Last summer, I went to the doctor about my period. I was going on day 10 of heavy bleeding that had started only 2 weeks into my cycle and I had had enough. Dr. Google told me that this is pretty normal for perimenopause but that it was a good idea to get things checked out.
The actual medical doctor confirmed my suspicions and, as a woman in her 40's, she commiserated with me about all of the changes our bodies were experiencing: weight gain, unusual sleep patterns, mysterious aches, and pains, chin hairs, & unpredictable cycles.
She gave me a couple of options that day - I could pursue an endometrial ablation which is the removal of the uterine lining which means I wouldn't have any more periods, but I would still cycle. She also prescribed medicine that would slow the flow down because my hormones weren't kicking in to tell my body that it was time to stop bleeding.
The next day my period stopped and I started paying very close attention to my cycle.
Since then, I've only had a 10-day mid-cycle flow once and because I was prepared for it - I didn't have thoughts of waking up in a pool of my own blood needing to be rushed to the emergency room. I kept tracking and took the flow as a sign from my body that I needed to slow down. I know I hadn't rested enough for a few cycles and this 10-day stretch was a reminder to slow down and rest and to allow my body to release freely.
I've heard these kinds of stories from many women my age and many of them solve the problem with an ablation - which made complete sense to me - but also didn't feel quite right as my own solution. We all have different relationships with our bodies and how we access medical care, and my belief has always been that it's not life or death, I could trust what my body was doing.
But, more important than how I normally make health decisions, I had also grown to love my period. It's been a part of my weekly planning for over 2 years now, and I'd grown to trust the wisdom of my body when I create my agenda for the week. I also realized that my body was so wise, that when I ignored this system she let me know that it was time to rest and take things easy! I'm not ready to give that up.
A few weeks ago, I shared a post about sexual self-self care and my first suggestion for taking exquisite care of your sexuality was to love your period, to which you may have thought, "umm... no".
And, if that's how you feel, I get it! We've all been socialized to think of our periods as a monthly nuisance and not something to be celebrated. For many women (and some men), periods are not welcome and given our illiteracy around how to care for our cycles, I can understand this. If you experience pain with your period, it's hard to love that and I know that for many women around the world, slowing down during menstruation is not an option.
So - given all of this - how do we learn to love our periods? Much like loving our bodies in general, it begins with radical self-acceptance. This is a part of who you are and, as such, is worthy of love.
Here are a few suggestions to help you move toward loving your period if that's feeling challenging for you:
Self-love is a conscious choice we make every day to lean into exploring what we've been told about our bodies and our worth so that we can reclaim what's actually true and learn that each and every part of who we are is deserving of love & even celebration.
Finally, I want to acknowledge something about periods that I think is an important, and often ignored. part of this conversation.
As women who bleed we need to recognize that not all women have uteruses and that bleeding, while associated with being gendered female, is not an indication of womanhood.
Also, there are men and non-binary folks who bleed and for whom having a period every month can be a painful reminder of their gender dysphoria and highlights the ways in which they have to prove over and over again they are who they know themselves to be while trying to live in a culture that prioritizes cis gender discourse. Please read this to learn more about how some men who bleed feel about their periods.
As we celebrate International Women's Day today - Let's also celebrate the diversity of experience for women while also recognizing our own individual journey towards self-love, wholeness, and worthiness. Let today be a celebration of YOU, and if it feels right - YOUR PERIOD!