Women have been raised with the belief and expectation that periods will be painful. We learned about it in sex ed classes, we learned it from our mothers, aunts, sisters and friends. When you see a woman who experiences a pain-free period with no signs of PMS, you’re jealous.
True, or true?!
But are periods really supposed to be painful? I don’t think so. It doesn’t make sense for nature to make pain a frequent experience throughout a woman’s life. So I’m here to call BS on periods as a painful and uncomfortable experience.
Well, I call BS!
Periods aren’t supposed to cause pain
We’re not the only mammals who menstruate. Other primates and even some bats experience the loss of blood that we do as humans. But you don’t hear about chimps having to take days off because of their menstrual cramps!
You’ll notice if you look at government and official websites, they’ll tell you that experiencing period pain is common. But that doesn’t mean that it’s normal.
Of course, what is ‘normal’ for you is coming back to what is your own perfect period and the cycle signs you experience. But no matter who you are, your period should not leave you crippled with pain, in cramps or well “sick in bed”! It should never restrict you from living your everyday life. And if it is, there’s something underlying that needs to be addressed.
Your body is talking to you, are you ready to listen?
While we’re on the topic, you should never have pain during any specific stage of your cycle. Some women do feel a sensation around ovulation, but this shouldn’t be painful. If it is, that’s a cycle sign that’s asking for investigation.
Why is your period painful? Ask your body
Instead of raging against your body for causing you pain, take a moment to listen. If something doesn’t feel healthy or normal, there’s a message in that. What imbalance is hidden underneath?
You might not know the answer to begin with. That’s fine – as long as you keep being curious about your body and what it’s telling you. Aka your Cycle Signs!
It’s ok to feel pain occasionally. Some months you might just be more stressed, or not eating well, or sleeping poorly. But if pain is a staple part of your every cycle, it’s time to dig deeper.
Your Steps to a Pain-Free Period
Ready to thrive throughout your cycle, pain-free? Let’s look at what you can do to address your pain without reaching for the box of Panadol.
1. Don’t Expect it
The mind is the most powerful organ in your body when it comes to pain. Research has shown that if we expect to feel pain, we feel it – even if the sensation itself isn’t painful. You can legitimately coerce yourself into feeling pain during your period. Crazy right!
So don’t trick your body into the experience of pain by expecting it. We can do this in a million little ways. Labelling it as ‘shark week’ or ‘curse’, stocking up on painkillers in anticipation or even saying out loud that you’re going to have a painful period can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or buying into other peoples beliefs that pain is expected.
2. Start tracking your cycle and cycle signs
Every woman needs to understand her cycle. If she listens and knows what her cycle usually is, it’s the door way to recognising when something isn’t quite right. And if you can spot it, you can do something about it.
There is more to your menstrual cycle than the 3-7 days that you bleed for. Your hormones don’t turn on and off like a tap – they are constantly shifting throughout your cycle. So you want to understand how these shifts affect your body all cycle long, not just while you’re bleeding.
3. Connect with your body
Any unusual experience during your cycle – whether it’s pain or something else – is communication. A message! Your body is trying to say something, so take the time to connect and listen.
Have a think. Where is there imbalance in your life right now, and what can you do to correct it? Do you need some more rest? Are you in need of some stress relief? Is it time to fit in a little more self-care? Or are you so burned out that you genuinely need a holiday?
Nutritionally have you been eating for health or convenience? Have you been moving your body lately or more static – could either of these be creating stress in your body?
4. Do what you need to do
It can be tempting to push through and keep doing all of the “things” life asks of us. But if your body is telling you that you need something, try to give it that as much as possible.
You might not have the luxury of taking a day or two off work to fulfil your body’s needs. But you could go to bed a little earlier, switch the gym session out for some yin yoga or a light walk, or turn your phone off for a few hours.