I actually LOVE being on my period. It makes me feel feminine, magical and connected to nature. But I haven’t always felt this way…
Six years ago, I was soaking in a sacred hot spring at the base of a snowy mountain in Colombia. It was a magical place, reserved only for those who could find it. It had taken us two full days of trekking to reach the springs and we had passed three other couples en route who had tried to find it, only to get lost and have to turn back. When we arrived, there was only one other couple there - local Colombians - as well as the campesino who stewarded the land for visitors. I had already been traveling in Colombia for four months, with all of my belongings on my back, sleeping in a tent and living closely with nature. Of all the incredible moments on that journey, the conversation I had in that tub stands out as the most life changing.
A Colombian woman and I began speaking of sexuality. She was beautiful, sweet, and a few years older than me. In Spanish, we spoke of what we enjoyed sexually, our sexual struggles, and finally the topic of birth control. I had been on The Pill for almost 10 years, since the age of 16. She, on the other hand, had her cycle synced with the moon & tracked her ovulation, avoiding intercourse (while still being sexual) on and near her most fertile days. She spoke of how the hormones were not good for our feminine bodies or for Pachamama, our Mother Earth. The way she spoke about her cycle, her sexuality and the earth felt so beautiful to me, and I immediately knew that I needed to follow her lead - for my own health and for the health of the planet. I stopped taking birth control pills that day.
Over the next several months, I felt my true self emerging from behind the birth control facade. My connection to nature deepened as I synced my cycle to the moon. My sex drive increased. I felt more whole, more real, more connected to my body. I hadn’t realized how much of my essence The Pill was blocking. I felt liberated!
What I hadn’t anticipated was the pain. By stopping birth control, I had invited menstrual cramps (which I hadn’t experienced since high school) back into my life. I began to dread my periods. I would lie at home in bed, writhing in pain or watching movies to distract myself from the excruciating cramps. Or if I had to be out in the world, I would block the symptoms with painkillers, often wishing that I could somehow remove my uterus from my body.
I started to wonder if this was really how it was supposed to be. It didn’t make sense to me that being a woman on planet earth should necessarily come with monthly pain and a desire to disconnect from my own body. Was it possible for my period to be a positive experience?
So I began my research. Unwilling to go back on The Pill and weary of overusing pharmaceutical pain killers, I began by looking at natural pain relief herbs like ginger and nettle. Making tea from the fresh herbs helped some, but it truly only scratched the surface. Though healthier than Ibuprofen, herbs were still a band-aid approach that targeted my symptoms rather than the underlying cause.
After six months in Colombia, I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and began a three year internship with a doctor of Integrative Medicine. Under his mentorship, I had the opportunity to research in depth the underlying causes of menstrual cramps. The most significant piece of evidence that I found was around hormone-like compounds prostaglandins that cause the “cramping” of the uterus. High amounts of prostaglandins in the body lead to increased menstrual cramping. As it turns out, all animal protein contains high amounts of prostaglandins. I found out that by eliminating animal protein from my diet for a few days leading up to my period until Day 2 or 3 (5 or 6 days total), my cramps decreased significantly.
Since my research so far had resulted in profound effects, I decided to keep going to see just how much pain I could eliminate. I had been practicing Yoga for several years and I wondered if this ancient tradition had any wisdom to offer. I discovered that B.K.S. Iyengar had identified 25 poses that help to alleviate menstrual pain. So I incorporated some of these poses into my yoga practice during cycle… and my pain decreased even further.
I was pretty satisfied with my muted level of pain through applying my research in Herbs, Integrative Medicine & Yoga, so I stopped doing research for a couple of years. Although I still had some mild pain, my periods were no longer something to be dreaded.
Two and a half years ago, my interest was re-ignited when I began studying mind-body integration techniques as part of my training to become a Love and Sexuality Coach. I realized that the womb holds deep wisdom that can be accessed through these techniques. I learned how to connect with my womb and to listen to her and she taught me that the time we bleed is an opportunity for us women to relax into our femininity… literally to relax & to receive.
I now approach my cycle with gratitude and gentleness. I view it as a time to go inward, to honor my femininity and to connect to nature. My pain has become virtually non-existent. I look forward to my Moon Cycle because it makes being a woman feel magical. It connects me to myself, to the cycles of nature and ultimately to all beings. We are all here because women bleed.
Do you experience painful cycles? If so, I invite you to reach out to me with a private message. I would love to assist you in your journey to a pleasurable & pain free cycle. May all women know the magic of their bodies, the gifts of their femininity and their connection to all of nature.