For many years, period education has been less than what we deserve.
Girls and women feel shame around their period, but there are ways that we can improve education for us and our girls. We deserve to know and understand better.
In this episode, I share 6 ways that each one of us can do better to educate ourselves and the next generation.
Make sure to join me inside the Hormone Health Academy with 50% off when using this code: HHA50. Read more here: www.vandghie.com/hha
Hello again and welcome to episode 15 of Beauty in Balance.
I’m delighted to have you here again today.
I’m just reminded again this week of how incredibly privileged I am to be sharing this journey of discovery with you all.
You know, I never understood my body until well into my 30s and I know this is the reality and truth for most women out there.
But one lady at a time, we can change this.
And you can help me do just that by sharing your favourite episode of my podcast with at least one other lady today.
So many women suffer from the effects of hormone imbalance.
And because they don’t understand their menstrual and hormonal cycles, they don’t even know that the root cause of all of the fatigue, weight issues, brain fog, anxiety, depression, sleep issues, all of this, the root cause is their hormones.
Which brings me to today’s topic.
The absolute minefield of menstrual cycle and reproductive health education.
When I was 12 years old, me and a group of my friends were at a friend’s house. I just remember going to the toilet and being utterly shocked when I found blood in my underwear and had no idea what was going on. I rang my mum to come get me and she then briefly explained to me that was normal for girls my age and that it means that my body is now getting ready to carry babies.
I had no idea how it worked, what it was and felt shame from the first day I had my period, because it was not something that was talked about.
Even as I’m telling you about the first time I had my period, I feel vulnerable.
In her essay “If men could menstruate”, Gloria Steinem creates an interesting but true picture. She writes:
“What would happen, for instance, if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not? The answer is clear—menstruation would become an enviable, boast-worthy, masculine event: Men would brag about how long and how much. Boys would mark the onset of menses, that longed-for proof of manhood, with religious ritual and stag parties. TV shows would treat the subject at length. So would newspapers. And movies.”
Although we would never know if this would have been the case, I have a feeling that this is not far off.
So why are we, as women, not celebrating the onset of menses?
Why are we associating our periods with shame?
I believe that the tide IS starting to shift, but we have a long way to go.
When I learned in my thirties how important my period and underlying hormone health is, I felt confused as to why this is not taught to girls well before puberty.
Why is the medical profession and education not doing more to educate girls on this very important topic that affects everything?
So as you know, I make it my mission to educate as many women as possible, and hopefully, the experience will be very different for the generations to come.
I think if we see periods differently, our approach in education would be completely different. Have you ever thought that, if women stopped menstruating, there would be no next generation? That’s how important your period and menstrual cycle is. The entire human race is dependent on it!
So what kind of education do we need?
Well, I think for a start, we need to move away from the position that periods are punishment and a curse.
We generally associate our periods with inconvenience, discomfort and negative feelings.
But the reality is, if we understand and respect our needs as a female, we can learn to embrace and celebrate our periods.
We can understand that our bodies need more care and pampering during this phase of the cycle and we can fulfil those needs.
Secondly, I’m very much of the opinion that not only does our education need to focus on girls and helping them understand their bodies, but it should extend to our boys so they can understand and respect the female body.
At the age of 9, we sat our boy down and explained to him how the male and female physiology is different and how a girl's body works.
He asked questions and we gave answers at a very basic level, appropriate for his age.
We didn’t do any awkward ‘birds and bees’ discussion. Rather, we saw it as an opportunity to educate and create an awe and respect for the human body.
We used physiological terms and made it very facts based.
The result is that there is no weirdness in our house around periods and my boy respects his sister and has compassion and understanding for how her body works. And I love that.
And best of all, I can see that my daughter has NEVER associated her periods with shame ever! And I truly believe this is because periods have been normalised through understanding the physiology. Something that is normal, beautifully created and is healthy.
I want to encourage you to do the same. This can feel incredibly overwhelming, but it’s probably because you might not understand it yourself.
So make an effort to get all the information that you feel brings a level of confidence and be willing to learn alongside your kids. Research the facts and grow together. Remember, we are responsible for creating the mindset around the female body. We teach our kids how to feel about themselves, and if they are girls, how they feel about their periods.
Thirdly, I believe it is important for us to teach our girls how to look after their vaginal health by teaching them to not use scented body wash and what period products are safe and healthy to use.
Make sure all body products that are used are free of chemicals and specifically fragrances.
Also, with all period products, make sure you use 100% organic cotton pads and tampons, but also investigate the use of period panties which are reusable and also silicone menstrual cups.
Good hygiene is really important so educating our girls on this is a must.
Fourthly, I believe it is vital that we are educated on the importance of nutrition and lifestyle and the impact it can have on menstrual cycles.
Good nutrition is the foundation of healthy menstrual cycles and nutrition should also be adjusted for the 4 different phases of the menstrual cycle to make sure you provide your body with the specific nutrients that it needs.
Research shows for instance that a high intake of animal foods, specifically dairy, can lead to heavier and more painful periods.
So a good foundational diet can mean the difference between a period that shows up with no drama and one that has you flat in bed for a day or 2.
Moving on to number 5, I believe we need to denormalize painful, heavy periods.
Unfortunately, this is so common, that most women believe it’s normal and something we just have to live with.
Even most medical professionals will have you believe that you just need to live through it.
But pain that requires pain medication is not normal and is likely to indicate an underlying issue.
Research shows that women with PCOS, Endometriosis and cysts experienced pain during menstruation for many years before their diagnosis.
Pain is generally an indication that somehting is brewing under the surface and if we know to pay attention to that early on, early detection can lead to better outcomes for women.
And lastly, we need better education around treating your menstrual cycle and period as the fifth vital sign.
Teaching girls from a young age to track their menstrual cycles, including physical and emotional symptoms, can go a very long way in maintaining overall health.
It can lead to early detection of serious illness and iomprove outcomes. It will also teach girls to take better care of themselves as they will experience the effects of certain lifestyle choices first hand. They will experience how a few days of high stress or a lack of selfcare will affect their menstrual cycle and they’ll learn early on how to prevent abnormal menstrual cycles.
So those are the 6 main areas of education that I believe we need around periods and womens health. Destigmatizing discussion and education about periods and reproductive health empowers both us and our youth. It is our birthright to understand our bodies and how to best “steer the ship.”
Although this is a passion of mine and I do my best to educate women around the world, I believe that each one of us have a responsibility to bring that change. There are things that you can do every day to bring that positive change.
Speaking openly and positively about the menstrual cycle. This means also having face to face discussions with our kids—regardless of gender— about periods well in advance of typical first-menses age, which is between the ages of 10 and 15.
Normalising periods. Some examples could include telling your best friend that you need to reschedule your lunch date because you’re on your period and need to rest. Or, buying period products in front of family members at the grocery store.
Stop using euphemisms. Terms like “shark week,” “that time of the month” and “code red” might seem innocuous but they contribute to the secrecy and shame around periods.
Getting yourself and/or your children quality period and reproductive education from a professional. There is zero shame in learning about your body as an adult. If you missed out on this as a teenager, now is the time to make that right.
With that, I would love to invite you to join the Hormone Health Academy.
The goal of this program is holistic health, starting with hormonal health. But the key to complete healing of body and mind, is holistic healing.
We need to address all possible things that will have an impact on you as a whole being. These include
And also the dreams that you have for yourself as a person, but also for your children and family.
The Hormone Health Academy is an 8-week lifechanging experience of learning to care for and love yourself first, so you can have in overflow to give to those around you that you love.
It will also empower you to understand your menstrual cycle and how to adjust your nutrition, exercise and lifestyle around your cycle, so you can actually use your menstrual cycle as your superpower.
No more heavy, painful or irregular periods.
I truly believe that every women, from the age of 9, should be involved in a program like this.
The 8 weeks will cover the following:
Week 1 you’ll complete a hormone assessment to understand where you are at. We’ll talk through imbalance at what that looks like. You’ll get to know YOU and what your starting point is. You’ll get to understand the inner workings of your hormones
During week 2, I’ll teach you how to get to know your menstrual cycle. What to track and what to do with the information. We’ll also discuss specific supplementation based on the needs that you’ve identified during week 1.
In week 3, we work through the importance of controlling your blood glucose and how to do this. Prepare to wave goodbye to the sweet cravings and afternoon slumps.
Week 4 will be all about GUT and Liver health. You’ll learn to understand the role they play in hormone health and how to make sure your gut and liver is healthy.
In week 5, we focus on the role that cortisol, your stress hormone, plays in hormonal imbalance. And you’ll learn techniques to manage stress to help lower those cortisol levels.
Week 6 will focus on the importance of sleep and circadian rhythms. How to improve your sleep quality and make sure your body gets enough sleep and the much needed time to recover and heal.
Week 7 will teach you how to identify and get rid of toxins in your environment. The researchers are clear on the massive impact that environmental toxins have on our hormonal health. SO it is critical to spend the time and energy to get this one right.
And finally in week 8, I’ll teach you how to permanently live in harmony with your cycle. You’ll learn how to adjust nutrition, exercise and lifestyle for each of the 4 phases of your menstrual cycle and how to live diet free for the rest of your life.
I’ll give you the power to make food choices confidently and lose the anxiety around meals and what to eat.
I’m also adding a bonus week. This is one of my favorite exercises. We’ll spend some time rediscovering the dreams you once had and now pushed away because life and family got in the way. You’ll learn how, by bringing those dreams back to life, you’ll feel a sense of purpose again. Many of my students reported that this has been lifechanging!
So why don’t you join me and make the commitment to yourself to get the education that you know you need.
It may well be time to pay attention to your period and hormones friend, so join me by going to www.vandghie.com/hha or find the link in the show notes. I can’t wait to see you on the weekly coaching calls and spend some lifechanging time with you.
Ok, that’s it from me for this week.
Again, if you haven’t yet, please share this episode with a friend or family member and help me get the word out.
Until next time