I wanted to write this blog post since way before I started my website.
It’s about a truth so empowering and so unbelievable that I was a little afraid to share it with the world. I was fearing you’d think I’m a radical hippie. Which I’m not.
What to do with all this blood?
When I was about 12 years old, my mum bought me some sanitary pads, anticipating my first menstruation will appear soon. As I grew older I tried different products. I tried tampons, later I gave the menstrual cup a try, and then I tried cloth (reusable) pads. I also tried a few different types of cloth pads until I found the ones that are the most comfortable for me.
All of these methods have one thing in common. The assumption that the blood simply flows out of our bodies uncontrollably. If we don’t want to shame ourselves with a visible blood stain on our clothes, we need to put something that collects our blood somehow before it gets to spot our garments.
Surely, that’s what most of us think women were doing since the dawn of time. In her novel “The Red Tent“, Anita Diamant tells a story of a biblical tribe, where the shift from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society takes place. In her story, the women would all menstruate with the full moon. They take a break from their chores for the bloody days and sit in the red tent on a heap of straw to absorb the blood.
But what if you could eliminate the blood consciously? And decide when and where to empty yourself?
Turns out, you can.
There’s a growing number of women around the world who are practicing this method, and I’m one of them.
Let me start with an analogy.
Human babies are not born toilet trained.
We teach them at a certain age to pay attention to their bodies’ signals. When they are being toilet trained, they first learn to notice when they are eliminating. Next, they notice how their body feels just prior to eliminating. And then they learn to hold and to wait until they are in an appropriate place for eliminating. It is simply a matter of them realizing it’s possible, and then practicing until they don’t need their nappies anymore.
Same goes for the menstruation blood.
First, you need to be told it is possible.
Then, you need to start noticing that the blood doesn’t flow ongoingly: it comes in spurts, or “waves”.
Next stage, you listen to your body and recognize the signals it sends you just before the blood is about to flow out. For most women, it’s easier to notice this while wearing a sanitary pad (as opposed to a tampon or a cup).
The last stages are the opposite side of the same coin, these are the trickiest stages: learning to hold the blood in, and to release it only when you want to.
Holding the blood and releasing it at will.
You might think that it’s not natural. That we’re forcing our body to do something it’s not supposed to. But, going back to our analogy, would you consider toilet training as unnatural?
As toddlers, when we were toilet trained, we learned to hold our urine and stools. What we actually did unconsciously, is used some specific pelvic floor muscles. These muscles got stronger, which meant we can hold for longer. And then while in the toilet, we learned to relax those same muscles to let the waste out.
When it comes to menstrual blood, the process is quite similar. We only need very specific pelvic floor muscles to hold the blood, and then to relax the same ones when we’re in the toilet to let the blood out.
How do we actually do it?
I can’t teach you the entire technique over one blog post. I can, though, give you some tips so you can see for yourself how empowering it is to cooperate with your body. As opposed to stuffing something into your vagina (or under your vulva) and trying to forget that it’s bloody down there.
- During the heaviest day of your next period, pay attention. Keep your awareness in feeling the lower abdomen, and notice the sensations down there. If you have a feeling that blood might be flowing – go to the toilet and observe what’s happening. The first time you do it, you might have to go to the toilet every few minutes – but this is only temporary. Until you figure out how it feels just prior to the blood flowing out.
- When you do go to the toilet to empty yourself, keep really relaxed. Focus on your pelvic floor muscles and make sure that you don’t contract anything down there. A good idea is to curve your lower back (as if you’re lifting your “tail”) and use your hands to spread the outer thighs apart just before you sit on the toilet bowl. Imagine everything down there is totally open. Wait until you have a notion that the blood has been released.
- Once you feel comfortable that you can recognize when the blood is about to come, it’s time to learn how to prolong the time that you have to go to the toilet. The specific muscle you need to activate is the bulbospongiosus, but don’t worry if you don’t know what muscle it is. Remember, when you were toilet trained no one told you that you needed to activate a muscle in order to hold your pee in, and still you were able to hold it in. Just tell your body to do what it knows in order to hold the blood inside for a little while.
Why should anyone practice this technique?
There are some interesting benefits to learning how to eliminate your blood consciously.
For example, the gradual refinement of your pelvic floor muscles. They will get stronger and more flexible, and you will most probably notice a positive difference in your sexual wellbeing.
Some women report a big relief in menstruation discomfort. This is most probably due to the fact that they simply listen to their body and identify when it needs to be emptied. If we recall our analogy, imagine that you ignore your body’s signal when you need to go to the toilet. The more you hold, the more discomfort you will feel. The discomfort might turn into pain. And eventually, if you hold for too long, you won’t be able to control it and some urine (or stool) will pass in a frenzied manner. And when you eliminate with the first sign of your body needing it, there won’t be any discomfort to start with.
True, in menstrual blood we can feel the discomfort and pain even when we don’t consciously hold the blood inside. But strangely enough, many women – including myself – feel a lot less discomfort during menstruation while consciously eliminating the blood. We feel the flow, and we let it go…
Also, if you’re using menstrual pads, you won’t need as many. (You won’t be able to use tampons or a cup if you’re giving this method a try, but obviously, you can alternate between them.)