It’s Day 1 of your cycle, you’ve started your bleed –the cramping is intense, the bloating is unbearable and you’re wondering when you can take your next paracetamol! Yep, we’ve all been there –tears streaming as fast as your bleed. Did you know that your period should come and go, without any discomfort to you at all? Period pain is experienced by 84–88% of women. This blows me away every time I read it, because it truly doesn’t have to be this way. Just because something is common does not mean it is normal. So, just because it is common to have painful periods, does not mean it is a normal experience. Discomfort during your period is a sign that something is out of alignment. It is your body trying to tell you something, perhaps she has been trying to deliver the message in a gentler way but you weren’t listening. Of all the phases of the menstrual cycle your period is the most potent reflection of your cycle and your life. There is so much knowledge to be gained about your general wellbeing and health. Now, I can see your sceptical look but don’t worry I am about to share with you some practical, easy steps to working toward a pain free period.
Touch Base with a health professional
As women, we do have access to a lot of information intuitively. However, by seeking the advice of a health professional you trust, it can be an excellent way to check there are no health conditions that need to be addressed. You may want to see a medical doctor, naturopath or acupuncturist –or perhaps all three. Seeing a health professional doesn’t mean that you are giving your power away. When you are comfortable with your provider you can still be a very active participant in your health-related decisions. Remember, if it doesn’t feel right to you, it is your body and you have the right to look for alternative solutions and a second opinion. I would suggest however, start by finding someone with a passion and interest in women’s health.
At the end of every cycle take time out, at least 15-30 minutes, to truly reflect on the month that has just passed. Some journaling prompts to start this process might be
- Did I over do it physically?
- Did I overdo it emotionally?
- Did I overdo it mentally?
- Did I regularly take time out to nourish my body?
- Am I listening to my body?
Then, take this reflection deeper and look at how you feel about getting your period or how you feel about being a woman. In Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, she talks about Menstrual problems being related to dislike of yourself, rejection of femininity, hatred of your body and the belief that genitals are sinful or dirty. Does any of that resonate with you? Perhaps even on a subconscious level?
When you begin to move into the Follicular phase of your month (the 2nd phase of the menstrual cycle) plan your month ahead. This doesn’t have to be down to the nitty gritty minute detail however, start by planning in a day/hour of relaxation when your next period is due. From there work backwards optimising your own natural energy cycle, work with your body rather than against it. If you’d like to learn more on how to do this, check this out. (LINK TO COURSE when the course is online).
Yoni Steaming or Vaginal Steaming
I have recently started this beautiful, nourishing self-care practice! It is truly one of the most loving experience that you can do for yourself. I am going to write up my experiences in detail very soon, but for now I cannot recommend it highly enough (and yes it took me ages to try it because of initial misconceptions!). Vaginal steaming or Yoni steaming is an old practice and it was a way of looking after reproductive health before gynaecology even existed. It has been noted to have huge benefits including decreasing cramping, infections, fibroids, cysts and helping create fresher brighter menstrual blood. You might like to start your journey here with this handbook or here with this great presentation
What are you using to support yourself when you bleed?
What do you use to support your bleed -nope I’m not talking medications! Are you using tampons and pads made from synthetic materials and chemicals that can cause the delicate lining of your vaginal walls (mucous membranes) to dry out and increase discomfort? Perhaps it is time to consider a more holistic method to support your cycle such as menstrual cups, cloth pads, or specially designed absorbent underwear. Remember it may take 2-3 cycles to notice a change in your period discomforts. However, it is important to remember that just because it is common, pain is not normal. A symptom free period is achievable.
Grandi, G Ferrari, S Xholli, A Cannoletts, M Palma, F Romani, C Volpe, A Cagnacci, A 2012, Prevalence of menstrual pain in young women: what is dysmenorrhea? in Journal of Pain Research, Vol. 5, pp. 169-174, viewed