4 Things The Menstrual Cycle Taught Us About Life
Posted by Courtney Mayszak, RDN, LDN
Nov 24, 2021
With the right perspective, the menstrual cycle has much to teach us. Hidden among its ebbs and flows are life lessons that, in our opinion, prove it’s just as important to philosophy as it is biology.
Below are several nuggets of wisdom, coined by ancient thinkers, reiterated as aphorisms, and brought to you on a monthly basis via your menstrual cycle.
Not only have these lessons taught us a thing or two about moving through life with self-awareness and acceptance, we’ve also found them helpful on the road to making peace with, and—dare we say it—even learning to love our cycles.
The only constant in life is change
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said it first around 500 BC, and it remains a universal truth, reinforced in every cycling body. From your first period through menopause, your hormonal environment is constantly in flux.
We think having a menstrual cycle comes with a sort of built-in resilience. As if change is encoded into our biology, inviting us to adapt along with it.
Change can be uncomfortable, but to expect and embrace change is to take it in stride. Our cycle reminds us that change is inevitable; how we adjust to it makes all the difference.
Knowing that our bodies are designed to endure internal patterns of death and rebirth has helped us emotionally adapt to life’s tougher transitions: moving cities, ending relationships, switching jobs, aging, growing, learning.
Like with any skill, getting comfortable with change takes practice. The menstrual cycle challenges us to rise to the occasion every month. And while sometimes we’d prefer to just stay in our comfort zone, we’re grateful for its persistent nudge.
This too shall pass
Periods can be a burden, no question. Between cramps that hit out of nowhere and the unfortunate combination of acne, bloating, and fatigue, it can feel like each cycle is a twisted game of period roulette.
But one thing’s a given, as sure as the rising moon: it won’t always feel like it does right now. Hormones sure can dish it, but never for too long.
Besides building adaptability in the face of change, the ever-evolving cyclical rhythms of the menstrual cycle teach us to not stay stuck in any one moment. All emotions are temporary.
A bad day is just 24 hours. Even the most brutal period cramps subside when the bleeding stops (though if you’d prefer your relief on the fly, we have just the thing.) This, like everything else, shall pass.
There’s good and bad in everything
Life is a mixed bag, and the menstrual cycle is no exception. Bad cramps and emotional lows may be all that comes to mind when you think of your cycle, but it’s only half of the story.
Per Sir Isaac Newton, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. What goes up must come down. Period pain and PMS may be tokens of your cycle’s luteal and menstrual phases (i.e. the hormonal ‘come down’). But did you know there’s also a natural high mid-cycle?
Ovulation—the release of an egg from your ovary—happens about 2 weeks before your period starts, but it’s truly your cycle’s main event. The hormonal environment in the days around ovulation promotes a sort of “ovulation buzz”—extra energy and motivation that may leave you feeling like your boldest, bravest, most confident self.
It’s easy to mistake this mid-cycle boost for your baseline energy levels, and demand it all month long. But if we felt ovulation’s natural high all the time, it wouldn’t be a ‘high’ anymore, would it?
Our cycles teach us to take the good with the bad, and appreciate the dynamism that comes with any mixed bag. They say variety is the spice of life. At the very least, it certainly keeps things interesting.
Respect your limits
Your period is a monthly reminder that boundaries matter. It’s your signal to slow down, a natural resting point, like the period at the end of this sentence. The longer you resist its plea, the harder it will retaliate, leading to irregular periods, painful cramps, and worsened PMS.
A big part of making peace with our menstrual cycle has been recognizing that we’re not the same all the time, and rejecting the notion that we must operate as though we are in order to get ahead. In fact, leaning into the natural ebbs and flows of your energy levels can actually be a recipe for success.
Respecting your physical and emotional limits is a short-term play on a longer-term strategy. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Burnout is where achievement goes to die.
Once we let go of the pressure to perform like we’re in our ovulatory phase all month long, our period became less of a burden, and more of a brief retreat from the demands of life. Intentionally doing less can be powerful self-care.
Why we founded De Lune
Despite what society’s led many of us to believe, the menstrual cycle doesn’t exist to make you miserable. Although certainly capable of doing so (we’ve been there!), such is the case when any cycle is thrown out of whack, from your sleep cycle to the chain on your bike.
It can be hard to appreciate the menstrual cycle when it causes so many of us so much pain. But we can at least appreciate that it doesn’t mince words. Difficult periods are your hormone’s way of sending you a red flag—a not-so subtle suggestion that your cycle needs more support before balance can be restored.
We exist to be that support. De Lune was founded to end menstrual suffering by bringing safe, effective, drug-free relief to those struggling with their cycles.
By making easy, naturally painless periods a reality, our hope is that more people will see the menstrual cycle the way we do: as an endlessly fascinating vital sign of health.
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