are in the world. She says she has observed commonalities in herself and her clients, which she groups into seasons in the book: for instance, in winter, when menstruation occurs, some women are more adverse to risk-taking; while, during ovulation that falls during what she calls summer, she sees confidence and communication increase as oestrogen peaks and progesterone rises. At a certain point in my spring, Ive found I am better at problem solving, more creative; I have a lot of ideas, she says. I want to make the most out of my menstruating body while I can.

But enjoying ones period sits oddly in a world where simply feeling able to speak about it is a luxury for so many, where menstruating women are still banished for being unclean, where women with polycystic ovary syndrome and endometriosis must contend with huge amounts of pain and misdiagnosis, and where transgender and nonbinary people can find bleeding distressing without support. One in five girls and young women in the UK are teased or bullied about their periods, research published this week found. Women have to go to food banks to get tampons, simply being able to afford a period would go some way towards making it better and simply not having it at all may even be best. The pursuit of an enjoyable period may be a premature concept. For the time being, the best kind of period could be one that is acknowledged at all.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

This post was curated & Posted using : RealSpecific

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