Shameless Woman

Pursuing an integrated life of sensuality, health, healing and rejuvenation

The Importance of Listening to Our Menstrual Cycle

A woman's monthly cycle has an emotional and sexual landscape.

As a woman - your menstrual cycle is in so many ways an internal compass. Yet instead of teaching women about tuning into our own internal barometers - we have sent messages that our internal cycle is not important and can be ignored. There are no messages that women should for example rest during their periods - and allow time for introspection. There isn't room in our society for that. But perhaps we should consider looking at how women who came before us treated themselves during their cycles for some helpful pointers.


After all - we are doing so much of that in our industrialized lives. Going back - and reconnecting with how we once did things - realizing that in so many ways - we have thrown the baby out with the bath water. I think that the more that we teach woman about our menstrual cycle - not only will they be better able to understand their bodies - but that they will have a better relationship with their sexuality and their fertility.

It is easy in today's world to forget that our menstrual cycle is all about reproduction. Mostly - young women are given information about cleaning up their cycles from tampons to deodorants. Many are given birth control pills which in some cases stops their monthly bleeding altogether. I don't know of many women who teach their daughters about the rhythms of their cycles - and instill a sense of true self care and honoring as opposed to a fear of pregnancy, inconvenience and cleaning up. I would love for us to reconsider our relationship with our cycles - and take the time to not only understand our bodies - but connect with our inner compass.

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A woman's monthly cycle has an emotional and sexual landscape whether we are trying to conceive in that month or not. Instead of walking over these natural patterns - let's try to understand them.

In the first week of our cycle - we begin counting on the first day of menstruation - which we will call "Day One". If you were trying to conceive it is a time of releasing hope of a new life. Even if you were not trying to conceive - this can be a dark time emotionally. Dr. Christiane Northrup talks about this being a time of letting go and releasing what does not serve us. It is a time where we let go of death and welcoming new life. Again - even if we are not literally thinking about creating a baby - it is very helpful emotionally to tune into this primal and biologically based emotions and see how they can be used to further your own experiences in your daily life.

Some women use this time to turn inwards and grieve the losses in their life - you may cry easily as you let go of thoughts that no longer serve you. In many traditional cultures this time was honored in a woman's cycle and she was given the time to do her spiritual, private - internal work. In some societies - bleeding women gathered in a special place and did healing ritual work. In many cultures the bleeding women gathered together during this time - it was not because they were dirty - they gathered because they were seen as powerful during this time of the month, and they had spiritual work to do.

They were excused from their daily tasks so that they could the work that could only happen during this time of bleeding. In contrast - in today's culture - it is frowned on to take "Time off" to take care of ourselves during this time.There is no honoring of this time - instead it is seen as an inconvenience.

I would like to encourage you to revisit that in your own life - see what happens if you can create some space around your time of menstruation. Try taking some time off around taking care of others, and reduce the time you give work. What might you be able to let go of that no longer serves you?

In the second week of our cycles - we are starting to feel better. We may have a new spring to our step - and start to feel sexual again. This is the part of cycle where we get closer to ovulation - and whether or not you are actually wanting to have a baby or not - your body is building towards creating a new life again.  Our internal dance encourages us to be more social, more outgoing - and flirty with the world. Women send out signals whether we are aware or not - about our ability to breed (again - this happens whether or not we are trying to conceive or going through infertility). This is our most shameless part of the month!  Our bodies are hopeful and want to attract men. There have been numerous scientific studies on this - and this is the time of the month that women dress sexier, are more likely to be approached by men as we lead up to what might be our peak fertility of the month. Our libidos may also be at the highest point of our monthly cycles as we approach ovulation. We are more likely to want sex during this week! Evolution is so smart.

Week Three of our cycle is the when we feel like slowing down. The time of the ovulation is passed - and the energy that we were sending out into the world to attract the bees to our flower has started to ebb - and starts to flow down and inward. As we move closer to menstruation our mood darkens and our energy continues to decline. Many women start to look inward at their lives - and check in with themselves about what is not working in their lives. My husband calls this "Bitchiness" and teasingly will call ahead and ask if it is safe to come home from work!

But it is normal for women to be more depressed, sad, tired and generally uninterested in social things. If we tuned into our own monthly calendar more - we might be more honoring of this place in our lives - and make room for it instead of dismissing our feelings as a passing mood.

This is a time for self care - and working on creating less stress in your life. If you are in a relationship - it would be ideal if your partner could know that this is a time of your needing more tenderness and love.

Week Four is when we go even deeper into that dark time - it might not be the best time to try and solve the problems that may come up for you - even if you may be very aware of them. This is not the best time for you to charge the castle even if you feel like it.  The good news is that soon you will feel the relief and release of your menstruation - and the cycle starts again.

This is a special dance that only women do. It's primal and is not served by being "cleaned up" and ignored. When we tune into our internal rhythm and honor it - we can only enhance our relationship to our  sexuality, our fertility and our beautifully complex emotional landscape.

 

Pamela Madsen is a fertility/sex educator, blogger, author of Shameless and founder of The American Fertility Association.

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