So, it's time for us to have "the talk."
And yes, it may be uncomfortable at first since this is still a relatively new topic to some, even after years of enduring the same 'cycle' repeatedly. But it's necessary.
What "talk" am I referring to? Ladies, I'm referring to the talk about our menstrual cycles.
Cringe, I know. But let's be honest with ourselves: the first time we were ever told about this monumental moment was an awkward one, to say the least.
No matter if a motherly figure told you about this moment with sweat dripping down her face or a friend had to show you how to use a pad for the first time, there are some things that we still don't know about our monthly visitor.
Today, I'm going to give you a simplified breakdown of the process of becoming a woman and prep you to embrace this part of growing up in a healthier light.
What Is A Menstrual Cycle?
Menstrual cycle, period, that time of the month. It doesn't matter what you call your monthly visitor; what matters is knowing who the heck she is and what she means to you.
Let's break down the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service's definition of what a menstrual cycle is:
"The menstrual cycle is the monthly hormonal cycle a female's body goes through to prepare for pregnancy. Your menstrual cycle is counted from the first day of your period up to the first day of your next period. Your hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) usually change throughout the menstrual cycle and can cause menstrual symptoms."
A mouthful, I know, but let's break down this definition to make it more digestible.
A menstrual cycle is a natural occurrence for young girls and women that typically starts at puberty. During this time, your body prepares itself for the potential effects of pregnancy by shedding the uterine walls, causing bleeding to occur.
The bleeding can vary among women but typically lasts between 2 to 7 days. However, this is the only time that you endure bleeding. Afterward, your cycle continues through two more cycles: the ovulation cycle (the release of the egg) and the luteal phase (the preparation for pregnancy). The bleeding portion is the beginning phase, called the follicular phase.
Oh, and don't fret too much about having to endure this for the rest of your life. You'll (finally) catch a break when you hit menopause, which is the time in your life when your period stops for good.
Although this is the basis of what "that time of the month" means, that's NOT everything you need to know about your cycle.
If you want to get deeper into the nitty-gritty of your menstrual cycle and what occurs within each stage, check out this article written by Jessica E. McLaughlin, MD.
Effects of Womanhood
Now that we know the true definition of what menstruation is and its process let's get into the not-so-pleasant effects that come with it.
Yes, I refer to the aches, pains, and emotional rollercoasters that you experience within the beginning phase.
Some of the more common effects of this process include:
Yes, this is the not so pretty side of being born a woman. However, since this occurrence is natural, it's increasingly more crucial for us to find ways to best manage these painful side effects.
Some women prefer to focus on more holistic methods of keeping their pains at bay. Others rely on pain medication, heating pads, and plenty of rest on certain days (which we all need).
To find out which pathway will work best for you, it's crucial to consider your pain tolerance, cycle length, or even your allergies.
If you're someone who wants to try the holistic method of treating their aches and pains, here are a few popular methods that some women say work for them:
Exercise. Light exercise has been proven to reduce the pain women experiences during their menstrual cycles.
Baths. The water's warm sensation helps relax your muscles and provides additional relief for your body.
Taking daily supplements. Specifically, supplements like magnesium, calcium, and fish oil have helped some women overcome their painful endeavors.
At this point, your mind may still boggle over which method will work best for you. Here's your piece of sisterly advice for the day: don't think too hard!
Enduring your menstrual cycle is a journey, which means that you can try out various pain relief methods and stick to the one that works best for you.
No one will judge you, and no one will make fun of you. Therefore, don't be ashamed of your journey.
Types of Period Products
Now, let's talk about the various products available to you to best manage that follicular phase, which include all of the following products:
The more common product used collectively among women is sanitary pads and tampons, which vary based on your flow and comfort levels.
On the other hand, there are three alternatives for those who don't prefer these two products or want to try something different: menstrual cups, menstrual disks, and period-proof underwear.
All three of these products are made with materials that are safe for you to use and provide some comfort when you use them. This is especially true for the menstrual cups and disks, which must be inserted into your body to be used properly.
Now, I already know what you're thinking at this moment - how do I use these particular products? I got you covered.
This video will provide you with an extended breakdown of these particular products, including how to use each one. Plus, you'll get a sneak peek into each product's look and learn more about the product's purposes.
You can decide which product(s) will work best for you from there.
Conclusion: Breaking The Stigma Over Menstruation Starts with You
Talking about menstrual cycles is often considered taboo in nature. But have you ever thought about what would happen if we tore down that wall and had those honest conversations?
It looks precisely like what you may picture:
More comfortability in your body.
More confidence in embracing your menstrual cycle.
More inclinations to have these necessary conversations in the most important places (i.e., workplaces, etc.).
More women sharing their stories about how they've dealt with their menstrual cycles to help others along the way.
Today is the start of a new era in 2022. Today is the day where you commit to speak up and speak out confidently about a natural occurrence for women like you that will not disappear anytime soon.
If you're committed to being that change, share this with another woman who needs that added confidence too.