Real Life: From curse to blessing

Most women resort to painkillers to deal with period pain but there is another way to solve this monthly malaise — you just need to pay attention to your cycle

Independent.ie

Dublin, Ireland

By Ailin Quinlam

Monday May 10 2010

YOU either put up with the cramps, the crankiness and the headaches or you pop a painkiller because these are the only options for period pain, right? Wrong, according to psychotherapist Alexandra Pope, who says there is another way.

Generations of women have been reared to view their period — traditionally labelled ‘the curse’ — in a negative way, as a time of emotional volatility and often severe physical pain.

But it doesn’t have to be like this, according to Pope. She says that not only can you significantly reduce period pain by understanding the way your individual menstrual cycle works, you can also use the knowledge to maximise your efficiency and creativity.

For many women, she acknowledges, the term ‘the curse’ is an appropriate metaphor.

“It can be very debilitating,” she says. “About one quarter of your month can be taken up by discomfort and inconvenience, whether it’s emotional upheaval or physical pain. There’s the dread of the pain and then the pain itself.

Pattern

“However, if a woman starts to pay attention to her menstrual cycle, she may notice that there’s a very distinct pattern to her mood and energy throughout the month.”

Your menstrual cycle not only dictates your mood, she says — it also has a very significant effect on your abilities, personal strengths and energy levels over each four-week stretch.

In fact, the ebb and flow of the cycle is so strong it can be compared to the seasons.

Although the timing of each of Pope’s menstrual phases or ‘seasons’ is approximate, the four phases are generally fairly easy to pinpoint once you start to chart your cycle, says the author and facilitator, who suffered from severe endometriosis for many years.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.