Why getting your period is important
Updated: Sep 28
Today on Menstrual Mastery we’re talking about something that saddens me to my core - the fact that we’ve been taught that our periods are not important. That they exist for no other reason than at best to be a nuisance and at worst to bring us agonizing pain. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you’ve been hanging out at Sauvage Wellness for awhile now you know that periods are not supposed to be brutal. They’re not supposed to be super painful, heavy flowing, pms-filled nightmares. These are all signs of hormonal imbalances that as a culture we’ve normalized as an innate part of life as a menstruating human.
The fact that as a culture we’ve gone as far as to convince women that the most natural of things, something our bodies have been doing since the beginning of human existence is unimportant is heart wrenching. No one tells men that their boners are not important. In fact there’s an entire industry based around boner supporting pills and treatments. It kind of makes you wonder if the fact that when we believe that our periods don’t matter we spend lots of money on pills, IUDs, & devices to turn them off has anything to do with this whole “you don’t need a period” argument.
The cold-hard truth is that from your teen years through your 30's your body was designed to have a monthly period because it was designed to ovulate monthly - and that’s important. A healthy body ovulates which creates a period about 10-16 days later. Therefore, a healthy body gets to have a period. However bodies strained by PCOS, disordered eating, famine, overexercise, and systemic stress especially - do not ovulate and therefore do not get to have a period. (source)
In fact the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recognizes the menstrual cycle as the 5th vital sign along with body temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure (source).
Getting a monthly period by the late teen years is a sign that your body is doing what it was designed to do.
Your menstrual cycle is also important because it can give you signs that something is wrong. If your period is heavy and riddled with PMS, that is a sign of hormonal imbalance. If your period is MIA and only shows up a few times a year if at all, that is a sign of hormonal imbalance. If your period drags on for more than a week or happens more than once a month, that is a sign of hormonal imbalance. And, hormonal imbalance not only impacts our fertility but it can be a sign of issues with glands in our brains, with our ovaries, our adrenal glands, our thyroid glands and more. Your period and menstrual cycle are about A LOT more than your vagina and getting pregnant.
And don’t get me started on that “period” you’ve been getting on the birth control pill, nuva ring, or implant. That’s not a real period. That is to say that those bleeds are not happening because you ovulated. They are simply the result of a drop in synthetic hormones after switching to the sugar pill week or taking the nuva ring out for a few days. Those types of bleeds are chemical bleeds, not ovulatory bleeds and do not give us the same information about the health of our bodies. (source)
With most hormonal birth control, with the exception of the hormonal IUD for some folks, we are not cycling. Our menstrual cycle is flatlined to create essentially one big long unchanging phase. There’s no cycle to keep track of, no cycle signs to observe because there is no cycling taking place.
The birth control pill takes away your menstrual cycle, it doesn’t fix it.
By now you might be thinking - “But Brandy, I don’t want to get pregnant, so I don’t want to ovulate.”
It doesn’t exactly work like that. Ovulation is about a lot more than getting pregnant. For example, did you know that the only way to make the calming hormone progesterone is to ovulate naturally? It’s true. We only make progesterone as a result of ovulating. And the chemical progesterone in hormonal birth control is actually a group of synthetic hormones called progestins that are more chemically aligned with testosterone and do not have the same calming impact, instead they can make us feel more moody, aggressive, and well testosterone-y. (source)
The hormonal concoction that our bodies create both leading up to and following ovulation can allow us to feel really good in our bodies if our hormones are properly balanced. The rise in estrogen leading up to ovulation gives our sex drive a nice boost and allows us to make cervical fluid which makes intercourse extra slippery and fun. That same rise in estrogen gives us more energy, allows us to take on more projects at work, make it through that butt-kicking workout, and feel all sultry in our bodies. Then the progesterone that follows ovulation gives us a really grounded, balanced, relaxed vibe as we move through the second half of the cycle. It allows us to be better at self-reflection and grounding activities like cooking, gardening, and enjoying nature. Oh and progesterone helps our periods be lighter, shorter, and come with a lot less PMS.
By shutting down the menstrual cycle with hormonal birth control, we don’t get to experience those natural benefits of our bodies and our menstrual cycles.
Another argument for periods being unimportant that people love to send my way is that historically women used to have lots of babies and be pregnant for up to 10 or more years of their lives which would mean that they would have a lot less periods because women don’t menstruate when they’re pregnant so doesn’t that mean that modern women are supposed to be having a lot less periods in their lifetimes?
Here’s the deal - I am not a scientist. I am not a biologist. I am not a researcher by profession. So no, I don’t have a big research study to prove this point one way or the other, but then again I’ve never come across a scientific study that does either. So with that, I’ll tell you what feels true for me as a menstrual cycle and fertility awareness educator.
> Hormonal birth control methods that prevent ovulation and periods do not provide the same hormonal concoction that pregnancy does. In fact, the progestins (aka synthetic progesterone) in the pill, IUD, ring, and most hormonal birth control methods are not even something our bodies make. When a woman is pregnant she benefits from a beautiful array of hormones including estrogen and progesterone, but also others that we don’t make any other time than when we’re pregnant (source). So to say that hormonal birth control is creating a pregnancy-like state is not really true. The hormonal state of pregnancy is a lot more complicated than just not ovulating and not bleeding.
> Also, who decided that women were supposed to spend huge portions of their lives pregnant? There are women from long bygone generations who chose not to have children or not to have many children who lived long, healthy lives. So to say that creating a real or artificial state of prolonged pregnancy is crucial to a woman’s health strikes me as not only inaccurate, but detrimental to the empowerment of women everywhere. My great-grandmother, for example, spent but 3 years of her life pregnant and is the most hilarious 85 year old woman I’ve ever met. Another friend of mine spent just one year of her life pregnant and zero years on hormonal birth control and she had the easiest transition into menopause that I’ve ever seen. So I don’t know if this whole “being pregnant for many years is healthier for women” argument is all that sound. Also, is it just me or does that sound like some repressive BS?!
I recognize that today’s podcast episode has been a little more rant-y than past episodes, but I have to tell you I am so over this rhetoric that our periods and menstrual cycles aren’t important. That our bodies, in their natural state, doing what they were always meant to do are not important.
I’m not saying you have to love your period, though I would sure love to help you try. But I do hope you can respect your period, ovulation, and your menstrual cycle as the natural, primal powerhouse that she is.
I for one love my period. I would never dream of taking her away. When I see women celebrating their transition into menopause I wonder, why can’t we too celebrate our monthly bleeds?
And so, I’ve decided that we can and have designed my entire life’s work around that notion. I guess my question for you then is… are you with me?
Are you interested in learning how to track your cycle using fertility awareness methods to have better periods, get pregnant naturally, or to use as natural birth control? If so, you’re in the right place!
Disclaimer: Brandy Oswald, Sauvage Wellness LLC, and her employees are not doctors, nurses, physicians, psychotherapists, or in anyway licensed medical practitioners and information presented here is to serve as an educational resource and not to be interpreted as: (1) medical advice; (2) a 100% effective birth control option; (3) 100% pregnancy achievement support or (4) nutrition or health guidelines. By reading this you acknowledge that you understand that as a specialized form of consulting, coaching is not the same as professional or licensed therapy or medical advice and intervention; and recognize that it is your responsibility to seek such services from a licensed professional. Brandy Oswald is not a medical provider and cannot give medical advice. All information provided by Sauvage Wellness LLC and Brandy Oswald is of a general nature and is intended only for educational purposes to help with your personal health improvement goals and should not be relied on as medical advice. Always consult a physician with any health concerns and prior to changing your diet, lifestyle, supplements,birth control, or prescription medicine routine. Should you choose to use the information provided by Brandy Oswald it is of your own volition and you recognize that neither Brandy nor Sauvage Wellness LLC is not held liable for any intended or unintended outcomes.