Five years ago I was getting my first hormonal IUD and grinning from ear-to-ear as my doctor informed me that many women experience significantly lighter periods or stop getting their periods altogether within a year of having their IUDs inserted.
Finally, I thought. I wouldn’t have to worry about mood swings, cramps, and most importantly, the risk of getting pregnant. My hormonal IUD was 99.9 percent effective, but had significantly less hormones than the pill birth control I had taken since high school. My doctor assured me that if I changed my mind and wanted to get pregnant, I could take it out and my body would immediately resume its fertility functions.
To my delight, I was one of the lucky women who experienced no periods with a hormonal IUD. However, I quickly realized that my birth control wasn’t strong enough to stomp out my period symptoms altogether and would routinely be caught off guard by seemingly random bloating and minor anxiety and depression. It was disconcerting to have cravings and emotions related to my monthly period without the accompanying menstruation.
Still, I figured it was a small price to pay for what I considered at the time to be every woman’s dream: a period-free life.
When it comes to women’s reproductive processes, many of us have been taught that they are something to dread, part of Eve’s curse passed down to us for countless millennia. Tampon commercials show how menstruation impedes on our lifestyles, keeping us from the beach, sports, and interfering with our home and work lives. Pregnant women are encouraged to do whatever possible to return to their pre-baby bodies. Stretch marks, loose skin, and vaginal scarring are not respected as evidence of the beautiful transformation that women’s bodies undergo while carrying life, but nipped, tucked, and lasered off. Menopausal women are seen as sexless shadows of their former selves and the intense symptoms that pre-menopausal women experience are not given proper credence or treated with compassion.
And so it makes sense why many of us have sought to disengage from our bodies’ natural functions, why we curse and bemoan our periods, pregnancies, and ever-evolving bodies. For many years, I was one of those women. I felt a certain sense of pride, knowing that my period could no longer incapacitate me as it once had. I finally felt in control.
Of course, it was a false sense of control, as my body’s functions are instinctual and do not bend to the will of my ego. Over time, as I watched more and more of my friends approach menstruation and pregnancy with a more holistic view, I began to experience a different feeling: jealousy.
One of my friends was able to rid herself of period symptoms altogether through the use of an all-natural cannabis-infused topical. She stopped using tampons in favor of a diva cup, and now her periods come like clockwork every new moon.
A few months ago, a group of my friends delighted as they realized that all of their periods had synced up with each other. I had only a vague inkling of when my monthly cycle was due (based on my fluctuating moods and water weight gain) and was disappointed that I couldn’t experience that connection with them.
As I deepened my spiritual practices, I no longer enjoyed his disconnection from my pleasure center. My intuition told me that with the proper attention, I could harness this power to my advantage.
I began working with crystals related to my sacral chakra, hoping to work through and release some of the harmful beliefs I held about my pleasure center. Instead of directing anger or resentment towards my body for cramping or bloating, I began to recognize these as signals to give myself more loving care. If you are working through similar issues, you might want to use The Sacral Chakrub, which is made from orange aventurine, a crystal that encourages balance and perseverance. The Gaia stone is also ideal for grounding, releasing sexual shame, and allowing the flow of kundalini energy. The Xaga Chakrub promotes positive sexual health and will help you release negative energies.
We live in the information age, meaning that we now have the capability to challenge common knowledge to realize our own deeper truths. Menstruation has existed as long as humankind, and we can learn from our ancestors how to treat its symptoms with natural methods that honor our monthly guest. For those of us who want to have sex without the risk of pregnancy, we can empower ourselves through fertility awareness and other non-hormonal birth control options.
I am obviously not a doctor, and encourage everyone to figure out what works best for their individual bodies. Who knows? Maybe hormonal birth control helps treat your acne or regulate your unpredictable periods. All I ask is that you dig beyond the surface to unearth your own feelings about your body and its natural behaviors. Perhaps you’ll find that you’ve been holding onto beliefs passed down from elders that no longer serve your highest good. Honor these beliefs and release them with love. Our bodies support us every day of our entire lives, we owe it to ourselves to foster healthy relationships with them.
My journey into fertility awareness and non-hormonal birth control is brand new — I just got my IUD removed this week. However, upon leaving my doctor’s office (Thanks Planned Parenthood!) I immediately felt something open within me, a receptivity that had previously been blocked. It may still be weeks or months before my period returns, but I already feel a greater awareness of my body and look forward to getting to know it even more intimately.
Feature Image by Rachel Cuccia