In some areas of the world, women who are on their period are shown gestures of respect. This NPR article details a tribe in Ghana who treats its menstruating women as queens, sitting them under an umbrella and lavishing them with gifts. I had a student tell me about a Native American tribe that acted similarly, allowing women reprieve from any duties whilst doting on them in their special teepee while on their “moon” (as menstruation can be considered our internal “tide” and is anecdotally linked to the lunar cycle). I certainly don’t need these gestures, but the fact that women earn generally less than men while having more expenses – like feminine products and the “tampon tax” – doesn’t make that time of the month any easier.
Let’s also mention how low-income assistance programs SNAP and WIC don’t cover a necessity like feminine products. Most prisons don’t even provide them, forcing some inmates to use unhealthy options that make them sick.
Then, there’s the dismissal of our emotions as “hormonal,” instead of, “women are human beings who have thoughts and emotions that are valid, even if she’s mentruating” – or pregnant, for that matter. And last but perhaps most importantly, our stigma as “unclean” or the reaction of “gross!” if our period ever comes up in society.
While it’s Not easy to be a menstruating woman in America and much of the world, I have found a few tricks to managing the discomfort of our cycle.
1. THINX period underwear
You know how much money we spend on feminine products during our menstruating life? This HuffPo article calculates more than $2,000! So when these revolutionary, dry-technology “period underwear” came out – at just about $30 a pair – I jumped at the chance to save money (and the hassle of buying/changing fem products and trying to save my underwear from leaks). Now, I wear my undies without discomfort, wetness or fear of leaks! It feels too good to be true, but I tested them, and they work. My two pairs get me through my whole period – just throwing them in the washer at night.
Another reason to love this (woman-run) company, is the fact that proceeds go to give dignity to underprivileged, menstruating women across the world. Their site says the company started after a girl in a third-world country told the CEO she misses school for a week every month because leaves and old rags don’t stop her period from leaking. So, yeah, a great cause to go along with a life-changing product. I’m not even scared of my next period.
2. These Yoga Poses
Reverse plank – sometimes the fatigue and possible food cravings leave us feeling powerless. Realize your strength with a pose that engages nearly all muscles in your body, and feel the energy rush back into you!
Fish pose – This one revitalizes your mind and reenergizes your body by increasing blood flow to your brain. Traditionally, menstruating women should avoid inversions – or poses where the head is below the heart – because they possibly reverse the flow of blood Into one’s uterus. Even though there’s little scientific evidence of that actually happening, to be on the safe side, fish pose gives you all the benefits of an inversion without bringing your hips off the ground.
Bound angle pose – release tight hips and settle into your cycle with this pose of acceptance and vulnerability.
3. Sacral Chakra meditation
Our uterus is associated with the Sacral Chakra – svadhisthana – which is balanced when creativity and sensuality are expressed. Do a coloring book meditation, or sit and listen to a song that moves you, or mindfully eat your favorite food. Looking at the color orange, or chanting the mantra “Vam” aloud or in your mind (sound heals – here’s proof) can help soothe any pain in the area, physical or emotional.When you have the support of leakproof undies, yoga moves and meditations, our periods become a time of reflection, expression and recovery. Now let’s just hope society catches up with our newfound respect for this amazing process, without which, we wouldn’t have estrogen or babies.
If you have time, read this article on the global menstruation crisis.