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First I want to say thank you, Friend.

Before delving into this month’s theme, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for all of your support this year – for receiving our emails, for joining our workshops and classes, for liking a post on social media and for seeing the importance of commanding our sexual biographies. 

As oppressive policies, mindsets and taboos persist, we are working hard on the backend to create meaningful resources. We hope to be able to expand our influence and reach as we move into 2021, and in order to do that, we really need your continued support. Please consider joining our Patreon community for as little as $3 per month at patreon.com/mysexbio. Your contribution supports creating sex-positive and accessible resources.

With gratitude,
Abba Carmichael, Founder

So...what are we discussing this month?


Over the past few weeks at My Sex Bio, we’ve been deepening our understanding of what the menstrual cycle is, the many cycles within it, and how we might honor it. There is a lot that we want to explore together, but first, let’s address the basics.
 

The parts of the Menstrual Cycle:


Just like the moon, our bodies cycle through a series of phases. The average length of a person’s menstrual cycle is 28 days, but it can vary from person to person, or even from cycle to cycle (as some people do not have a “regular schedule”). The cycle is often considered in three major phases:
 

  1. The Follicular Phase / Proliferative Phase
    This follicular begins on the first day of the period and ends on the first day of ovulation. It is the period when one of the body’s eggs matures and is one of the longest phases, often lasting up to half of the whole menstrual cycle.

    The proliferation takes place after the period when the uterine lining begins to proliferate and thicken once again in preparation for the body’s next ovulation.
     
  2. Ovulation 
    During this phase, the mature egg is released from the ovary and enters the fallopian tube, where it waits to either be fertilized by a sperm cell (after which it would then travel to the uterus and attach to the uterine wall to prepare for pregnancy) or not. If it is not fertilized, then the body will move into the next menstrual phase.
     
  3. The Luteal Phase / Secretory Phase
    The luteal phase is the second half of the menstrual cycle, taking place after ovulation. During this time, the ovary is increasing its progesterone and estrogen in preparation for a possible pregnancy.

    The secretory phase takes place at the same time but is taking place in the uterus. It is the process of either increasing the lining of the uterus to help the fertilized egg attach to the uterine lining, or initiating the shedding of the uterine lining in the case of no fertilization.

Dispelling the Myths:


Only people with vulvas experience cycles.

Actually, all people have cycles! As ShaVaughn Morris says: “We see men, those on the spectrum, non-binary, and the like, experience an up and down flow of emotion. It may not come every 21-28 days, but my cycle doesn’t come every 21-28 days, so does that mean I don’t have a formal menstrual cycle?”

You can’t get pregnant during your period.

Because semen can survive for up to five days (sometimes more) inside the vagina, it’s possible that unprotected sex during your period can lead to conception a few days later when ovulation begins. While many people use cycle-tracking as a form of birth control, it too comes with significant risk for this reason.

Menopause means the end of your cycle.

Menopause, in and of itself is a series of cycles: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. Within each of these are new patterns and hormone cycles, each with their own set of side effects that while, yes unpleasant, offer new opportunities for you to tune in and honor your sacral energy.

Hormonal IUDs cease your body’s natural cycle.

Actually, hormonal IUDs do two things. First, they thicken the muscle around the cervix to make it nearly impossible for sperm to get through. Second, they prevent ovulation from occurring (when an egg leaves the ovary) by affecting the contraction of the fallopian tube so that, if a sperm did get through the cervix, it would find no egg to fertilize.

So, you are still cycling through the process of releasing eggs, it’s just that the IUD makes it virtually impossible for the sperm and egg to meet.

 

Honoring the Menstrual Cycle:


While learning about the menstrual cycle is one form of honoring it, there are many ways for those who experience this cycle to honor it through ritual. Here are a few examples:

Menstrual Blood Facemasks.

Yes. You read that right. Your menstrual blood has MANY uses and skincare is just one of them. Below is an explanation of why this ritual is so beneficial from Cassandra Wilder (a naturopathic doctor and founder of @GoddessCeremony):

“One - Menstrual blood is full of stem cells. Remember that what your body releases every month, has the possibility of growing another human being. Contrary to popular belief, menstrual blood is not a waste product equivalent to feces. This rich substance had the capacity to create life.

Two - Menstrual blood has over 50 times more calcium than regular blood in the body. Menstrual blood is rich in most minerals and has the potential to be incredibly nourishing to the skin.

Three - Offering your blood on your skin is likely a far better option than ingesting it (Note: I DO NOT recommend ingesting menstrual blood like some blogs encourage) because your skin creates a natural barrier. Your skin will absorb what it needs and have a natural barrier to the things it does not need to absorb.”

Supportive Self-Care.

We reached out to the wonderful ShaVaughn Morris of @SayItWithSex for some advice on this matter. Here is what she said:

“I use organic products, Honey Pot Co. is my go-to, including teas with raspberry leaf and cinnamon to assist with inflammation and just overall, feel-good vibes, and I let myself have that pint of ice cream. No, it’s not always the best thing to have during your cycle because of the sugar content, but it’s what I want and I don’t deny myself the things that soothe me during this time...
 
“Also, I recognize that I’m most sensitive and intuitive during this time and honor my natural ability to attune to the atmosphere around me. Connecting to your body during your menses is so important because we all have our ‘period’ differently. If you know you experience cramping and tension, start that cinnamon tea early. Get a CBD regimen going. Greek yogurt* is excellent to assist with cramping and bloating. Increase your iron intake with beets, fish, and green leafy veggies. Add an iron supplement if you bleed heavy.”
 
*For a more vegan-friendly option, opt for leafy greens, almonds, hazelnuts, or other magnesium-rich foods to help ease cramping.

Free Bleeding

An excerpt from Her Blood is Gold: Celebrating the Power of Menstruation by Lara Owen.

I started looking at how I behaved when I had my period, and the first thing I saw was that I used tampons...I thought about it, and realised that maybe there was something important about the blood flowing freely out of the vagina. It occurred to me that the tampons might be irritating my cervix...I had used tampons without ever thinking about the effect they might be having on me; they were a source of liberation, I thought, one that allowed me to act as If I didn't really have a period...

...Tampons allowed "me to pretend that I wasn't really having a period. As I watched that thought, and the thoughts behind it, I began to realize that I had a background belief that my period was something to be ignored and suppressed as much as possible. Suppression was, I knew, one of the main causes of illness and imbalance. Maybe my periods wanted to have a more central place in my life and in my awareness. (Pg 47)


Love this quote? Join our November “Book” Club where we dive deeper into Lara Owen’s book! It’s 100% free to register. Learn more at mysexbiostudio.org.

Connecting your menstrual cycle to the lunar cycle.

Here are some resources you might find helpful:

Writing prompt:
 

After reading this newsletter, what new insights do I have in regards to the menstrual cycle? How can I take action to honor my own natural cycles?

This voluntary monthly prompt invites you to explore your sexual biography.
Tips on exploring this: Set aside 20 minutes with your phone on silent and relax in a comfortable space with a pen and paper. Go slow. Start with what comes to mind from your first read of the prompt. Continue writing your stream of consciousness. 

Mantra of the month


"I'm not afraid of my femininity and I'm not afraid of my sexuality."

                                                                                                       –Goldie Hawn

Researching our sexual biographies:


Do you practice self-care rituals that connect you to your cycle?
 
Yes              No
 
Each month we ask a question in support of our leading mission at My Sex Bio. As we grow we plan to help fund and supply research for sex education. The results of these questions may be shared on social media as well as the following month’s newsletter. These results will also help curate relevant content for our readers, like you, moving forward. Responses are voluntary and anonymous.

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—The My Sex Bio Team
 
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