Periods are normal, and Halloween is the perfect time to get over your fear of blood. Menstruation is a part of animal life and therefore a part of everyone’s life, women and men. Though it is a normal part of life, many cultures and social stigmas continue to try to frame menstruation as shameful or gross. Why? No good reason. I’ve looked. From exile to just plain silly myths, menstruation around the world continues to have a misguided rep and that can confuse young girls. Reflecting on my experiences, I have come up with all the things I would have wanted to tell myself upon first receiving my period.
1. Don’t freak out. Periods are normal.
Many of us have had our periods for a while now. We know all the tips and tricks. We track our cycles and can prepare for our days of bleeding. Some of us feel comfortable talking about our cycles to anyone and everyone – even men. It is a normal process and we are going to explain why it should be an easy topic to talk about and something we don’t need to hide. It’s only blood. Don’t freak out!
2. Why do people think periods are gross or shameful?
No good reasons. Like we’ve said, periods are normal! Blood is blood, and menstrual blood is probably the healthiest and cleanest of all. Why don’t we think about it as its main purpose? To continue our fertility cycle. To clear out the old and unfertilized egg. To tell us that we are not pregnant. Here are some stigmas that need breaking:
Women are not allowed to become sushi chefs because menstruation can alter your taste – and the men of Japan must have found women’s taste too threatening for their sushi chef occupation. And rightfully so. As women have progressed in Japan, a few have fought their way to the sushi chef table and they are killing it.
Women are not allowed to enter a place of worship or cook food (among other things). Now, that seems just plain silly – only if women feel ashamed by that fact.
The logic behind this myth: When we were an under-populated species, communities tried to scare people into reproduction (especially when lives were much shorter). This (and many other misguided myths) may be an old legend that tried to scare women into becoming pregnant.
The solution: We could now see this exile as more of an honor. If a higher being doesn’t want women to worship them during menstruation – it must mean we are doing something right. We don’t need to worship during menstruation because we are already worshiping our uterus – the God of life. The men, however, still need to pray.
Women believe that if you don’t wash your pads before throwing them away, ghosts will haunt you. Well, this just sounds like an old wise tale, like the whole “seven years bad luck.” To avoid any ghostly hauntings, I would suggest to use a menstrual cup instead.
3. Why do I menstruate and what is it?
When you start to menstruate, it means you have the ability to become pregnant. In some parts of the world, girls as young as 12 do get married and have children. In western cultures, this is not typically the case. But, it is important to understand why you receive it so early when you live in a culture where women at the age of 30 start having families.
Our biology is ancient and can’t change so quickly.
Our species has lived on this planet for a very long time. Our biology was determined a few hundred thousand years ago. Life span has increased only in the few hundred years. Women’s rights only happened one hundred years ago. The choice of women to go to college, have careers and have children later in life is a popular decision of the last fifty years. Do you see that our society has changed rapidly? Our biology is ancient and can’t change so quickly, that is why you menstruate so early in life.
Menstruation is a part of healthy fertility and signals that you are not pregnant.
Our periods should be celebrated. You are not pregnant! You have a healthy cycle! Women have a delicate hormonal balance. We ovulate on one single day which means we prepare a fertile egg for conception. When that egg is not fertilized, our bodies get rid of it because we can only use the freshest of eggs. We are fertile every month, an advantage for our species to continue to grow.
Menstrual blood is discarded to clear out the uterus lining with the old egg.
In order to clear out the old egg, a lot of other stuff in our body goes with it. This includes a mucus lining (which is why periods can be slimy or like an egg white consistency) and blood (because, well, that is what is inside our bodies!). Blood oxidizes when it touches oxygen which is why you might see a change in color from red to brown.
In order to trigger menstruation our progesterone levels rise and then drop suddenly.
What is progesterone? Honey, learn here. It is a main hormone that helps to secure pregnancy. After ovulation, progesterone rises in order to protect a possible pregnancy. Your body just does it without knowing if you are pregnant or not. When the egg is not fertilized, progesterone is all like “I see that I’m not needed here,” and drops and that tells the body to clear out the old egg in hopes to try again. Yes, our biology just wants to get pregnant – we are animals, after all!
4. How do I manage it?
The best way to manage your cycle is to be prepared. Everyone is unique and has individual experiences. Observe your period, symptoms and cycle. Use a tracking app so that you aren’t surprised when your period will start. Tracking your period will also remind you of the week prior to menstruation.
The week before menstruating might be painful.
This is the week between ovulation and menstruation. If you are not pregnant, it is basically your body saying, “Ohhh, man! You’re not pregnant again?” Like I’ve said, the biology of our species is to procreate and the biology of our gender is to carry a child. You can be excited that you aren’t pregnant but your body will be disappointed. This is the time when you might experience PMS. What is PMS? Loads of unwanted symptoms caused by hormonal imbalance – usually estrogen dominance. Knowing this about yourself can help you to alleviate the symptoms. If you experience certain symptoms, you can use herbs to balance your hormones.
Estrogen is the main hormone to promote ovulation but the culprit of painful symptoms.
Estrogen is necessary for a healthy ovulation, but, nowadays, we are exposed to a lot of estrogens and chemicals in household products and foods. Excess estrogen is not good for our hormone balance. If you have too much estrogen, you will have unwanted symptoms before and during your period like heavy bleading. Knowing this and being aware of what you expose yourself to will help. Herbs like lady’s mantle and yarrow will help to balance your hormones. Teas like our Red Sea use natural and organic herbs to balance estrogen and lighten the menstrual flow.
5. Don’t be ashamed
It’s hard to be confident about your period when it is a new concept for you and your peers – especially if the boys tease you. But, no one can kill confidence, especially if you present it like the normal thing it is – like breathing, it is a necessary part of living. When someone says “Ewww, gross!” you can say, “The only thing that is gross is your ignorance. Menstruation is the reason we are a living species.”
For this Halloween, be bloody! Celebrate your period and honor your blood. We want you to honor your blood with our 10% bloody Halloween coupon off of everything in the Menstruation Category: bloody10
*coupon expires on 5 November, 2018.