Notes from Christi Lehner’s teleclass: “What Your Mom Never Told You About Your Period”


My Goal For The Teleclass

My goal for this call was to start a conversation with a group of amazing women about our monthly cycles. My goal was that this class would be the start of a conversation that you continue with your co-workers, your friends, your mom, daughter, and significant others. My goal was that you would leave the call wanting to celebrate your monthly cycle and truly respect the process, appreciate it, and use it to help you get more in touch with your body and your health.

 

Some Questions To Ask Yourself
What was your first period like? What do you remember about the day? What went well? What didn’t go so well? Were you embarrassed by anything?  Were you proud of anything?

Today, I invite you to start to look at your period as a celebration!

No matter how young or old you are, I'd like you to set aside some time today to think about what would have made your first period the best day ever. This month, when you get your period, I'd like you to make those things happen… so you can have the best day ever.

What would that entail? A nice meal out? A long bath? A call with a great friend? A manicure or pedicure? A walk in the woods?

The Menstrual Cycle
We went through a detailed description of the menstrual cycle on this call – instead of putting all the notes out on my webpage, I would strongly encourage you to buy the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler to get the best description of what is happening in your body every month. It’s absolutely fascinating once you start to learn all about it!

Fun Facts:
- When you’re a 20-week fetus inside your mother, you have 7 million eggs in you! (So, you were actually in your grandmother’s belly at one time… since your mom had your egg in her when she was a fetus).

- At birth, this number goes down to 2 million… by puberty we have 300K to 500K eggs. 400-500 eggs ripen during a lifetime.

- Each of your eggs only lives for 24 hours, so you are only fertile for approximately one day. You can be fertile for 48 hours if two eggs were released during ovulation (this happens about 5-10% of the time).

- Sperm can live in fertile cervical fluid for up to 5 days. After you have sex, it can take up to 5 days to actually conceive. So you could have sex on Monday, and then ovulate on Friday, and you would conceive on Friday. So your fertility depends on the egg and the sperm’s lifespan.


How To Track Your Fertility
A lot of women want to know how they can tell whether or not they’re ovulating each month. The best way to do this is to track your own cycle, using three fertility signs (all three are described in detail in the Weschler book mentioned above):

1. Waking temperature: your temperature rises after you ovulate. Before ovulation it’s usually between 97.0 and 97.5. Within a day or so of ovulation, the increase in progesterone will cause your temp will rise to between 97.6 and 98.6, and it will usually stay elevated until your next period. Once your temperature goes up, it means you have already ovulated.

2. Cervical fluid: Since women are only fertile the few days around ovulation, we don’t produce fluid all the time. Our cervical fluid is the medium that the sperm use to travel to the egg. If the fluid isn’t the right consistency, the sperm will die, because the fluid provides an alkaline medium to protect the sperm from an otherwise acidic vagina. The only time that it’s critical for the sperm to get around easily is around ovulation, when the egg is ready to be fertilized. So, that’s why we produce a different kind of fluid around ovulation.


Right after your period, you’ll notice that you have very little cervical fluid – you are basically dry. After a few days of dryness, you’ll probably notice a sticky kind of fluid. It may be rubbery, springy, or crumbly. The next type of fluid you’ll notice is creamy or lotion-like (it feels cold).

The last kind of fluid you’ll experience – right around ovulation - resembles egg-white. It’s SLIPPERY and it stretches from 1-10”. It’s usually clear or partially streaked, and it can also be watery. It will usually leave a symmetrical, round pattern on your underwear because of the high water content.

Once you ovulate, your fluid will dry up quickly, and you’ll usually remain dry for the rest of the cycle. If you’re on the Pill, you will probably not notice any changes in cervical fluid because you aren’t ovulating.


3. Cervical position: your cervix changes position throughout the month. The cervix is the lower part of your uterus which extends into your vagina. Around ovulation, your cervix becomes soft and mushy, like your lips. It is usually low and closed, but around ovulation it rises and opens.

I just started tracking my period using these three signs, and it helps me get in touch with what my body is doing. Tracking your period is helpful whether you are trying to have children, or trying to prevent a pregnancy. Tracking will help you determine if you are indeed ovulating, and if you are, when ovulation occurs.



There are secondary signs that indicate that ovulation is coming or happening:
- Midcycle spotting
- Pain or aches near ovaries (from swelling of follicles in ovaries)
- Sharp pain occurs when egg actually bursts through the wall (only felt on one side)
- Crampiness
- Increased sexual drive
- Fuller vaginal lips – especially on the side that you ovulated from!
- Bloating
- More energy (or less energy)
- Heightened sensitivity to sounds, smells, etc.

Certain things can prevent or delay ovulation:
- Traveling
- Stress/working too hard
- Moving
- Illness
- Sudden weight change
- Medication

This makes sense. If your body perceives that you are physically or emotionally stressed, it assumes you don’t have the capacity to become pregnant and take care of a child. So it shuts down ovulation until you’re ready. We each have our own threshold for stress… so what you may be able to handle is different than your friends or family members.



More Facts About Your Period:
1. Not everyone’s cycle is 28 days long… In fact, less than 15% of all cycles are precisely 28 days. A ‘normal’ cycle is anywhere from 24-36 days long.


2. Not all women ovulate on day 14! You can ovulate as early as Day 8 or as late as Day 22 or beyond.


3. There are times when you can bleed, and it looks like you’re having a regular period, but you haven’t actually ovulated. These kind of periods are called anovulatory periods.



The Emotional Part Of Your Cycle

The Energy Phase: The time between your period and ovulation is what I call your “Energy” phase. During these weeks, you can take advantage of the fact that your body is now ready to get out, to create and produce.

You’ll have a lot of energy and this is the time of the month when you’re most likely to want to get out and hang out with other people, to start new projects, and act on existing projects. Ovulation represents our peak of emotional and mental creativity.


The Quiet Phase: In comparison, the weeks between ovulation and your period are what I call “Quiet” time. When you know your period is coming, you may want to block off nights to retreat at home, to be quiet, peaceful and alone. You may be a bit more tired, a bit less social, a bit more sensitive to your emotions.


Just because you lack energy or are slower at this time doesn’t mean something is wrong with you! On the contrary, this is what your body is supposed to do! Your body is getting ready to cleanse and transforming itself.


Anything that surfaces for you at this time of the month – particularly those things or people or events that cause you great emotion – are the things that most need your attention, the things that most need to be changed or improved.


The information and intuition that comes to us during the time just before our period is not always obvious, but it is really important. If we block it, don’t let it surface, or keep pushing it down… it may come back as PMS. We can’t ignore what surfaces during our pre-menstrual time.



I love what Dr. Northrup says in "Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom":

“I think that the majority of PMS cases would disappear if every modern woman retreated from her duties for 3 or 4 days each month and had her meals brought to her by someone else.”



We may not be able to retreat every month, but we certainly can honor this time of the month. Here are some ways you can honor your period:
- Journaling
- Asking people to do things for you
- Scheduling pampering things for yourself
- Going to bed early and keeping a dream journal
- Sitting in silence for a few minutes
- Scheduling time with other women, to talk and share
- Be a bitch – be tough – yell at someone – be aggressive


PMS - It’s real, not in your head!
At least 50% of all women suffer from PMS. For it to be considered PMS, your symptoms must occur on a cyclical basis before your period. You must have at least 3 days during the month when you are symptom-free.


There are more than 100 known symptoms of PMS, ranging from acne to breast tenderness to bloating to irritability to depression to hives to sore throat to fatigue to headaches.


If nothing is done about PMS it will get worse, and extend further into your month. PMS is your body’s way of getting your attention. It’s your body’s way of trying to signal you that there’s an imbalance and it needs to be changed.

There are many ways to reduce PMS symptoms, but here are some of the treatment options we talked about during the call:


1. Avoid the following foods (all month long, not just during PMS time), for they strongly contribute to PMS symptoms:
a. Dairy products
b. Caffeine (in soft drinks, coffee, and chocolate) – even one cup of coffee per day can have an impact.
c. Refined sugar and refined, processed food (cookies, crackers, white bread, white rice, white pasta, etc.)
d. Foods with trans fatty acids in them (hydrogenated oils and margarine).


2. Make sure you’re getting enough essential fatty acids (found in raw nuts, seeds, cold-water fish like salmon and sardines, sesame oil, and flaxseed oil). Try sprinkling nuts on soy yogurt, having seeds in your oatmeal in the morning, putting ground flaxseed oil in your fruit smoothies, or cooking up fish for dinner.


3. Practice stress reduction through meditation, mindful breathing, or yoga.


4. Use a castor oil pack or a hot water bottle on a consistent basis – 3 times per week. Don’t use packs when you’re bleeding heavily.


5. Exercise! I know that exercise is the last thing you want to do when you feel bloated, but even brisk walking will help with PMS symptoms, especially if you’re in a down mood. Don’t expect your body to be able to perform at peak levels – be kind to it, and just get out there and move! Sweat reduces water retention.


6. Get more time outside, or in full-spectrum light. Symptoms associated with PMS – depression, weight gain, carb cravings, fatigue, and irritability can be helped with exposure to sunlight.


7. Recognize that we rarely slow down in this society. Taking time to breathe and relax is unheard of. Oftentimes, if you are racing around 100 mph, your period is the one chance your body has to communicate with you and tell you to slow down!

What would happen if you used your PMS time to treat yourself like the goddess that you are? Slow down, get more sleep, take baths, read… all the things you would do “if you had the time.” We should all do this more often, but at LEAST once a month, right?!

 

If you have a question about your period, please don't hesitate to email me.  I'd love to hear from you.



 

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