Period Loving

Anyone reading my blog might have noticed that roughly once a month my writing becomes pretty bloody, feminine, moon-filled and menstruation related!  Unsurprisingly this is because I have my period then and when I have my period it pretty much consumes my whole being. I ache from my toes, through my legs, deep in my belly, up my spine, across my chest, out into my finger tips and to the crown of my head. My vision is blurred and I can’t think straight, least about anything except blood! My epilepsy is worse, my pain is worse. I’m hyper-sensitive and the world is painfully beautiful. I feel an ancient connection to the earth, a closeness to the women in my life. During this time I am irrational, tearfull and exhausted. It is intense, so, I write. I write and I talk about it. I find it sad that periods are still taboo, tampons and sanitary pads still whispered for in the chemist. Women still made to feel dirty, still unable to discuss the subject openly. Periods are regrded as a curse that women have to silently bear. Well I won’t not now.

menstrupedia.com

Yes, periods aren’t exactly FUN. Take yesterday, I was woken up by violent cramps at 5am. I thought I had a stomach bug, I stumbled the loo, dripping with sweat, head pounding, unable to see straight not knowing if I was going to puke or well…you get the picture grim and gross! But neither, oh no, it was just my period arriving in style for a gore-fest- earlier than I expected for some reason known only to the Goddess she likes to play tricks like that!- I was unamused and spent the day sweating and writhing, searcing for meds. Today is calmer, clearer, so I thought I’d write not only why periods are GRIM, but why I love my period and what is positively awesome about period-times!

4000 years for choice.com

  1. Periods are the most rejuvenating thing EVER and mean women live longer than men! Three days after my period I can guarantee that I will be healthier and happier than I was before. All the toxins have been washed out of my body and I am refreshed physically and mentally. Men never get to do this, studies suggest that this is why on average men die younger than women.
  2. Periods increase pain threshold. I am certain periods are the reason women are actually much tougher than men, when it comes to injury and illness.
  3. Periods cross languages, religions and continents, uniting all women worldwide. It is a shared female experience, it bonds women and creates common ground. You can go into a busy public ladies toilet anywhere in the world and I gurantee if you needed a sanitary product you will be offered one freely and generously. I have seen women of diffrent, creeds, colours, bought together for a brief moment to share a knowing smile and a wad of absorbent padding. Surely that is an amazing thing to have, to be part of.
  4. My period is my bodys way of letting me know it’s healthy, that I’m not too fat or too thin and that basically it’s just chilling out waiting to make new life!
  5. When I have my period I can validly skip ‘excersise’, wear granny knickers, eat meat and cheese alot more! I get to ‘treat’ myself all day everyday of my period. Life is short and when Aunt-flo is a-visiting I am guilt-free!
  6. Periods make sex better. Really, truly, honestly they do! In advance of their periods TONS of studies show women have more active libidos/are horny as fuck and while yes PMS is a fact too, many women still report feeling healthier and hornier during their periods than at any oher time! Also, if you’re up for a gory session then all the extra-sensitivity going on makes sex during menstruation pretty damn great! Just some thoughts…!

4000 years for choice.com

So there it is, my top six reasons why periods are awesome, I love being a woman and I love my body! I hope that by talking about menstruation more often, openly realistically and unashamedly more women will learn to love their bodies too. One Love.

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood:An ancient version of this story is that Little Red Riding Hood is not really a story for children but young teen girls. The Red cloak might symbolize the beginning of her menses.

 

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Proper Hugs and Sea Sponges

In the last 48 hours I think I have been hugged and kissed by more old friends and new friends than I have been in the past TWO YEARS. Simply noticing this has opened my eyes, no wonder I’ve been in such pain! A soul needs hugging and lots of it!

free hugs

I have also noticed that on the streets of Brighton complete strangers do this weird thing when you walk past them, – they make eye contact and turn up the corners of their mouths, invariably with a twinkle in their eye! I remember that this is called SMILING, something Londoners seem to have forgotten how to do. It is amazing what PROPER hugs can do, PROPER-FRIEND-KISSES too! Brighton, you have lit me up, my pain is less, my heart is lighter. Finally there are people here who I know understand what ONE LOVE really means. One Love.

All souls are one

All Souls are One. Rumi.

Along with re-discovering my Brighton love this month another discovery has ROCKED MY SOCKS. Sea Sponges. As an Ocean-loving-Pisces-water-baby I am a little ashamed to admit that prior to this sea-sponge insight I had thought sponges rather dull. They just sit in the sea chilling out, not doing anything very fun, being pastel yellow, just there,  poor sponge, I thought, unable to join in all the excitement of the passing sea life…

Dull dull dull

Dull dull dull

…Not anymore! I have just discovered a use for Sea Sponges that has totally changed my mind. Sponges are AMAZING, Sponges are awesome! Sponges are perhaps the most hard-core and useful item the ocean provides women with… Sea Sponges can be used as Tampons. Yes, you read right Sea Sponge Tampons are not only in existence but accessible, possible and are AWE-inspiringly-mind-blowingly-rocking-sockising!

Ever since I had a traumatic exploding-moon-cup-in-a-night-club-episode I have been looking for eco alternatives to one-use menstruation products after I discovered that the average woman uses nearly 17,000 disposable pads and tampons throughout her lifetime! In North America alone, an estimated 20 billion bleached pads and tampons end up in landfills and sewage systems each year! In my searches I came across a lovely company in the US Jade & Pearl who sell sea-sponge tampons known as Sea Pearls. They are completely natural, chemical free and sustainably harvested. Reusable for three to six months or more.

Sea Pearls!

Sea Pearls!

I was amazed by the sponges texture, I can’t feel it at all! It is much MUCH, softer than a tampon it’s textured much like the vaginal wall and becomes super soft and squishy when wet. I have never had such a pain-free period and I’m certain I have the sponge to thank. I was a little worried about the removal, as I have a tendency to be Queen of all squmishness…not-so-cool…however…is it gross to admit I actually found it fascinating?! There is something empowering and strengthening about rinsing your blood out of the sponge. Watching last months blood drain away, spiral down the sink and making room for the new months possibility. I am so impressed by the sponges performance I am certain I won’t ever look at a tampon again!

Menstruating Goddess

Jade & Pearl write that as sponges are naturally very absorbent, they can also be used during sex as a contraceptive with a spermicide… think might have to try that out next, except if they don’t work you end up with a little more than red knickers! How amazing though, no fake hormones, no plastic rubber waste clogging up the seas.
If you want to try and look forward to your period, instead of dreading it, try a sponge it’ll change your life sista’s! And menfolk – invest in them for your ladies I gurantee they will extra love you for it! One Love.

Brighton love

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Sea Sponges and WO-MANness

Lets talk about Menstruation, Blood, gore and WO-MANness! OH YEAH!

I am still shocked by how menstruation is still mentioned in undertones, still whispered under our-breath, still something which girls are made to feel embarrassed by. Made to feel our monthly blood is dirty, shameful, disgusting, something to be kept a secret and ignored where possible. We don’t dwell on it. We certainly don’t embrace our time of the month. Why not? I say…

now

I have always felt blessed that I was bought up my a mother who told me my period was my friend, a woman’s gift and she congratulated me when my friend arrived. Gave me a present, reassured me and welcomed me to woman-hood.

red

When I was at school, I was told the cold, hard, science and given a choice Tampons or Pads to soak up the monthly goo. That was all. I didn’t think to ask why or what else could I use? What effects might these things have on me? on others? It was assumed this was all there was and all I could do. No one I knew questioned it, I assumed everyone was the same as me. What I rapidly learnt was that all my ailments got worse when my period approached and better after it went. I have never met a Doctor who would categorically agree with me about that…and I’ve been to ALOT of Doctors. The complexities of menstruation still hold a great deal of mystery in medical circles and it takes an exceptional Doctor to admit that. I hope that by educating myself and writing about my own experiences, I am at least helping to unravel a tiny part of those mysteries for women.

By the time I went to university I’d probably had something in the region of 72 periods, maybe more (my maths is bad). Everytime I sopped it up with tampons and pads. At uni I became increasingly ennvironmentally aware, particularly concerned about humanities love-affair with plastic. I was appalled by my own menstrual waste, each month I knew I was directly contributing at least 22tampons and 7 chemical-plastic towels to the oceans, but I didn’t know what to do about it.

tampon waste

I had heard stories of women making their own pads from tree-bark and newspapers and getting horrible infections from the newspaper ink so I didn’t think that sounded like a good idea. Then I heard about Mooncup. It sounded FAB! So inspired was I by this discovery I immediately purchased one and was excited when time came to use it the next month. As with all new things I guess practice makes perfect and my heady-university-alcholy-days were perhaps not the best way to start and a few days in I ended up splashed with menstrual-blood, chasing my mooncup around the floor of some Leeds-club-toilet-floor…not an experience for the faint hearted…nor one I wished to repeat! So the mooncup got put in a draw and stayed there.

blood

Ten years on I hope that I have finally matured and chilled out enough to realise that I need to have another go at handeling my periods better. For myself, for my family and for the earth too. I found a great site The Period Store which provides an informative, light-hearted and global platform for women to empower themselves  with period wisdom and products, from eco-chic to high street they have the low down!  This is my top pic of eco-friendly-menstrual-loving-brands:

  • Mooncup Known in the USA as MCUK – is the original silicone menstrual cup designed by women to be a convenient, safe and eco-friendly alternative to tampons and sanitary pads. Loved by women all around the world, and made in the UK by a multi-award winning ethical business, the Mooncup menstrual cup offers an end to the waste, discomfort and expense of disposable sanitary protection.
  • Eco Femme A women’s empowerment project. Rising from rural India and reaching the world. Promoting menstrual practices that are: healthy · dignified · affordable · eco positive
  • Lunapads  A women-owned and operated social mission-based business based in Vancouver, Canada. Our goal is to help individuals have healthier and more positive experiences of their menstrual cycles, and by extension, their bodies overall
  • Jade & Pearl – the oldest and most amazing to me! A company that creates natural products and unique gifts that are reusable, recyclable and sustainable. In 1974, Gloria Starita, owner and founder of this pioneering natural health company, launched a unique feminine hygiene product called Sea Pearls Sea Sponge Tampons, long before the harmful carcinogenic effects of dioxin, synthetic fibers and toxic shock syndrome were understood. For the past thirty years, Sea Pearls have been sold all over the world.
Sea Sponge Tampons

Sea Sponge Tampons

I am going to try them all out, sea sponge tampons included! I can’t wait. I would love to know how periods are taught in schools now? I wonder are young women shown the kind of choices I have listed here? I hope so but suspect not. If you are a teacher and have any info on this I would love to hear from you. One Love eco-moon-blood!

mooncup

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Being a Woman.

Menstruation, Moon-blood, women’s cycle’s, time-of-the-month, women’s-curse, having-the-painters-in, on-the-rag, on-the-blob, in-her-flowers, women’s-friend, gift-of-the-goddess, the red tide, the wounded clam, up on blocks, too wet to plow, closed for business………. only some of myriad of phrases I know of that are used to describe the monthly blood loss that women go through. It is an experience that unites all women, it is at the center of what it truly means to Be a Woman. Wherever we come from, whatever we look like, whatever language we speak, whatever we believe, it is a universal truth that all women bleed red blood monthly.

Menstruating Goddess

It is such a primal, evolutionary event linked to humanities very creation. I am repeatedly shocked by how little seems to be known about it, how discussion of it even now in the Westernised C21st is often hushed up. I know many women who still feel unable to discuss ‘Women’s troubles’ with their male partners or in front of men. I also think it is yet another example of the failings in classical medicine that Doctors in general are very un-open to the effect of menstruation on health. For example I know that all the major seizures I have ever had have also all coincided with my period, the majority of doctors dismiss this. I also think that it is likely that my current spinal-set-back is due to the fact that my period will be here soon. This obsession with compartmentalising our bodies, in specialising rather than holistically looking at the whole picture is so damaging. Muscles cramps in my lower back are clearly going to pressurise my spine and blood-loss leads to tiredness which can mean more seizures too, so why is it not OK for Doctors to say that? To explore it? To research it?

woman

It seems to me that Periods are also the root cause of historical discrimination against women, seen as dirty, cursed, weak, ill and even dangerous witches – how can a person bleed so much and still live? I wonder why it was never seen the other way around? That women go through so much, regularly and still just get on with it. It is said that the discovery of the female contraceptive pill opened the doors to feminism and equality for women, whilst I agree in part, I still think there is a very long way to go. I recently heard a story of a mans reaction to his girlfriend’s missed period, he said “…how could you let that happen…” It seems to me the advent of contraception has in someways made life harder for women. We are dammed by our bodies if we do (reactions to the pill/other contraceptives are long lasting and horrible) and dammed by the world if we don’t! I’d love to know where is  money and research into a male pill?

respect

When I was maybe 8 years old, I remember my Granny telling me about growing up in India. Her mother was away chasing around the country after the men in the family and she was raised mostly by her beloved Ayah, not many people spoke English, let alone well enough to tell her about women’s things. When my Granny’s first time came, she ran to her Ayah, soaked in blood convinced she was going to die. By the time I came into the world it had changed some and my mum told me that when my first period came, it was going to be a wonderful thing. It would mean I was a woman, not a little girl anymore. Mum said she would give me a present and it would be a special day.

I think I was 12years old, I’m not sure, that first time I saw ALL THAT GORE! I was so proud. Mum gave me a pendant with my birthstone Amethyst hanging from it. Mum told me that in our family we call it ‘having your friend’. I like that, it doesn’t make it sound as bad as it is…

A few years ago I read the wonderful book The Red Tent by Anita Diamant these beautiful words have stayed with me:

red tent

I love the idea that my bleeding is cleansing, that it is a gift to be celebrated. That is gives me a chance to cleanse my body of of last months death. It makes me feel that my Mum was right, my period is special and it is my friend. To be a woman is a beautiful thing. Red Tent groups have sprung up all over the place in the wake of this book and prior to it too. I am not part of one although I think they often seem to be interesting and inspiring projects.

One aspect to many red-tent ideas I have difficulty with is their positioning of men. Men are usually excluded from these groups totally, I have even seen signs outside red-tents which read ‘babes in arms welcome, however no male children and no men allowed’. Whilst I fully appreciated the need to have some ‘women-only’ spaces and also some ‘men-only’ spaces, particularly for those recovering from trauma,abuse etc I think in general what is needed is less segregation and more discussion. How amazing would it be to hold a Red-Tent session with men too! I think we’d all learn a lot. I know that I will share this blog piece with my husband, with my Dad and my brother too. I hope that slowly but surely more women feel able to embrace their periods, to discuss it openly without fear and that doctors will start to understand a more holistic picture of health. This is something I am sure everyone would benefit from. One Love moon-bleeders!

MoonCup Dress

Dress made from MoonCups at the Museum of Menstrruation in Washington DC. Awesome!

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