The overarching answer to most questions is that if you feel the call to do this work then you are welcome here but let me delve into a few of the most common questions I get asked...
Can I track my cycle on hormonal contraception?
Hormonal contraception means that you don't have periods (the bleeding is a withdrawal bleed from the drugs) so you don't be able to track your period as such but there's still a great depth of work that can be done. As far as I'm concerned tracking and charting are great mental health tools for everyone and a menstrual cycle is just one blueprint to follow.
Side point: There are lots of incredibly valid reasons for needing and/or wanting hormonal contraception so please know that there will never be any judgement from me and this will never exclude you from any of the work I offer. I can't even begin to imagine how liberating it must have been to be liberated from having to have 10 kids and being able to have sex without the fear of pregnancy. So I respect the fact that the pill has played a major role in the liberation and sexual freedom of women in so many ways but I am also aware that hormonal contraception interrupts the natural cycle, can mask gynaecological and other health issues, disrupts the endocrine system, depletes the body of key nutrients, reduces libido and can cut you off from the depth of emotion that arises through the fluctuations of a natural menstrual cycle (to list just a few side affects).
Can I practice Menstrual Cycle Awareness Without a Cycle?
There are many reasons why a person might not have visible monthly cycle such as being born without a womb, having had a hysterectomy, menopause, early menopause, lactational amenorrhea, hypothalamic amenorrhea, eating disorders, hormonal contraception, being a trans woman and some health issues (to name but a few) and there are many ways to explore cyclicity beyond just Menstrual Cycle Awareness.
As with hormonal contraception, you won't be tracking your period but again I feel that tracking and charting your moods, energy levels, behaviours, tendencies and physical changes can be a very grounding practice that can provide insights into your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. If you're not working with a cycle I often suggest tracking alongside the phases of the moon.
Cyclical living is not just the remit of bleeding women and people; with or without a visible monthly cycle, living in tune with your rhythms and the rhythms of nature is.
Can I do this work post-menopause?
This workbook does not specifically cover menopause so if that is what you're looking
for then this wouldn't be the right work for you.This work can retrospectively shed light on a life of periods as well as deepening your connection to the lunar, seasonal and greater life cycles. When looking at seasonal associations peri-menopause is often linked to the season of autumn and menopause with winter, so it may be that you find some of the information related to those phases relevant.
Can I Chart my Cycle if it is Irregular?
There are many reasons why a person might have irregular cycles such as, PCOS, peri-menopause, lots of stress, travel, an underlying heath issue and more. If your cycle is irregular, know that often there is a larger cycle within that. Years of talking about periods has shown me that anecdotally lots of women experience a change in cycle length around seasons change. Strange but seemingly true.
Charting and tracking can help to cope with the unknown aspect of irregular cycles because as you begin to learn the signs of ovulation you can predict your period fairly accurately because the luteal phase (premenstrual phase) is generally the most consistent phase in terms of duration for most people.
Irregular cycles can be a blessing in disguise because being unable to track and chart from within the confines of a fairly consistent structure instead you have to learn to surrender to the unpredictability, which requires even closer, more attentive inner listening. This is the ultimate training ground for surrendering to the unknown.
Menstrual cycle awareness is just as valuable for those with irregular cycles and in fact the very act of paying close attention to, accepting and cooperating with the cycle can sometimes iron out the very issues that made it irregular to begin with or help with the transition towards menopause.
I don't have a good relationship with my period, I don't know if this is going to work for me?
I hear you, I feel you. I didn't get into this work because my period was a light sunny breeze, I got into this work because my period caused me to suffer so badly that at times it felt too much to bear and I wondered if I could handle 10 days of every 3 weeks as a completely non-functional human being.
I haven't always loved my period, that came from better understanding what was happening, why I was suffering and knowing what to do about it. I now view my period as an incredibly valuable health feedback loop that I would never do without and maybe you will too?