Sex Education: Mastering Menstrual Moods
19th December, 20080 Comments
I could launch into ‘science-speak’ and describe the ‘fertility’ cycle and include big words like myomentrium, gonadotropin secretion, luteininzing and follicle-stimulating (pre-menstrual cervical mucus and a couple of hormones thrown in there that influence female body temperature). Or, I could go on about the luteal phase, the corpus luteum and luteal regression (the ovarian cycle) – but this is a common blog designed to help women (and men) understand their moods swings. Not a bloody biology lesson about producing babies!
So, let’s crack on in typical ‘angelwithabullet’ style, shall we?
I cherish being female. I love being a woman. I like flowers and frills and fine cotton cloth that wraps my body sensually. As for female company, I adore it. I am fascinated by their bitch-talk, am enthralled by their support-web and have a natural urge to connect with my kind. There are lots of topics that I would talk with a woman about that I would dare not even broach with a man. But that doesn’t mean to say I don’t like men. I do like men. After all, there’s only one chromosome that separates the sexes. And, more to the point, everyone starts life as a girl.
It’s strange though, recently I’ve gotten to really looking at the faces of men and women – particularly my own. I often wonder what defines the difference? What separates us? We all have two eyes, two cheeks, a nose, a mouth and a forehead. It’s only the shapes and the undulating curves of our skin covering our bones that says we look like one sex or the other – or sometimes both. When I look at me I sometimes think I look like a man. I don’t mind if others think that of me. But there are lots of things that make me like being placed in the sex bracket that I am: undeniably female.
And one of those likes of mine is liking this ‘awkward’ little body ‘defect’ that happens upon me on a monthly basis.
In some people’s eyes, this is a horrid discussion to even be contemplating. There’s nothing worse in their minds than blood flowing from the body. From a wound, it is awful. There’s this thing inside us that screams ‘stop the blood quick!’ To be honest, I have a blood phobia. I can’t stop myself feinting at the sight of it. I even consciously tried several times, but the nausea and dizziness took control of my senses. I know the biological reasons why – the body shuts down in order to slow the flow of blood and thereby preserving life - which harks back to our caveman heritage. But gaping wounds on other body parts are acceptable. It’s okay to go to hospital and say ‘Doctor – I’ve got a big gash on my arm – and err - HELP!’
Though when it’s at regular intervals, from the most private of all places, and there’s no fear of actually dying from it – it becomes one of those taboo subjects that gets swept under the carpet.
I know some women will hate me for talking about this topic. And some men will too. They will hate me even more for lifting the carpet and examining it while advocating intercourse as a remedy for it, too.
But, to me, this is part of our natural cycle. It’s part of being a human. It’s a beautiful part of being female. Why should there have to be embarrassment surrounding it? It is as natural to me as sneezing. Or yawning. As natural as the beautiful seasonal changes on this planet we call home. Of course, it can be painful at times. But, as I hinted above, pain can soon be rectified by having a man’s company to share. Yes, a man can help in that area too. He may be one of those men who squirm at the idea, but he can actually help ease his partner’s pain – and take some pleasure himself.
Think on it this way, have you ever had cramp in your foot or your leg? Have you ever jumped out of bed in the middle of the night and stretched it like there’s no tomorrow. It’s the same thing when a woman has cramps in her uterus. And the best way I’ve found to help ease that most awful of pain, is through a willing man happy to stretch the caverns within me.
THE KINDEST LESSON
At school, if we were lucky enough, we were taught how the natural baby-making cycle occurs. How the lining builds up in the womb in order to feed the child that may latch onto it. Yes, that’s basically what it is. Food. For the next generation. And when it isn’t used, the body simply cleans itself of it.
A man taught me that. A man saw my embarrassement, saw my shyness and my awkwardness surrounding the body that he shared with me and took it upon himself to bring me to my senses. He allowed me to like, heck, even love myself. Bless him.
I, too, used to be one of those women who hated women who talked about their periods. I looked down on those who openly spoke about it. I used to think this was a dirty topic to talk about. I used to be embarrassed by my natural flow. Ashamed to admit that, yes, I am a woman and I too have periods.
I’ve called it “the Curse”, “that time of the month”. But not any more. Not now I’ve learned a few lessons and become wiser to the fact that it’s a part of life and there ain’t nuthin that’s gonna stop it – short of a hysterectomy.
In some societies, women were (even to this day) shunned away from the rest of the group when they were ‘on’. While I sometimes wish that could happen now (a day off work every month? wouldn’t that be nice - when did that tradition stop?), I think that rather a sad scenario to be faced with. Honestly though, there was a time when women who were having their periods were considered to:
• Bring bad luck
• Make seeds infertile
• Kill swarms of honey bees
• Cause fruit to fall from trees and plants to die
• They even caused mirrors to dull
• And swords to blunt
The blood of a woman’s period was even considered dangerous at one point, and while her blood was flowing from her private of all parts, she wasn’t allowed to bake bread, make jam or prepare any meal (sounds like a good deal to me), because it was thought she would ruin the meal.
Nowadays, however, people are more open and honest about it, the fear has lessened and the taboos have been limited (why did they stop that day off work every month though?).
If you would like to be able to get a grip of those cycles and help yourself to better health all round, then wade your way through the text below, copy it and paste it to your calendar if you like. It might help you (and your man) understand what’s happening to you – and that you’re not a freak, you’re simply caught up in your hormonal emotions.
While hormones themselves are not solely responsible for causing our emotional behaviour (in reality it’s how they interact with the nervous system that makes us do the emotional things we do), we can at least explore the two primary hormones that organise our cycle.
• Oestrogen, which is a hormonal mood enhancer
• Progesterone, which is a natural depressant.
And there are four main cycles to this whole crazy thing. Get the hang of these, ladies (and gents) and you’ll be quids in with the monthly mood management.
The strange thing is, if these cycles are allowed to happen naturally (without the aid of the pill), then they do tend to more-or-less coincide with the moon cycle.
RECYCLING BY MOONLIGHT
Days/Time of the month/Biological Phase/Moon Phase/Mood Phase
1-7/Menstrual/Lining sheds/Full moon Mood swings
8-14/Pre-ovulation/Egg released/Waning moon/Calm and letting go
15-21/Ovulation/Egg moving/New moon/Renewed confidence
22-28/Pre-Menstrual/Egg embeds or .../Waxing moon
...Low feelings, frustration
You can read my previous blog for an explanation of the moon cycles. But here’s a very brief breakdown as to what to expect with your emotions during one cycle. Of course, you may take longer or have a shorter flow of blood, but basically it follows this pattern.
Day 1 (of your period) commonly known as the ‘menstrual’ time. This is when the woman feels her most calm. She has a desire to take herself away and be quiet. She is satisfied with silence. It is a time of ‘letting go’ of the cares of the world - physically and mentally.
By Day 5 the period ends when oestrogen levels begin to rise – this is when your mood begins to improve.
Day 8 through to 13 are the pre-ovulation days. Positive energy increases, creativity and mental agility begins to improve.
Day 14 through to 20 are ovulation days. Oestrogen peaks, you feel great your memory is at its best and sexual drive becomes aggressive. This is the last chance to get pregnant and the body is taking all steps to get you there through a high libido and energy to match it. Your confidence peaks and you achieve great things.
Day 21 through to 24 – Oestrogen levels fall while progesterone increases. Remember progesterone is a natural depressant! The lining of the uterus thickens and mood swings happen around this time.
Day 24 through to 28 – Oestrogen levels fall fast. Progesterone peaks. This is why you get lower energy levels, wide mood swings, frustration and cravings. It’s rather like an uncontrollable baby screaming blue murder from its pram while throwing its toys out at you saying “I WANNA GET FERTILISED!!!!” When it doesn’t, the lining of the uterus is shed and depression sets in.
Then whole cycle begins over again!
THE BIG PICTURE
Yes, this is all very fascinating stuff and as with any organ that operates within the human body, the menstrual cycle cannot function alone. A body is a whole organ. It’s not like a car. You can’t take one piece out and hope that the rest will operate okay. The separate body parts rely equally on an interacting support system. The immune, digestive and urinary systems need to be maintained as well as the circulatory and respiratory functions. If you take more note of looking after the whole system, by eating right and thinking right, then (trust me!), your moods will be more on an even keel.
Here’s a couple of spanners to throw into the works … a couple of little known facts: if you want to produce a baby boy, the nearer you fertilise to day 28, the better. Something to do with the uterus and the acid it produces which grows weaker as the time to shed grows nearer. Apparently, boys can’t stand the heat!
Seriously though, can I have that day off work every month?
Related articles from our experts
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Angela Keane, PgDip, MBACPOctober 18th, 2016
Louise Gulley PGDip, MBACP, Counselling & PsychotherapyOctober 10th, 2016
Andrea Harrn Psychotherapist and Author of The Mood CardsMay 13th, 2011
Imi Lo: Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, Supervisor (MMH,UKCP,HCPC,MBPsS)March 29th, 2015
Keeley Townsend BA (Hons), Ad.Dip.CP with Distinction, MNCS (Acc)December 14th, 2009
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