Growing up, I never gave my menstrual cycle much thought. I took it very much for granted because for the most part, it never caused me much pain. Sure, it was crazy unpredictable from the time it began up up until I discovered I had PCOS, but it never gave me grief. In fact, it was so negligible that despite the fact that I was bleeding for almost six months straight (well, maybe more like spotting rather than really bleeding), I never went to see a gynecologist. In my mind, since I was not sexually active nor was I planning to conceive, I dismissed it. Additionally, it wasn’t bothering me much. When I finally went to see the doctor, I realized how much I was neglecting the big, red (no pun intended) warning signs that irregular cycle was sending me. Given our family history of cancer, I think if I had ignored my endometrial hyperplasia at that time it would have only been time before I developed a cancer. The medical treatments helped me address some of the weight issues I was dealing with. PCOS, obesity and insulin resistance were co-morbid.

I’ve shared in this blog how the practice of yin yoga helped me through my PCOS and contributed to my periods becoming more regular and predictable. However, I still did not pay as close attention to it as I should. It was a natural part of womanhood, after all. As I grew deeper in my practice and understanding of yoga, I began to see how important it is to listen and honor my natural cycles, be this sleep, eating, as well as my menstrual cycle. This was because every time I would see my Teacher (who eventually became both Integrative Nutrition Counselor and Mentor) she would ask me three things: How is your sleep?; What have you been eating?; and “What’s your period like?”.

When I took my women’s health training, I learned about menstrual cups and period apps. Dona and Victor (my other yin teacher) talked about how important it is pay attention to the menstrual cycle because it is our personal health report card. I never thought of it that way. More »

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Me and my fellow Yin Yoga teachers Clarice, Cookie and Dona celebrating our blessings: our periods! Photo taken from Yin Yoga Philippines during our Yin Yoga for Women’s Health training.

 

Yesterday an article  made it’s rounds on my Facebook feed. I initially dismissed it as I felt I already knew what to do, given my long history of having lived with and made efforts to manage my condition. However, my friend Dona, who is a staunch Women’s Health and Menstrual Health advocate, shared the article and asked my opinion and so I decided to read it.

There were four steps outlined in that article: change your diet, exercise, take birth control pills (and at times, insulin sensitizing drugs since hyperinsulinemia is also another side effect of PCOS) and progesterone treatments. I believe strongly in points one and two. Three and four are helpful. But if I wrote that article, I’d dare propose two more “need to do” points on the list:

1. Yin Yoga
2. Change your sleep patterns/cycles
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Growing up, I never thought I had mesntrual health issues. I just took the experience as a natural process of my life as a woman.  Much as that mindset is a positive thing, I failed to recognize an important truth: the irregularity of my cycle, the bloating and retention, the weight issues, the occasional discomfort (I was lucky enough to never have debilitating pain with my periods), and the other emotional symptoms that surrounded my moon cycle was NOT normal. They were indications of some forms of imbalances in my system.

I had such little regard for my menstrual cycle that I did not care if it came on time, or if it never came at all. From menarche, my cycle period was irregular. I know now that I did not have an irregular cycle, because a cycle means something that is consistent and regular.  What I thought then, however, was that it was normal for someone to have irregular periods because sometimes that’s just what happens. It came to the point that I didn’t care at all and just took things in stride to the point that I was bleeding (not heavily, but more like spotting) on and off for a period of almost six months. I never brought it up to anybody because we just don’t talk about periods, right? And although I had been on the swim team when I was younger, I always managed to deal with my period with tampons and the like. Finally my mother found out about it and sent me to an OB/GYN. I had previously never gone to a doctor for my periods because I always thought we only needed to see one if we were pregnant, trying to conceive or were sexually active. I was neither. More »

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