Updated: Nov 21, 2019
I still recall my menarche. It is easier for me to identify it by the things it was not; It was not welcomed with a celebratory ceremony by the women in my community, neither was it an event I knew was coming. It was not a sign of pride by entering womanhood, but rather a “thing” I kept as a secret for as long as I could. I thought I was cursed at first. That this event was going to happen once and no more. -Funny, I know- Few months later and BOOM! There was it again!
I felt isolated from my own body for many years, as I did not understand the changes that were happening. I was 11 years old when I had my first period. The only student in the classroom that flourished too soon, and bloomed too fast. The only student who did not have “The Period Talk” until it was too late. I felt cheated by the educational system, the women in my community, and my friends for keeping me in the dark about what was going on in my body. I carried that burden with me for years and I was fueled with anger and shame all on my own, in the dark, and confused. I came to know that I was not alone. Thousands of women around the world shared those exact feelings I experienced. It strikes my curiosity to think of what had happened that we moved from a community of women that sat in circles and navigated their lives through the signs and biomarkers of their bodies, to knowing so little about what they mean.
Body literacy and the women’s wisdom are not modern concepts or practices, but rather an ancient knowledge that many women are starting to welcome into their lives once again. They are choosing to slow down, observe their bodies signs, and listen to the symptoms. Cycle after cycle, they begin to recognize the inner seasons of their cycles and better understand the greatest event of them; Ovulation. It seems crazy that many young girls and women do not get the appropriate education on their menstrual cycle, or worse fall in the trap of thinking of it as an “inconvenience”.
"NEWS FLASH! Approximately half the world will experience a period. On average, women have 450 periods in their lifetime! That is the equivalent to: 448 weeks of periods. 3, 139 days of periods. 70, 080 hours of periods. 8.6 years of periods!" - Demi Spaccavento
Once I started embracing my cycle and advocating for body literacy, I no longer carried the feelings of anger and shame on my shoulders, neither do I blame anyone for my experiences as a young woman. I acknowledge the rhythmic symphony between all of my hormones as I move between the phases. I chart my cycles to identify ovulation, which is a crucial event for bones, brain, breast, blood, and mental health, to name a few. Tracking my biomarkers and symptoms did not only help me identify them, but most importantly, how to better manage them each cycle. I like to think of the moment I got introduced to fertility awareness as my “True Menarche” since it was my real entrance to womanhood: celebratory, filled with pride, and shamelessly announced to the world.
There is no doubt that body literacy and the menstrual cycle awareness are every woman’s right. I know that you strive to have the best cyclic experience, pain free, symptom free, with healthy hormones and better periods. Demi Spaccavento’s book The Bright Girl Guide is a book I wish I had read before my first period. I trust that if you, or any young girl in your life pick up this book, will have a phenomenal experience in navigating your cycle, and using it to your advantage with an approach that is filled with love, empowerment, and respect.
To get your copy، press here