The majority of women I speak to see menopause as a negative time in their life. It’s become a time of dread or ‘head in the sand’ for many women in the run-up to the big event. It’s not surprising women are nervous and apprehensive when all they hear about are the awful symptoms of menopause. Now I’m not saying it isn’t shit because not only are the symptoms themselves harsh but for many it can lead to mental health issues, relationship breakdowns and career rethinks.
Are we disconnected from being a woman in all its glory?
It’s not just the menopause women want to ignore there seems to be a lack of connection to what it is to be women. We take hormonal contraception from a young age to avoid unwanted pregnancies but at the cost of masking our natural feminine rhythms. This disconnection and sometimes shame starts for many at our menarche (our very first period).
Do you remember the day you became a woman and moved from being a girl to a fertile female? For many years periods have been hidden and thought of as dirty and unclean. From that very first period, we kept it hidden, terrified of leaking blood, discharge, smelling or talking about our ‘bits’. These days many girls don’t even know what their period blood looks like as they use tampons to soak it up and throw it away without another thought. Vaginas (the correct term is Vulva) are plucked, shaved, waxed, pimped, deodorised and sometimes surgically changed to fit in with a standardised and sterilised view of what a vagina (vulva) should look like (to men??).
Do you remember your first period?
I remember getting my period and my mum handing me a bag of sanitary towels. I don’t remember much conversation about it with her and this is probably how it was handled by her mother.
When my daughter finally began her periods aged 14 I wanted to encourage her to celebrate. I remember the day well, we were going to go to the gym together and she rang me after school to say she couldn’t go. When I asked her why she whispered: “My period has come”. To her utter embarrassment, I yelled with joy. That evening the familee (My husband, son, daughter and myself) went out for dinner to celebrate her becoming a woman. We still talk about that day.
I had bought her a book about female cycles called Reaching for the Moon by Lucy H. Pearce. She didn’t read it! Unlike myself, she isn’t much of a reader but i have just found the book again in her cupboard and will see if, age 17, she will give it another go!
She tracks her cycles using an app, she uses Clue and she can track her friends too. Clue is ok but I would love it to talk more about what is happening emotionally, physically, energetically and psychologically within the phases of her cycles.
Wouldn’t it be great to understand from a young age how to arrange your life to fit around your cycle? Yes I know we all know that ‘resting bitch face’ comes out to play in the days before our period but there is so much more to our periods and cycles than that right?
I wish I had known that the days I wanted to be alone were a natural part of my cycle and didn’t mean that there was something wrong with me! I wish I had known that I would feel more confident and powerful when I was ovulating.
I wish I had paid more attention
My ovaries decided to stop popping eggs in my mid/late thirties. My early menopause came at the age of 37 (10 years ago as I write this). Oh, how I wish I had the self-knowledge I have now back in my twenties/thirties. I went on the pill from my early teens (for acne and swiftly followed for birth control ;-)) I stayed on the pill until I wanted to try for my first baby age 29 and fell pregnant easily. I can’t remember what I did for birth control between the births of my two children born two years and six days apart. I do know that after the birth of my second child, my daughter, I had the coil inserted. I used the coil until I had it removed in my late thirties when I had a final ‘bleed’ (i think it was a withdrawal bleed rather than a period) and I was ‘diagnosed’ as post menopausal.
Getting in sync with the moon
I sometimes miss bleeding. It’s the old adage that we only appreciate something when its gone! When I had some breakthrough bleeds from HRT I really enjoyed the cleansing feel to bleeding. If I’m really honest I know I still have lots of ‘work’ to do on my early menopause stuff. Ten years on and I feel it’s finally time to find some peace around it.
As I no longer have a menstrual cycle to follow I’ve been exploring the moon cycles as a way to track my ebbs and flows throughout the month. It’s early days yet but I find it fascinating the more I learn about how nature connects to the moon. Exploring and connecting to nature has become a very important part of my life. I love to get my hands dirty in the garden and grow vegetables to eat (and share with the slugs and snails!).
I love watching the changing seasons and have started exploring seasonal rituals as part of my connection to seasons and cycles. I also long for walks in the woods with myself and my dog Kevin the Jack Russell as a way to de-stress and decompress from the modern world.
Getting back in touch with your cycles
Every woman will have menopause whether it’s naturally, early or surgically. One day your fertile days will end as you enter another phase of being a woman. The wise woman, the crone! Us older, post-menopause women have so much to offer the world. Not only do we have experience, but we also have more of a badass attitude and as our estrogen levels lower we start to listen to what we want more of in life.
Reconnect and find peace
Let’s reconnect to our cycles and what it is to be a woman. If you are in the throes of perimenopause and you feel your body is your enemy now is the time to make peace with your body. You are your body and your body is you. If you hate the changes menopause is bringing then you are hating ‘you’. Is there any way you can find peace with your symptoms and the menopausal change? I know that probably feels like a crazy proposition!
Could there be a different way of approaching the menopause?
A way that involves love, appreciation and self-compassion rather than self-loathing, fighting against nature and ignoring the signs and signals your amazing self is giving you? A way that involves finding peace with your ever-changing body rather than waging a war on it? A way of noticing and listening to the subtle and not so subtle messages from your inner self rather than using ways to ‘numb out’ those feelings (bingeing on food, alcohol, sugar, tv etc.).
If you are curious about finding a different way to approaching the menopause you could begin with noticing… I mean really noticing 😉
Start tracking your cycles (or the moon if you are no longer bleeding) and notice any patterns. I created a symptom tracker that could help you through this process. You can download it below.
Re-connect with your body
Use the 'Menopause Symptom Tracker' to connect to your body and discover your triggers and helpers