Knowing Your Cycle


Holly Lo

This is an unedited Transcript

Welcome back to the Mondays podcast. I’m your host, Holly Lo. And we are in the middle of an amazing series right now all about women’s reproductive health, we’re going to take you right from your cycle health all the way through to birth, babies postpartum, even menopause, we’re going to cover it all. So enjoy, I hope you can send me your feedback and any questions as we go through this series. And we’ll do our best to just shed some light on a lot of mysteries surrounding our fertility or reproductive cycles, all of it. So what we’re talking about our cycle, right, we’ve got lots of funny names for our periods, we’ve got lots of funny, you know, even sometimes not so funny terms that are thrown at women, especially when it comes to certain times of the month, right, or hormone cycles, or periods, cycles, or menstrual cycle all of it. It has been the source of comedy, it’s been the source of derogatory terms towards women, it has been the source of all kinds of misconceptions, myths, misinformation, that has really created a story as the way I like to think of it. But it’s created a story that has been passed on through generations, it’s been shared down from women to girls, boys, unfortunately, and men have learned this Miss truth misconception for the most part, as well. And I really feel like it’s, it’s our time, it’s about time, we have more conversations about what is our cycle? What is the beauty of it, putting a positive note to what is a really incredible natural process that our bodies were designed and created to do. So I think if there’s anything we can take away from these conversations, it’s, let’s change the story. Let’s change the narrative, especially for our girls. I have a daughter, you know, I have nieces, I have all kinds of young women in my life and girls and teens. And I want this conversation to change. I want the conceptions to change, I want the ideas that are shared to shift. Not because, you know, everything that we’ve learned is untrue. Not necessarily. But because there’s been so many, just negative connotations that are shared. There’s there’s been such an overhaul, sorry, an overload needs an overhaul. But there’s been such an overload of misinformation that has been taught. And again, we’ve talked about this, you know, with Dr. Danielle and, and with other specialists, we talked about the idea that women’s concerns are rarely heard, for what they are, number one, and that might be in part why this story has been created and why it’s been continued to be shared in the way it has, is because we generally are told to just that’s just your role as a woman, that’s just what you get, as a woman, this is what you’re dealing with it, right. It’s your cycle. This is just how you have to live with it. But the truth is, is not not the case. So one of the one of the main, I think, misconceptions or the main, you know, parts of the story that I strongly want to change and I work every day to educate young women, women right up into their their, into menopause. But I want to change the idea that our cycle and our periods are painful, something to fear. Horrible, right? It’s a hated dreaded event every month. And that it’s something that we should work really hard to reduce everything, reduce all of it. Hear me up? Yes, we want to reduce conditions that are causing, you know, unusual cycles, things like PCOS and endometriosis and fibroids and cystic issues. Yes, we want to deal with those. Yes, we want to get to the root. And we want to find out why these are happening. But unfortunately, those you know, solutions, and for the most part are not being provided in a way that is a long term get to the root of the problem type of solution. It tends to be a bandaid solution. So we’ll discuss more of that, you know, we’ll go a little more in depth into some of those things on another another broadcast but today just more I want to talk more about the the norms of the story that are being shared the idea that it’s normal to be have painful periods. It’s normal to be you know, hating your period every month, it’s normal to have irregular cycles, extremely heavy cycles, it’s perfectly okay to use birth control to skip cycles.

Just, there’s so many I could go through. And it really comes down to the idea that we are not embracing the natural process of what our body is trying to do. When we take away a whole lot of things that society has put, you know, put in front of us and that we have consumed and that we have changed about our lifestyles and our diets and our exercise and all the things that we’re doing differently. When you take away all of that you’re back to the base of my body needs to do this every single month, it has to do this, it’s a normal natural process. What can I do to work with my body, as opposed to try to slow this down or, you know, stop this process? What can I do to actually work with this natural process, to embrace it, and to find comfort, and you know, a better outcome each month, a healthier outcome each month.

It ultimately is just, it’s really important that we shift the story that we shift this narrative, super important. One of the ways I think we can do that is by recognizing what is a regular cycle, this moon cycle, if you want to call it or the, you know, just the hormonal cycle of our body, it is dictated by more than just hormones is is dictated by, and amazingly enough, by the universe itself, right, we do follow a moon cycle, we do follow the pull of the water on the on the planet, we do follow the pull of the planets, it’s pretty wild, the magnetic pole that the universe has on our physical bodies. And not just women, it’s the same for men, but women, we have this absolutely incredible, beautiful, you know, goddess of the stars kind of feeling that sounds very, very woowoo out there. But it is a very powerful thing. And I feel like if we’re going to shift the story, understanding that even something as simple as our periods, or our hormonal cycles, play into that power, we have the ability to create life. Think about it, to grow and create human beings. It’s pretty wild. And not all of us have that ability, right? Not everyone does, because of things going on in our bodies. But the same can be said with our cycle. If we are not even understanding the basic mechanics of what is actually going on in there, then we we really have nothing to build on. So I think it’s important in this conversation that at an appropriate age, our kids, you know, start to understand, and I’m not just talking Girls, please teach your boys this as well. I mean, my youngest is seven, and he he’ll get moments where he’s like, lalala fingers in the ears. I don’t want to know this yet. That’s fine. That’s up to him. But my 13 year old son, he understands what a cycle is in a woman’s hormones. He understands what a period is. Not because he has to know that stuff right now. But because he has a mum, and because he has a sister and because we’re I’m open about sharing these things when they have questions. Now I don’t just go around, you know, throwing the information at them at different ages, we have had full, you know, we homeschool. We have had full sessions and teachings, we’ve done an entire unit on physiology, we went through just the human body. And then we have a unit coming up that is human reproduction. Yes, even my 10 year old and my 13 year old and my seven year old at the appropriate age levels at the appropriate you know, conversation level. They, they all already understand where babies are made in your body, how they’re grown, how they’re burst, and now understand what periods are. Kids are curious, right? When was the last time that you know if you your kid or your little one or an older woman understood the idea of you using pads or tampons or that you know, you’re not feeling well today or you’re tired because it’s your period. However that languages and whatever it is that’s shared in your family, throughout their family or their units that they’re involved in, that’s what’s going to keep that narrative going that’s what that story is going to get passed on. So if it’s treated in a in a vulgar or you know derogatory way that it’s not respected in your you know, your circles, then your kids will grow up knowing that and unfortunately that’s what we want to change we want I’m not saying that’s what’s happening, but it does. In movies in in shows I’ve heard it talked about I’ve heard people make these comments in passing. Jokingly sometimes but the reality is, it’s it’s being thrown around not an educational way, not in a helpful way. But basically it Oh, it’s just that time of A month for her or Oh, she’s PMS thing, or oh, it’s, the reality is there’s no understanding though, right behind what that actually is about. And when there’s understanding, it removes fear, where there’s knowledge, it removes that, you know, the ability to make, I guess I guess the ability to, it removes that ability to, to create something vulgar or derogatory out of it, unless you, you know, really choose to. So ultimately, we want to change the story we want. Our girls and our boys and our kids and our teens and our young adults, we want them to understand that every month, your body has to go through a clean out, it has to go through this, this process to keep the uterus and to keep the womb area clean. And one of the ways I love describing it to my daughter was, it’s just like, when I asked you to clean up your room,

you have to do a thorough job of it. Because if I’m going to come in and vacuum and there’s still stuff on the floor, it’s gonna get vacuumed up. It’s the same idea in our bodies that we had, we can’t have a half job, we can’t can’t have half a period, you can’t. I mean, we do sometimes. But our body technically needs to do a full clean out. And when that lining is removed, it’s prepping the uterus again, to have a safe place a healthy place for an egg to implant or not. And when it doesn’t, it removes the lining again. So again, when I was explaining her, I said, it’s like making your bed, you put the blankets down, you put the pillow down, and then some nights, you take all that off and you come sleep in my bed. The idea is it’s there. It’s a cozy spot for when you need it. But every month your body decides whether you need it or not. And if it doesn’t need it, I would it comes. And that’s what’s being expelled through your body when you have your period. The main thing that that again, we need to start reconstructing this idea of what periods are is that they’re not meant to be painful. They’re not meant to be complicated. They’re not meant to be heavy. They’re not meant to be extreme cramping, any cramping for that matter. In the years that I’ve been working on my reproductive health, I have now changed my periods to extremely simple heavy for, you know, heavy for me is not heavy at all. But heavy for one day, light for the next four days, three to four days at the most. No cramping, sometimes lower back discomfort that a simple heat pack, and some oils will fix or massage will fix. But for the most part, I just rest a little extra on those days, I take it easy on my body, I make sure I have a less, you know, heavy workload. But really, that’s what a cycle is meant to be. That’s how your period is meant to go. And I know 1000s of women, honestly, who could not say that, who who hate their periods who dread their periods, because they are so uncomfortable and so painful and so heavy, and so much cramping it’s seriously impacts their life. And that’s unfortunate. And I, my heart hurts for that because it’s not meant to be that way. And well, you know, I can give you lots of solutions on how to clean things up and how to make it easier. At the end of the day. Sometimes there are things out of our control. Sometimes there are things that we need those medical interventions for Sometimes there are things that we can’t figure out in our body. Why is it doing this, and it takes a lot of time and energy to connect those dots. And in many cases, it’s much faster for healthcare professionals to just put a bandaid on it, so to speak, right? I would highly encourage you if you or someone who struggles with your cycle, who does experience pain, discomfort, cramping, to not accept that as normal. And on top of that, not to teach it onward. Right, not to pass it forward. We don’t want to pay forward the idea that it’s meant to be this way, and then it’s normal to hate this time of the month that it’s normal to feel horrible at this time of month. It’s not normal. It is normal to have hormone fluctuations throughout our cycle. It is normal to you know, to have three to four days of bleeding. It is normal to have maybe a little discomfort and cramping in the first day. If you aren’t you know if you’re eating certain things that maybe Erica irritate that a little more or, you know, resting as much it is normal, but it’s not normal to suffer. And that’s again, something that a story that has been taught and has been passed on. I dreaded the idea of getting my period because I watched how much my sister suffered. My mum never really did. It was never a thing, but I never remember it being an issue with her. You know, up to a certain age. My mom had a partial hysterectomy when I was younger. But you know it wasn’t I It wasn’t a conversation that was normal in our household. But it wasn’t taboo either. It just wasn’t talked about. It just wasn’t necessary for most of our years growing up, my sister, you know, did what she had to do, I understood that she missed the first day of school, the first day of her period, she missed school every month, because she’d be in bed, she was so sick with it. And all I remember thinking is dreading the idea that that would be me. But when it was my turn, I didn’t do with that. I didn’t have any issues, all my peers were very simple. I had cramping as I got older, when I went on to birth control, it threw everything for a loop. Once I was married, and it, it messed up my cycle completely, I learned so much about birth control over those years and options and how it impacts our cycles and our periods.

Again, a whole learning journey, right? As you go through, and you grow, and you find out more, and you do the research, and you start to connect those dots. And it wasn’t until after really after I had our first baby that, you know, 13 years ago, that I really dove into learning what our cycles are about, what is each phase of our cycle, and we’re gonna touch on all of that in the next chat. But it was something that was very eye opening for me, as a woman, as a mom, as someone who just gone through birth and pregnancy and all of this, to realize that so many people I knew and my close friends and mamas that I knew, didn’t even really have an understanding of what our cycles were, and how to work with them, how to acknowledge and honor our cycle, with our energy levels, with our workflow with our maybe our fitness schedules, whatever it looked like for your life. Being in tune to that wasn’t just about our cycle, it then became being in tune to our body, being in tune to our health being in tune to our intuition. It was pretty wild, I as I went on that journey to learn that there’s so much connected and rooted in this beautiful part of our, our body and our reproductive system. Whether it’s functioning properly or not, we can always give it its best chance, we can always give it its best, you know, step up. So it can function to the fullest that it’s able to. And like I said, it doesn’t matter if you are still in, you know, the ages where you do have a period or if you’ve moved into ages, where you stopped having a period, it really still comes down to a rhythmic cycle in our body, that we are deeply connected to the world around us. We are deeply connected to our own, you know, hormones and emotions, and our intuition. And I think it’s pretty powerful. Like I said, when we start to recognize that when we start to have these conversations with a positive light, when we change the conversation, I don’t think I’ve ever said not on purpose, like not intentionally thinking this out. But because I do have an easy experience with you know, my cycles. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever said anything to my kids or to my daughter of it being a negative idea, right? I don’t think I’ve ever maybe I have, but I don’t think I have, I don’t think I’ve ever come out and said things about it being Oh, it’s terrible, or Oh, I hate this time of month, or just the things that we say in passing. Right? I think it’s worth us considering what we say about what we speak out about our bodies and about our cycles in front of our kids, maybe to our spouse, you know, don’t give them the ammo.

To talk about us PMS thing or things like that. The idea is tune them in, dial them into what’s happening in your body, whether you’re in a fertility process, or you are, you know, trying not to get pregnant and using, you know, a cyclical method where you, you know, when to and when not to conceive, include those people in your life, include them in the process, because as women, it can be easy for us to hold on to that and just make it ours. But then there’s a lack of understanding and that’s on us, we really do have to clue our spouses in our partners in if it’s our kids were old enough to understand this to give that conversation a chance. And, you know, when they do ask the questions, answer them, answer them in a very, you know, clear and simple way factual way. But removing that story of the negative, the pain, the all of it. And if you are experiencing that, if that is something you are going through, just know that there is hope there are ways to work with your body to bring you to a place of healing into a place of wholeness in your reproductive cycles and your hormone cycles. It might just take time and it might take effort and it might take connecting a lot of dots. But hopefully through some of this education and through some of our guests and things like that you’ll be able to make connect a few more dots. But I’m always here you can reach out and we can connect you with others and help you find some of those answers the best that we can because the reality is this is an incredible gift. I know don’t hate me for saying that ladies, especially Those of you who struggle with things like PCOS and endometriosis, but it is still a gift, that we have the ability to process every month cycles and hormones and that our uterus preps itself for whatever it needs to do each month. And if it’s not doing that in a way that is, you know, natural and you know, that’s comfortable and works to its fullest, then yes, yes, we need to work on that, yes, we need to share those truths. It doesn’t mean we hide that from our kids or our spouse, they need to know when you’re suffering, they need to know when it’s a struggle, that’s completely acceptable. Obviously, we want to, we want to share that. But the idea is that we’ve changed the whole story so that we now accept that as normal. It’s not, it’s not normal. And I don’t want anyone to suffer like that. And I don’t want our kids growing up thinking that’s normal. Because for most people, it’s not, for most people, it is quite common to have regular periods to, you know, have regular hormone cycles. It’s that’s quite common, but not understanding them as another story. So let’s talk just for a minute about what does a regular cycle actually look like?

Alright, so when we’re talking about a monthly cycle, and I’m not going to get into all the, you know, the phases and all of that just yet, because I want to save that when we chat with some of our guests. But the idea that we have a phase, even if you take it week, by week, we have a regular phase throughout our cycle, reproductively, starting at even a young age, until we are having period cycles until our period arrives, and it’s starting to become regular. And there really isn’t anything, you know, to pay attention to, though those of us raising little girls will say, Oh, my gosh, they haven’t even got to that part yet. And they’re already dealing with hormones. Yes, they are dealing with hormones, because there is a growing, you know, build up a surge that happens with boys and girls as they write as they get into preteen ages and then teenagers. That’s the hormone cycles that are happening, they’re very real, and they can be very intense. We’ll see that with, you know, their skin changes, we’ll see that with just the body changing things like that. And, you know, I mean, my daughter, for example, it’s quite funny, I get a laugh out of her because, you know, her body changes, she’s super excited about it. But way more than I was ever aware of, and we were open about it that I ever would have been, that’s more just her personality. Whereas my son, it’s all funny, right? Everything new that’s happening to his body or to you know, his hormones, it’s hilarious. To him. It’s like, this is the funniest thing ever. And we all think it’s pretty funny too. So it’s good. But I know even as myself going through those teen years, I was a huge struggle for me with my skin, I had terrible skin, I had horrible acne. And I my cycles in the beginning were very irregular. They weren’t painful or uncomfortable. I did have cramping, things like that. But nothing too horrible. But then I remember friends of mine when they get their period. And it was like the end of the world when their periods Shut up. They were just devastated. You know, heavy periods, a lot of bleeding, cramping, and they’re, you know, they were 12 1314 years old heading into high school, you’re already dealing with enough stuff. And this is all hitting too. Then you move into a cycle you’re moving through into your you know, years where you are either trying to get pregnant, or you have had babies or you’re are pregnant, and maybe miscarriages, you know, issues with getting pregnant all of that. And then regular cycles and understanding the days of your cycle, knowing when you ovulate, all of those things start to come into play. I wish I knew these things earlier. This is something that and one of the reasons I’m passionate about it is I wish I had known some of these truths earlier. Because it really would have relieved a lot of stress, to be honest. Through those years in the early years of going into adulthood. And when I finally was married, and we you know, we’re having kids right away and things like that, it would have been a lot simpler. If I had understood the days of my cycle if I had just simply tracked them and I did finally figure this out. I did finally ask you know advice I did finally do some reading and and learn from some amazing midwives that I got to know and I did finally put the pieces together and go okay. It seems like based on some simple testing each month, right? So starting from, I highly recommend this starting from you know, the day after your period is fully ended. Just getting a bunch of the little test strips. It doesn’t have to be do not buy the expensive plastic ovulation predictor is you don’t need any of that. You literally can have a pee in a cup kind of DL, and you just need the LH test strips. And you just, you’re gonna watch the line get darker. And as you go through those days, you’ll see when you have your peaks in the luteinizing hormone that’s telling you ovulation is close. And then you’ll hit the peak. And then within 24 hours, typically you ovulate, and then it starts to drop. So there’s a hormone surge of hormone drop, that right there, that window right there of when you ovulate gives you a really good window of what’s happening with your hormones. I know it’s very simplistic. There’s lots more to it. But if you were to choose one thing to track, that would be it. You can do your body temperature, before you get out of bed every morning, stick a thermometer into your tongue, jot on a piece of paper in a notebook, whatever recorded in your phone. There’s lots of apps for this. I like using Mira, fertility is fantastic. I’ve used a bunch of different ones that are a lot cheaper as well. So whatever works for you, but start tracking, it’s important that you know this. And then you’ll know as you move into the next phase, as you start to go through that, that after your ovulation phase. And you’re going to start to look at that we can between as your you know leading through into your next period. And then the lead up to that track those days. Note them, because then you’ll see Am I bleeding on the full moon? Am I bleeding on the new moon? Am I is it shifting each month, we’ll start to notice that after a couple of months, your period may shift by a day, as you shift through to a new cycle. It’s pretty wild if and if you’re tracking things like moon cycles and things like that, it’s even more interesting. These are just things that will help you understand it a bit better, be more predictable in your planning for anything. It could be planning for business events, it could be planning for family events, it could be planning for, you know having babies not having babies, it could just be planning vacations, who knows. But there’s so much around this that takes away the mystery of why am I feeling like this right now?

It goes so much further than Oh, I’m just pmse. Not necessarily. You might notice a routine to this a rhythm to this. Yes, we typically are more irritable right before our period, because there’s a hormone surge, right, there’s a drop, and things are changing. And then we also notice, oh, I’m feeling pretty good right before ovulation. Right, you’re more frisky, you’re more energetic, you’re more upbeat. Those are great social times. Right? So being aware of it is so simple. If you just take the time to put the pieces together if you connect the dots, if you do some basic testing, and that’s all in your power, that’s all stuff you can do. You don’t need to pay anyone for it, you don’t have to go to the doctor for that, you can simply track that. So understanding your personal cycle is really, really eye opening, I find no matter what stage you’re at, teach this to our you know, our teen girls to understand that I’m not sure that they need to be testing their cycles, but it is really good for them to start keying in and cluing into just recording their periods. How long are they? Is it a 28 day cycle? Is it a 24 day cycle? Is it 21 day cycle? Right? How often is this happening? What is the rhythm to it? Now how do I actually feel you know, emotionally, mentally, physically, throughout my cycle, jot these things down journaling your cycle, it sounds maybe a little cheesy, but it is phenomenal for helping you at any age through this process, understand your hormones and understand your reproductive process. It also is really eye opening and very helpful if you do need to work with a specialist or, you know, get medical help for any parts of your cycle or your period or reproductive issues, to be able to show a history of regular cycles, irregular cycles, a change in your cycles, things like that. Those are all important things to have some sort of record of. So that’s just me encouraging you, in order to change the story. In order to start shifting the narrative, we need to have a better understanding as women, I think of what’s actually happening in our bodies. And that comes with making just a little bit of effort to know our cycles more thoroughly, to respect that process. Right and to use words and and phrases and conversation around it. That is respectful, that is powerful. That you know, teaches and shows the beauty of what it is not to hide the truth if it isn’t beautiful for you. Right Hear me out. I want to honor and respect that. But to just show a basic, you know, knowledge and understanding of what normal looks like, of what our bodies are meant to be doing, and how that works. Because like I said, for a very large amount of us as women, the majority do have what are considered normal cycles. We tend to do things or not do things depends which way we’re going that It’s usually on us, in many cases to shift that, and to make choices that will make it easier on our bodies. And we definitely want to get into that we want to dive into what are some of these great ways that we can, you know, help with our muscles, our monthly periods? How can we help with our hormones and our cycles? How can we help them be more regular, less painful? So all of that we’re going to dive into that in our next chat. But for now, think on just the idea of what is that story that you were told around your periods around your hormones around your cycles as a woman? What are some of the stories that you know that the men in your life have been told? Or that they, you know, the misunderstandings that might be there? And then how can we shift that? What are some of the ways that we are going to be able to change that narrative, we’re going to rewrite that story for future generations in a way that gives them more options, more knowledge, and just a better understanding overall of how their body is naturally built to work, and how to work with it, as opposed to maybe fearing it? Right, as we maybe have done in the past. So I hope that was helpful, helpful for this session. We are going to chat more specifics on what are some of the tips and tricks and you know, things that I’ve learned over time on how to work with your body through your monthly cycle and that’s coming up on our next episode.