Your power is in your cyclicality. Your true Beauty beats in your differences day to day. And if you are a menstruating human, you are greatly different from week to week. Both science and Spirit are on your side, bringing you through a purposeful and mystical journey of hormonal and emotional fluctuations each month. This is the divine design of Mother Nature. New life does not just arrive from the sky, but manifests through this process of sacred Creation within a menstruating human each month. Much of it is beyond our control. But much of it is within our control, as we can listen sharply to the symptoms arising and respond sweetly by making lifestyle adjustments.
In this cycle series, we are going to be going over each phase of the menstrual cycle (there are 4 in total) ~ diving into the energetics of each phase, the science of each phase, and nutritional + self-care tips for each phase. Up today is ::
The Menstruation Phase
Corresponding with the Winter season + New Moon
Archetype :: The Mystic
Science of the Menstruation Phase ↣
The first day of bleeding commences Day 1 of the menstrual cycle. A “normal” cycle lasts anywhere between 28 and 35 days. The Menstruation Phase, or the days of bleeding, lasts anywhere between 3 and 8 days. If you experience recurring months of bleeding for shorter or longer than that, talk with your trusted doctor to be sure all hormone levels are online as they should be. The bleeding that we call Menstruation is really the endometrium (the inner most layer of the uterine wall) shedding. If shedding of the endometrium does not occur, it is here where a fertilized egg is implanted. As we learned about during the Luteal Phase, progesterone thickens the endometrium to prepare for a possible pregnancy, but when no pregnancy implants, the lining is shed to begin the cycle anew. Blood and endometrial tissue flow first through cervix, then into and out of the vagina. Blood each month will roughly be about the same volume. If there is a dramatic change in blood volume from month to month, it could indicate a hormonal imbalance so talk with your doc.
Progesterone is dropping off, which onsets bleeding. Estrogen also drops off at this time, which brings us sensations of relief, ease, and inner peace. This is the calm after storm. The first few days of bleeding may have us feeling more emotionally stable than we did the few days prior. Hormones FSH and LH and also low. This drop in hormones stimulates the hypothalamus to prepare the another cycle of Ovulation.
Energetics of the Menstruation Phase ↣
Oh the Magic of Menstruation! The multi-dimensional maturity and mystic sensitivity which yields through the womb each month, flowing down in an intermingling with the Great Mother ~ the One whom original birth and the cycles of creation and destruction and transformation materialize from. This greatest of gifts is a doorway opening into a sweeter, expansive, welcoming relationship with ourSelves and with all of Life. Our Menstruation is our Magic.
And oh how it has been shamed, repressed, wholly misunderstood and stained with the heavy attitudes of individuals who fear its creativity. No matter who we are or where we are, each of us reading these words originated in the womb of a menstruating human. Or if they weren’t menstruating, their innate physiology was constructed with the capacity to, because of course pregnancy does not indicate a “regular” menstrual cycle, plus with the invention of invasive birth controls one can still bear children without journeying through the seasons of their cycle. Yet when we do take this radical journey ~ whether it is leading us through “irregularity” or “regularity” ~ however the journey develops differently each month, it is here to serve us with incredible insight into the health of our bodies, minds, and the willingness of our spirits. The Menstrual Phase, which is the days of bleeding, is truly the most magical of days in which to tap in.
These are vulnerable days when we may feel highly intuitive and introspective. We don’t want to go out. We don’t quite have the bandwidth to attune to other’s needs as much as we do throughout the rest of the month (especially during Ovulation). No matter how much we deeply enjoy being of service, the Menstrual Phase reminds us that truly, we cannot care for others if we cannot care for ourSelves. And similarly, it reminds us that through a frequent practice of isolated Listening, we may gain the greatest Insight and are awarded wise new perspectives on both personal and collective issues. When our cup becomes emptied, we must come back to the well of inner-deliciousness to be replenished. These are the days when we are given absolute permission from our biology to live meditatively, slowly, reflectively. The great message of Menstruation is :: Slow Down + Listen In.
On the days leading up to bleeding (the last days of the Luteal Phase) our brain day by day begins to thin its veil between the conscious and unconscious selves by moving towards a more theta-wave, right-brain mode of operation. Menstruation is the Winter ~ the natural and essential hibernation of the body, mind and spirit, to receive much-deserved rest and recalibration. While bleeding, let yourself rest. Engage with light, esoteric and uplifting reading. Only tune into media that encourages the sensitive universe spinning within you. Turn your phone off if you need ~ let your loved ones know that your conversations need to happen next week. Be with yourSelf. Be easy.
Menstruation is the New Moon ~ the darkest of days, inspiring surrender and inquiry into the contents of the shadows. What lurks beneath the surface of our conscious minds, pulling levers and pushing buttons for deeper programmings which no longer serve our evolution? This is a time for New Beginnings ~ for starting fresh with both a fresh womb (our true seat of power!) and a fresh perspective on and feeling about Life. The more difficult of days at the end of the Luteal Phase, leading up to bleeding, are the storm before the calm. As soon as that New Moon rises, as soon as that bleeding commences, we may find ourselves feeling a whole lot better. Still sensitive, still slow, but ultimately…fresh, uplifted, and encouraged. The onset of bleeding is very much a ~ Whew! Thank the Goddess that’s what was really going on! So I am not crazy after all! I am just a cyclical being, and now I am bleeding. Praise the Mystery.
Menstruation is a time for forgiveness. Maybe it is ourselves we need to forgive, for any ways we may have neglected care for our own needs. Maybe it is others we need to forgive, for any ways we may feel wounded. Maybe it is the greater collective coma of the issues that ail us that we need to release. Whatever it may be, these are the days to allow ourselves to release resentment out with our blood. Bitterness, anger, impatience, worry…may it all travel down the rapids of Menstruation, back into the Earth to be transformed into something new ~ something which serves an intention of Love. With each week of bleeding, it is wonderful to ask ourselves :: What am I releasing along with my blood this month? What is no longer serving me? What needs transforming?
If clouds of dissatisfaction, restlessness, or confusion follow you through these days, welcome them. Let them rain on your parade ~ They are here to serve you. Maybe the parade you wanted isn’t really the parade you needed. These feelings are simple signs for bigger lessons that crave to be listened to and responded to. Use them to your advantage ~ What needs to change? What needs clearing out?
An intimate practice during bleeding is to gather your blood each day in your Moon Cup, then save it in a little jar next to your toilet. Once bleeding is complete and the jar is full, return this blood to the Earth near your home ~ maybe to your garden bed or favorite tree. Give your blood back to the Earth with intentions for transformation and prayers for healing. (More on this below)
Have heart ~ each day passing of bleeding will feel better, lighter. As the Moon begins to lighten again in the sky with each passing night, so do our spirits and overall enthusiasm to engage in the world again. Just as the Moon, menstruating humans go through this period of darkness each month, but we need not be afraid of it. We are called to celebrate it ~ to use it wisely and meditatively, to gather great insight, to cultivate a confident intuition. Your Menstruation is your Magic!
I’d love to share with you a few Questions to Encourage Menstrual Awareness from Lara Owen’s wonderful book Her Blood is Gold ::
Write down three names for Menstruation. Think about them. What do they imply to you about Menstruation?
Think for a few minutes about what it feels like to have your period (for men, or for girls who have not yet menstruated, imagine what it’s like) and write down a few words describing that feeling.
Imagine you have special powers and you can tell when a woman has her period. What are the clues that you would use?
Just for a minute or two, consider that menstruation is magical. What would be the gift of this magical thing?
Nutrition for the Menstruation Phase ↣
We lose many minerals and iron during these days of consistent bleeding, so nutrition at this time is about replenishment or adding back in. We need deep re-mineralization and bioavailable iron sources. Vitamin C helps tremendously with iron absorption, so drinking warm lemon water all throughout the day is a good idea. Similarly, Lypospheric Vitamin C as a supplement is potent.
Mineral-rich foods to focus on are wild-caught seafoods and seaweeds, Celtic sea salt, as well as herbal infusions (best herbs recipe for this phase is outlined below). Focus on warming, grounding soups and stews. Avoid rougher, colder meals like raw salads and frozen smoothies. If you do opt for a smoothie, have it room temperature or warmed ~ your digestion and constitution will thank you. The colder, fresher foods are better suited for Ovulation. While bleeding, opt for what is most warming, grounding, and comforting for you personally during any particular season and environment. Do what feels easy these days! You may also find yourself not all that hungry ~ honor this and allow your body to process, detox and release as needed. This is Winter’s hibernation. Drink plenty of water and herbal teas.
Cacao is also a wonderful ally during menstruation ~ to both listen in to your intuitive voice, as well as to sink lovingly into your tender body and its mysterious support systems. Cacao during these days can be used as a ritualistic tool for set aside space to yourself to reflect. The essence of Cacao is really intended for this kind of intuitive work ~ so sipping her while bleeding is very synergistic! Cacao is high in magnesium, iron, and the minerals we need to replenish! Many menstruating humans who work with cacao before and during bleeding claim that it has greatly lessened their cramping (due to its good fats working on hormones + magnesium easing muscles) and that it brings a softness to those with a heavier flow. I suggest sourcing your whole-food (fat intact, not cacao powder) ceremonial-grade cacao from here, here, or here.
If you do feel called to exercise while bleeding, keep it light. Easy stretching, walking or yoga are good options. As your days of bleeding come to an end and the Follicular Phase begins, you may ramp up activity then. But for now, go gentle and go slow.
Healthful + Sustainable Ways to Release Blood ↣
Modern menstruation technology (such as conventional tampons and pads) is very wasteful. It both toxic to our planet, and to the bodies of those who use it. Scarily, tampon manufacturers do not have to disclose the ingredients in their products, so we aren’t able to know everything they contain. However, we do know that as a byproduct of their paper bleaching process, tampons contain a highly carcinogenic compound called dioxide. Not to mention the fact that those single-use plastic applicators will be floating around indefinitely, clogging up our sacred seas, never able to degrade. Pads are quite similar, in that they contain bleached paper and plastics, which end up in our oceans and soils. Here are a few more sustainable, as well as physically healthier options to release your blood into ::
- MOON CUPS :: I personally love the Mahina Cup, but the Diva Cup is wonderful as well. Keep a small jar next to your toilet and empty the cup’s blood into the jar whenever it is full. Rinse the cup, and reinsert. At the end of your bleeding, feed your blood to your plants or favorite tree. Get every last drop of nourishment out of the jar by rinsing it with water a second or third time and giving that bloody water to the plants again.
- CLOTH PADS :: To free flow into a pad is incredibly liberating, as allowing that downward flow of energy to release is Nature’s intended way. This is also ideal for those who feel a lot of discomfort from the Moon Cups. To care for your pads, keep a bucket (with a lid) of water mixed with a splash of distilled white vinegar next to the toilet. When your pad needs a change, just put it into the bucket. To wash, give the water to your plants and then wash the pads on a sanitary, or extra hot setting in the washer. Do this every 2 - 3 days. This is an investment up front, but in the long run, it saves you a lot of money, invests in your health, and saves the planet from excess waste.
- THINX OR PERIOD UNDERWEAR :: A lot of menstruating humans rave about this option. It is certainly convenient and comfortable. But as a disclaimer that for those with sensitive skin, are prone to yeast infections, UTIS and herpes outbreaks, or for those with conditions like PCOS, endometriosis or fibroids, the synthetic fibers in these panties over time can exacerbate these conditions. If you’re going to use period panties or cloth pads, be sure that they materials are always organic.
- ORGANIC TAMPONS + PADS :: Thankfully today, it is easier than ever to find organic + plastic-free tampons and pads! Check your local health food shop for options. Here are a few of my favorites ~ For Tampons // For Pads
An Herbal Infusion for the Menstruation Phase ↣
- 2 parts Nettle ~ 1 part Hibiscus flowers ~ 1 part Oatstraw ~ 1 part Camp Bark (optional for those who experience painful cramping during bleeding)
- Boil water ~ Pour water over the herbs in a Mason jar ~ Let sit out on the counter for 4-6 hours or overnight ~ Strain + enjoy instead of or alongside water all throughout the day!
Go slow, wombyn.
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