How to Love Your Period in Five Years

Real Talk about Menstrual Pain

At the moment, I don't have my usual energy, and there's a little knot of pressure four inches below my belly button. I decided to skip yoga last night and borrow the car instead of biking to work. I'm feeling incredibly lucky— It's the first day of my menstrual cycle.

Flash Back

Five years ago, I woke up in my underwear on the bathroom floor. I was freezing cold and covered with sweat. I crawled back to my bedroom, called my best friend and through gritted teeth and tears told her that I needed her to leave work and come save me. 

Rewind: I was a healthy 24 year-old who practiced yoga three times a week, ran a few times a month, and biked to work. I ate (what I thought was) immaculately and always got eight hours of sleep. Once every 26 days, my body betrayed me. For two or three days, crippling pain stopped me from getting out of bed or off the couch. My stomach swelled; I was light-headed and weak.  Ibuprofen barely dulled my cramps, but at least it would let me walk.  The physical symptoms were so bad, I hardly noticed the severe anxiety that bloomed the week before my cycle. I woke up most mornings traumatized by nightmares, and running out of clean underwear was enough to bring me to tears.

When I went in for my annual check-ups, the doctor always told me how healthy I was. I thought my pain was just part of being a woman.

So—back to my bathroom floor. I had woken up that same morning with a pain in my abdomen that put black spots in my vision. Moaning, I clawed my way out of my pajamas; the elastic band was putting more pressure on my stomach than I could handle. I managed to get out of bed, walk to the medicine cabinet, and pass out. 

There's another way to handle menstrual cramps...

It didn't have to be like this for me— or for any other woman. It's possible to to have a period that slows you down, but doesn't stop you in your tracks. That day in the bathroom, while crying in pain on the floor, I realized something had to change. I began to research how diet, movement and thought could influence my cycle. 

Since then, I've interviewed countless women's health professionals, experimented with my own cycles and collected hours of anecdotal evidence from women around the country. I've fined-tuned the series of practices that saved me and have created  "How to Love Your Period," an online course designed to support other women in transforming their experience. 

Today is the second day of my cycle. Today, the most severe of my symptoms are the tightness or pressure deep in my lower abdomen and about half my normal energy. I had a moment yesterday when the tightness started to spread. I laid down on the floor, put my hands on my belly and whispered, "You're okay. Everything is going to be okay. I love my body, I love my cycles," all mantras I learned from Louise Hay. The moment passed and I gently pulled myself to my feet and went back to work. 

What strategies do you use to get through cramps, PMS, and other menstrual symptoms?

Let me know all your tips and tricks in the comments below.