Soothing Tips for your Menstrual Cycle
I've lived with painful periods and severe cramps since I started getting my cycle. I used to be curled up on the bed in pain, unable to move, so I was put on birth control for hormones at age 15. A couple years ago, I went off the birth control as I felt it was affecting my mental health and I wanted to get pregnant (still leaving this one up to the universe!), but without the hormones, my severe pain has returned.
It begins with a light day, when I know to prepare for it and that it's coming; it actually begins a week or so before that, during the Luteal phase right before Menstruation begins. My mood swings and dips, I become agitated and depressed, and suffer with insomnia which only makes me feel more lethargic and irritable. Once my menstrual phase begins, I prepare for the one day which is most painful of all the rest. The most recent moontime left me writhing on the floor of the bathroom, purging my stomach and feeling like I was being turned inside out. I dragged myself into a warm shower which eased the pain in my abdomen and uterus enough to crawl back onto the couch (I was in so much pain, I couldn't even make it to the bed that night).
This has become a norm for me, and I have schedule an OBGYN appointment (delayed thanks to the pandemic) to further explore it, but every time I have called for advice, the nurse has only said to "get back on birth control" which I am resistant to. Thus, in desperate need of a solution, I took to researching some tips to soothe a painful menstrual cycle and want to share them here.
TIPS TO SOOTHE YOUR WOMB
Warm showers/baths: As mentioned previously, this is a method I've used to soothe my own menstrual pain. (Cold showers, by the way, are wonderful for regulating the nervous system, but warm really helps ease the pain). Especially if you don't have a heating pad or other access to warmth, this is a wonderful alternative.
Child's pose asana: Easing back into your hips when you are in the Child's Pose asana is a great relief for womb pain. It helps stretch out the muscles there and relieves pains in the lower back as well. Move intuitively to ease and soothe.
Tea & chocolate: Yes, it's more than a myth! Chocolate is actually beneficial for womxn on their period, as it offers vital nutrients you lose while bleeding. (If you aren't opposed to a few beers, Guinness is a known "home" remedy in the UK, for the iron it supplements to your body - I don't drink much anymore, but have found myself craving some Guinness at my moontime). Tea is also a lovely tonic for easing menstrual pain. The best herbs are: red raspberry leaf, ginger, chamomile, peppermint, etc.
Free Bleed! If you have painful bleeds, try your cycle without using tampons. (Especially for sexual trauma survivors, tampons can actually cause more pain around our cycle). Pads or menstrual-undies are a great alternative, and I've noticed the difference since I transitioned a few months ago.
Warm feet = Warm womb! Keeping your feet warm will keep your womb warm, a wonderful way to feel cozier during your moontime (not to mention the winter).
CBD/THC for pain relief and management: I'm a Medical Marijuana patient and a proud proponent for how much it has helped me manage my pain. I will make sure I have enough herbal remedies in stock a week or so before my bleed begins, just in case it doesn't follow the same pattern. It's also never good to be caught unprepared. Midol is another great OTC medication for menstrual pain, bloating, etc. -highly recommended if you don't know of it already (it's been a true lifesaver for me).
HONOR YOUR INNER WOLF
Plan for your cycle days of rest/rejuvenation - when you are called to carve out a little place to rest your weary soul. I learned from a lovely workshop by Hannah Katherine at Karuna Healing about the different phases of our cycle and how to best prepare and plan around the days we require quiet solitude.
Hannah told me many cycles happen around the full or new moon (mine is often around the Full, but this month it was right in between). Our Menstrual phase is a time for introspection, rest, goal setting and evaluation of our intentions and desires. Create a cocoon of safety and stillness, as our body is creating a new home for the egg to come. Give yourself grace during this time; deny the hustle culture that tells us we must be working and moving at all times to be worthy.
It makes sense many cycles link with the Full Moon, which is itself a phase of releasing energies that no longer serve us for rebirth and regeneration. I've always felt extra powerful when I've bled at the full moon, as if I can feel the tug of the moon upon my inner water-body, pulling from me my blood and all that no longer serves as I purge, create new space.
The next phase is our Follicular phase - a perfect time for new projects, connecting and building. I always feel like I've come out of a cave and want to socialize, see my friends, and birth new creative projects (often full of too many ideas!). Hannah made a beautiful note of honoring the parts of you that hold yourself to expectations - why are you feeling you must act a certain way? Explore and honor these emotions that rise up for you during this time.
Ovulatory phase is a stage of creation, where we prepare for creation. A time to nurture ourselves and relationships, as well as any projects that need our attention before the final phase, Luteal, where the symptoms we know as "PMS" often run rampant, our energies feel chaotic and unable to be contained - we become more introspective, and this is a great time to withdraw, organize and plan for your projects or where you want your life (and/or business) to thrive.
Honor what your body naturally calls you to. I am no longer ashamed of the way my phase expresses itself in my body - it is a natural, beautiful process all womxn share, and something to be learned about, respected and cherished. It is what allows us to create life and build ourselves up, to rise again stronger each cycle.
[I started tracking my last bleed which began on November 10th and intensified to the severely painful day on the 11th. I continued a heavy bleed on Nov. 12th and then was mostly free on November 13th, when the moon was 70% illuminated and growing to fullness. That means I'm now in my Follicular stage which should last until about the 22nd or 23rd, when my Ovulatory phase begins (3-4 days). I'll be back in my Luteal phase around November 27th. When I map it out like this, it leaves me with about a week or two where I feel most active and at my most energetic. This is the time I should be connecting, acting and enjoying the plans I have set in previous phases of my cycle.]
Howl at the moon as often as required. Let your voice be heard! Let your sorrows out! Howl it all into the night, or the ears of a lover. You are not alone and you deserve to be seen, heard and held in all your beauty.
Embody your Wild! In whatever shape this comes in, embody your wild - the call within you that we all hear. Our deeper voice, the intuition that leads us to the highest path where our resistance feels like a bluster of wind instead of a tornado sweeping us away. I practice embodiment/dance on a daily or at least weekly basis as a way to come back home into my body, to connect with my emotions and release them in whatever form they are showing up in.
Self-soothing touch and pleasure ~ nurture. This is a tip I've picked up from my applied polyvagal theory in yoga course - how self-soothing touch can bring us back into our body, honor our sensations and help move trauma (and pain) out of stagnation. Nurture yourself in whatever form your soul is requesting - an orgasmic release? A warm soapy bath where you touch your skin? One way I nurture myself is through a nice long shower followed by smoothing lotion into my skin. It helps ground me and also leaves my skin moisturized. I've found it's a perfect way to lull me into a sense of safety and helps when I am struggling to quiet my mind/body for sleep.
I hope these tips have spoken to you in some way and will benefit your life! As womxn who live with a monthly cycle we must navigate, it can be confusing and overwhelming, but through tracking our cycle and honoring our bodies and what they need, we can make the experience more nurturing and restorative. Please feel free to add some of your own tips in the comments below; I would love to hear what works for you!
These are all compiled from my own research and from the wise words of other womxn who speak about womb care and the menstrual cycle. I am not a professional; if you are experiencing severe pain around your periods, please visit your OBGYN. I have an appointment in the end of December to speak about my pain, and will hopefully have further insights and tips to add on to this - expect a Part II in some form to come!
P.S. I am also researching and exploring ways to alleviate painful sex, as a trauma survivor I feel myself often close at the thought of intimacy (physically clenching my uterus and vagina), which leads to increased pain and discomfort. It can be a constant battle to relax myself in the midst of sex, and I feel it's something that should be discussed abo