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Menstruation

Every moon cycle I experience a kind of miracle. My body, which has ached and prepared and grown flush with expectancy, initiates a deep process of renewal. The days I spend bleeding are a vital part of my natural rhythm of rest and rejuvenation, and can be some of the most creative and illuminating days of my life.

reflection-and-ritual

In our culture we are often trained to see our moon time as a bothersome obligation. A biological issue that we must “deal with” rather than a deep transition that we can grow from and experience. We are expected to continue life as usual— jobs, responsibilities, chores— with very little recognition for the profundity of what is being experienced.

Traditionally, a woman’s moon was considered to be an exceptionally powerful time. In many cultures, women were expected to engage in deep rest and reflection while they were bleeding. In traditional Chinese medicine our moon was thought to bring about a time of release for other longstanding bodily illnesses or issues — an opportunity to energetically flush out imbalances. In other cultures this time was similarly respected and honored, and sometimes even revered as a sacred state of visioning. In some Native American tribes a woman’s moontime was thought to be a moment of far-reaching understanding. Bleeding women were supported to ‘vision’ for the community as a whole.

Garnet cave

Each time I bleed is unique. Sometimes its almost breezy—very little cramps or concerns or dark clouds— other times all I want is to curl up into a tight ball and practice breathing. Our cycles are incredibly sensitive; they can be affected by changes in diet, exercise, relationships, health and mental state. When I have a cycle that seems to be requiring a lot of energy I always step back and reflect— am I giving myself enough time in my day-to-day life to relax? What can I do to more deeply nourish myself and understand what is being communicated through my body’s cycle?

Every cycle I am called, yet again, to a space of loving examination: What about my life is feeding me? Which aspects of my career or relationships are nourishing? And what am I ready to let go of so I can clear the way for newness to reseed and grow?

Rituals for Rejuvenation

I read somewhere once that the root of the word ‘ritual’ comes from the Sanskrit word R’tu, which meant (among other things) menstrual. I’ve since taken this deeply to heart. I try every moontime to simply engage with and honor my cycle. I experience it. I interact with my body and mind, and make space for new wisdom to filter in. There are so many ways in which you can sink deeply into this time and create space for the transformation. Here are a few of my favorite ways to enact ritual during my moon:

hawthorn tea

1. Womb Massage

Giving myself the time to massage my womb space is one of the simplest joys (and comforts!) I know of during my moon time. Our wombs work hard…basically all the time. Every cycle our uterus builds an entire baby villa (a very lush residence indeed) and then tears the whole thing down. Spending even five minutes nurturing your womb space with loving attention can be dramatically healing.

What you’ll need: A carrier oil + essential oils

Infuse your carrier oil with a few drops of essential oils to nurture, soothe, and relieve some of the more powerful sensations of your moon. Coconut, sweet almond, jojoba and apricot kernel oil are all lovely carriers oils to use. If the oil is liquid at room temperature simply add 1-5 drops of essential oil per TBS of carrier oil. When using coconut oil you’ll need to slowly heat it on the stove. Set the heat at its lowest possible temperature. When the oil completely liquid, add your drops of essential oil and transfer into a cooler bowl. Warming up your oil can also add a rich depth of comfort to your experience. Just make sure to add your essential oils after you heat the carrier oil, to retain their full potency and power.

If you are looking to soothe cramps, select an essential oil that fits both your sensations and mood.

  • If you have hot, sharp cramps try cooling, antispasmodic essential oils like peppermint, lavender, pennyroyal, clary sage and basil.
  • If your cramps tend to feel more heavy, dragging and cold (these types of cramps are often relieved by heat) try more warming and stimulating essential oils like ginger, angelica root, and spikenard.
  • Not sure what type of cramps you have? Try closing your eyes and focusing on the sensation in your womb. What color do you see? Red, orange, or yellow can often mean hot cramps, whereas purple, blue or gray usually indicates colder cramps. Still not sure? Go with your nose. Close your eyes and smell a few different essential oils, let your body choose the best one for you.

winter bath

2. Baths

Bathing is a deeply comforting way to release the tensions of our day and invite realignment. Water is such a sacred ally for us on this earth. It is the building block of our very body, the essence that makes up our primary experience in this world. All of us spent the first months of our life as water babies, floating in the womb. Bathing can be a beautiful way to self-nurture during your moon. Bleeding often brings back that primal desire to be nurtured— we yearn to feel, once again, the simple comfort of our own inner wombs.

Intentionally preparing yourself a healing bath is a sacred way of signaling to yourself that you are taken care of. Take time to give your gratitude to the water and know that it has the power to cleanse and clear so many of the tangles left deep inside you.

Think about creating a sacred space around and within your bath. Put 10-20 drops of essential oil into the water before you step in to steam the room and scent the experience. Swirl a palm of coconut oil into your bath to nourish your skin and hair. Try floating bundles of rosemary or sage to remember the freshness that awaits you on the other side of your moon. Light candles, put on healing music, and let yourself steep. There is nothing more profoundly healing than a well-drawn bath.

Misty Garden

3. Giving Back

Our blood itself is sacred. Contained within that blood is everything that is needed to sustain and grow life. It is a precious gift. Giving my blood back to the earth is a vital part of my moontime practice. When I use cloth pads I always soak them in cold water immediately after use. After a few hours, the cloth lets go its darkness and the water turns a gorgeous ruby hue. Sometimes I bring that water out to my garden, and sing songs to the comfrey or growing basil leaves as I feed them. Green beings simply adore moonwater—it’s a fact. Our blood is so full of essential nutriments and nitrogen; moon-fed plants simply glow! Truth be told, I haven’t bought fertilizer for any of my houseplants in years. I feed them my blood every month and they are happy as can be. I nurture them just as they nurture me.

Quartz spiral

4. Letting go

Most moontimes I grapple with at least one dark cloud, a heavy thing, leggy and looming over me. It can be hard, sometimes, to feel like I have the space to breathe! Learning to let go has been a deep and profoundly relieving practice for me. Every moontime I focus my energy on one thing I would like to let go of in my life— whether it’s a belief, an outmoded relationship, negative thoughts about myself, an attachment to a certain outcome, or even my sometimes dangerous devotion to kettle chips (guilty). When you illuminate these things, and make the clear intention to release them with your blood, you create a profound flow of cleansing energy. The power of your intention can make that practice of letting go doubly strong. Your body hears you. Your spirit hears you. And you will begin that deep process of release.

No matter what your experience or history is with your moon, each new cycle in an opportunity to reinvent yourself from the inside out. Let’s all work together to redefine the ways in which we think about or relate to our blood, and create new moon communities marked by support, love, celebration and growth.


About the author of this post:

asia sulerAsia Suler is a writer, teacher and herbalist who lives amongst her gardens and large apothecary in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western NC. She is the creator and concoctress of One Willow Apothecaries, an Appalachian-grown herbal company that offers lovingly handcrafted herbal medicines. Asia teaches at gatherings across the country and is blessed to work with people and plants, spirit and stones. Read more of her writing on her blog.

Image credits: Asia Suler 

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

Before there were adhesive-backed disposables, there were…. belts. Some of our older readers may even remember using these! Even younger readers have likely heard of belted sanitary napkins from the coming-of-age classic Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.

This is an Australian ad from 1956, announcing the launch of Kotex belts in fashion-forward WHITE.

While I think I would be very, very grumpy if I had to wear a belt for my period, I kind of dig this ad. The packaging in the lower right looks so fancy and pretty!

Would you ever wear a Kotex belt? In white?

 


 

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

In honor of GladRags’ 21st birthday this weekend, here are 21 reasons to make the switch to reusable menstrual products. Thanks to everyone on Facebook who shared their reason–we had way more than 21 to choose from!

And, because we freaking love birthdays, we’re celebrating by giving away TWENTY-ONE Color Pantyliners Plus. Yep, it’s our birthday but we’re giving the presents this year. To enter, scroll down to the bottom of this post and follow the instructions in the widget. We’ll be picking three random winners per day for seven days!

Without further ado, here are (your) 21 reasons to make the switch:

1. Because they’re easy-breezy-beautiful.

When I open them in a public bathroom, the whole building doesn’t hear. They’re cute, too, and breathable (which helps cut down on feminine odors). I love my GladRags! – Amanda

2. Because a period is not something to be ashamed of.

Not being ashamed to deal with your menstrual cycle by washing your pads. – Santoki

3. Because comfort.

Comfort – tampons and disposable pads feel so gross. – Kelsy

4. Because MAGIC.

DivaCup use drastically shortens the length of my cycle (I don’t know why but it does) and helps minimize cramps and leakage. – Lacey

5. Because diaper rash is for babies (sorry, babies)

Helps decrease incidences of BV, yeast infections, and diaper rashes! – Kandace

6. Because disposables are gross.

I wanted to stop buying those stinky pads! Now I actually look forward to my period so I can use my cute pads! – Krystal

7. …REAL gross.

 …the desire to stop sticking tendrils of chemically treated cotton up my vagina… – D’Ann

8. …So is taking out the garbage.

I hate taking the trash out, and now I have to do it less often! – Amanda

9. Because ow.

No chafing. – Ginger

10. Because $$.

I have also saved a lot of money washing pads every month, instead of buying them at the store (especially since most pads nowadays are expensive). – Jessie

11. Because… did we mention they’re more comfortable?

They are SO SO SO much more comfortable. – Heather

12. Because the average woman uses 12,000 to 16,000 disposable pads, tampons, and pantyliners in her lifetime.

The environmental impact of disposables… 12 years now and no regrets! – Viki

13. Because (no) leaks.

My cup is so much more comfortable and reliable than tampons. I only need a back-up cloth pad on my heaviest day.  – Wendi

14. Because your body doesn’t smell bad, but disposable pads do.

The SMELL of disposables! YUK – Kris

15. Because what you put all up in your business matters.

Reducing chemicals and toxins exposure – Ang

16. Because we don’t want future generations to barf.

Picturing millions of disposable pads and tampons being preserved in landfills makes me nauseated. – Erin

17. Because companies like GladRags are owned and operated by women.

Not being afraid of my own body and stopping the use of harmful products portrayed as my only options, all of which are made by male owned/run companies. – Eliza

18. Because #KeepVulvasSafe needs to be a thing.

Keep Vulvas Safe from toxic chemicals that most commercial products use to make disposables. – Samantha

19. Because itching isn’t a normal side effect of your menstrual cycle.

I finally realized I was allergic to disposables, as I used to suffer from terrible vaginal itching. It’s gone since I made the switch. – Yvette

20. Because it’s a bummer to throw away a pad that hasn’t even been used.

I want to switch to reusable because my period is so light when I have it that it’s a waste of even pantyliners – Judith

21. Because win-win-win.

It’s the most economical, environmentally-friendly, and best for you when it comes to your period. It’s a triple win in my book! – Christiana

gladrags-birthday-21-giveaway

Remember playing “he loves me, he loves me not” on the playground with daisies? Well, we made a daisy that’s 100% lovely! Starting on July 27th, we’ll be plucking three Pantyliner Plus “petals” each day to send to three lucky winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

This week’s Period Piece was inspired by this reddit thread, titled “What’s something you didn’t realize for years members of the opposite sex do?” (link is NSFW, unless you work at GladRags), which was chock-full of confusion about the menstrual cycle. It brought back my own memories of middle school, and the rampant misconceptions boys had about how periods worked.

middle-school-myths

For example, I distinctly remember sitting in gym glass and talking about periods with a few friends. One boy said something about tampons that didn’t make sense, so we asked him to explain. “You know, ” he said. “When you pull the string, the tampon just shoots up in there, right?” He was beet red by the time we finished explaining that the string is not a trigger that propels the tampon forward.

Here’s a few of our favorite menstruation-related comments from reddit–sadly, some of these seem to have persisted LONG past middle school! We’d comment, but we can’t stop laughing:

  • “In my freshman year of college, one of my guy friends was horrified to hear that girls’ periods last a week. He thought we have symptoms for a week and then let all the period blood out at once- like going to the bathroom. He thought that pads and tampons were for if you knew you wouldn’t have enough time to go to the toilet to let it out.”
  • “Took me the longest time to figure out why laundry detergent ads bragged about getting out grass stains and blood. I’m like, you gotta hit the grass pretty hard to draw blood…”
  • “Until I was about a sophomore in HS, I didn’t know whether girls bled out of their vaginas or their nipples. Sex ed classes always said “privates” so I wasn’t sure which set. A reason that made me more confused was I saw my friend lean over and I saw some toilet paper/gauze looking stuff in her bra, so I thought she was on her period… guess she was just stuffing her bra.”
  • “I worked with a 25 year old gentleman, let’s call him Paul because that’s his real name, who believed every woman in the world had their period at the same time. When he told me this I burst out laughing because I imagined that he saw women’s period’s as a werewolf change brought on by a full moon or something.”
  • “My husband thought for years that cotton balls were a feminine hygiene product. I’m still vague on exactly how he thought we used them.”

What’s the silliest misconception you’ve heard or even believed about periods? Let us know in the comments!


About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

a new cycle bookcoverIn celebration of the launch of A New Cycle, our period-positive guide to a healthier period, we’re introducing you to the contributors! We hand-picked our favorite women’s health experts to write chapters for A New Cycle on their area of specialty. Read on to get know this week’s featured contributor, or click here get a free preview of the book when you sign up for our newsletter!

 

 

 

Meet Gabriela Delano-Stephens and Dr. Emily Lipinski, c0-authors of Chapter 4: Hormonal Balance for Less PMS and Chapter 6: Detoxification for Less PMS.

Why is menstruation important?

It is the basis of female fertility. It is a measure of health and vitality and it connects us with the rhythms of the earth and moon.

Why do women need to know about hormonal balance and detoxification?

With such a huge amount of toxins in our environment these days, our bodies are going into overdrive to maintain optimal detoxification pathways. Excess hormones are detoxified through the liver and colon and if these pathways are not clear hormones, that are no longer needed, can be re absorbed into the system, throwing off the delicate hormonal balance. This is why frequent detoxification is so important!

We believe it is important for woman to look and feel their best.  Hormones are at the core of the menstrual cycle physiology. Once a woman gains more knowledge about the changes taking place in her body each month it can be both empowering and enlightening.  Working toward achieving hormonal balance is an integral part of a woman’s health and wellness.

Do you have a personal story about menstruation you’d like to share?

Emily still remembers the day she first discovered she was a woman, and she felt terrified! She thought that it had come too soon (she was in grade 5). It was painful and very uncomfortable. Additionally, she felt embarrassed talking about it and kept her feelings and questions about her period to herself.

Once in her 20s, her cramps and pre-menstrual acne worsened. The oral birth control pill helped, but came with numerous side effects that she just wasn’t comfortable with. Throughout her life experience and education, she now realizes that although menstruation can be uncomfortable it brings womanhood, fertility and a cycle to connect us with the rhythms of the earth. Additionally, there are foods, herbs and vitamins that can significantly help woman with their menstrual cycles and there are many effective alternatives other than the birth control pill!

Looking back, Emily wishes that there was a resource or open database where she could learn more about the changes that take place in the female body find helpful tips and tricks on how to have a healthier period and balanced hormones. Periodmakeover.com was born out of both Gabriela’s and Emily’s desire to help women everywhere gain better understanding of their cycles and provide useful information to achieve hormonal balance.

What kind of menstrual protection do you use?

Gabriela always uses a DivaCup and, on occasion, GladRags. Emily uses GladRags or LunaPads and in a pinch will opt for organic cotton disposable pads.

emilylipinskiDr. Emily Lipinski, ND, HBSc, and Gabriela Delano-Stephens, RHN, BSc, of periodmakeover.com, are both food lovers and passionate about bringing the body back to health through natural remedies wherever possible. They started their website to bring awareness to women about the importance of attaining health through natural methods to balance hormones and reduce premenstrual symptoms.

Dr. Lipinski graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Ontario, and is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors. She practices in the greater Toronto area. She strongly believes in addressing the root cause of a medical issue and using natural therapies either alone or in conjunction with conventional western medicine. She has a passion for women’s health, including premenstrual syndrome, menopause, and antiaging. She is committed to helping her patients feel great and look their best.

gabrieladelanostephensGabriela is a holistic nutritionist and loves many aspects of food, from growing food and preparing meals to knowing how it works in the body to create optimum health. She works with clients from around the world, helping them to achieve their health goals.

Gabriela is also passionate about yoga and is a certified yoga teacher. Yoga caught her attention with its power to calm the mind, heal the body, and release emotional tension as it taps into creative energy and allows us to transcend self-doubt.

Welcome to Period Pieces, our journey through the bizarre and beautiful cultural history of menstruation. Inspired by #throwbackthursday, we serve up our favorite ads, images, and factoids about periods throughout the ages.

 

There is so much fascinating stuff going on in this ad, I barely know where to start. This is one of the first ads for a disposable pad, so there’s lots of references about how much easier this disposable product is than its reusable counterparts. Granted, in those days no one had a washing machine or cute cloth pads with wings that snapped around their undergarments — when you were on the rag, you were literally on the rag.

I’m also loving their insistence on how scientific this new invention is, and how easy it is to buy: ready-wrapped! just ask the clerk! How different things must have been back then (see also: “women of the better classes have adopted it).

It’s really interesting too how they never say what the product is, but we all totally know. So tell us: do you fear losing your daintiness? at times?

About the author of this post:

tracypuhl is the owner of GladRags and is passionate about period positivity and empowering women everywhere. When she’s not in the office, you might find her attempting to run a faster 10k, traveling, practicing yoga, or pointing out how cute her cats are being right now.

a new cycle bookcoverIn celebration of the launch of A New Cycle, our period-positive guide to a healthier period, we’re introducing you to the contributors! We hand-picked our favorite women’s health experts to write chapters for A New Cycle on their area of specialty. Read on to get know this week’s featured contributor, or click here get a free preview of the book when you sign up for our newsletter!

 

 

 

Meet Nicole Jardim, hormonal health expert and recipe contributor for A New Cycle!

Why is menstruation important?

Menstruation is our femininity, our identity and the definition of what it means to be a woman. Without it we would cease to exist as a civilization. I’d say that pretty much sums it up!

Why do women need to know about hormonal health?

Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that control virtually everything we feel and do, yet most of us have very little understanding of them. Here’s an analogy for ya: Many of us take our cars to the mechanic when there is a problem but we also take our bodies to the doctor in much the same way – with the hope that the doctor will “fix” the issue and we can get back to driving already.

What I’m trying to say is that we have moved so far away from what it means to understand our bodies. In order to address our current healthcare crisis, the first thing we need to do is get back in touch with the messages our bodies are sending us. About 90% of the women who come to me have no idea if or when they are ovulating, if their periods are regular, why they have cramps and other menstrual irregularities, what the birth control pill is actually doing to their bodies or how to prevent or achieve pregnancy naturally.

This is Hormonal Health 101 but no one is teaching it! However, in my experience, once women discover this information they are immediately hooked and want to learn more. The best part about this? They are empowered for life! They can recognize symptoms when they appear, have informed conversations with their doctors and make confident decisions about their bodies and their health forever.

Do you have a personal story about menstruation you’d like to share?

I’ll never forget going to the gynecologist at 17 because my period hadn’t come for three months. FYI: I was definitely not pregnant, in case you’re wondering ;-) I sat there explaining my symptoms and within 15 minutes she was writing a prescription for the birth control pill. Ah, if I’d known then what I know now…sigh.

On looking back, what most stands out to me is the fact that I had absolutely no idea how my body functioned or what I could possibly be doing to cause such problems. They say ignorance is bliss but I don’t buy it. Not having a basic understanding of how diet and lifestyle affected my hormonal health cost me years of expensive doctor and ER visits (I was once allergic to the UTI antibiotics a doctor had prescribed for me) along with a lot of agonizing about what was wrong with me.

While my experience is now part of my story and led me down the path of helping others, I do wish I’d had even a little knowledge about my hormones and my cycle back then. While I feel beyond blessed to be on this journey, I would have happily avoided a few of the bumps along the way.

What kind of menstrual protection do you use?

I sure have tried many menstrual protection products over the years! They’ve ranged from synthetic plastic products to the DivaCup and the soft cup. Now I use a combination of GladRags Day and Night cloth pads and when I’m traveling I use Maxim Hygiene 100% organic cotton pads, tampons and panty liners.

nicolejardimNicole is a women’s health coach and chief professional period fixer-upper at The Healthy Elements, the business she founded in 2010 to help women reclaim their hormonal health and feminine vitality naturally.

She is the creator of Fix Your Period, a series of programs that empower women to heal their menstrual conditions in a fun and sassy way. She studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and continued her training with Dr. Sara Gottfried and Jessica Drummond, two renowned hormonal health experts.

Nicole passionately believes that all women should be active participants in their reproductive health, and she is dedicated to spreading this message. Nicole also co-hosts a radio show called The Period Party.

a new cycle bookcoverIn celebration of the launch of A New Cycle, our period-positive guide to a healthier period, we’re introducing you to the contributors! We hand-picked our favorite women’s health experts to write chapters for A New Cycle on their area of specialty. Read on to get know this week’s featured contributor, or click here get a free preview of the book when you sign up for our newsletter!

 

 

 

Meet Andrea Shuman, author of Chapter 7: Menstruation in Ayurveda!

Why is menstruation important?

Menstruation is important because it binds us, as women, to the cycles of the earth and moon. Our monthly cycle cleanses our womb, allows us to refresh, renew, go within and contemplate. Our blood is a gift, keeping us in touch with our fertility, our overall health and reminding us when we need to slow down or reevaluate. Every month, we are gifted with the opportunity to know ourselves deeper and, if we really listen to our bodies, take the time to turn our focus inward and replenish our souls for the coming cycle.

What inspired you to write your chapter?

I was inspired to write about menstruation in Ayurveda because this is the venue through which I made peace with my own cycle and finally made my body healthy! Ayurveda shows us the difference between what is common and what is actually healthy. Ayurveda takes into consideration the seasons, the moon, the earth, the time of life and constitution of the woman to create an individual path to healing. I believe that women would be well served to read this chapter and explore more about how Ayurveda can help her repair and renew her cycles.

Too many women suffer and get too little relief from a western medicine model that uses synthetic hormones to help her ignore her cycles rather than heal them. Fertility issues are on a sharp rise in this country, as evidenced by the growing “fertility industrial complex” of drugs and procedures. Our menstrual cycle is the best place to start in determining obstacles to fertility and to begin the healing. The more that women use their cycles to connect to their body to get real and effective messages, the better luck we will have in reversing this sad trend of diminishing fertility.

As a young woman, I did not learn that my cycles were something to celebrate, but rather, something to suffer through or push away. It is my mission to convey to the young women of today that their bodies are sacred, intelligent and worth listening to.

Do you have a personal story about menstruation you’d like to share?

As a young woman, I suffered with cramping so severe that walking was a challenge. I was on prescription painkillers by the time I was 14, and on birth control pills before I was even sexually active to help “control” my periods. The painkillers dulled my senses and made me feel detached, and the birth control pills caused severe weight gain and mood swings (just what every teenager wants). I grew to “hate” my periods and often wished I did not have them at all!

A nurse practitioner then suggested, when I was 17, that I take the Depo Provera shot, to stop them entirely. I took the shot for one year, lost my cycles, lost my libido, and became depressed: It took more than a year after stopping the shots for my cycles to return. All through out my 20s I then had not only severe cramping but, as a result of my 2 years of absent menses, completely irregular cycles skipping months at a time, feeling plugged up and lethargic.

At 22 years old, I found Eastern medicine in the form of Acupuncture. I started addressing my diet and using herbs to clear out the stagnation and regulate my cycles. This helped tremendously, and clinched my feeling that Eastern medicine, with its 5000 years of experience in dealing with menstrual difficulties, was a better road for me than the experimental, drug-driven methods of the conventional OB/GYN methods.

In my late 20s, I found Ayurveda and was able to fine-tune my body and prepare for the conception of my child, using the ancient methods of Pancha Karma cleansing and good diet. I am happy to say that, through all the years of struggles with my reproductive organs, I am healed, the mother of a perfectly healthy child, and the caretaker of a happy, well functioning body and a smooth cycle! I am a true believer in Ayurveda and Eastern medicine to bring about balance in women’s health, and I now specialize in helping other women heal themselves completely and holistically!

What kind of menstrual protection do you use?

I got my first set of GladRags in my early 20s. While I went back and forth from organic disposables to reusable menstrual products and the “Instead Cup”, I now have a mix of Moonpads and GladRags (both are amazing companies from the very town I live in!).

AndreaAndrea Shuman is co-founder and co-owner of The Ahara Rasa Ayurvedic Center and has been in private practice for 17 years as a bodyworker and alternative health professional. Through her own life experience, Andrea was called to specialize her studies in Ayurvedic Medicine, herbs and bodywork for Women’s health. Andrea attended the California college of Ayurveda in Nevada City, CA from 2007 to 2010. Many years have been spent in the quest for knowledge of the body-mind and spirit connection. This quest has led to travels and practice around the world, finally settling in beautiful Portland, Oregon.

a new cycle bookcoverIn celebration of the launch of A New Cycle, our period-positive guide to a healthier period, we’re introducing you to the contributors! We hand-picked our favorite women’s health experts to write chapters for A New Cycle on their area of specialty. Read on to get know this week’s featured contributor, or click here get a free preview of the book when you sign up for our newsletter!

 

 

Meet Jessica Kolahi, author of Chapter 5: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Your Cycle!

Why is menstruation important?

Menstruation is important because it allows for deep insight into the overall health of our bodies. It can be an indicator for old traumas or stagnation, or where we are needing nourishment and additional support.

What inspired you to write your chapter?

Our menstrual cycle is not an isolated event in the body. It affects, and is affected by, all systems in the body. I find that acquainting ourselves with all aspects of our menstrual cycles, even the parts that are less than pleasant, can tell us so much about how our body, as a whole, is operating. Our menstrual cycle is a guide for whether our daily habits are bringing us more in alignment with ideal health, or farther towards dis-ease.

Do you have a personal story about menstruation you’d like to share?

When I was 16, I was encouraged, like most women in my generation, to start birth control. I can’t remember the exact reason I was prescribed it at the time, but I remember thinking that it was a wonder drug. As a young woman, I always dreaded my cycle, and felt embarrassed by it. With birth control, I could completely manipulate my cycle and skip my period so it wouldn’t “ruin” my camping trips or vacations.

When I was 21, I started to wonder about the long-term effect of taking extrinsic hormones. I decided to stop birth control and see what would happen to my body. The scariest thing is that I had no period for 6 months. It was as if my body had completely forgotten how to ovulate and menstruate on it’s own. A gynecologist prescribed me progesterone, which started my period one month, but then, after waiting 3 more months for menstruation, I sought out help in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Within a short amount of time using Chinese herbs and Acupuncture, my cycle completely regulated and I began to feel more in tune with the natural rhythms of my body. In this time, I had become aware of how important it was to me to listen to what my body was telling me, and to use this information to create wellbeing.

When I look back on my teenage self, and recall all the shame I had over menstruation, I feel grief. I wish I had been able to feel more connected to my body through honoring my menstrual cycle, and all the wisdom it could impart to me. Moving forward, I am grateful for the understanding that every symptom of menses is only a message from our body about what needs to be healed.

What kind of menstrual protection do you use?

I use the Lunette Cup during menses (day and night) for the entire cycle, and a GladRags pantyliner in addition for the first 2 days. I feel good about being a small part of changing the environment, and get the benefit of having complete insight into the color and flow of my cycle through the cup!

Last year, we visited Jessica at her office to get her perspective on PMS, Chinese Medicine, and estrogen dominance. Check out the videos we recorded below!

jessicaJessica Kolahi is a hormonal health and fertility specialist, and the owner of Vitalize Acupuncture. In 2011, she received her Masters of Science from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, and moved to Portland, Oregon, to actualize her vision of opening an integrative medicine clinic for women.

With ten years of experience in alternative medicine, Jessica is passionate about educating women on how to heal themselves while cultivating awareness of the potential that all of us have to live a life of greater vitality and well-being.

a new cycle bookcoverIn celebration of the launch of A New Cycle, our period-positive guide to a healthier period, we’re introducing you to the contributors! We hand-picked our favorite women’s health experts to write chapters for A New Cycle on their area of specialty. Read on to get know this week’s featured contributor, or click here get a free preview of the book when you sign up for our newsletter!

 

 

 

Meet Emily Ruff, author of Introduction to Lunar Charting!

Why is menstruation important?

As women, our creative power is often symbolized through our menstruation. For generations before us, women honored this power personally and collectively … and at the same time, women were persecuted at many historical moments for this power.  Honoring the sacredness, sexiness, and simple power inherent in our menstruation gives us the opportunity to honor those women before us – both those who held this power up, and those who were held down because of this power.

What inspired you to write your chapter?

As women, our creative power is often symbolized through our menstruation. For generations before us, women honored this power personally and collectively … and at the same time, women were persecuted at many historical moments for this power.  Honoring the sacredness, sexiness, and simple power inherent in our menstruation gives us the opportunity to honor those women before us – both those who held this power up, and those who were held down because of this power.

Do you have a personal story about menstruation you’d like to share?

A few years ago, coming home from a vacation, I was in line at the airport and opted out of the x-ray scanner.  In a time of increasing security measures, this choice of course meant I would be physically screened.  At the time I was menstruating, and wearing my GladRags.  The security staff who conducted my screening seemed concerned after she patted me down.  I asked if there was a problem, and she asked if I was wearing a pad. “Why yes!” I said, quite excited, and began gushing about the wonders of cotton reusable pads.

Looking quite confused, the woman shuffled over to her supervisor, and from their kiosk forty feet away, I observed lots of conversation punctuated with quizzical looks my way.  Several male officers were called over, and pretty soon a small army had commenced.  The female officer walked back towards where I was standing, but would not make eye contact.  I asked her why I was still being detained, and if I could move along as I had a plane to catch.  She muttered something hardly distinguishable, and still would not look at me.  I asked her point blank if my menstrual pad was a problem.  She mumbled something that sounded affirmative, and I offered to take it off to show it to her.  She got quite flustered as I reached down to pull up the hem of my skirt, repeated the word “no” a few times, and scurried back to her supervisors.

Time passed and I continued to watch a half-dozen security staff talk to each other, look at me, look back at each other, over and over.  After nearly twenty minutes of waiting patiently, I discretely tucked my hand into the waist of my skirt, quickly unsnapped my GladRag, and pulled it out without anyone noticing.  I held it in my hand for a few minutes, at which time the security officer, and her suited male supervisor, began walking back my way.  When they got within a few feet of me, I stuck my hand out and asked “Is this what you were worried about?”  Much to their horror, my GladRag was presented in my outstretched hand.  (Disclaimer: I was also using my DivaCup, so my cotton pad was actually perfectly clean.)  Aghast, the woman grabbed a plastic bag, opened it and held it out for me to place the pad into.  She walked it over to the X-ray belt to be tested.

While she completed this task, I engaged her male supervisor.  I asked why I was detained for wearing a cotton pad, offered him some education on the environmental impact of disposable pads and tampons, and reminded him that he himself emerged into this world from a vagina that bled just like I was right now.  The entire scenario brought a touch of humor in its irony, but in reflected was also wrought with a deep sadness, sadness for the antiquated social norms of our culture, but especially for the female officer who found herself in such a state of shame and embarrassment when presented with the raw truth of another menstruating female.

After this experience, my gratitude deepened even more for the work of Tracy and GladRags, and other companies like DivaCup and Jade & Pearl, whose hard work gives individual women a powerful option to reclaiming a sacred trust of our own bodies, and through that work are creating ripples from each of us that help heal a cultural wound in our collective body, one moon cycle at a time.

What kind of menstrual protection do you use?

Over a decade ago I switched from organic disposables to GladRags or similar homemade versions coupled with a DivaCup.  I haven’t looked back!  These choices not only allow me to step into my power of environmental responsibility related to my menstruation, but give me the opportunity to harness the creative power of my menstrual blood and offer it intimately back to mother earth through using it to nourish sacred plants in my garden.

emilyruff

Emily Ruff is a community herbalist and director of the Florida School of Holistic Living in Orlando, which features a comprehensive curriculum, community clinic, and teaching garden. Emily studied herbalism across three continents under many indigenous healers, including herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, whom she credits as one of her biggest inspirations. Her academic studies include ethnobotany and women’s studies, and she is a flower essence practitioner.

Her line of products, Orenda Herbal, have been prepared since 2004 with love and locally grown ingredients. Emily has taught frequently at national conferences and regional events, and is also the organizer of the annual Florida Herbal Conference.

Emily stewards an herbal urban homestead in central Florida, where in daily practice of meditation and digging her fingers in the dirt, the plants continue to be her greatest teachers. A frequently published author and dynamic teacher, you can learn more about her work and projects at emilyruff.com.