Wellness is about caring for our body, mind, and spirit and finding balance. It’s about understanding how different parts of our life interact and influence each other and learning how to make positive changes for overall health and well-being. Usually, when this topic comes up, our minds immediately consider time management, exercise, stress management, and nutrition.
...But what about our period?
Considering all the ways we care for ourselves, our menstrual cycle may be an experience that “happens to you” instead of one we are in flow with each month. I’m sure you’ve been there, going to pee and seeing a spot on your underwear or when you wipe, signaling the start of your period. Or maybe you had some cramps you thought were just gas but realized it was your period. And perhaps this happened in public - your period came, but you didn’t walk with period products - now you’re discreetly asking people for supplies or making a makeshift pad out of toilet paper. Period products really need to be accessible to everyone.
Depending on what phase of your cycle you are on - menstruation, follicular, ovulatory, luteal - your relationship with movement may evolve. Sidenote: Is this your first time hearing any of those words to describe your cycle? Don't worry. We'll help you understand what each phase means, how it influences your body, and how to be in tune with your cycle. Join our newsletter to stay in the loop! Okay, back to movement. You may realize that throughout the month, you need to modify your workouts (1).12-3-30 may really feel like you're climbing Mt. Everest during your luteal phase. While during your follicular phase, you can go rep for rep with your gym crush (2). Understanding the phases of your cycle can help you establish a better relationship with movement and serve as a helpful reminder to give yourself a little grace.
Once you develop a better relationship with your cycle, the cues your body sends you through your menstrual cycle begin to serve as a fifth vital sign (3). Vital signs are our body's temperature, pulse, respiration rate, and blood pressure, which help to monitor and detect health issues (4). Monitoring your menstrual cycle can be crucial in detecting changes over time. Doula Esthanette's conversations with experts, people with lived experiences, activists, and wellness practitioners will help teach you ways to become more in tune with your body and its functions concerning your cycle. Sharing how people who menstruate care for themselves may inspire your evolving relationship with your cycle - this is community care. Community care for periods has existed for centuries, from coming together to celebrate a first period to sharing tips, tricks, and techniques - people build community around periods.
Periods bring waves of emotions from relief when it comes just in the nick of time to panic when it's late. Periods may even bring celebration when it announces its arrival for the first time. Or bring waves of emotion when it evolves to welcome menopause. You try new period products because a trusted friend or influencer recommended them. You avoid harmful products you learn about them on social media. We are broadening our understanding of community care and how we can show up for one another with each phase of our cycles.
When you care deeply for your body, you recognize that your body is your greatest asset. You realize you have all the power to make a difference in your life and the lives of others. Menstrual wellness as self-care and community care requires you to take care of yourself holistically. Remember to participate in activities that make you feel relaxed, centered, grounded, comfortable, and acknowledge the simplicity of wellness.
Join Etta’s Embrace on our journey toward menstrual wellness. By the end of 2023, we will be able to recognize our phases, listen to our bodies, and be active participants in our health care.
Your Menstrual Bestie,
Esthanette aka Estie
(1) Carmichael, M. A., Thomson, R. L., Moran, L. J., & Wycherley, T. P. (2021). The Impact of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Athletes’ Performance: A Narrative Review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041667
(2) Sung, E., Han, A., Hinrichs, T., Vorgerd, M., Manchado, C., & Platen, P. (2013). Effects of follicular versus luteal phase-based strength training in young women. SpringerPlus, 3. https://doi.org/10.1186/2193-1801-3-668
(3) Hendrickson-Jack, L. (2019). The Fifth Vital Sign: Master Your Cycles & Optimize Your Fertility. Fertility Friday Publishing Inc..
(4) John Hopkins Medicine (2023) Vital Signs (Body Temperature, Pulse Rate, Respiration Rate, Blood Pressure. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/vital-signs-body-temperature-pulse-rate-respiration-rate-blood-pressure