Mindful Menstruation: Why Is It Important to Know Your Cycle?
Mindful menstruation is both a practice and an attitude. It has to do with knowing all the aspects associated with the menstrual cycle in detail and caring for your body accordingly. It’s a way to increase your self-knowledge and autonomy.
The menstrual cycle often goes nearly unnoticed in many women. We all know that we get our periods every month, and we address this, but we don’t always do this in the most appropriate way. Meanwhile, the other phases of the cycle are sometimes not even known. Conscious menstruation invites us to avoid this.
It’s also clear that the period has various negative connotations for some people and cultures. Conscious menstruation seeks to construct new meanings for the female cycle. It’s a liberating and healthy practice.
Menstruation: Beyond biology
Menstruation isn’t just a biological experience. It has a myriad of social, cultural, and even political associations. In many cases, it’s seen as something ugly, dirty, or even a disease. It’s also associated with a supposed “temporary insanity” during the so-called premenstrual syndrome.
The truth is that the menstrual cycle isn’t only the period. It’s also true that those who don’t menstruate any less women, nor are transgender men who do menstruate any less so. That’s why nowadays we refer to menstruating people and not only women.
The point is that conscious menstruation is a way to know, understand, and approach all the phenomena associated with the menstrual cycle in a more reasonable and healthy way. This contributes to the empowerment of the menstruating person and also affects the social and cultural perception of menstruation.
What is mindful menstruation?
The menstrual cycle involves a series of physiological changes that affect the body as well as the mind. Perceptions, emotions, and even spirituality and cognitive abilities change according to each phase of the menstrual cycle.
Conscious menstruation is based on the idea that knowing all these changes in detail is essential to give them the proper management and, at the same time, to know how to take care of your body, depending on the demands of your environment.
This detailed knowledge of the menstrual cycle allows a menstruating person to better manage their moments of activity and rest, sexuality, and even their diet. Theoretical knowledge isn’t enough, either. Conscious menstruation is the result of self-observation throughout the menstrual cycle.
The importance of conscious menstruation
Conscious menstruation is a way to increase your self-knowledge. It has to do with adopting an introspective look that allows you to better recognize what happens in your body during the menstrual cycle and give it what it requires.
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The way the menstrual cycle develops provides a lot of information about the health of the menstruating person. The bleeding itself, during or outside of the menstrual period, also provides a wealth of information that must be interpreted. The color, smell, texture, etc., are all valuable health data.
One of the essential objectives of conscious menstruation is to preserve a good state of health and to notice any abnormality in time. However, it also serves the purpose of developing greater autonomy, as well as more well-being and satisfaction through self-care.
Knowing your menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle involves not only knowledge, but also wisdom. The first provides you with elements to understand what happens in your body during each stage of the month. The second allows you to approach and manage these changes in a way that brings you satisfaction and peace of mind.
The menstrual cycle usually lasts between 21 and 35 days, but it’s more variable in the first years after the first menstruation (menarche) or before the last one (menopause). Only 10-15% of women have exact 28-day cycles.
During the menstrual cycle, a mature egg is produced. If it’s fertilized, pregnancy occurs. If it’s not, bleeding occurs. Why does it bleed? The uterus has an inner lining called the endometrium. If fertilization occurs, the embryo will be lodged there. If not, it will be expelled in the form of bleeding.
Day one of the bleeding is considered the first day of the menstrual cycle. Hormones regulate these processes, and their activity generates physical and psychological changes throughout the cycle. One of the manifestations of this process is vaginal discharge, which is present and changes throughout the period.
The phases of the menstrual cycle
The menstrual cycle is divided into four phases. What marks each of these phases is the change that occurs in the ovum. In turn, in each phase, various physical and psychological manifestations are important to recognize in order to achieve mindful menstruation. The phases of menstruation are as follows.
The menstrual phase
The inner lining of the uterus, or endometrium, is filled with fluids and nutrients. Hormone levels, estrogen, and progesterone are low during this phase. Since fertilization has not occurred, the endometrium is shed and expelled. The body makes a great effort to do so, so there’s more fatigue than usual.
These days are conducive to rest and recollection. It’s best to eat light meals. There’s also more sensitivity, greater creativity, and more spirituality. It ‘s advisable to eat diuretic foods rich in vitamin C, Omega-3, iron, and potassium.
The preovulatory phase
The pre-ovulatory or follicular phase includes the stage that goes from the end of the menstrual period until day 12 to 14. In this stage, certain follicles mature inside the ovary. These follicles are the place where the egg develops. This is also the phase of the greatest energy and vitality of the month.
This additional energy can be used to do more exercise or to carry out pending or complex activities. It’s also an ideal time to start projects. It’s the best time to eat carbohydrates, since the body is ready to transform them into energy. It’s advisable to reduce your fat consumption during this time.
The ovulatory phase
In conscious menstruation, the ovulatory phase is of great importance. This is the moment when the mature egg leaves the ovary and begins its journey. It corresponds to the fertile stage. A menstruating person’s energy drops a little during this time, but at the same time, sociability and empathy increase. The person’s appearance is more attractive, and there’s greater self-confidence.
During this stage, social and personal relationships flow better. The most advisable dietary tip is to increase your consumption of iron-rich foods and lower your consumption of carbohydrates. It’s advisable to eat legumes, green leafy vegetables, eggs, and nuts.
The premenstrual phase
If the egg has not been fertilized in the previous phase, hormone levels drop. Symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, anxiety, headache, swollen abdomen, fluid retention, etc., are common. Also, it’s common to prefer solitude and introspection.
This is a good time to identify what one does not like in all aspects. Creative activities are highly recommended. Dark chocolate and foods with healthy fats, such as avocado, are also recommended. Bananas, nuts, and dairy products are also great during this time.
Like this article? You may also like to read: What is Menstrual Fatigue and How Can You Deal With It?
Learn to recognize your menstrual cycle
Each person is different, and therefore it’s best to observe yourself carefully and take note of your unique characteristics when it comes to your menstrual cycle. This is the best way to practice conscious menstruation. In this way, you will also be able to identify any irregularities.
It’s very important to learn to listen to what your body is saying. Also, free yourself from prejudices and myths about menstruation. Conscious menstruation doesn’t mean “taking control,” but experiencing your menstrual cycle in a constructive and calm way.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Gormaz, G., Prado, S., Duque, G., Gormaz, C., Tsunekawa, H., Cossio, A., … & Uribe, C. (1992). Caracterización ultrasonográfica del endometrio durante el ciclo menstrual ovulatorio espontáneo. Rev. chil. obstet. ginecol, 257-62.
- Irusta, G. (2008). Mecanismos involucrados en la atresia del folículo ovárico: relación entre esteroidogénesis, angiogénesis y apoptosis (Doctoral dissertation, Universidad de Buenos Aires. Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales).
- De la Cruz Chávez, J. A. (2020). Entre brujas, lunas y otros conjuros: análisis de la construcción de feminidad en los discursos alternativos de menstruación consciente (Bachelor’s thesis, PUCE-Quito).