PMS and painful periods, although statistically normal, are not physiologically normal. The menstrual cycle is a fundamentally natural process.. it’s not meant to be painful.
Pain is a call for attention. Think about it - in any other situation where we experience pain, we stop and listen. We change what we’re doing and address it. If we burn ourselves on the stove, the pain we feel signals us to back off. It signals us to make changes to prevent further harm. So why do we treat the pain that can accompany our periods any differently?
We’re told this story that PMS and painful periods are part of the deal as women - that they are a consequence of being female. But babes, this is far from the truth. Our bodies do not have to be a burden. And our cycles do not have to be a liability.
For a long while, we have been collectively conditioned to push through our periods – to write off any pain or discomfort as trivial. If we're exhausted or just needing to be horizontal because of debilitating cramps, we pop an advil or down a coffee. It's seen as a weakness to not be able to "do" all the time. And in order to compete in the workplace and in life, we feel we have to keep going no matter what.
One of the many outcomes of living in this patriarchal paradigm is that we’re expected to function like men. But we don't. Men function on a 24-hour cycle, creating most of their testosterone while sleeping, which is then used and depleted the very next day. Women, on the other hand, function on a 28-day cycle (on average) and experience four distinct hormonal trends each month. Depending on the phase you’re in and the hormones produced in that phase, you will experience your life and reality in very different ways.
The truth is our menstrual cycle can be our greatest asset.
When we learn to tune into our bodies and the subtle hormonal fluctuations we experience each phase, we begin to become fluent in our body’s and cycle's language. From this point of intimate understanding, we learn ways to use our cycle to our advantage. We gain access to the array of superpowers contained in each phase – the heightened abilities, skills, creative powers and magnified intuition.
Painful cramps, mood swings and intense cravings should not be treated as normal and are symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, which could be the result of lifestyle and diet choices that conflict with your cycle. If you are experiencing painful periods, my first piece of advice would be listen to what your body is communicating to you. Take a moment. Slow down. It may sound odd, but if you are experiencing cramps and discomfort, I suggest moving towards this sensation. Sitting with this feeling. Listening to your body's call for attention.
If you can, clear the first couple days of your period to be with yourself - work from home, ask others for what you need, take time for rest. If that's not possible, clear an afternoon. Your body naturally wants to go inward at this phase. Allow it to. Skip that night out and the power vinyasa class if you aren’t feelin’ it. Journal and create time for reflection. Magical things come from this simple practice.
Many women comment on a sense of numbness when trying to connect to their womb space. Our bleeding time is one time out of the month where we can very clearly experience direct communication with this part of ourselves. Where she offers a thread that we can follow... Our wombs are full of wisdom that we can hear when we get quiet enough.