In an article written two years ago, I expressed how I feel while experiencing my menstrual cycle. My body, emotions, and feelings vary according to the stage. During the first semester of this year, I experienced another phase when I missed my period for over 4 months. It was a bumpy ride; however, once more I learned about my body, my cycle and how to embrace it.
In our society, a lot of times we don’t talk about these issues openly because we are ashamed of being judged, or think it is something mainly private. However, what I learned is that it’s better to talk about it because it feels good to express your feeling and thoughts as an individual no matter your age, race, religion, nationality, and so on. As well, this can also help us to learn from someone else’s experience.
After facing those difficult months, I thought it was necessary to write about this topic once more because it’s something normal that occurs to each girl and woman. I believe we need to break the silence, tabu, and myths that society have been built concerning this topic. The menstrual cycle is not an issue to be ashamed of; on the contrary, we should be proud to talk about it because it is one of the rights girls and women have.
A woman’s menstrual cycle is a natural biological experience that occurs every 28 or more days and involves changes in two organs: the ovary and the uterus. The menstrual cycle varies depending on the process of neuroendocrine functions (Boron, 2017).
Moreover, the menstrual cycle is the process “where women are tightly controlled by endocrine, autocrine and paracrine factors regulating ovarian follicular development, ovulation, luteinization, luteolysis, and remodelling of the endometrium” (Mihm, Gangooly, & Muttukrishna, 2011).
The menstrual cycle has four phases:
These phases vary for each woman. Unfortunately, the menstruation phase is what is more commonly discussed in our society; however, each one is important for women’s mental and physical feelings. In a workshop about our menstrual cycle with Carmen Lorenza, a menstrual educator I learned that each phase is like one of the four weather seasons of the year: winter (menstrual), spring (follicular), summer (ovulation), and autumn (luteal). Each season has charms, temperature, light, darkness, and benefits. Likewise, the menstrual cycle phases also have.
“Menstrual bleeding is the external symptom of cyclicity in women and occurs at the end of the luteal and the beginning of the follicular phase” (Mihm, Gangooly, & Muttukrishna, 2011). This process has a length of 3-6 days. During this period the woman liberates blood, cells, and mucus.
The follicular phase occurs during the first period of the day and ends with ovulation. Next, is ovulation, where the matured egg is released from the ovary. It occurs around two weeks or just before the menstruation phase. The last stage is luteal, which is the stage where the egg bursts from its follicle but remains on the surface of the ovary. This follicle is transformed into a corpus luteum.
As how I mentioned before, many times we hear and read about myths related to the menstrual phase. In many cultures, girls and women are isolated during their menstrual period because they are considered impure and ill, which does not permit them to interact with the rest of the society, such as not attending school, doing home duties, exercising, and so on.
Several articles from the WaterAid Organization reveal that girls who have their period in Iran, Nepal, and other countries are not allowed to go inside their house, touch their sister or grandmother, and so on. However, the articles also show that girls are more aware of their rights and are working to end the stigma about their period.
To break some of these myths and raise awareness of menstrual rights, Rebeca Lane, who is one of my favourite singers, has a campaign for girls to know about their menstruation. Along with other artists, she wrote and animated a music video titled Flores Rojas, where she stresses that our period is normal and thus, we don’t need to hide it, be ashamed or be punished. Besides the music video, the project also includes murals in public spaces and other activities, which are organized by non-profit organizations.
We need to talk about our menstrual cycle as a natural topic, it needs to be included in the education system curriculum, but most of all we need to stop stereotypes and assumptions about the entire process.
It feels good to regain my regular menstrual period after experiencing a temporal absence of it. Today I am in my autumn season. In what stage of your cycle are you now?