I came off of ‘the pill’ in December 2017 after 7 years of continuous use. I have been spreading and hearing stories of natural periods ever since. For me, the pill seriously messed up my mental health and sex drive. Within weeks of coming off, I was already less anxious, stopped bursting into tears, and ovulated for the first time in seven years. Now, I’m well on my way to recovering fully and I use Meet Blume Meltdown Oil every day to support my skin detox.
Through my health journey, I notice how much the social structures of capitalism, colonialism, and hetero-patriarchy affect my body as a Sikh-Punjabi woman of colour living in North America. For one, neither my parents or my school taught me sex education that really allowed me to make informed decisions about my sexuality and sexual health.
We can connect and celebrate our natural cycles. Here are five tips to include an anti-colonial feminist perspective (or whatever you want to call it) to your own period health
- Use earth friendly period and self-care products.
Mainstream companies (like Always, Tampax, etc.) use pesticides and other harmful toxins on the cotton and plastics used to create products. These toxins or “xenoestrogens” interfere with our bodies’ detox systems and can create unwanted symptoms like headaches and painful periods. By choosing organic pads and tampons (like Meet Blume) you are supporting small businesses and also reducing the amount of toxins that end up in the earth and our bodies.
You can also extend this perspective to organic, fair-trade self-care products like moisturizing oils, clay masks, vitamins, and more. The average menstruator will throw about 10,000+ pads and tampons into the garbage and ocean during their lifetime. To take it to the next level, invest in a menstrual cup that can be used for 5-10 years. Check out Lunapads and Organicup for more info.
- Cycle naturally and connect with the moon.
You can honour the power of the menstrual cycle by cycling naturally. The natural menstrual cycle from periods to ovulation back to periods can actually be linked up to the lunar cycle. You can get your period on the new moon and release an egg on the full moon (or the opposite!). If you are on a non-natural birth control, then your body is not cycling naturally.
The birth control pill is just one form of what doctors called Combined Hormonal Contraception (CHC). Other CHCs include the shot, the ring, and the IUD. Most people think that our bodies are pseudo pregnant when on CHC. In fact, CHCs or synthetic (aka factory made) hormones that shut down bodies’ endocrine systems and puts them in a state of menopause. We don’t ovulate when on CHC. Some options for natural birth control include barriers (condoms) and the fertility awareness method.
Sometimes I feel like a mouse trying to talk to a herd of menstruating elephants. “Their medicating us!” I yell. Only to hear frustrated period groans and the sounds of snoring. Especially for people with what doctors call polycystic ovaries syndrome, cystic acne, endometriosis, gender dysphoria, painful periods, and heavy periods synthetic hormones can seem like the only option for treatment. Let me tell you there is another way! Visit Fertility Friday and CeMCOR to find out more.
- Embrace body positivity.
We have to love our bodies no matter what. Tell your menstrual blood you love it. Tell your uterus it is gorgeous and sophisticated. Tell your friends and family they look amazing all the time. Tell your pimples thank you for doing the work of detox. We have to love our bodies. Period.
- Reject beauty standards imposed by corporations.
So much of our body image is influenced by unrealistic standards created by corporations who just want to make money, without deeper consideration of the people they are selling to. Everyday we consume images and expectations from clothing companies, makeup brands, social media influencers, and mainstream movies (I’m talking about you Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood, and the other members of the film forest!). We can use an anti-colonial feminist lens to critique normalized beauty standards and generate healthier narratives of gorgeous bodies. Check out Naglona Positivity Pride to see an example of a body positive practice.
- Going beyond the binary.
This is probably the hardest tip to actually put into use. However, many writers, philosophers, researchers, and poets describe it as one of the most important. I am always trying to fulfill my intention of moving past binary thinking. On Turtle Island or North America I have noticed that the ‘democratic’ election of he-who-shall-not-be-named has sliced many binaries in two. Woman/man, female/male, sex/gender, Indigenous people & people of colour/white people, rich/poor, fat/skinny, settler/immigrant, Christian/Muslim, good/bad, them/us, and more. I leave out the intersectional realities of my friends, chosen family, acquaintances, peers, teachers, and sometimes opponents when I ascribe to binary thinking. I witness over and over people marching the path of binaries when in fact there are pluralistic, diverse experiences of everything. Rather than adding to the world’s negative energy, we can choose to be compassionate, open, and curious about people’s lives beyond the binary. For menstrual health this means recognizing and celebrating all the sexes (female, intersex, male, and everything in between), all the genders (woman, femme, non-binary, man, trans, two-spirit, and more), and all the sexualities (Pansexual, polyamourous, heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, and more!)