Hurray for periods! Wait, what? Are you telling me you’re not cool with your mensies? Are you not happy for the cramps and hormones, for the bleeding and the PMS-ing? I hear you. For years I hated my own cycle. In fact, I took medication to stop my own flow for 7 years. Yep! I thought it was annoying, painful, and embarrassing. It wasn’t until I started a self love journey and eventually got to my cycle that things started to shift.
If you’re open to learning to love your period I encourage you to read through the information below. There you may find some insight, suggestions, or questions for reflection so you can take the next step you in own journey. And maybe one day (if not already) you can learn to love your period! It’s all part of saying hurray inside, outside, and underneath™.
Psst! Some of the links in this blog post are affiliate links or brand partners. As always, I only share products and suggestions that I can truly stand behind. In addition, all of the images here are airbrush free. What you see is what you get!
Also, this article is for anyone who bleeds or has a period. That means on any part of the gender spectrum. I am sharing my own experience and use pronouns she/her for most of this post. Also, having menstrual hygiene products is essential for people to participate in our society, and in cultures around the world. Right here in the USA and around the globe, people are missing school, unable to work, or simply losing some of their human dignity because of lack of access to these products. If you feel moved, I encourage to donate to an organization like I Support the Girls which collects and distributes bras and menstrual hygiene products to people experiencing homelessness.
My personal period journey
A quick recap of my own period journey so you know where I’m coming from. Maybe you can relate to some of the things I’m sharing. Or maybe you had a totally different experience. Either way, keep your relationship with your own cycle in mind as you read through this and see where you can let in a little hurray.
My first period was on the last day of 5th grade. The whole grade had a sleepover at the local roller rink and when I went to the bathroom, I noticed some brown gunk in my undies. I thought nothing of it until more arrived the next day. Panicked, I called my mom into the bathroom to show you the result of what I assumed was some terrible illness, or a fatal virus I had picked up at the roller rink. Alas, she said: “I think you’ve started your period.” Instead of feeling relieved that I had not gotten the plague, I was upset, and embarrassed, and ashamed.
Though perhaps I had heard other takes on the menstrual cycle, all that stuck in my young mind was that it was painful, got in the way of activities, and was hush hush stuff. It wasn’t something people talked about openly, and certainly not something people honored or revered. I remember being in the bathroom with classmates and we could hear the crinkle of a pad wrapper and we giggled and giggled at this person’s embarrassing situation. Now I was that person. And since I was one of the first of my friends to get it, I had almost no one to whom I could relate.
Fast forward, and every month in middle school I was experiencing terrible cramps. Sometimes they were so bad I had to stay home “sick” from school. I also went through the shame many of us felt: the horrific leaking through my pants, having to hide my tampons in a pocket on my way to the restroom, and not feeling confident enough to share about my cycle with male (or female) teachers and coaches to tell them why I didn’t feel well. I had major period shame and frustration and little understanding of what my body needed or was even going on.
Once I got to college, the periods got worse. I was go go going in college, working full time and going to school full time, all while living in New York City and dating new people. I was hardly ever resting or eating well. And when my period would arrive it would knock me out with migraines, nausea and throwing up, dizziness, extreme fatigue, irregular cycle lengths, and horrible mood swings. I kept blaming my period for these symptoms, never listening to my body’s request for support, kindness, rest, and nourishment. So when I went to the gynecologist on my trip back home, she suggested I go on birth control. She didn’t even ask if I was sexually active. The main purpose was to control and subdue my period. I chose the “shot”, because I didn’t trust my very busy self to remember to take a pill every day. It required getting shot in the bum every 3 months, and works by stopping ovulation. It also completely stopped my period. (There are other side effects, and strangely they don’t have vaginal dryness mentioned which is pretty common and was super present for me and meant painful sex. And pretty please check with a doctor if you are considering using or stopping any of these things. I’m not even close to being a doctor and this is just my first hand experience.) At the time, stopping my period was terrific. I could continue to perform at a high level and go go go without needing a week to rest. And in our very masculine energy society, and in a very masculine energy city, that worked for me. For a time.
A year and a half or so in I wanted to try a different birth control. My doctor suggested Estrostep, a pill. The side effects were outrageous. My breasts and bum inflated, my emotions were like a roller coaster, and I was completely depressed. I was on a man-ban and not dating anyone or sexually active with any partners, so I decided I wanted off birth control. The first time my period came back it was actually quite sweet, and I remember thinking, “I’m a woman again.” I had no idea that I felt that way. I thought I’d give this whole period thing a try again, and see what my body was like now without medicine controlling it. That lasted about 1 month. That was the year I met my honey, who is now my husband. And preventing pregnancy trumped listening to my body. So back on the shot I went for many more years. Six or so more years. Of no period, no cycle, no ovulation.
It wasn’t until the spring of 2013 that I finally quit birth control and started having a period again. I was well into my journey or learning to love my body and my self, and it had brought me here. Part of this mission included stopping most forms of medication that were controlling my body and its natural functions. Because, that’s just it: our menstrual cycle is a natural process and living in cycles is part of the power of feminine energy. The wait for my period to arrive felt like forever. And the first one back was vicious. I won’t lie. I felt myself bracing for it, and I even warned my husband: “You’ve never experienced me having a period in the 7 years we’ve been together.” I felt like I needed to educate him. Truthfully, I felt like I needed to warn him. As we both got used to my periods being back in my life, I brought in loving support for my cycle. I treat my body with more respect and kindness in general these days, and especially during my period.
One of the most powerful experiences that helped me love my period was a workshop with Pooja Prema at The WILD Woman Fest. Her gorgeous workshop opened up the possibility of viewing the menstrual cycle with reverence and possibility. She lovingly let those in her life know when she was bleeding. She suggested we view menstruation as a sacred time when we can invite in slowing down, nurturing, and love. The WILD Woman project has provided countless opportunities to learn to love my period, my body, my womanhood. Both because of the types of people I have met, and the content of the monthly women’s circles. Having been off any form of birth (or cycle) control for years now, I feel quite connected to the moon. And the moon and our wombs move in a cycle. There’s a build up and a release. And I realize that go go going without resting, releasing, or receiving was not honoring the natural cycle of my feminine energy. The falling away of the uterine lining during menstruation is a part of the creation cycle of human life. And in us we have this amazing ability to create (children or otherwise). So my cycle is a massive reminder of my power as a creator.
This exploration has helped me love my period with a great deal of respect and fondness. In fact, it’s helped me share my cycle openly, without shame, and in fact with great honor. I talk about it all the time. I share where it’s usually taboo. I lovingly invite people to ask me questions, and I ask them. There is a lot of myth and mystery around periods. They are downright scary to some people. So having kind conversations with those who may be uncomfortable with this creation cycle, with this version of power, with this feminine energy miracle happens one step at a time. Perhaps, it starts within you.
Learn to Love Your Period Inside, Outside, and Underneath™
To get started, here are a few ways you can Learn to Love Your Period. Each of these practices and rituals can help you show up lovingly to your relationship with your menstrual cycle, and to say hurray inside, outside, and underneath™ Working on your relationship with anything is best supported by an inside, out approach. Try out a few and tell me how it goes. Or drop your suggestion or what’s worked for you in a comment below!
Learn to Love Your Period: Inside
Inside: our relationship with our emotions, internal dialogue, and spiritual life.
Examine your relationship with your menstrual cycle by examining your emotional and intellectual connection to it. Grab a journal or carve out some space to meditate on these questions. Be honest and honor where you are now.
- What did you learn about it growing up? What stories were you taught out it, and which did you buy into?
- What have you told yourself about having a period?
- If your period were a person (I know, bare with me!) what kind of a relationship would you have with it? How do you treat it and talk about it?
- If you were working together with your cycle, what loving adjustments might you make?
Then, it’s time to take a step. You don’t have to go from “ugh I hate everything about having a period and think it’s disgusting” to “I am a menstrual goddess and love everything about having a period” overnight, or ever. The goal here is to commit to taking 1 step toward a more loving relationship with your cycle. And then another. And then another. It’s a journey of many steps to learn to love anything. You may want to practice some compassionate self forgiveness around any misunderstandings or judgments you’ve had around your cycle, your body, or your womanhood. From there you can start with a clean slate and invite in the truth about who you really are and what your cycle is all about.
A few more questions for your reflections:
- If you chose to see your period as a miracle, and as a gift, how would that shift things?
- If you asked yourself, “what does love have to say about my menstrual cycle?”, what would it say?
- What type of power is there in the “letting go” and shedding parts of cycles in my life – in my body, in my home, in my relationships, and in my thoughts? And how can that reflect the menstruation part of my cycle?
- What intention do you want to set for your relationship with your period? Fill in the blank “I will take a step toward learning to love my period by…”
I encourage you to let whatever comes up, come up. Without judgement of it being right or wrong, good or bad. Let it flow (ha! See what I did there?) and observe your thoughts and feelings. Getting real and making a lovingly intention for moving forward may be uncomfortable or even emotional, and that’s ok. Invite love in to guide the way.
Learn to Love Your Period: Underneath
Underneath: our relationship with our bodies and what is physically underneath our clothes, including undergarments and lingerie.
Body love & self care: One of the best ways to learn to love your period is to work with it and support your body along the way. Our bodies are going through a LOT during our cycle. And they can be more tired or easily fatigued, and need different levels of nourishment and rest. Instead of trying to work at the same level as other times in your cycle, maybe you can plan to do more soothing, restful activities during your cycle. Baths, naps, massages, heating pads, warm liquids, and restorative yoga are a few of my favorite ways to support my body during my cycle. I also ask for a lot of hugs from my honey.
It also means caring for your body by what you’re putting into it. Not just food, but also tampons or other menstrual products. Maybe it’s time to try a cup. Or to update your tampons. I am trying to start using organic tampons because research and articles have told me that this is better for my body. I’m still learning about this and am open to your thoughts and research!
I suggest reading WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source by Alisa Vitti, which is a pretty powerful guide for getting in touch with your body and biological rhythm, including when to schedule certain activities and which foods to each during which phase of your cycle. It’s a great way to get to know your body and treat it with love!
Undergarments: Obviously this is my jam! There is so much potential to really love on, adorn, and support your body in gorgeous ways during your period. And I think you can even learn to love your period when using bras and underwear (or sexy lingerie – hey!) that support you and feel great.
- Bras: Did you know you may need a totally different bra or bra size during your cycle? It’s a good idea to check in on your bust and underbust measurements during different parts of your cycle and having bras to suit each time of the month on hand. My bust gets really full and sore before my menstruation. In fact, it’s almost a full cup size larger. To stay comfortable and supported I have some bra sized bralettes to wear during the PMS part of my cycle. I am digging the Montelle Lace Bralette in size 32D/E and the Panache Andorra Lace Wire-Free bra in 32DD (which is available up to a UK H cup!). These stretch lace styles offer support and a great deal of comfort and are SUPER cute. You may even want a stretchy option to wear to sleep if your bust gets super sore. Want more bralette options? Check out more pros & cons of bralettes post.
- Underwear: OMG one of the biggest steps in learning to love my period was by using period underwear. I have tested out several period underwear brands. They’re great for a zillion reasons, but mostly because 1) they work for me and my cycle 2) they’re sexy 3) they give me total confidence leading up to, during, and on the tail end of my cycle. I’m so into it! It’s been an interesting exercise free bleeding into these reusable, absorbent underwear. In fact, the first time felt very odd! But now I’m used to it and prefer it. It’s also helped me SEE my period blood and have to really “deal” with it when wearing and washing these underwear. Instead of grossing me out, it’s actually helped me get more familiar with it and respect it. Sometimes the more we avoid or ignore something the less love we can have for it. Learn more about the pros and cons of period underwear and the scoop on the different period underwear brands I tried. (PS period underwear is also great for transgender men who menstruate and may not want to deal with pads or tampons in binary bathrooms.)
Learn to Love Your Period: Outside
Outside: our relationship with the things around us (home, job, other people, etc), and how we present ourselves and show up in the outside world.
There’s an app for that: Have you ever tried tracking your period before? You can do so with a traditional calendar and pen, or you can try an app! Once I started tracking my period, it was a major game changer. I let the app collect the data and realized after several cycles that my cycle is usually every 26 days, last about 6 days, that my PMS starts 3 days before menstruation, and that my boobs gets sore about 1 full week ahead of time! It was EYE opening. I even use the app to then look ahead at upcoming dates for my cycle and plan my life around it. I try to schedule rest during the low energy days, big projects and TV appearances during my ovulation days and certainly keep my cycle in mind during travel and photo shoot days. Knowledge really is power, and an app can help you track and get to see your body’s unique patterns for bleeding, mood, energy, sex drive, discharge, PMS, and more. *Insert “The More You Know” jingle here in your head.*
Share your cycle: In the past, I suffered through cramps and PMS alone, and I hid my cycle away from anyone else. I felt like it was taboo, gross, and not polite to discuss. I felt like I had to deal with it alone. Now I bring others into the conversation. You can start this with other people who menstruate by discussing your cycle and listening to them about theirs. Fellow menstruate-ers is a great place to start! Because they get it. Eventually you can start to discuss it with other people in your life like your partner, your family, and even strangers.
What would it feel like to have your honey on board with your cycle, and be able to say: “I’m going to need some extra help with that household task around the house today because it’s Day 1 of my cycle and I have major cramps” or “Babe, I love you. And I am extra sensitive today because my cycle is due in 2 days.” Being open with those you love about this natural bodily function can clue them in to what’s going on with you, and how to show up to support you! Now I even share with co-workers who ask, “hey, how are you?” because um, being on my period is part of how I’m doing. It’s been a really exciting and interesting journey to share with men, women, and more about my cycle in a non-shameful way. I suggest you try it by really answering “how you are” when someone really asks!
Let’s hear from some Hurray Kimmay Readers & Fans
These beautiful souls shared their feelings about learning to love their period! Keep in mind, everyone is at a different place in their own path to learning to love their body and its functions. A big thanks to each person for sharing their current awareness and wisdom <3
Being aware of my menstrual cycle has become my number one self-care practice. It is the foundation of the understanding of myself (physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc…) on any given day. The wealth of information that I gain from my cycle seems to be never-ending and all I can do is continue to listen. The energetics of our cycles are here to support us in this life, but it is difficult for them to do so if we continually shame and exclude them from our awareness. If you listen, your cycle will tell you exactly what she needs. .– Meghna N.
My loving thoughts for those struggling with their relationship with their cycle is to look at their cycle as a partner, one who is working to support them, not tear them down. If we tell our partner to be quiet or don’t listen and try to understand what they’re saying, we aren’t going to benefit from their partnership and support. Also, they might retaliate! Our bodies’ systems work relentlessly for us, and when something is out of balance, they inform us in the only ways they can. Our cycle directly connects us to the cycles of the Earth and the Moon- and when you really think about it, that’s just bad-ass and powerful right there. —Holly K. Holistic Wellness Coach
I just ignore it’s there and deal with it ?? really, I find it super inconvenient, especially when I am participating in a race, then it always feels like I am being cheated of reaching peak performance. — Britta U. Lingerie designer & Social media manager
I’ve told my children “Your first relationship is with yourself”. I want them to be confident and comfortable with this “fact of life”, so from the first time they toddled into the bathroom while I was changing a pad, I normalized what was happening as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I had fun explaining how each of the different types of period care work to my kids. We even made a chart. This thing that should be “so natural” requires us to talk about it and share our insights to optimize it (kinda like sex. Lol). It doesn’t have to be awkward. If you want someone to walk you through the discomfort, I’m here for you.. — Dr. Lanae S. Founder of The MamaSutra“
Spot On by Planned Parenthood is my favorite tracking app! You can track mood, physical symptoms, strength of period, and any actions like “slept well” or “sick.” I set a reminder for 8pm every day to fill it out, and it’s done wonders for making me more prepared every month. It’s nice because I’ve now started to pay more attention to things like my mood and physical symptoms. Stuff that I would’ve known was PMS before, but now I know when to expect them before they happen.– Courtnie W. Program/Project Manager at Sprint
I had issues with my cycle acting up and causing me great pain, emotionally and physically. After I saw a doctor I discovered that I have a minor growth in my uterus that bleeds on its own. I am getting it removed next month and I am so looking forward to it. Not only will it remove the pain and constant fatigue, my lost fertility will be restored and my cycles will be normal again. I have felt so out of touch with this aspect of my womanhood for many years and I am greatly looking forward to being able to celebrate my cycle instead of cursing it.–Katie B. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Specialist
Very often, when I get my period- something amazing happens or I have an awesome, full day! I always laugh about it. So now, when I get it, instead of dreading the cramps, bloating and “blah feeling” I get excited and ask myself- I wonder what amazing thing is just around the corner… it has me smile and is pretty much my personal good luck charm. For me, my period is a time of possibility and potential! — Stefanie R., Prolific Poet & Performance Artist
Your Turn: How do you feel about your period? What relationship do you have now, and what kind do you want with your menstruation cycle? What is one step you can take to learn to love your period? Leave a comment and let us know!
Credits: Photos in this blog post were taken by Becky Yee. As always, no air brushing! What you see is what you get.