Some reflections and thoughts on unspoken aspects of female life

Menstrual Cycles, PMDD, PMS and reflections

 (A little note - I'm sharing this today on day 28 of my cycle as it feels important and true to me. This is probably one of the rawest and vulnerable shares I've done - so please tread gently)


Something that we rarely talk about, or when it is talked about it's dismissed with a laugh and a shrug. Periods. Menstruation. The Menstrual Cycle.

Like many women of my generation, as a teenager, I found a very simple, easy and practical way to ignore a "challenging" part of my person - by wiping it out. Only a couple of years after starting my period, I discovered the benefits of the pill. Skipping the sugar pills gave me the convenience of ignoring the fact that I was a female who menstruated, not just monthly - but for months and months and months at a time.

Subsequently, I spent the next 6 or so years ignoring the fact that I menstruated. Then, when I was 26, my husband and I decided to start trying for a baby. I came off the pill, and was incredibly lucky to fall pregnant on the following cycle. Over the next 8 years I was either pregnant, breastfeeding, or both. For many of those years I also used hormonal contraceptives, either the mini-pill or the Mirena, because I was terrified of falling pregnant before we were ready.

What does all of this mean, and where am I heading with this? In June 2022 I stopped breastfeeding my last baby. I had also previously had the Mirena removed so that I could grow an awareness of my body and how my body truly works.

The past 12 months have been revalatory, challenging, and rewarding, all at the same time. 12 months of close to regular menstrual cycles, when previously I really had no idea how regular or irregular my cycles were. 12 months of learning about the hormones that cycle through my body. and 12 months of learning that sometimes "that time of the month" isn't always the one everyone talks about.

Even writing this article feels incredibly uncomfortable, because society has trained us since pre-puberty that periods only happen behind closed doors. You absolutely do not talk about them in public. And, if you do need to buy any supplies to help you through "that time" you must hide it underneath everything else in the shopping basket. I truly hope that society continues to shift and develop in how we talk about and grow openness around the female menstrual cycle.

I'm not entirely sure my purpose in writing and sharing this article, but for me, I'm currently Day 28, and writing anything else feels dishonest to where I am today.

Here is a little of what I've learned in the past 12 months:

The female menstrual cycle is a lot more than "the period" or menstruation phase. While this is the visible (or maybe invisible) phase of the cycle, there are three other equally valuable phases.

A quick introduction to the menstruation phases or seasons (and my own perspective)

I also highly recommend the books: Period Queen by Lucy Peach (and her podcast), In The Flo by Alisa Vitti

Menstruation (aka winter, dream phase)
- Hormones: Levels of estrogen and progesterone are typically at their lowest
- shedding of the uterine lining
- a time to rest, recharge and reset
- approx day 1-6
- Calm
- for me, i have an overall feeling of coming home

Follicular Phase (spring, do phase)
- Hormones: Estrogen rises quickly in this phase
- energy levels increase
- ideas supercharged
- feelings of being able to do it all
- approximately day 7- 13

Ovulation Phase(summer, Give phase)
Day 14-18
Vibrant, social, sunshine. Everything seems easier
Hormones: Spike in estrogen, sudden drop immediately following ovulation.

Luteal Phase (Autumn, Take phase)
Hormones: Immediate drop in estrogen following ovulation. Increase in progesterone to support early pregnancy. If no pregnancy then progesterone continues to rise then drops when menstruation commences.
Day 19-32
Build and build of tension
Take phase - vital to recognise limits and ask for help

And then the cycle begins again and again

PMDD - Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
My own experience - Darkness, bitterness, moodswings, physical aches, headaches, critical, irrritable, no f*cks left to give.
At most extreme can include suicidal thoughts.
A severe form of PMS. Often comorbid with ADHD and Autism due to increased hormone sensitivity. 
Additional reading:,

Why did I want to share this today?

Because it's too important not to start the conversations. Every single person who reads this either is a female, or knows one. And if we don't have an open understanding, or at least the start of an understanding and a conversation about the role that the female cycles play in our wellbeing, mental health, relationships, energy, and so much more - we will continue to miss vital parts of the conversation. 

There is much much more that needs to be talked about here. However, it's 11.30pm, I need to get to bed to make sure we have food for shearers in the morning. (Yes, I realise that I should absolutely be in bed, however I was determined to stick to my bimonthly Wednesday publishing goal!)

Please share your thoughts and reflections with me - as I said - the more we open up this conversation, so we can learn with each other, the better it will be for all of us. 

In vulnerability,

Steph xx


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