top of page
Search

The stigma of PMS: how this impacts the experience of your cycle

"The menstrual cycle is one of the places where unhealthy and toxic attitudes, beliefs, eating, lifestyle, relationships and environmental pollution show up. In essence, it is where all the disharmony of a woman’s life will be expressed. Some women know this and actively change their toxic lifestyles to heal their menstrual cycle."

~ Jane Hardwicke Collings


Image by Calla.ly

I write this post in the aftermath of a very intense and longer-than-usual 'pms' phase, wanting to open up the conversation and invite reflection on your own experience. Much of this post will not be a download of the research or scientific facts (something I have been trained to always include when speaking about anything). Instead, it'll be a reflection of my own experience, and those of the women around me, the insight from professionals and an invitation for you to reinvent the narrative around pms.


So, I start by asking you, when you think about the phase of 'pms', the days or week leading up to your bleed, how do you feel? how do you express yourself? how have you been spoken to in the past when you express yourself?


Many women report things such as:

  • being called moody

  • being called dramatic or (over)emotional

  • feeling frustrated

  • feeling irritated

  • similar themes (of irritation) popping up each month before their bleed

  • being told or feeling that they are overreacting

For me, I always dredged not only the week of bleeding (and excruciating pain) but the week leading up to this event because I always felt more irritable and outwardly frustrated. As someone who is quite introverted and avoided conflict, this was unknown to who I was the other 2-3 weeks of my cycle.


When I began to learn more about the spirituality and rite of passage of the menstrual cycle, the opportunities each season of the cycle offers, and the reason for each season in the larger scheme of a womans life, I began to notice the subliminal messaging in our western society about 'pms', and felt something misaligned.


This shame of the menstrual cycle is a common and normal part of upbringing and day-to-day interactions, whether it be with people or within things such as advertising and media encouraging women to hide their pain, hide their blood and silence anything to do with the cycle. Sharon Maloney has some incredible research around menstrual shame and mentions:


"Menstrual shame was identified as a core patriarchal organising principle that inculcates and perpetuates male dominance and female subordination."


As young girls we are told to be quiet, be pretty, be polite, say please, and especially not to raise our voices. To raise our voices would be unladylike, to express any emotion other than happiness and joy, such as anger frustration or irritation, is not what women are, or so we are taught.


These basic emotions play a vital role in our health and happiness. To be able to express a response to an event or circumstance, to be able to move with the fluidity of the female hormones and physiology, is vital to the health of that woman. The feminist movement has achieved so much for us, but the core of the patriarchy lives on in the subliminal messaging about things such as the menstrual cycle.


 

I ask you to read the following quotes from professionals in the area of women's rights, gender and politics:



- "The hormone myth quickly helped me recognize that my mood can more likely be attributed to a variety of factors, including my current social support system (or lack thereof), daily stressors, and cultural beliefs about when it is socially acceptable for me to show emotions that have been deemed "unfeminine" under the male gaze"


- "Deluca.. explores the common stereotypes about women, and she argues that the cultural belief that hormones make women emotionally erratic and/or ill is rooted deeply in a patriarchal system of oppression"

- Rachel B Levitt (Moody Menstruators, Baby Brain Preggos, and Menopausal Maniacs: Stereotypes That Hold Women Back)


"Many studies exclusively focus on white middle-class women which makes it problematic to apply study findings to all women we know there is a strong cultural component to PMS because it's nearly unheard of outside of Western nation"

TEDx talk by Deluca


In this TEDx talk, Deluca talks about the common response to a woman expressing 'less than lady-like behaviour' as "Oh it's just her time of the month" and that this is a way for women not to be taken seriously. When we are forced to "sweep emotions under the rug of pms it keeps women from understanding the source of their negative emotions but it also takes away the opportunity to take any action, to change them".


 

Considering all of this, how do you now feel about that week leading up to your bleed?


A very minor dip in a huge pond of stigma, shame, and oppression, these quotes showcase what women are living with and how this manifests in areas of their life. For women, when they are taught to hide, oppress and push down emotions that are not deemed socially acceptable for women to express, this causes a stagnation within that woman. Not only in her energy flow and the workings of her hormones and physiology but in her very life source. It oppresses the spirit, silences it, and moulds it into a malleable product for the patriarchy to push and pull where wanted.


Women begin resenting their menstrual cycle, the very core of their power as a feminine body and spirit. This takes me to a potent concept by Jane Hardwicke Collings, that (paraphrased) 'wherever there is power there is oppression by the patriarchy'. You can see this in many areas where women are oppressed but men are not; rites of passage, menstrual cycles, birth, motherhood, sexuality, sensuality...


I noted up the top, that women, on reflection, may notice similar themes popping up in their week leading up to their bleed that cause frustration. This is your biggest clue to what needs attention and healing in your world. This season of the cycle is GENIUS, in that it truly brings forth all that is not aligned with your higher purpose and intention in the world, and gives you an opportunity to confront whatever it may be before the renewing of the cycle; where traditionally you would set intentions for the new cycle and leave behind all that no longer serves you.


So, women, sisters, mothers, daughters...

LISTEN to that frustration, lean into the rage, embody your full power, roar and raise your voices.

Find a women's circle, create a version of the red tent, celebrate your daughter's menarche, celebrate your mother's menopausal transition, and encourage your sisters to speak up and stand for their thoughts and feelings on their lived experiences.


Returning to equilibrium, you will notice a reduction in the so-called 'pms', and instead be so attuned to your internal world and where the misalignment is, your body won't be screaming at you to pay attention and speak up, but instead you'll be living day-to-day from a place of strength and confidence. You'll be able to utilise this season of your cycle to sit and listen to what is required to move into the new cycle.



 

With a special interest in natural fertility, conscious conception, and conscious relating through starting a family, I offer birth support and related services to encourage more depth and awareness in your journey. I educate on the menstrual cycle and encourage women to reawaken their confidence and trust in their bodies and show an understanding of how all of these experiences are interrelated and must be considered on your journey to starting a family.


I share similar information regularly on my social media. Please follow to keep updated, and contact me if you'd like to talk more about this divine time of preparing for your spirit baby.





Comments


bottom of page