Home / Health & Wellness / Women's Health It’s time to start loving your period Hear me out. By Leah Gordon, ND June 28, 2023 Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock In This Article 5 reasons to love your period 5 steps to take to start loving your period A note on loving your period Your period, often regarded as a monthly inconvenience, is actually a fascinating and intricate process that is truly a medical marvel. Beyond the bleeding, your menstrual cycle offers valuable insights into your reproductive system and plays a crucial role in your overall health. As a naturopathic doctor specializing in women’s hormones and fertility, I have witnessed firsthand how our bodies communicate with us, signaling when everything is in harmony and grabbing our attention when something needs our care. Among these powerful messages, the menstrual period stands out. It is an incredible tool through which our bodies speak to us. I firmly believe that the more we strive to connect with, understand, love, and respect our menstrual cycles, the greater our well-being and vitality will be. Although many of us may see our periods as an annoyance, I’m here to challenge the status quo and bring a new perspective. Most of us are unaware of the fascinating and intricate process that unfolds within our bodies each month, leading to the arrival of our period. Instead, we often perceive it as an inconvenience, simply resorting to pads, tampons, or cups to manage the situation. Related: I’m a menstrual cup convert and here’s why you could be too However, it’s time to shift our mindset and recognize the valuable clues and insights our periods offer about our overall health. Our culture lacks the practice of honoring and revering our monthly cycles, but I invite you to join me in falling in love with your period! Let’s explore the reasons why your menstrual cycle is actually quite extraordinary. 5 reasons to love your period 1. It provides a pulse on your reproductive health The menstrual cycle is much more than just your period. Every cycle begins the day you start bleeding and it is a beautifully orchestrated interplay of hormones that regulate the release of an egg from your ovaries, the thickening of the uterine lining, and the shedding of this lining if fertilization does not occur. Each menstrual cycle spans approximately a month, culminating in the shedding phase or bleeding time. This marks the start of a new cycle when your next period begins. The centerpiece of the intricate hormonal symphony in your menstrual cycle is ovulation. It is through ovulation that women have the incredible ability to conceive and participate in the miraculous process of creating new life. Because of this, your menstrual cycle gives us an insightful window into your reproductive health. The regularity and characteristics of your menstrual cycle can indicate the balance and functionality of your current reproductive system. For example, if you have irregular periods, this may indicate that you have irregular ovulation, which can make becoming pregnant more difficult. An unusually light or absent period may suggest a lack of ovulation, making pregnancy highly unlikely. Spotting just before your full period arrives could indicate lower progesterone levels or a luteal phase defect, which can affect fertility1Sonntag B, Ludwig M. An integrated view on the luteal phase: diagnosis and treatment in subfertility. Clinical Endocrinology. 2012;77(4):500-507. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04464.x. On the other hand, having a regular, timely, and normal flow during your period may indicate that at least one critical aspect of your fertility is functioning optimally, providing reassurance. If you notice any irregularities or concerns with your cycle or period, it’s important to address them promptly, even before attempting to conceive. So whether you want children now, soon, or someday, look to your cycle and period for clues about your fertility and reproductive health. Related: Ovulation tests could improve your chance of conceiving, study shows 2. It’s an indicator of hormonal balance Many women ask me, “How do I know if I have a hormonal imbalance?” The first thing I say is, “Tell me about your period.” Your menstrual cycle acts as an indicator of hormonal balance within your body. Hormones such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen and progesterone all play vital roles in the menstrual cycle, influencing not only ovulation, but also the growth and shedding of the uterine lining which we see as a period. A regular and consistent period suggests a well-functioning endocrine (hormone) system and hormonal equilibrium. A period that is spotty, irregular, heavy, light or absent can all be signs of specific hormone imbalances that may require deeper investigation and may impact your overall health outside of fertility. For example, “irregular bleeding patterns and mid cycle bleeding may be indicative of endocrine dysfunction and uterine abnormalities, and such patterns have been associated with infertility, breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.”2Dasharathy SS, Mumford SL, Pollack AZ, et al. Menstrual bleeding patterns among regularly menstruating women. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2012;175(6):536-545. doi:10.1093/aje/kwr356 3. Your period is a marker of general health and may be the 5th vital sign Believe it or not, your period serves as a marker of your general health beyond fertility. Along with other vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse and temperature, many consider the period to be the 5th vital sign. Healthcare providers can gather valuable information about a woman’s health by considering factors such as the age at which she experienced her first period, any extended gaps between periods, and the duration of her menstrual bleeding.3Itriyeva K. The normal menstrual cycle. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. 2022;52(5):101183. doi:10.1016/j.cppeds.2022.101183 These clues are akin to the assessment performed when evaluating an elevated pulse rate or an elevated body temperature, prompting further investigation into a woman’s state of health. A regular menstrual cycle reflects a healthy endocrine environment, indicating the presence of hormones like estrogen and its impact on various bodily functions. Hormonal balance achieved through regular menstrual cycles contributes to bone and heart health, central nervous system function, mood regulation and overall well-being.4ACOG Committee Opinion No. 349, November 2006: Menstruation in girls and adolescents: Using the menstrual cycle as a vital sign. Obstetrics and gynecology. Related: How to talk to kids about periods: An age-by-age guide 4. Your period is the canary in the coal mine, providing early detection of health conditions Menstrual irregularities or changes in your menstrual cycle can sometimes be early indicators of underlying health conditions. Conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, and certain reproductive disorders may manifest as changes in menstrual patterns first. For example, PCOS is the most common hormonal issue affecting women of reproductive age, impacting 6% to 10% of the population. One of the three criteria to diagnose PCOS is irregular menstruation. As we learned previously, irregular menstruation often means irregular ovulation which can impact fertility. Beyond that, we are learning that PCOS is often rooted in metabolic imbalances such as elevated insulin and blood glucose issues. These can potentially lead to diabetes or other cardiovascular (heart) or metabolic diseases later in life.5Teede HJ, Hutchison S, Zoungas S, Meyer C. Insulin Resistance, the Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Women with PCOS. Endocrine. 2006;30(1):45-54. doi:10.1385/endo:30:1:45 Your period serves as a responsive indicator of your overall health, capable of alerting you to potential imbalances that may lead to diseases, much like how the canary birds in coal mines protected miners. By paying attention to changes in your menstrual cycle, or symptoms outside of “normal,” you can become aware of early warning signs and take proactive steps to address any underlying health issues. Related: 6 signs it’s time to talk to your doctor about your period symptoms 5. Your cycles are a reflection of bone health Your menstrual cycle is also closely linked to bone health. Estrogen and progesterone, two of the key hormones in the menstrual cycle, play a crucial role in building and maintaining bone density.6Seifert-Klauss V, Prior JC. Progesterone and Bone: Actions Promoting Bone Health in Women. Journal of Osteoporosis. 2010;2010:1-18. doi:10.4061/2010/845180 Along with progesterone, regular menstrual cycles indicate an adequate estrogen presence, contributing to optimal bone density7Galuska DA, Sowers MR. Menstrual History and Bone Density in Young Women. Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine. 1999;8(5):647-656. doi:10.1089/jwh.1.1999.8.647,8Sanfilippo JS. Is the menstrual cycle truly a vital sign?. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. Published October 16, 2014. which may reduce the risk of conditions like osteoporosis and complications from these conditions. In the words of L Hightower, “Osteoporosis [is a] pediatric disease with geriatric consequences,”9Hightower L. Osteoporosis: Pediatric Disease with Geriatric Consequences. Orthopaedic Nursing. 2000;19(5):59-62. doi:10.1097/00006416-200019050-00010 meaning issues with our bones start early in life even though we may experience the consequences of poor bone health later in life. Having normal and healthy menstrual cycles are a big part of ensuring you will have healthy bones for many years to come. Related: This TikTok perfectly sums up the controversy over menstrual leave in the workplace 6. A healthy period may mean a happier life Your period not only impacts your physical health but also plays a role in your psychological and emotional well-being. In a study looking at 3.3 million women across 109 countries using a menstrual tracking app, they found that mood, vital signs and sexual behavior vary most substantially over the course of the menstrual cycle.10Pierson E, Althoff T, Thomas D, Hillard P, Leskovec J. Daily, weekly, seasonal and menstrual cycles in women’s mood, behaviour and vital signs. Nature Human Behaviour. 2021;5(6):716-725. doi:10.1038/s41562-020-01046-9 Certain hormones that are made as a result of a healthy menstrual cycle, such as estrogen, interact positively with happy neurotransmitters like serotonin11Rubinow DR, Schmidt PJ, Roca CA. Estrogen–serotonin interactions: implications for affective regulation. Biological Psychiatry. 1998;44(9):839-850. doi:10.1016/s0006-3223(98)00162-0 which can lead to improved mood. Another hormone made after ovulation, progesterone, plays a role in supporting anxiety and overall mood.12Schechter D. Estrogen, progesterone, and mood. The journal of gender-specific medicine. 1999;2(1):29-36. Related: PCOS and anxiety are often linked. An expert shares what to know Hormonal fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle can influence mood, energy levels, and cognitive function. Although your mood does naturally shift throughout the monthly cycle, having a more balanced monthly cycle and period may support you in feeling better overall. Imbalances in these hormonal rhythms or the environment of the body throughout the difference cycle phases may lead to issues such as PMS or mood disorders.13Endicott J. The menstrual cycle and mood disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders. 1993;29(2-3):193-200. doi:10.1016/0165-0327(93)90033-g Recognizing that mood changes occur in many women throughout the cycle can help you navigate through the different phases of your cycle and optimize your overall well-being. And if you experience a mood imbalance, looking at the players within the menstrual cycle, in addition to other factors, may be beneficial in finding support. 5 steps to take to start loving your period Step 1: Recognize Learn the valuable insights your period offers about your body and its impact on your overall health. Recognize the significance of a healthy period in maintaining reproductive well-being. Step 2: Shift Shift your mindset towards your period by acknowledging your emotions. Take a moment to observe any feelings of annoyance, anger or embarrassment, and then shift into expressing gratitude for the presence of your period. Cultivate gratitude by focusing on 3 to 5 positive aspects of your period, such as it being a sign of successful contraception, a clue that you had a healthy ovulation, an indicator of fertility, or a support for your emotional and physical well-being. Step 3: Educate Deepen your understanding of your menstrual cycle. Educate yourself about how ovulation works, your unique fertile window, hormonal fluctuations, and the factors influencing your period. Consider resources like my “Master Your Cycle” mini-course for easy to access cycle knowledge all in one place. Step 4: Track Start tracking your cycle to gain valuable insights into your body’s patterns and changes. Monitor how you feel during different phases, observe variations in your cycles, and understand the characteristics of your periods. Tracking not only helps you achieve reproductive goals but also fosters a deeper connection with your body and mind. The Fertility Awareness Method is a popular option, but you can find an approach that suits your preferences and needs. I teach all about cycle tracking in my “Master Your Cycle” course. Step 5: Embrace Optimize your lifestyle according to the distinct phases of your menstrual cycle. Embrace cycle syncing by aligning your eating habits, exercise routines, daily activities, and self-care practices with each phase. This approach supports hormonal balance, enhances mood, boosts energy levels, and enhances your overall experience of life. My “Lunar Rhythm Lifestyle” mini-course offers valuable guidance for living in harmony with your cycle and period. A note on loving your period In conclusion, your period is far more than just a monthly event. It is a complex and awe-inspiring process that truly is a medical marvel. By embracing your menstrual cycle and listening to the clues it is giving you, you can unlock the power of your body’s natural rhythms and feel empowered along your reproductive and health journey. Source(s)1Sonntag B, Ludwig M. An integrated view on the luteal phase: diagnosis and treatment in subfertility. Clinical Endocrinology. 2012;77(4):500-507. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04464.x2Dasharathy SS, Mumford SL, Pollack AZ, et al. Menstrual bleeding patterns among regularly menstruating women. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2012;175(6):536-545. doi:10.1093/aje/kwr3563Itriyeva K. The normal menstrual cycle. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. 2022;52(5):101183. doi:10.1016/j.cppeds.2022.1011834ACOG Committee Opinion No. 349, November 2006: Menstruation in girls and adolescents: Using the menstrual cycle as a vital sign. Obstetrics and gynecology.5Teede HJ, Hutchison S, Zoungas S, Meyer C. Insulin Resistance, the Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Women with PCOS. Endocrine. 2006;30(1):45-54. doi:10.1385/endo:30:1:456Seifert-Klauss V, Prior JC. Progesterone and Bone: Actions Promoting Bone Health in Women. Journal of Osteoporosis. 2010;2010:1-18. doi:10.4061/2010/8451807Galuska DA, Sowers MR. Menstrual History and Bone Density in Young Women. Journal of Women’s Health & Gender-Based Medicine. 1999;8(5):647-656. doi:10.1089/jwh.1.1999.8.6478Sanfilippo JS. Is the menstrual cycle truly a vital sign?. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. Published October 16, 2014.9Hightower L. Osteoporosis: Pediatric Disease with Geriatric Consequences. Orthopaedic Nursing. 2000;19(5):59-62. doi:10.1097/00006416-200019050-0001010Pierson E, Althoff T, Thomas D, Hillard P, Leskovec J. Daily, weekly, seasonal and menstrual cycles in women’s mood, behaviour and vital signs. Nature Human Behaviour. 2021;5(6):716-725. doi:10.1038/s41562-020-01046-911Rubinow DR, Schmidt PJ, Roca CA. Estrogen–serotonin interactions: implications for affective regulation. Biological Psychiatry. 1998;44(9):839-850. doi:10.1016/s0006-3223(98)00162-012Schechter D. Estrogen, progesterone, and mood. The journal of gender-specific medicine. 1999;2(1):29-36.13Endicott J. The menstrual cycle and mood disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders. 1993;29(2-3):193-200. doi:10.1016/0165-0327(93)90033-gThis story is a part of The Motherly Collective contributor network where we showcase the stories, experiences and advice from brands, writers and experts who want to share their perspective with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood, and that every mother's journey is unique. By amplifying each mother's experience and offering expert-driven content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you're interested in contributing to The Motherly Collective please click here.