For shame! It’s ludicrous that the most natural thing in the world of a woman is still such an embarrassment-provoking and taboo topic right here in western society, right now, in the 21st century.
If one asks a friend for a tampon we are hiding it like contraband, concealing it secretly and as discreetly as possible to avoid embarrassment to ourselves or anyone around us.
It’s uncomfortable for a woman to ask a man to buy tampons or sanitary pads for us or even if there are male staff at the checkout.
Most women grow up without really knowing what it means to have a menstrual cycle. We had a one-off segregated secretive class away from the boys at school with clinical diagrams about growing up that taught us next to nothing.
I got my period at 13. All I knew was that it meant I had to use tampons or sanitary pads and needed to be aware of how not to get pregnant.
Society had a quick fix for the latter “problem” by preemptively suppressing our natural hormones with the pill but let’s not go too deep into this woman-destroying drug right now – that’s a whole other blog’s worth.
Oh, just to have the freedom to be open about these things!
Envisioning a whole new world
Seriously though, I can’t believe that I am learning all about my cycle in my thirties. I feel like a lotus flower, just waking and coming up to the surface of the mud, opening my petals and beauty to the light and the world. And it is a whole new world!
Learning about my menstrual cycle, particularly from the Ayurvedic angle has changed my life, gifting me with a new perspective of my female life and body.
I honour myself as a woman, finally.
In my old life, working in the corporate world, I was a businesswoman through and through. Taking time out during my menstruation didn’t occur to me at all – why would I?
Normal life entailed long hours in the car, meetings, customers, gym, pushing through, everything non-stop. No problem, I could hack it.
Fortunately, I’ve never had severe menstrual problems but that doesn’t mean a perfectly healthy menstrual flow. I just didn’t pay much attention to it so I was ignoring that my body needed rest during my cycle days. I’ve actually had cysts for many years, nothing too worrying, but they are there.
Anyway, my corporate career ended with burn-out, a blessing from heaven really.
Today I realize that the lack of menstrual care has a huge role to play in women experiencing burn-out. Exhaustion, depletion of the tissues, and a burnt-out body cause many female disorders, such as dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, amenorrhea, and PMS.
More and more women are suffering from these diseases, and the reason why? We just don’t know enough about how to honor our female cycle. Our modern lifestyles, eating habits, the pushing mentality, overstimulation, and overworking, all contribute to our ill health.
It’s not all bad news, however, there is some positive change gaining momentum.
Progress Away From Painkillers
I am very happy to read that countries like Spain have approved paid menstrual leave days for female employees and Australia is discussing it.
It’s a step in the right direction towards the world acknowledging firstly, the female cycle and secondly, the time to rest the female body requires to come back to work more powerful and motivated.
Menstrual leave days should be the norm, not popping painkillers and suffering through the days hanging like a sack on the office chair lacking productivity and energy just to be a “good girl”.
Meanwhile, there are existing cultures and countries, India for instance, that have a profound scientific understanding of menstrual needs; they have practiced menstrual rituals for thousands of years.
The western world has forgotten these ancient practices over time, but even my mum knows a few that she didn’t pass on to me, as often they are seen as discriminatory, old, taboo, or myths. Despite these perceptions, they are valuable in my eyes and are even more important today with the worrying, ever-increasing number of female problems and disorders.
Painful menstruation doesn’t have to be the norm and we don’t have to accept it so I’m here advocating for no more brushing menstrual problems under the carpet.
I feel it’s time for a rebirth of the Indian cultural menstrual practices; all the female disorders I have mentioned here can be treated with Ayurveda and yoga based on thousands of years of experienced cultural knowledge.
Relearning how to honor the female body in totality, with our cycle, our bleeding days, and our superpowers, can transform our appreciation of it, from being burdened to possessing a gift.
Ayurveda requires true holistic thinking to achieve this mindset, which means looking at everything under the sun that affects our wellbeing – lifestyle, diet, activity habits, exercise, routines, mindset patterns, and self-care rituals.
India’s ancient texts or Charaka Samahita (ancient text of Ayurveda) also have long lists of dos and don’ts for menstruating women that might sound a bit off for us urban women.
Don’t touch a menstruating person
In Indian culture, why do they say not to touch a menstruating woman? At first glance, I understand how you might feel some resentment towards this but let’s explore with open minds my two personal experiences backed by science.
A few months ago, It just so happened that I was giving a treatment on the second day of my menses and something felt very wrong.
My energy felt so strange and my client’s energy felt odd too. During the treatment, without knowing why, I intuitively knew not to do it again.
I was unaware that during menstruation, the hormone estrogen is at its lowest and at this time there is an increase in free radicals and reduced antioxidants in the body – a simultaneous occurrence that increases the chances of the body going into oxidative stress.
So the no-touching rule in India is grounded in this transfer of positively and negatively charged electrons. If a non-menstruating person touches a menstruating woman they experience a loss of electrons and that puts their body at risk of oxidative stress.
To regain lost electrons, in Indian culture it’s recommended to have a bath after touching a menstruating woman. We can also gain antioxidants through dietary intake, which I talk about in my 4-Week Ayurveda Menstrual Awareness Online Course.
When I heard the explanation, it made so much sense. This really was a profound experience and understanding for me of how Ayurveda’s medicine is based on wisdom and real-life all-encompassing experience. When we experience it ourselves, we understand the knowledge, and we understand the power behind these practices.
Don’t shower or swim
Another ritual that I have experienced to be true for myself is avoiding taking a bath, shower or swimming during menstruation. Being underwater during this time tends to stop the flow temporarily. Don’t believe me? You can try it if you’re in a position to.
This was another aha-moment observed in myself that we never usually pay attention to, however, for optimum health, especially if you suffer with problems, you don’t want to interrupt your menstrual flow.
These ancient practices and Ayurveda fascinate me endlessly. I am on a mission to rebirth these special ancient rituals into the world of modern urban women.
It’s time to reset the defective western paradigm, empowering you to be truly healthy and at one with your body so you can be successful in all aspects of life.
If you want to learn more, check out my new Ayurveda Menstrual Awareness 4-Week Online Course designed for all women who want to become body & Ayurveda-wise by developing a healthy, attuned relationship with their body and natural cycle. This course also welcomes all mums, future mums and daughters.