Disclosure: I considered a more general post on benefits of PMS for most anyone with a vulva, then checked myself and thought better of it. In many important ways, it’s a privilege to be able to experience PMS positives. Medical conditions, economic hardship and more can make all-things-menstrual incredibly difficult. Here, I’ll share my own (privileged) experience, with hopes of undoing some of the shame and stigma around Aunt Flow. Okay, still interested? Read on!
When I was struggling with anorexia, I lost my period. When it returned, I felt an odd mix of victory and sadness, vitality and loss. Gone was the starvation so much of my identity had been wrapped up in. Without that, who was I?
My therapist was thrilled. “This is wonderful!” she said, beaming.
My body was relearning to trust me. It was carrying on. Good things, I assured myself. Even wonderful.
When I told my then boyfriend I’d started my period, he responded, “I figured.”
Between the lines, I read: No wonder you’ve been so crazy, b*tchy and emotional!
He was also the first to tell me why a woman could never be president: God forbid hormonal shifts made her “crazy.”
A funny thing happened as I healed physically and emotionally from disordered eating—besides attracting healthier relationships. I began to embrace my menstrual cycle, too. As I did, the adverse symptoms grew less extreme and far more bearable. I gradually shifted from tolerating to honoring them as a beautiful part of me. Is it all a fun party? *
falls over laughing* Uh, not quite. ;) But I do see perks! Here are a few of the biggies:
It works like a magnifying glass on my emotions.
Before my period, my emotions strengthen, but they are far from “crazy”—contrary to what period jokes and memes suggest about women. Like many folks, I’m more sensitive, more in-tune with my intuition and beliefs and more likely to address issues that have bothered me deep down. I often set needed boundaries, make firm decisions—which I may act on immediately or soon after—and more frequently refuse to take disrespect or hurtfulness from others. (Thanks, Flow!)
It bolsters my empathy.
One reason I can embrace my period is the fact that I have ready access to feminine hygiene products and medicine. If I run out of supplies, I can buy more in a snap. It took me awhile, but I’m now aware of how tremendous of a blessing this is. Menstruating youth around the world miss, or even drop out of, school because of their periods. For homeless people, having a period is devastating. My period reminds me to pick up extra supplies to drop off at shelters or give directly to people in need. The deeper emotions PMS brings also heightens empathy. The more we feel, particularly darker emotions, the more we can feel for others.
It demands self-care.
This, too, is a privilege, though I hope we all learn to take whatever steps we can to care more deeply for ourselves. I now do my best to allow let myself rest through the tough parts of Aunt Flow, knowing I may even work smarter and stronger than before once she zips out of town. This time of the month is also a prima time for dark chocolate, physical intimacy if desired (helps with cramps!) and honoring our appetites. Seriously, the body needs more fuel at this time of the month. We may as well eat and enjoy—no shame required.
For more on this topic, check out 5 Little Known Facts About Your Period.
How do you feel about PMS? Do you see perks?
*To hear my special episode in response to the election, subscribe to Girl Boner® Radio on iTunes by Thursday. Highlights will appear here soon as well.