PERIODS. period. / by lee tilghman

Periods. They're a taboo subject. Every woman gets (or should) get them, but not every woman does. And it's a total mystery to us. We are left feeling hopeless, defeated, confused, or given one option: "GO ON BIRTH CONTROL!"

But as research increasingly shows us, birth control (the pill) is not great for us, our hormones, our periods, or really anything.

This post is for every woman who doesn't get a regular period. Any girl who's walked into the doctor's office, intimately telling her gyno or doctor only to be shut down and prescribed birth control or other hormone regulating medication. With no explanation given. Even when she does NOT want to go on it. This post is for any girl who has lost hope in her future as a mother or a healthy, functioning woman because she does not get her period. I've been there. I HEAR YOU!

Periods are an indicator of how well your body is functioning.

When your body is somewhat imbalanced, your period is amongst the first thing to go. Think about it this way: we don't need our periods to survive. Think about it this way: we need our hearts, our kidneys, our brains, our lungs. Those are VITAL organs. Our periods? They are not vital. They are a luxury. It's a sign of total and functional health. At least that's how I see them. 

My period and I, we've had a very long, on and off again relationship.

When I was in high school and struggling with an eating disorder, I lost my period. It went away for 2 whole freakin' years. I didn't care, I was 16 and really only cared about being skinny. In fact, I boasted to my friends that I didn't get my period. I thought it was cool and a sign that I was "underweight". I was clearly very sick.

Fast forward 10 years, at the ripe age of 26, my priorities have COMPLETELY shifted. I envy those who get their periods regularly with no issue. At 26, 10 years into ED recovery,  I was embarrased to say I didn't get my period. It made me feel like less a woman. Like something was wrong with me. Like even though I was doing all the right things, ceasing birth control, exercising well (and not over-doing it) and eating well, I still couldn't get my darn period. What the HECK was wrong with me? I have been off birth control for months, and was starting to feel...hopeless.

So....back to my period. After getting back to a healthy weight and keeping it on long enough in college, I got my period again. And it was pretty regular, (I was on birth control, mind you, so it wasn't a real PERIOD...) until 2013, 2014, and 2015, when it started getting pretty irregular AGAIN, despite my best efforts.

Then the hormonal imbalance began.

When I first discovered my hormone imbalance, PCOS, in March 2016, I got REALLY serious about nutrition and holistic living.

How did I find out I had PCOS?

I had developed crazy symptoms like: migraines, fatigue, depression, anxiety, chin/neck acne, 5 pounds around my waist I could not get rid of despite not changing anything about my diet and exercise regime, hair growth in weird places, and panic attacks. I had to nap every day at 3. My period was VERY FAR from regular. I did not feel in touch or connected to my body. This was very unlike me, and I knew something was up. I got a routine blood test at my gyno in 2015, and they told me I needed to see a hormone specialist since my hormones were VERY OFF.

So I saw the endocrinologist in 2016 (I waited a bit out of fear) and as you can imagine, I felt helpless and isolated when the endocrinologist told me I had PCOS and that there was no freakin' cure for it.

I told my best friend, and she put me in touch with a girl from New York who was outspoken about PCOS (her name is Ben.Shen) and she recommended this one book to me, "Womancode" by Alisa Vitti. 

I downloaded the book that evening on my kindle and read the entire thing in I think 3 nights. It taught me SO much about hormones, health, the gut, and eating for your female rhythm. Alisa has developed what she calls "FLO living", a way to live in harmony with your endocrine system. She talks about the best exercises and foods to eat during, before, or after your ovulation cycle. She talks about how to incorporate more calming and less stressful rituals into your daily life, and how to harness your female energy (the kind that cares for yourself and others) and lower our masculine energy (the go-go-GO! parts of us). I recommend this book to every woman I know. Those with PCOS, endometriosis, cramps, missing periods, or any girl who is trying to switch off birth control. 

She also talks about eating for your body, what your cravings tell you, and how to honor our bodies. 

This book saved my life. 

I got my period thanks to this book. It gave me my period and a wealth of knowledge for my own body and all the women in my life. This book was the last straw that made me realize I needed to get off of the pill (birth control) STAT.

I learned how to eat for my body and my exercise level. When most doctors told me my PCOS was incurable and that I may not be able to have kids someday, I cried my eyes out. No information was online or available to us. But this book made me feel empowered and not alone. After reading this book, I got into what Alisa calls "FLO living" and was pretty regular period wise from May 2016-August 2016. Most of my PCOS symptoms also went away. 

But then I got proud. I kind of thought..."okay, my body is finally happy again." maybe it's okay to eat gluten, and eat more sugar.  But then it went away again.

The last period I had was October 2016.

Until 3 days ago.

That's right. On January 27th, 2017, I got my period for the first time in 3 MONTHS. 

I was stunned. Was it because I'm on the Elimination diet and eliminating all toxic triggers, giving my body the time and energy to focus on things like PERIOD and regularity? Possibly. Could be. I honestly think that's it. I think giving my digestive system a break allowed my body to focus on getting my hormones re-aligned and giving me my period back. I also think eliminating gluten, dairy, and soy give my body the energy and time it wants and needs to get back on track and give me my luxurious period. 

Whatever it is, I'm SOOO thankful. 

I texted all of my friends on that special day of 1/27/17. I am telling everyone. I feel oh so feminine. I'm taking care of myself. I'm taking more rest days. And I am so freaking proud of my body. For the first time in a long time I feel connected to my female energy and am totally embracing it. And who knows it will be regular, but at least I know it's THERE. I am devoted to continuously tap into my feminine energy to keep this good streak runnin'. 

Here's to talking about periods, being more open about our cycles, and embracing our female energy. We need it right now.