Embracing Empowerment: Revolutionizing the Narrative of Menstrual Health
Seemingly woven into the fabric of womanhood, the burden of period pain has long been accepted as an unavoidable part of our journey. Yet, as modern medicine and wellness advancements flourish, we find ourselves still grappling with this age-old struggle. It is high time we challenge the status quo. In this article, we will shine a light on the misleading notions surrounding menstrual health, uncover the path to ease-fully living our way into menstrual balance (three steps), and unveil a revolutionary approach that not only holistically minimizes pain but truly empowers us to reclaim control over our bodies and lives.
Unveiling the Misleading Notions
Delving into the prevailing attitudes and widely accepted norms surrounding menstrual health, it becomes apparent that the predominant focus is on easing the discomfort associated with periods rather than proactively seeking a definitive solution. The mainstream narrative, perpetuated by the medical community and society at large, champions temporary relief measures over a comprehensive and lasting remedy. This approach inadvertently relegates women to a perpetual state of endurance, as they navigate through life with the constant specter of menstrual pain.
This narrative is not a malicious attempt to keep women in pain, but a consequence of Medicine lacking a solution. Doctors don't have the answer and it's not for lack of trying. Our work revealed that the causes of the "medical" problems associated with period pain are not medical--so the solution is also non-medical. To dig into this a bit more, check out our white paper.
So yes, doctors end up giving us the best advice they can: they, as well as our loved ones, fellow sufferers, society overall, condition us to accept this reality of monthly pain lasting 5-10 days every month (for many of us), leading us to believe that seeking lasting relief is a joke--an elusive and unattainable goal. We laugh about it in the company of others, we cry about it alone, and we suffer the long-term consequences by sacrificing our time, our money, and our fertility.
The Story of Liberation and Self-Discovery
Let's start with the tale of the wealthy villagers and the prisoners--as heard from the late Wayne Dyer:
A village was ransacked by an army and the men who defended the village were kept in a prison in the center of town. A wealthy villager petitioned the jailers for permission to give the prisoners fresh water. Another wealthy villager petitioned to offer nutritious food. Another wealthy villager petitioned to offer animal skins to serve as bedding and warmth for the cold nights the prisoners suffered through. A fourth villager (not wealthy) petitioned the jailers for nothing. This villager snuck in one night, grabbed the key and freed the prisoners.
Within this narrative lies the pivotal message that suffering in comfort is suffering nonetheless and that the way out is much easier and a lot less costly than we might expect. It elucidates the concept that true liberation arises from releasing our allegiance to the established norms and redefining the parameters of what is considered acceptable. 84.1% of women suffering in ways that can result in the removal of the uterus, infertility, extremely high medical bills, high insurance premiums due to pre-existing conditions, and women begging and praying for menopause, is not acceptable--but it is the norm. Ending the expectation that we "suffer in comfort" is the key to freedom because it disrupts the confines of self-imposed limitations and societal expectations.
Empowerment emerges as the cornerstone of this narrative, urging individuals to embrace agency and autonomy over their own bodies and experiences. We don't have to march, fight, or stand up for this; we just have to gently give ourselves the permission and the grace to live in alignment with our bodies' systems.
Active Listening: A Different Approach to Menstrual Health
So how do we take care of our bodies in the way that our physiology expects? We holistically listen to all parts of ourselves:
- the physical body
- the mental body
- the emotional body
- the intuitive body
When we listen, and our whole self realizes that it is being heard, oh mama...it speaks up!
1. Slow Down.
When we slow down, realizations land. Believe it or not, a lot of us stay busy just to avoid the inner knowings, feelings, micro-aggressions, and other forms of distress that come at us. Particularly in the Luteal Phase, when our body is highly aware of incoming information that does not serve, needing to push past the hurts keeps us from acknowledging them and treating them in real time. When we can acknowledge the distress, we can kick it to the curb and take the necessary actions to keep it from coming our way again.
2. Embrace what is actually happening in the body instead of condemning it.
In the latter half of the phases of the Menstrual Cycle, the Luteal and Menstruation Phases, our energy levels become inconsistent before they flatten. That is SUPPOSED to happen because, as people born with a uterus, our Infradian Rhythm requires 28 days. In contrast to the Circadian Rhythm that people born without a uterus operate from, our protracted process includes longer periods of high energy and longer periods of low to no energy. Every phase is good. Every phase can be leveraged for its superpowers. If you're not loving every phase of your menstrual cycle, you and the world are missing out on your awesomeness.
3. "Good fences make good neighbors".
Our menstrual cycle is happening to everyone around us because four different versions of us are showing up in our world each month. It is really helpful to help our loved ones, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, heck, our favorite baristas to know how to deal with us, by unapologetically living our phase-informed boundaries. We are not the same each day. Some phases set us up to be super extroverted and others do just the opposite. Letting our world know how we are doing without enthusiastically educating them, becoming the office activist, or putting ourselves out of our comfort zones by doing things like speaking up when it doesn't actually feel right for us models menstrual alignment for others who menstruate and normalizes our non-circadian consistency. There is an endowment of confident willingness that unlocks the best way for us (personally) to set boundaries in our worlds that comes with living in menstrual alignment and honoring our bodies. It's something we passively live our way in to rather than force, fake, or perform. Check out the Fierce Gentleness™ Collective to learn more about accessing menstrual alignment whether or not you're dealing with holistic pain or menstrual disorders.
Embracing the Power Within
Yes, we hear this all the time, but just because we are used to hearing it does not mean that we are actually doing it. Have you noticed this Catch-22 that we live with? We want to accept and acknowledge our authenticity but the way that we do that is by being like everyone else. We want people to follow us on Social Media so that they can see our specific take on life, but we show things and do things that are trending, which by definition means that it is something that everyone else is also doing...Menstrual Alignment and living in a way that honors our body is truly an authentic way of being that not only results in a shift to pain-free, PMS-free, consistent menstrual cycles, but also gives us more time, endows us with more value which compels us to demand better earning for ourselves, and makes it pretty impossible for us to tolerate energies around us that do not serve our greatest good. Hello Authenticity!! We will start setting trends instead of following them because integrity is quite the "taste maker".
Our womb, this amazing piece of biotechnology that literally creates life--every time I write that it blows my mind--is your built-in self-help guide to success in every facet of your life. When we become willing to embrace our uniqueness and listen to the body's innate wisdom, we transform and our lives change. A lot of us reading this might be thinking, "yes, I totally want that".
And that is the tricky part.
Our wombs have been able to give us this knowledge since we came into existence as Homo sapiens sapiens and yet, we hold ourselves back from this knowledge because we would be so powerful and I believe that access to such power with such ease is terrifies us...and with good reason. We have been groomed to accept--through no intent of malice--that pain and suffering define one's experience of womanhood. It is passed on to us epigenetically and through the enforcement of societal norms; so to thrive in easeful living with no pain and to be able to succeed with a lot less effort threatens our identity as women.
To steal a term from one of my favorites, Gay Hendricks, in his book, The Big Leap, this is Upper Limiting. Our resistance to living in alignment with our wombs and thus tapping the power within ourselves is a way to keep ourselves down--stuck in pain and suffering and spending our time dealing with that instead of living our life's purpose.
We are meant to live a life that is happy, joyous, and free, every day of the menstrual cycle. We are meant to love rather than loathe our cycles and when we do, the world changes. Women in leadership positions save the world and take a preventative and preservative approach to problems which benefit individuals, organizations, and the environment for the long run. As extraordinary entrepreneur, founder, and thought leader, Suzy Batiz, alluded to in an interview regarding early-Motherhood in the workplace, we can be in leadership positions and/or powerful fixtures in our workplace without having to compromise our roles as mothers, friends, sisters, daughters, wives, partners, etc. but we have to be willing to curate for ourselves a world that lets us be that. We don't have to change "the system" but we can change "our system"--it's a lot easier than we think.
Collective: We Don't Have to Do This Alone
Organizations like LeanIn.org are a shining example of how important it is that we, as a Group Species, lean in to our strength by effecting change together, not alone. While I appreciate the organization, I see a lot of changes, that they recommend in their 2022 Women in the Workplace Report, that would be easily managed through the encouragement of menstrual alignment.
The three steps to listening to our body in order to not just treat but STOP Period Pain, are not easy to take on alone. We accomplish so much more in groups and I have witnessed how much easier it is to shift to pain-free, PMS-free, and consistent Menstrual Cycles when a group takes up the challenge than when a client undertakes the process alone. Of course, with the support of 1:1 coaching, clients can effect the shift, but opportunities for menstrual empowerment and menstrual equity in the workplace become much harder to create when we lack a shared language, knowledge, and experience of the shift.
We are more powerful when we grow together and I created the Fierce Gentleness™ Collective so that, even if we are the only person in our workplace operating in alignment with our womb, we know that we are not alone! While we, at Steady+Free do offer workplace programs, participants in those programs also engage with the community fostered in our online wonderland where we share our experiences, seek guidance, and offer support to one another. Widespread change, challenging existing norms and advocating for comprehensive and holistic approaches to menstrual health depends on our individual shifts happening first: "Each one, teach one".
Ready to say goodbye to period pain for good? It's time to take control of your cycle and embrace the luxurious power it holds. Say yes to a life free from discomfort and hello to a sumptuous journey of self-discovery. Join our empowered community of women as we unlock the secrets to leveraging the innate superpowers of our Menstrual Cycles. Transform your life and thrive like never before.
So there you have it. We are surrounded by tons of information that explains why we must learn to tolerate our discomfort because there is no way to end period pain. While that information comes from experts who really want to find a solution, because they are looking for a medical solution to a non-medical problem, tolerance and symptom management are their only options. The dissemination of accurate and empowering information that promotes a deeper understanding of menstrual health is possible and is happening--you are part of that process right now. We don't have to diet, do special exercises, work with a Hormone Specialist, a Gut Health Specialist, a Doctor of Functional Medicine, or an alternative healer to shift to pain-free, PMS-free, and consistent menstrual cycles because we are simply coming home to our bodies and finally supporting our bodies functions--it's just not that complicated. So if you are ready to debunk myths and misconceptions, and help pave the way for a more informed, supportive, and progressive society so that our daughters, nieces, students, and future generations can see Period Pain as a relic of the past and will see their monthly menstrual shedding as sacred rather than inconvenient, hang with us here at Steady+Free. Let's lean in to our superpowers and listen to our built-in success coaches: our wombs.