There are so many myths about our periods out there, where to start? All the mythology surrounding menstruation is predicated on misinformation. Misinformation that was passed down generation to generation, maybe even directly from your sister or mom to you. Sometimes myths have arisen to fill in our gaps in knowledge about our own bodies, and sometimes they’ve been created to keep us from that knowledge. These period myths direct the way we behave and act towards not just our periods, but also our whole hormone cycle; they direct us to feel a certain way about our female bodies.
It’s very likely that you hold some negative assumptions about your period and cycle as a whole, because that’s just what you were told to think from a young age. This doesn’t reflect poorly on you at all, it’s not easy to separate ourselves from any kind of social conditioning and we all, every one of us, have to do the work to unlearn things that keep us from our truth.
Even if you’ve now got to a point where you feel more positively toward your period, there’s always a comment or conversation, a headline or TV plot, that drags you back to feeling that the period is a bad, gross, and annoying occurrence. I know many women who feel positively about their period still will admit that they feel they’d rather not have one and feel that it’s part of the bad deal of being a woman. The idea that periods are inherently a burden is so ingrained into our society it’s really hard to create any space for a different perspective.
From your first health ed class at school to those basic human reproduction biology books to glossy magazines to religion to how your mom talked about - it’s nearly impossible for you to come out of young adulthood with a good opinion about your body and female reproductive system. Much of this serves to make you feel like a passive victim of your period, of your body - a victim who can do absolutely nothing about their period plight.
If you want to hear me dig deeper on these myths have a listen to this podcast recording of my workshop at the Cycles+Sex event in NYC.
5 period myths busted
- PMS is normal - this myth is so harmful, as it leaves so many women suffering unnecessarily with premenstrual symptoms, from mood swings to bloating to acne. PMS is used against women too, to dismiss our feelings, opinions, and judgements and to put us in the “hormonal” box (as though men don’t have hormones too!). I have renamed PMS, Prioritizing MySelf, and if more women did this, fewer would have these symptoms. PMS is absolutely triggered by diet choices (coffee, sugar, dairy, dieting, juice fasts, and low fat fads), but it’s also triggered by the wider suppression of feminine energy. The premenstrual phase can actually be a time of insight, clarity, and directives - it can fill you with a can-do, will-get-done attitude and a desire to clean house, literally and metaphorically. When women live in their FLO, PMS disappears, because PMS, although commonplace, is not how we are designed to operate an only arises from an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone during the luteal phase. The truth is simply that ratio can be improved with food - period.
- You’re supposed to have cramps - I often hear women say that we’re supposed to have cramps, or that we’re wired for them, or that it’s just women’s lot in life to suffer with period pain. I hate to hear this, because it’s simply not true. Did you know that while your body has 1 type of prostaglandin - PgE2 - which causes uterine contractions and, so, period cramps; your body also has 2 types of prostaglandin – PgE1 and PgE3 – that actually exist to counteract the contractions and are antispasmodic i.e. natural pain killers. Your body has twice the capacity for pain relief as for causing period pain! So your job is just to support your body in making of the good prostaglandins by providing the building blocks (food) it needs to do this! How awesome is that? There are dietary triggers for cramps, just as there are for PMS problems, and in both cases you can avoid it all by eating more of what your body needs, when it needs it.
- You still have a period on the pill - the bleed you experience when on the birth control pill is a withdrawal bleed and not physiologically the same as menstruation. The pill, if you take your monthly break, actually creates a false period, for no other reason than...marketing! Originally it was thought women would be freaked out if they didn’t bleed at all and that this would stop them from using the pill. To have menstruation, you need to be ovulating, and the pill suppresses ovulation. Without ovulation your hormones cannot do the dance they need to do to get you to the point of a period. Suppressing your periods comes with side effects and health dangers.
- You don’t need to have a period - every so often an op-ed circulates in which some expert argues that women don’t need to have a period, that it’s somehow outdated or unnecessary, or even unhealthy to have a period! This myth is based in misinformation. Ovulation, and therefore menstruation, is important for ensuring bone, heart, and breast health and protecting women against some of the most common diseases. If you’re skipping periods due to PCOS, or you have irregular cycles, you will also be experiencing a host of symptoms from acne to mood swings to weight gain alongside this. ACOG recommends that menstruation is tracked as the 5th vital sign of a woman’s health, and, if periods are missing, it is considered an indicator of a health issue. A regular period is something to celebrate - it shows your body is healthy and happy! Your period can be observed for color, consistency, length and other symptoms to reveal a lot about your hormones and health - take my Period Type Quiz to find out more.
- You can’t change your bad period - when you get a cold, what do you do? Do you just let it run its course or do you do something? Most of us will up our vitamin C, sleep more, eat some good chicken soup and take care of ourselves to get better. When your period isn’t feeling good - i.e. you have cramps, heavy bleeding, spotting etc - we tend to just think that’s how things are for us, and that there’s nothing that can be done about it. We act this way because we’ve bought into the myth that there’s nothing you can do about a problem period, that if you have awful periods then you have them until menopause, just like your mom and grandma did. But it’s just not true, because you can take action and change your period. You don’t have to be a passive victim to your period plight. There are simple, matter-of-fact steps you can take and you will see results by your next cycle. My Monthly FLO program tackles all these problems head on with a combination of diet changes, supplements, and lifestyle hacks.
Now you’ve had time to reconsider these preconceptions, why not pass on the enlightenment? Share this with a friend, have that chat with someone you care about - ask them what they’ve come to believe about periods. It can be hard to combat myths and misinformation alone, but together we are unstoppable!
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
To your FLO,
We believe that no woman should suffer simply because she has a period.
And we also know that it’s not always possible to get access to functional and holistic healthcare solutions — sometimes they’re too far away and most of the time they are way too expensive.
That’s why we offer phone and Skype consultation sessions with our FLO coaches.
All of our expert FLO coaches have been trained by Alisa on top of being certified health coaches and licensed acupuncturists. And they are all qualified to help you find the right next step for you in getting out of hormonal chaos and into your FLO. Work with a FLO Coach and find your customized plan to solve your period symptoms.