If your gorgeous daughter or any young woman you know is about to get her period or has already started, this article is for you!
Menarche is the time when a young women first begins to bleed. This is a profound time in a girls life which for centuries, was celebrated and honored, and in some families, is still done today.
In todays fast paced consumerism society a lot of us have forgotten the importance of celebrating a females changing body as she blossoms into womanhood.
It is important for your daughter to have easy access to information about the changes that are taking place in her body during this important time in her life so that she can feel educated and empowered about what is taking place inside of her.
Well-rounded education on menarche and puberty is likely to boost a girl's self esteem, helping her have a positive body image and respect for herself and others.
The best way to help prepare your daughter with the changes she will be experiencing and maybe already is, is to have several open discussions with her. Opening up the space with comfortable communication will help your daughter feel comfortable with herself and safe talking with you. This helps set up and maintain a strong foundation of trust and support for your relationship which will benefit you both for a lifetime!
If your daughter is close to getting her period, talk about some of the nitty gritty details; about the physical changes her body will be going through such as sprouting underarm and pubic hair, swelling breasts that may feel sore from time to time, growing hips, body odor and acne.
Talk to her about the importance of self care with her daily self hygiene routine. Let her know about her brain and hormonal changes that are taking place during puberty. You can look up on youtube a helpful video with good information on what is happening and watch it together.
Gently let her know that all of these changes, emotional, physical and mental, are normal and that whatever she is feeling is perfectly ok. If she is needing further support, seek out an appropriate therapist or doctor.
Let her know that you are here for her to talk to about anything. If she comes to you with any questions that you're unsure of, let her know you don't know, do some research and get back to her on the topic.
Share with her the story of when you started your menstrual cycle and the changes you remember going through, and remember, a sense of humor really helps! Contemplate on how you may have wanted your experience to be different.
Ask your daughter how she would like to celebrate her menarche. Be it having a special meal together with family and friends or just the two of you, baking her a red chocolate velvet cake, wearing all red, giving her a foot bath with rose petals and essential oils, getting her a massage, flowers, a special gift, a book on the menstrual cycle.. something simple and genuine, acknowledging her rite of passage from girl to young woman.. It is important for this threshold in her life to be recognized, no matter how 'big' or 'small' her menarche celebration may be.
Share some practical tips. Get her different menstrual products so she has choices such as cotton and cloth pads, tampons, and the menstrual cup. Let her know that she does not have to wear a tampon if she does not want to. Also let her know that if she chooses to wear tampons how to insert them and that she needs to replace them frequently to avoid Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
Ask her what she would like to do if she gets her period at school. Is there a person, preferably a female teacher or counselor that she can go to if she wants? Will she have menstrual products in her locker or handbag? Will she keep an extra pair of underwear and pants with her? Will you or someone else be able to pick her up if she wants to come home?
Prepare a menstrual care basket with her, including different menstrual products which she prefers to use, a small carry purse, perhaps a special piece of jewelry for her to wear when she is bleeding, a book on menstruation and maybe some relaxing essential oils such as lavender, clary sage, rose or geranium.
Let her know that you are genuinely happy for her. Gently welcome her into this new stage in her life of becoming a young woman, getting to experience the common thread amongst all woman who are able to carry the miracle of life inside their wombs. Let her know that you love and respect her for who she is and that you are always here for her.
And remember...you are doing a great job!
Q: What happens during my cycle?
There is a lot happening! Your hormones, reproductive organs, body and brain are doing a lot! Most women notice shifts in mood, emotions and energy levels throughout their cycle and there is a good reason for this! Here is a brief summary of the four phases of your menstrual cycle. Each phase can be looked at as having similar qualities to the four seasons, winter, spring, summer and autumn.
Phase one: Menstruation (Winter) (The first day you bleed, average days 1-8)
Your body is cleansing and releasing old tissue it no longer needs. When you menstruate, the lining of your uterus breaks up and passes through your vagina and exits your body. Your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are low. Your menstrual flow is a mixture of blood, mucus and cells. You will bleed on average three to six tablespoons of this mixture each month.
Phase two: Pre ovulation (Spring) (Right after you stop bleeding, average days 8-10)
Your body is preparing an egg for pregnancy. When your menstrual flow stop, your ovaries begin to prepare another egg to release into one of the fallopian tubes. The lows levels of estrogen and progesterone during menstruation have triggered the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) to mature a follicle, the fluid-filled sac in the ovary which contains the egg. Usually your right and left ovaries take turns to release eggs, the right ovary one month and the left ovary the next month.
Phase three: Ovulation (Summer) (Average days 10-20)
There is a lot happening while you ovulate. The egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tubes and your body prepares the uterus to receive a fertilized egg (if there is one). (This is the time when you are most fertile and are most likely to get pregnant if you are sexually active).
Estrogen levels increase which trigger a rise in Luteinizing Hormone (LH) from the pituitary gland, telling one ovary to release the mature egg (this process is called ovulation). The egg moves through the fallopian tube toward the uterus and the endometrium grows thicker with the hormone progesterone to prepare the body for the fertilized egg (if there is one through sexual intercourse). If the egg is not fertilized, your body knows that it does not need the 'nest' any longer and soon your menstrual cycle will begin again.
Phase four: Premenstrual: (Autumn) (Average days 20-28)
If a woman has not become pregnant, the uterus prepares to release the unneeded tissue that was prepared for the egg.
Your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels begin to drop. The uterus lining is no longer being stimulated, causing the shedding of the lining to begin and a new menstrual cycle begins.
Q: When will I start to bleed?
A: Some girls begin menstruation at age eight or nine, others may start at thirteen or fourteen, it depends on several factors. The average age a girl start to bleed is twelve to thirteen. If you notice signs of developing breasts, hair under your armpits and pubic hair, these are signs that you are likely to start your cycle soon! Ask your mother when she first got hers and what is what like for her. It is nice to do something to celebrate your special day! Perhaps enjoy a piece of chocolate or red velvet cake or eat red foods like cherries, pomegranate, red capsicum, tomatoes and strawberries.. You can also wear a special piece of jewelry if you’d like to only wear this when you bleed each month. Your period is a normal, healthy, positive and exciting part growing up and blossoming into a young woman!
Q: How long do I bleed for?
A: The length of time you menstruate is different for each woman, and you will not always bleed the exact same number of days each month. You will menstruate anywhere from three to eight days. The average number is four to five days. When you are beginning to bleed as a young woman, it is normal for your cycle to be irregular. Bleeding sometimes less and sometimes more, with shorter or longer cycles. Over your first few years of menstruation, your cycle should become more regular. It is also common for women to have somewhat irregular cycles.
Q: How often will I bleed?
A: Your cycle begins the first day you begin to menstruate (bleed). Your blood flow will come every 21-35 days. The average cycle lasts for 28-29 days. The first few years of your menstrual cycle, your body is changing..A LOT! As it is now ready and able to grow life inside if pregnant. It is normal that your cycle will be a bit irregular. If you are worried or have any concerns, talk to your mom or doctor, Please get in touch if you have any questions, comments or concerns.
Q: Why is it called menstruation or ‘moon time’?
A: Menstruation comes from the Greek root word 'men'', which means 'month,' and 'menus' which means moon and power, hence, this is special and powerful experience happening each month which is strongly connected with the moon. The lunar cycle lasts about 29 days and so does your menstrual cycle. Your period can also be referred to as your ‘moon time’. How cool is it that we bleed with the cycle of the moon?!
Q: Help! I'm having intense cramps! What will help ease my cramps?
A: Eating a well balanced diet and living a healthy, balanced lifestyle is important for a healthy cycle and your overall wellbeing. What you put into your body is likely to affect your menstrual cycle and cramps. If you are having cramps and pre menstrual symptoms, try to avoid fatty foods and processed sugar, caffeine, dairy and salt. Try eating more fresh organic vegetables, fruits, proteins and organic lean meats and whole grains, and be sure to drink plenty of clean water through out the day. Herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile, nettle, raspberry, licorice and rose hips can help soothe your cycle symptoms. If you crave chocolate, your body may actually be craving magnesium which is also found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Often women can be low in Iron while on their ‘moon time’ and some choose to take an Iron supplement. Iron is also found in dark leafy greens and lean red meats.
I recommend having a session with a qualified Naturpath, Herbalist or holistic doctor before taking any supplements to see what vitamins and minerals your body may be needing more or less of.
Listen to your body! You may at times be in agony crouching over. Slow down and rest! Also, gentle exercise can help ease cramps. Exercise will increase your blood and oxygen circulation, healing cramps. Spend time in nature. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Do some restorative yoga or Pilates. Core strengthening exercises are known to help ease cramps.
Using a hot water bottle can also help. Fill the bag up with warm water and place it on your belly or low back. The heat will help soothe your menstrual cramps. Have a warm bath with Epsom salts and essential oils, such as lavender and clary sage.Getting acupuncture from a qualified Acupuncturist can also help ease menstrual symptoms.
Be sure to get enough rest and don't jam pack your day's schedule while you are menstruating. Read my blog on self care during your menstrual cycle. Take this special time each month to relax and do something kind and nurturing for yourself!
Q: What products do I need?
A: Different types of products are available these days, different than in ancient times when women would used parts of plants, leaves and sea sponges. You have choices and I say, go with whichever feels most comfortable for you. Many women choose cloth pads, which are super comfortable and easy, affordable, reusable so its helpful for the environment! You can choose your own style, or you and your friends can even make your own as a fun activity! They also now make underwear with inserted pads already in them! There are also Menstrual Cups, which are comfortable and easy to use. They are worn internally day and night and are and are also affordable and environmentally friendly! If you choose to wear tampons or pads, make sure that they are made from organic cotton, as most tampons and pads contain heavy chemicals that can create harmful bacteria in your vagina. Make sure to carry your products with you in a closed container or pouch so you have them on hand when in need!
Q: What are some good books and resources for more information about my Cycle?
A: Fortunately, there are many great books for menstruating women and young women who are interested to learn more about the powerful and beautiful feminine cycle. Check out my Resources page for some great ones!
If you have any questions or comments, get in touch!
For many women and young women, it can be a difficult time dealing with all of the changes her body and hormones go through throughout her cycle. It can also be an empowering time, a time to get to know yourself more and feel connected to your body's wisdom. If you have the awareness of where you are at in your cycle, you can plan your schedule more accordingly to how you are feeling that day.
In Ancient times, when a girl would bleed, her family and friends would celebrate the girl becoming a young woman, and she would be taken into the red tent where she would retreat, rest, hear stories and songs from her mother, grandmothers, aunties and the women in her village.
Menstruating women would be served delicious foods and receive luxurious foot baths and massages, as this was (and still is!) a special time of retreat when a woman needs extra nourishment! She was truly honored and respected by all people of the village.
When a woman completes her cycle menstruating, she goes through another big passage into menopause, which was also honored and celebrated as the woman was now seen and respected as a wise elder of the community.
In today's society, there are a lot of demands that are placed on girls and women. There is school, families, social gatherings, extracurricular activities, relationships, work, household chores and responsibilities, yet there is still so much importance and beauty to your cycle. This is a time when your body is cleansing, cleaning out old toxins and releasing emotions that had occurred from the previous month's cycle. It is a time for rejuvenation and a time to set intentions for a new, fresh start!
You may feel you have less energy at the first day or two that you bleed and it is important for you listen to how you are feeling and the signs your body is telling you. During the middle of your cycle, at ovulation, when you are most fertile, usually around days 12-14 you may feel you have much more energy and inspiration so this is a great time to plan to do more social and productive things! On your first few days of your cycle (the first few days you begin to bleed), your body may be giving you signs to rest or to spend some time alone or you may feel like you are getting sick. These are messages from your body telling you to slow down and nurture yourself. If you feel to, spend some time alone in nature or in your room. Maybe go for a walk. Perhaps make the time to have a relaxing bath with a few drops of lavender oil or clary sage oil which help ease cramps. Eat dark chocolate (which contains magnesium which also helps ease cramps) and your favorite healthy nourishing warm meal for the strength your body is needing especially during this special time of your cycle.
As females, we bleed in relationship with the moon, which is approximately a 29 day lunar cycle from new moon to full moon, as is our menstrual cycle. The average menstrual cycle is 29.5 days. This is why many call this time, instead of your period, your Moontime. Every Moontime is so special, it is a time to slow down, listen to your intuition, and take care of yourself. Your hormones are changing and there is a lot happening in your body and brain. You may be feeling more sensitive the days leading up to and during your moon time. There are several ways you can prepare for this special time each month. You can make cloth pads which are reusable. You may choose to carry lavender, rose or clary sage essential oils with you, and when you like, have a smell or put some on your wrists, heart, and behind your neck for a calming and soothing effect. You can drink herbal teas, (blending nettles, raspberry leaf, chamomile and lemon balm in a pot is one of my favorite blends) and place a hot water bottle on your belly to help soothe menstrual cramps. Perhaps pick up a good book and read about this special time of your cycle, or paint, write, do gentle yoga and listen to some relaxing music you enjoy.
~Lie down in a comfortable position.
~Take several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your nose, feeling your belly rise with each inhale and your belly lower with each exhale.
~Place your hands below your belly button over your pelvic region. When you feel relaxed and ready, silently or out loud ask your womb (the female organ where fetuses grow and if not pregnant, where the blood sheds from the lining of this powerful life-sustaining organ) what it is wanting or needing right now.
~You may or may not receive any clear answer and whatever happens is perfect.
~You can rest in this space for as long as you like. You can write down the answers you receive from your body's wisdom.
~Take action by taking the steps to follow whatever guidance you received.
You can do this activity any time, if you're bleeding or not. Doing this helps you tap into your that wise intuition of yours to discover what is best for you, while giving yourself the love and respect you deserve, because you ultimately know what is best for you!