I try to live my life cycle centered. This means that I pay attention to my menstrual cycle to understand and use what phase I am in to help me in all aspects of my life.
When we break down the cycle holistically, we see that there are four unique phases we cycle through each month. We can correlate these to the seasons to help us understand them better.
The first is the menstrual phase, which is your period, and this is the winter of your cycle. While your hormones are at the lowest concentration, it's normal to feel extra sleepy and less motivated to be very social or do intense workouts. Similar to how some animals hibernate during winter, we as menstruators have our own version of this.
Next is the follicular phase, which occurs right after your period ends and is the spring of your cycle. As some of your hormones rise, you’ll typically feel a rise in energy, just like the flowers that start to bloom during springtime.
The ovulatory phase is next, and this is when most hormones surge and an egg ovulates. Also known as the summer of your cycle, when you’re feeling most energetic and social.
And finally, the luteal phase is the fall of your cycle. This is post ovulation when most hormones have stopped surging, except for one, and your body prepares itself for either a baby or your period. Your energy begins to draw back inward and you might feel more inclined to have a night in, versus going out. Similar to how the weather cools off during fall and we have the natural urge to slow down a bit, your menstrual cycle does as well.
This analogy is helpful to use as my guide for my menstrual cycle. An important note is to understand how you feel at each phase of your cycle and take note of that. If you are very motivated to go out and be social in your luteal phase, you very well should go and do that! Using your cycle as your guide in life means you develop a deep understanding of who you are and what you need at each phase of your cycle.
By being in tune with my cycle, I feel that I have cracked the code on life. I can plan for and predict my schedule, feel great knowing why I might be feeling a certain way, be able to communicate my needs, and feel more connected to myself, other women and menstruators, and the earth. I know more about what is going on in my body, and that is something I will never take for granted.
During a group meditation and journal session I led this past fall, I wrote “my menstrual cycle is the compass of my life. Whenever life pushes me away from it, I will always find my way back to her”.
And, as happens with life, sometimes I feel disconnected from my cycle. Other things in life have taken precedence these last few months, and my cycle health was put on the back burner. I haven't been as in tune with my cycle as I wish I was.
This happens to all of us all the time. The patriarchal society we live in doesn’t value menstrual cycles, so it’s easy to let it go. There’s no need to beat ourselves up about it, it’s survival most of the time. The thing with our menstrual cycle though, is that it will always be within us, and we can come back at any time.
In January I had a corpus hemorrhagicum ("bleeding corpus luteum”). The corpus luteum is the sac that holds the egg that ovulates and then produces progesterone, a hormone necessary for a healthy luteal phase. It was so painful. It occurred right when I started getting extremely stressed about a few life events.
I was told by a doctor that this is “normal” and to either go on birth control or wait it out. This pain, coupled with school and work, and life stress made me distance myself from my cycle. I stopped paying attention to it and was mainly angry at the pain I felt.
Though I distanced myself, she was always telling me what was going on. I could tell by the pain, and color of the blood each month that there were things I needed to work through.
I’m ready to connect with her again. Your cycle is always there for you as well. It will always be letting you know what’s up. Sometimes it’s so painful that we have to take small steps to get back.
I’m starting with journaling about it and breathing through the pain that came up. I’m also back to consistently charting my cycle, learning more about this hemorrhage, and how I can help others in the future.
Other steps we can take to bring ourselves back to our cycle:
Go to a trusted doctor
Tell a trusted friend or therapist about the pain and how it makes you feel
Put two hands over your uterus and say loving and kind things
Notice when there’s no pain. Your cycle is always present. On days with minimal or no pain, your cycle is also talking to you.
Lastly, the wellness world will make you think every problem is your fault, and that every problem requires individualism. But our society is built on racism, sexism, and more ‘ism’s. Our problems are mainly caused by this. This is why I engage with politics. To fully care for all menstruators, we need solutions for everyone. Policies are a big part of why our health is where it’s at.
Write to lawmakers about health issues that matter to you. For example, free menstrual products for MN schools most likely won’t be passed this year. If they’re not, let’s organize and advocate for them again. We can’t stop until everyone with a uterus feels safe.