What You Never Learned About Your Period
and wish you would have known a long time ago!
By Jamie Rathjen, M.A., C.F.C.P
“Congratulations!” my mom exclaimed as I sheepishly told her that I had just gotten my period. My face flushed and I tried to signal to my mother through telepathy for her to keep her voice down. I did NOT want my dad and brothers to know what was happening to me. It was bad enough that I had distractingly skinny ankles, a full set of braces, hair that I couldn’t control, and acne sprawling across my forehead and down my neck. I could hardly handle my middle school-year-old self, and now plop my period on top of the pie of insecurity?! Nu-uh! No siree, sign me up NEXT year, I am not ready for this!
Later that same day my mom decided to make my entrance into womanhood official by taking me out on a mother/daughter date. I remember wanting to shrink into the booth as my mother and I viewed the Chinese restaurant menu. Our family would always celebrate big moments with Chinese food. The sticky rice and mixed vegetables would normally make my mouth salivate, but that day, as my mom excitedly sat across from me, wanting to talk about womanly things, I wanted to crawl into a hole..and eat worms instead.
I vividly remember this moment now as I write this blog post. I recall feeling embarrassed, unsure, and insecure about my transition to womanhood. What I wish I would have known then is that the period is an amazing blessing. If I had thought of the period in middle school as a feminine superpower and as a tool to help me understand the orchestra of my hormones, I don’t think I would have been as weirded out by it. Can you relate?
Take a moment now and read through three amazing facts about your period that you likely were never taught.
1. Your Period tells a story
There is a reason we use a “period” at the end of a sentence, it tells the reader that the sentence is complete. In the same way, our period does the same thing. You may be thinking to yourself, “Wait a second. I thought the period marks the beginning of a new cycle.” If you are thinking this, give yourself a hug because you are right! The beginning of your period does indicate the onset of a new cycle, but the period also tells us a story about the cycle you just completed.
For example, if your period is heavy (meaning you soak a super tampon in an hour and this occurs at least four times in one day), it may mean you had a more than normal amount of estrogen the cycle prior, it may also be an indication of other health issues that you would want to make a medical appointment for. Or, if your period is light (meaning you could get away with a panty liner), it may mean it is not actually a period at all! A period follows an ovulatory event, and if the period doesn’t follow a ski slope or a high to low pattern, then it likely means there was something fishy going on from the cycle before. Painful periods? Brown bleeding before your period or right after? All of these instances give us information about your hormones. The “story” of the cycle prior can often be understood simply by assessing the period flow, and it may also give you vital information about underlying issues that should be addressed by a medical professional.
This is the tip of the iceberg my friends, but the great news is that there are plenty of people who are devoted to working with you to chart that beautiful cycle of yours, even if it has been a major “pain.” No birth control pills, patches, shots, etc necessary. Truly! You do NOT need to alter your design if you are struggling with your period. There are medical providers who view the dignity of intentionality of the body in the same way as you do. Please reach out to your nearest Guiding Star Center for more information.
2. It’s not all about the period
So, while the title of this blog post indicates that this write-up is all about the period, I need to be totally transparent with you–it’s not! If I could have it my way, the title would have read, “What You Never Learned About Your Period, Your Hormones, Your Cervical Mucus, Your Libido, Your Appetite, Your Mood, Your Digestion, Your Immune Immune System, Your…” Because when it boils down to it, your period is only a partial player of this whole woman’s cycle discussion. Interesting, right?
In middle school, when I was witness to “the talk” about our period and our changing body, I left the talk believing that I needed to be in watch mode for this bleeding episode that would likely creep up on me with no warning. Blood comes out of where?! My friends and I were mortified, so much so that any additional indicators of feminine health during the session flew in one ear and out the other. What I never learned (or maybe I was too stunned to absorb at the time) was that my body actually gave me signals of fertility, even before the onset of my first period. Not only that, but these signs of vitality and fertility occur a couple weeks before the bleeding even begins throughout the entire reproductive life! You may be wondering what I am referring to–it’s mucus, my friends, mucus.
Mid-cycle (about a couple weeks before your period), it is healthy and normal for women to experience cervical mucus that often starts as sticky and cloudy and transitions to lubricative, clear, and/or stretchy. This mucus indicates increased estrogen (a hormone produced by the ovaries) and also indicates to the woman that she will be ovulating soon. Perhaps you can recall times when you noticed not a “red flow” coming from you but a “white flow!” This “white flow” is the cervical mucus I am referring to. Many women mistake this sign of health and fertility as an infection. Even worse, I have heard of occasions where women would go to their doctor, share with them their observation of having weird discharge mid-cycle only to be put on the pill. Ladies, cervical mucus is a sign of health!
After ovulation occurs, the mucus dries up due to increasing progesterone (which is produced in the ovaries), and about two weeks later, the woman experiences her period again (unless she becomes pregnant). These signs of fertility, such as the “red flow” (the period) and the “white flow” is a way in which our body communicates the story of our hormones but also the story of our natural times of fertility and infertility.
3. No pills necessary
It is likely that there may be women reading this article who are using some form of birth control to either regulate family size or to manage their cycles. If this is you, I am so excited that you are reading this! You ladies are the reason I do what I do! I want to share an alternate way to meet your same goals in a healthy more life-giving way.
Briefly, I will review how the pill does not fix your period. If you would like to learn more about this, again, please reach out to the Guiding Star Project and they will connect you with a medical provider who will get to the root cause of whatever is causing your period problems.
Hormonal birth control acts as a bandaid. This is the key reason I would encourage you to discontinue your pill taking asap (again, medical consultation is available to you!). If you are taking the pill (or whatever version of hormonal contraception) in hope to ease your period problems, unfortunately, the pill is only masking the actual issue. The moment you discontinue taking the pill (or whatever form you may be on) your problem will rear its ugly head again, and likely some additional issues caused by the pill. As I had stated earlier on in this post, our body tells us a story, and sometimes the way it communicates to us is through pain, irregularity, fatigue, acne, and a million other things. If this “noise” is being covered up by the pill, then there may be major issues you are covering up. The good news is that there is hope!
What does freedom from the pill look like?
- Not needing to take a pill everyday
- No more side effects
- An understanding of your health and well-being through the assessment of your hormone cycle
Perhaps this whole time you believed there were no other options. I am here today to tell you, friend, that you are in luck! There are a tribe of medical doctors, and support professionals to journey alongside you as you ditch the pill and address the root causes of your period problem.
This article reviewed the three things you were likely never told about your period. My hope is that your mind was enlightened and your heart was ignited. Because after all, your body tells a story, friend, and you play the lead role.
Jamie Rathjen, MA, CFCP — “Fiat,” or “let it be done to me according to your will” (Luke 1:38) is Jamie’s life verse and inspiration for her work as a speaker and as a Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner. Jamie earned her Master’s degree in Community Health Education where she studied the effectiveness of fertility awareness methods and how little they are discussed in medical settings. Jamie now makes it her mission to educate women and couples on the truths of their fertility and the benefits these natural methods will have on women’s health and in marital relationships.
Jamie’s work as founder of Guiding Star Cedar Valley, Fiat FertilityCare Center, and founder/owner of FIATfem, was through the inspiration of Our Lady of Guadalupe. After praying one night for the name she was to give her ministry, “fiat” fell into her mind. She felt a personal invitation from the Lord to share the truth about God’s creation with all who would listen. God invited her to say “fiat” or “yes” to his request by assisting couples to say “yes” to their bodies and to children that come from them.
Jamie is a wife and mother of three children, and resides in Cedar Falls, IA.