I’m in my forties now. I am writing this in the hope that some of my wisdom and experiences in the past few decades as a woman, rather than a girl, will help others. The past few months I have attended a fertility conference and several days at the Reproductive Health Group, a fertility centre based in Daresbury near Warrington and just off Junction 11 of the M56 in Cheshire. I am a complementary therapist and although professional I always like to connect the personal to my work. We’re all wandering this Earth, one human species and sometimes it’s baffling. Often what is out there in terms of information is obtuse and disconnected with its clinical subjectivity whereas what we often need is to understand deeper truth and connect with each other on a more profound objective yet experiential level. This is going to be a little bit graphic and yet for half the human race this is what many of us experience. For some of you this may not be your normal as many women are struggling with conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, PCOS and other fertility aspects or may be taking birth control and so on. If this is you, I hope you will understand I am writing of my experiences and hope this will inspire you to share your own to support other women.
I remember the first day I menstruated in my life was back in science class at high school. I remember sitting there and feeling rather strange and despite learning all the theory about menstruation, I was still quite shocked and horrified when I got home and realised I had menstrual blood in my knickers (underwear). I was grossed out and also felt emotionally that I couldn’t handle that aspect of puberty, leaving the little girl I was behind and somehow feeling that my childhood was being bled from me as I entered puberty and became an adult. The mess of menstruation seemed unfair and unnecessary. I’d learned all about it and indeed many other girls had started earlier than I had but it still seemed wrong that once a month a mess of blood would appear to indicate that somehow I was now maturing when I wasn’t even interested in boys nor babies.
Sex education back then was rather theoretical and despite the fact that I did science GCSEs (and later A level Biology) at school my menstrual cycle was still somewhat of a mystery as it pertained on a personal level to me. As for ovulation that was something that I had no idea of at all in terms of how it felt and looked personal to me, other than my mother mentioning “Do you get a jelly?” I had very heavy periods in my teens and was put on The Pill (notice capitals) in my early twenties in order to help regulate them. However, I didn’t do that for long as I ended up with a side effect of developing a breast lump, which thankfully turned out to be benign. Now with wisdom and knowledge I know that being put on The Pill and taking it was one of the worst mistakes I could make and yet this still is done today to many young women who have no clue that if you have heavy periods or period issues then there is much that can be done by changing your lifestyle and food choices.
Ovulation was another level of understanding, like a Mystery club that required secret passwords and mystical women to induct me into its knowledge base. I remember realising that i did indeed get that jelly and despite reading about FSH and ovulation in science textbooks I didn’t fully grasp its personal implications. I became a mother for the first time in my late twenties and became pregnant rather quickly and with such ease that at first I had no idea that my ‘food poisoning’ following the Easter weekend in 2001 was in fact the early stages of morning sickness. My daughter was born at home in December 2001 in what was a beautiful and easy birth (even though I had HG for the first 6 months of my pregnancy). Some of the mothers and midwives who had inspired me to opt out of a hospital birth and instead choose a very natural, holistic and pleasant home birth experience led by two midwives who had seen me all the way through the pregnancy enabled me to discover the joys of understanding ovulation. Whereas menstruation when I was younger had been a horror show of blood clots and cramps and wished it was something that would go away, once I understood the cycle of menstruation and ovulation and its differences between physical and emotional signs it became so much more joyful to experience both.
PMS presents itself physically with wobble, wobbly flesh on my legs, my breasts more tender and full in shape. With PMS I feel more clumsy and tearful but that’s when I realised I had more empathy and intuition available to me. During PMS I care so greatly and tears often fall as I allow myself to connect with feelings. With ovulation I sensed a different type of being, more sensual, more powerful. I felt menstruation with its expellation of the lining of the womb whereas ovulation I felt sensually charged and my skin change to the point even my face felt more beautiful and wishing it would stay like that for the rest of the month. I become more toned and I notice how my inside feels. The outer swellings I experienced during ovulation and the need to draw in rather than expel are strong and from conversations with other women who have shared (many of which were in home education days with women like me who had opted out of the conventional systems and who were ‘crunchy’ enough to discuss ovulation rather than makeup).
On my client intake forms I do have a where are you in your menstrual cycle question. I’ve since my thirties logged my menstrual cycle and also my ovulatory cycle in my diary. I am now surprised how many of my female clients and friends and family do not know where they are in their ovulatory cycle. It’s really important to know.
I’ve recently had an ovarian cyst and that caused me some issues before resolving. Because I knew my cycle so well it enabled me to work through some things and it means as I enter my peri-menopause time I’ve got a better understanding of my physical and emotional wellbeing, all of which are affected by the hormones related to menstruation AND ovulation.
To be continued (I’m going to edit this so consider this a first draft)….