Ever feel like you are being held hostage by your hormones? Do you experience volatile mood swings, debilitating period cramps, or find that your mental health plummets at various points in your cycle? Next on the DOSE podcast, we welcome Maisie Hill – Period Power author, menstrual health expert and ‘womb whisperer’.
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We discuss hormonal imbalances and birth control, the best ways to boost sex drive, natural period pain relievers and the reasons behind lost periods and how to regain them. Maisie Hill is the guiding guru we all need when it comes to hacking and harnessing the power of our hormones. Here are her tips on how to work with your cycle rather than against it, so you can go from feeling hijacked by your hormones to living in flow…SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES SUBSCRIBE ON SPOTIFY SUBSCRIBE ON ACAST
Maisie Hill Period Power – How to go from hormone hell to harmony
In her pioneering book Period Power Maisie outlines The Cycle Strategy, where she compares the four phases of the menstrual cycle to the seasons of nature. Identifying personal patterns, powers and pitfalls throughout the four seasons, enables women to maximise their natural superpowers each month while making adjustments for the darker days.
‘ I like to think of being aware of your cycle as like knowing the weather forecast in advance. It can be helpful but it’s not always the most accurate. If you know at the weekend it’s forecast to rain, sometimes you can change your plans but most of the time you can’t. You just have to be prepared and that’s what menstrual cycle awareness is for me. Yes sometimes we can attune what’s going on in our daily life to suit our cycles, but a lot of the time we can’t and it’s about being prepared and knowing how to deal with that’.
Hormonal Birth Control
Medicine has always treated periods as a nuisance, seeing the only solution as shutting them down and stopping them completely. While the pill can work wonders for some individuals, it can wreck havoc with others, causing volatile mood swings, low sex drive, weight gain and heavy withdrawal bleeds. There is no wonder then why there has been a recent influx of women turning their backs on the pill and instead looking for non-hormonal contraceptive alternatives.
‘As a teenager I wanted to go on the pill. I wanted to be having sex, I didn’t want to have a baby and I had horrific period cramps. I went for it and it was good in terms of it gave me good levels of contraception and it also took away the period pain. Though that’s not because it actually took away the period pain, it’s because it stopped me from having periods. That’s how the pill works it stops you from ovulating so you don’t actually have periods, you just have what’s known as withdrawal bleeds. They are very different and as a consequence of that my mood tanked and my sexual desire tanked. Relationships in my late teens going into my early 20’s I never really felt up for having sex beyond the early stage in the relationship where oxytocin is going wild and you’re in that strong bonding let’s have sex all the time phase. After that I felt nothing….I just felt quite numb, and I think that would sum up my mood at the time’.
Maisie Hill on Period Shaming
Although the discourse is shifting, menstruation is a widely stigmatised issue, surrounded by negative associations, emotions and feelings that can start at a young age. In Period Power, Maisie explains how we can remove this shame in order to stop seeing periods as a taboo topic…
‘It’s important to look at our own stories, our first experience of our period and what was going on around us, to understand how that has imprinted on our own experience of the cycle. If your parents and family members are still alive, perhaps have conversations with them about what their mental journey has been like during their pregnancies and experiences of the perimenopause, because that all then feeds into the experience that we have’.
‘It’s not our shame. It’s shame that has been put on us through the patriarchy. So always remember it’s internalised patriarchy and it’s not your shame to hold onto – you shouldn’t have to hold onto it’. The Flow Collective
Natural Period Pain Relief
‘Chinese medicine in terms of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, the Arvigo techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy (it’s like a abdominal back massage which you are taught how to do on yourself as a self care routine) and nutritional therapy. They are my top recommendations for working with practitioners and I think it’s helpful for people to know that there are lower cost community practices where you can pay a reduced fee. There’s also lots of colleges and universities that have these programmes and you can go and get reduced cost treatment at a very accessible rate’.
‘There’s also a place for ibuprofen, hot water bottles and hot baths. I’ve even just had one of my members in the flow collective share how her period pain is reduced so much and all she’s done is track and work with her cycle. She hasn’t actually done acupuncture or any of these other things, but she’s had such a radical change in what her period is like. Even just tracking a cycle is an intervention that can make a difference’.
Maisie Hill Period Power – Cycle Syncing Strategy
Cycle syncing is the art of adapting your workouts and nutrition to your menstrual cycle. Our levels of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone fluctuate dramatically throughout the 4 seasons, which can lead to changes in endurance, strength and flexibility. Maisie explains how simply learning to listen to your body can allow you to work with your hormones rather than against them.
‘I would never get too prescriptive with this because the main thing is that you are in tune with your own body and tailoring things to suit where you feel your body is at. Going a bit softer around the time of your period can be helpful. During the run up to ovulation is when you might be more likely to hit your personal best. During the pre-menstrual period in the second half of the cycle, I think just maintaining the stuff that you’ve achieved in the first half should be the priority. As humans we always want to push harder to keep going, but I think there’s a lot to be said for building things up in the first half of the cycle and then switching to maintaining in the second half’.
‘In the first half of my cycle there’s this key point where I feel like I’m entering my summer and I just get the urge to do handstands and to move my body in really freeing ways. During the second half of my cycle I’m more inclined to group activities such as attending a class or meeting a friend for a run. Sometimes it’s not the form of exercise, but it’s how we go about exercising, who we do it with and changing the environment in order to adapt to our cycle’.
Liked this episode with ”Maisie Hill Period Power Author On Finding Hormonal Balance”? Listen to more DOSE podcasts here. Or why not listen to the Period Power Podcast for more tips on improving your cycle?
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