I remember the days leading up to my first period and when it happened very well. I was 10 years old, and for a week before it happened I felt really under the weather. Lead up to the day it happened and I was so sick, with such excruciating cramping that I threw up. We were out shopping at Terra Greenhouses, it was August and it was boiling hot. My mum wanted some new plants for the garden that she was constantly tending to and so she took me and my eight year old brother with her. I usually wandered up and down the rows of plants by myself appreciating the little details. But today I found myself hunched over and crying in the bathroom stall.
Photo source: Pinterest
The cramps got to be so bad I went to the bathroom thinking I was going to throw up again like the day before, but nothing. I remember sitting down to pee and wiping and when I saw that blood I immediately got excited. Yes, I just said excited. I, unlike most young girls, knew EXACTLY what a period was - I wasn't just a little kid anymore, I was a woman. You see, maybe two years early my mother got her period one month and it was extremely heavy and uncomfortable like usual - but I asked her what was going on. Her stance was always "if you're old enough to ask the question, you are old enough for the answer" - so I got a very detailed discussion with visual aids. It was like a scene out of one of those old kotex commercials where they pour the blue water on a pad or soak a tampon. Yeah one of those.
So when I saw the blood I wasn't horrified, I didn't think I was dying and I ran out to my mother to tell her the good news. Well we needed to go get me some supplies, so off we went to Shopper's Drug Mart with my little brother in tow roaming down the feminine hygiene aisles looking for what I needed. We purchased a pack of pads and my little brother started yelling and laughing at me "Jedrah needs diapers, she needs diapers". Needless to say I was MORTIFIED. And then September hit, we were back at school and over the summer I got my period and my boobs. Queue being made fun of.
Photo source: @carlymorgangross
I had pads in my bag, I was wearing a bra. I was made fun of by the girls and the boys. It was very unfortunate looking back, because I lucked out with a mama that gave me the knowledge to be prepared and didn't make me feel like it was a disgusting thing to hide and yet here I was feeling less than, abnormal and gross. And that feeling stayed with me for years. My excitement for this precious milestone in my life quickly faded from view, and continued to fade until the pain, dysmenorrhea, cysts, and endometriosis completely clouded the memory.
By the time I was 13 years old, I was on the birth control pill for horrible acne and cramps that kept me off school for a week at a time. It only continued to get worse as I got migraines from the birth control, nausea, and an almost non-existent period. But I thought this was great - barely bleeding, no cramps, my skin cleared up. It wasn't until I was old enough to be having sex that I realized the birth control killed my libido, affected my taste in men, gave me even worse mood swings, packed on the pounds and gave me migraines. It wasn't until I broke up with a shitty boyfriend that I realized the birth control was a huge issue for me. I stopped taking it, and within a month met my now husband. Life was great. I felt amazing, other than the excruciating cramps once a month and the extremely heavy bleeding. I had a sex drive, I had energy. It was awesome.
Photo source: @carlymorgangross
As we became more serious, it became more apparent we needed another method of birth control. This was before I knew about fertility awareness method, or how my cycle actually worked. So we talked, and I went back on the pill. Within a month, my sex drive was gone. I had severe migraines and nausea. And I was fucking miserable. My doctor even wanted to put me on anti-depressants. But I had other plans. I said no more birth control and I've been on a different path ever since.
It wasn't until I had completely eliminated the birth control that I realized how deeply my womb and cycle were in crisis. It was at this time that I started bleeding more days out of the month that I wasn't and the amount of blood was absolutely insane. I remember going through a super tampon, an overnight pad AND my underwear and pants in an HOUR. Let me just tell you - this is not normal. So I started seeing doctors, who kept suggesting the birth control pill or an IUD. They never even suggested an ultrasound to see if anything was up.
Until one day my period just stopped. Poof. Out of nowhere, gone. Two weeks passed after my expected period, and then three, and then four. And that's when the pregnancy test came out. Negative. Weird. I had weird food aversions and cravings (raw chicken as a vegetarian counts eh?), I had enormous boobs, I was exhausted. So I went to a walk in clinic, as my family doctor was 2 hours away and got shamed for A) not being on birth control and B) having sex knowing that there was a chance of pregnancy. The doctor literally asked me "were you and your boyfriend trying to conceive?" No asshole, I wasn't. I got a 20 minute lecture about safe sex (we had used a condom), before he would even let me pee in a cup. An hour of feeling not only slut shamed and stupid, I got another negative response. But I wasn't convinced. In tears, I called my family doctor and drove to see her instead.
I got sent for blood work and then for an ultrasound. On the day I went for my ultrasound, I got a call from the doctor. Yup. Pregnant. But we have some unfortunate news. I was miscarrying and I had two ovarian cysts to top it all off. Not even three hours later, I was bleeding. And I would bleed uncontrollably for 32 days.
Photo source: my personal collection
It wasn't until I passed out when I came home from work one day that I went to the hospital. I was put into triage, and categorized as a low priority. Until 30 minutes later I went to the nurse and asked for new pants or scrubs or even a towel. I was moved into a room where I waited for a doctor. While I waited, my blood spread around the exam table. I was covered. The table was covered. It looked like a scene out of a horror film. They needed to run some tests. By tests they meant blood work to make sure I wasn't bleeding to death. It took three nurses, 11 tries to take my blood and administer an IV with fluids. I fell asleep waiting for the results.
They turned out surprisingly OK. They were shocked that my blood levels were as good as they were, albeit not wonderful, and that I was only slightly low in iron. I was good to go for the night with a prescription for tranexamic acid to stop the bleeding and an appointment for an ultrasound the next day. The ultrasound request said : check for possible fibroids. I remember taking the prescription with a fervour even with my great dislike of pharmaceuticals, and being relieved when within 24 hours the bleeding slowed, and 48 hours later stopped.
The next day waiting for those results was exhausting. The doctor in the ER said endometriosis. I didn't even know what the heck that was. As I googled and listened to him speak I just couldn't help crying. Do you know how dismal the google searches for endometriosis are? Pretty bad. Infertility. Heavy bleeding. Pain all the time. Surgery. The words just are pretty horrible. It was in this moment and the months to follow that although I was devastated, sad and horribly unoptimistic , knew that there had to be a better way. And oh goddess, I was right.
Photo source: my personal collection
Flash forward to this month where I had a five day period, cramping that was manageable with rest and heat, a migraine on my peak day and a period held with just a diva cup. A period where I was excited and open to my source. Where I collected my blood and noticed its beauty. That beautiful cranberry colour (this is the colour you want it to be by the way). Where I bled so little I couldn't get a decent picture of it to share. The downloads I received and the juicy lessons that arrived in my heart space. The sensuality of it. And the desire. Yes - you can be horny on your period, its a thing. Did I mention orgasms are amazing for cramps. You're welcome.
And here is the divine lesson I learned from all of this: the only way to find bliss in this female form is to embrace fully your moon cycle. To honour your cyclical nature. To pay attention to your bodies queues. To embrace sensuality as a practice that enlivens your soul, and heals your relationship to your womb.
To do this requires a few things:
Photo source: @carlymorgangross
+ A willingness to explore and accept that there is another way. To release your limiting beliefs that its weird or wrong to have a period.
+ Accepting that your period is a beautiful time for growth, release and detoxification.
+ Stepping into the shadow side and acknowledging where you are holding on to pain, shame and guilt.
+ Owning your sensuality and getting to know your body, your breasts, your womb space.
+ Slowing down and tuning in to the vibration that you emit, and noticing how it changes each day and month.
Here are my fave tools to embody during your period and throughout the month to ensure a happy period:
1. Cycle syncing - this is when you eat certain foods at certain points of your cycle, move your body in particular ways, and approach your self care depending on whether you are in your menstrual, follicular, ovulatory or luteal phase of your cycle. A great app for this is myFLO, it just reminded me that I'm now in my follicular phase. The app gives you the low down on how your hormones are doing, what your focus will naturally be on, exercise ideas, food suggestions and even love suggestions. The best part - if you have a super supportive partner, the app will email them as you enter a new phase to give them the low down too. They know what to expect out of you, and how best to support you.
2. Healing your relationship to your yoni and your womb. I did this in three ways : a yoni egg practice, my rose quartz yoni wand, and gazing. A yoni egg is a beautiful egg shaped stone that you place in your vagina and use to tone and strengthen the muscles of your vaginal walls and pelvic floor. It helps increase lubrication, reduces menstrual cramps, increases libido, awakens the neural pathways between the vagina and the brain, improves the quality of your orgasms and increases your orgasmic potential, promotes glowing skin, higher energy levels, creates a deep connection between your heart, brain and yoni, improves your relationship to self and so much more. I use this in conjunction with my rose quartz Chakrub to heal my feminine system and release old programming in my body. You can choose different stones and crystals for different healing properties as well. Gazing is getting to know your yoni and becoming more acquainted with your vagina. My tip: get a really gorgeous hand mirror and take a good look. You would be surprised at how much shame and inhibitions you release when you see how beautiful this part of you actually is.
Photo source: @jedrahallen
3. Essential oils. I use these both for the hormonal support they offer, the high vibes they give and the amplification they give to my feminine essence. My faves are rose, jasmine, neroli, clary sage, geranium, ylang ylang, lavender + frankincense. I also love doterra's blends whisper and clarycalm. In a pinch, I also love using Saje's moon cycle and solace.
4. Natural feminine hygiene products + my diva cup. There are so many nasty ingredients in conventional tampons and pads - highly processed cotton, chemicals in the processing, just yuck. So when I was balancing my hormones I switched to a diva cup (less waste, more savings, lets you get up close and personal with your flow and more in tune with how heavy or light you are bleeding - the look of your menstrual blood tells you a lot about your hormonal health) and natural pads and tampons. My fave brand is Natracare. My next products to try are a couple more cups and SheThinx period underwear.
5. Breast massage - first because it feels good. Second because it awakens the neural pathways between your heart and yoni. It relieves pain and discomfort during your menstrual cycle, as well as easing the flow, is a detox for the lymphatic system, transforms your relationship to your body, connects you to your turn on, and helps you unlock sexual energy. Also if you are anything like me the week before your period, your breasts become a little (or a lot) tender. A little massage feels AH mazing.
Photo source: @jedrahallen
6. The final thing I'm going to share here is hot baths. I LOVE getting into a bath with 1 cup of epsom salt and some essential oils. My current menstrual cycle blend is 5 drops aroma touch and 3-5 drops frankincense. It gets deep into my muscles and I feel so much tension just fall off. I light candles, I dim the lights, I play music. I am currently loving Connie Chapman's Slow Down + Tune In playlist on Spotify. Its so zen.
I have so many juicy nuggets of wisdom to share, so I created a course for you! I created Reclaim the Wild Woman for every woman to tap back into their feminine essence and truly embrace their moon cycle. We're going to go deeeeeep. I can't wait to show up for any beautiful goddess who feels called to do this work. Its been on my heart for months and I decided to just go for it. We start January 1st, but enrolment opened today! You can click here: Reclaim the Wild Woman if you want to learn more or join. AND if you want a chance to win a free seat follow me on instagram for a contest + sign up for my emails for details love.