Is it okay to fangirl the founder of the company you work for? Not asking for a friend. Kirsten (our founder!) wrote an excellent “aha” eliciting article about out-of-whack periods for Mind Body Green, and it’s too good not to share. The excerpt below clears up why the differentiation between common and normal is SO important. As for the actionable part, you’ll have to head over to MBG and read the full article for guidance on the six aspects of your life you need to get in check for healthy (painless, symptom-free) cycles.
“A recent study showed that more than 82% of people with periods reported significant and life-interrupting PMS and cramping to their OB/GYNs. Every month, people tell us they are missing work, passing out, and throwing up from their cramps. Some with PMDD even tell us they feel suicidal or cut themselves with their cycles. While we would like to count these as outliers, studies show that this is more common than we think. It is so common that the large majority of people with periods that we talk to tell us this kind of monthly menstrual suffering is normal.
This is not true.
PMS and cramping are incredibly common. Just because something is common, that does not make something normal. After all, 420 million people have diabetes, but we don't say that is normal. We treat it.
As long as we continue to tell people with periods that the emotional and physical pain they are experiencing every month is normal, the 80 million women will continue to suffer and believe that this is just what it means to have a period, and the conversations about how we can fix them will continue to be silenced. When we are silent about our suffering, we are less likely to advocate for better research and solutions to have healthier cycles and overall health.
PMS and cramping are incredibly common, but they're not actually normal.
You might be thinking, "OK, common vs. normal—what's the big deal?"
When we say something is normal, we are saying it is without pathology. Let me give you an example. I go for a walk every morning. That's totally normal and without pathology. In fact, it is incredibly good for me. On the other hand, on many days, my legs are arms are weak from my neurological condition. I would never say that was normal. Rather, the weakness is a symptom signaling that my body still needs more attention than I am giving it. For me, that typically means more rest, better food, and upping my stress management strategies.
Your cycle is the same. Think of your menstrual cycle as your monthly report card that gives you feedback on how your body is responding to how you are caring for it. Whether you have PMS, cramping, irregular cycles, endometriosis, or PCOS, the symptoms you are experiencing are all signals that your body is asking for you to pay attention and take additional action in the ways you care for yourself.
So, what should you do?”