I have recently completed a program called Stillness and Cycles with Sara Harris from Follow Your Flow. It was 6 weeks of finding out everything and more about our cycles. Each week we attended a presentation, discussion and an Esoteric Yoga session, charted our cycle every day, learned about the cycle on a physical and energetic level, and kept a daily journal of body awareness and observations of each phase.
The program has taught me about repose, and I have had a physical taste of what that really means.
If for a moment we consider the human body to be like any motor engine (which in truth it is – a magnificent engine that makes so much possible for us), then we know that the two basic components which make a motor engine are stator – the part that does not move but plays an equally important role as the part that it supports to move, which is rotor. In the case of the human body, we have all the moving mechanisms which form the moving, motion (rotor) part and, not necessarily in physical parts but more so in the quality of the movements, we have a repose (stator) part. What and how we move, always begins from repose and the quality of it. The greater the repose i.e. the quality of our being in stillness, the greater the movements.
Previously, I couldn’t get my head around repose – how could we be doing things and participating in normal everyday and very busy life, but be in repose? It seemed a bit unattainable. I thought it meant lying down and not being very productive. I didn’t see how life could be lived like this – always lying down??
During this program I experienced and understood the magic of repose, the wonder of its dual dynamic – of feeling settled and still, yet participating and expressing in all aspects of life – taking a back seat in the front row. Why a back seat? The back seat stands for settlement. Because we are at the performance (life); we are fully present to the performance, yet we are settled in ourselves. From this place; our ability to simply observe without getting entangled in what is playing out in front of us is far greater and as a result we are enriched but detached.
Why the front row? Because we are participating, active and involved. We are seen and not hidden in the shadows of the back row. And because of the front seat view – we see more than we have ever seen.
Taking a back seat in the front row relates to a distinct sense of being able to sit back into myself. As I had this feeling of sitting back, I felt the support like that of a chair where I could let my physical body go and be held. I settled back and was held…by my cycle.
In a sense I am on the edge of my seat and wanting more, whilst being completely rested and sat back in my seat. What a combination! To be at the ready and participating in all aspects of life, but to be settled and at ease. To have experienced this feeling of settlement has been incredible. I have been a highly anxious person pretty much all my life and I can still push that anxious button. However, through this program of Esoteric Yoga and understanding our cycles, understanding my cycles, I have had a taste of something entirely different and out of this world.
My cycle guides me in this; supporting me to see the depths that are on offer energetically and physically. For example, if I take the menstrual phase where I currently am, then my body has moved into depths of tenderness, delicateness and sensitivity. I can take that seat and participate in life from this point, sitting back, enriched by the depth of what I can feel and surrender to. Or I can fight and miss the fact that there is a chair there with my name on it and with the depths it offers. There are two sides to the coin; I choose which.
What is also amazing is that I am aware that we are part of many cycles, at any one time, whether of day and night, our sleep cycle, the weekly cycles, the cycles of the season, the decades cycles etc – everything comes back around. By being connected to my menstrual cycle, I have had the feeling of being somehow connected to them all.
Repose is our home and it’s inside of us. It is a quality of rhythm that is integral to our being. Through Esoteric yoga, stillness, and bringing out the greater levels of innate tenderness and sensitivity, I have been able to feel that repose; that natural way of being where my body settles and greater awareness of life switches on. From here I could experience the performance that played out in front of me, but not become lost in its narrative.
With much due appreciation and thanks to the Benhayon family for blazing the trail with their livingness, and Sara Harris for her dedication to women’s health and all things cycles at Follow your Flow.
“We don’t need to bleed” read a bold statement in a recently published article in British press.
Apparently, women are opting to take a pill that stops them having periods.
Why are women increasingly giving up on periods?
Ask many women about their experiences of periods and they will tell you that they are painful, uncomfortable and a downright nuisance.
Until very recently, I was one of the women giving up periods. I didn’t take any medication to stop them physically occurring in the body but my giving up was to have no understanding of the point of all this period stuff. I quietly believed that periods were an expensive biological occurrence costing me a balanced emotional outlook, sanity, comfort, ease, productivity around that time of the month and more. The list was long. I also thought it was par for the course to experience these things and so I suffered quietly through.
I literally had no clue about what was happening during my menstrual cycle. I didn’t know what time of the month my periods occurred.If someone had asked me what a period was then, I wouldn’t have been able to say much. Up until a year or so ago, I would be at the doctors and not even be able to say where I was in my cycle. Not because I had forgotten, or didn’t have it recorded somewhere, but because I didn’t even know what that meant. What was a cycle? There was just your period every month, for about a week or so, and then there wasn’t.
The article mentioned highlights the mental health impact of our relationship with our periods too. I used to feel awful, and quite recently I experienced the frustration of the PMS stage in an extreme way again. The tension was unbelievable. The emotional storm before my period was another disturbance and agony that I accepted as ‘normal’ for years. It would leave me feeling desolate and disconnected and it was never a case of one week of PMT or PMS, and the rest were golden weeks. I learnt that everything was connected and everything affects everything else. The discomfort and tension I was feeling before the bleeding phase was significantly impacting my work, my relationships, my sense of self-worth, my confidence.
Writing about this now, I understand that the empty, lost feeling that I had was partly from feeling like I was walking around in nothing but an empty shell. I didn’t relate to this physical body that I was in and found it difficult to see – and feel – where I fitted into everything. Connecting to my cycle has been a great way to help feel myself again.
So how have things changed?
Inspired is exactly the word I would now use to describe the relationship that I have with my cycle and myself, through making the conscious choice to understand and connect to my cycle. Would I opt to no longer have periods now? Absolutely not. I hold them very dear to me, but if, and when, they go, they go. The beauty is that I will still know that my body is working intimately in cycles. We all live in cycles and the period cycle is just one of many that women experience.
What I love about my periods now is that I have far greater understanding of my cycles and the different phases in a way where I can work together with my cycle and use it as an incredible support, rather than the former nemesis. I am getting more and more of a feeling for the grand support that the hormones estrogen and progesterone provide when I allow them to do their incredible and delicately designed jobs. I would never have discovered this had I not listened to the signals from my body. I now have the choice to sit back and allow estrogen and progesterone to do their jobs which requires me to be more sensitive to what I need in the moment in terms of rest, expression, food and drink etc.
I now know when I am ovulating and it generally feels great. I notice how naturally confident I am, how I am more outgoing, enjoy working with or generally connecting with people, and I feel hugely inspired at this time in my cycle. It can often feel like the beginning of something new and I feel very inspired by who I am with an increased appetite for getting more involved and committed in life. And I just want to be around people, which isn’t always my experience at other times in the month.
I now notice that a few days into my period, once the pain and discomfort have gone, then I have a similar feeling of get up and go, and connect to a purpose to get things up and running or finish things off so that I can have a fresh start with the next thing on the horizon. I feel more expressive and not just in how much I talk and say but also in the way I walk, in my footsteps and all my movements. Somehow, I have this feeling that there is more of me than what I can see, if that makes sense (?).
Being aware of the different phases of my cycle helps me to look after myself more. I know that the more sensitive and aware I am of each part of the cycle then the more I can benefit from my body going through its processes of clearing and preparing for the next phases. I had an experience recently where I learned that if I am lost in anxiety, stress or struggle then I can completely miss feeling the inspiration that I described above, which is kind of sad to have that missed beautiful opportunity.
My relationship with my cycle is just that. It’s a relationship I have with something and someone. Mostly with me. My body can be my best friend and adviser at every step, or I can opt not to see it or treat it that way. It requires me to be sensitive and aware, something I don’t always choose. It requires me to be honest. It asks that I trust the relationship, to commit to it and always appreciate what it offers. It asks for new and often unfamiliar levels of self-honouring and care to be chartered, whichcan at times feel uncomfortable. It asks me to be aware of how I may have been making things much harder for myself and my penchant for a struggle – a knowing not always easy to accept.
Observing how my body is feeling has brought a deeper level of understanding: rather than the pain of periods disturbing and wreaking havoc on my life. I can now see that it was more that the way I was living my life was wreaking havoc on the natural blessing that periods afford me. Until this understanding, I was trying to ignore if not fight against the healing and clearing out that my period gifted me every month. Some things just can’t be ignored or fought.
My cycle can be my compass anytime I am willing to listen. This exploration has changed my life. To have felt lost and desolate, and resentful of my body, to now feel an inner confidence and be inspired by my body, is something I truly appreciate.
Do I never experience period pain? Not at all. I can still experience painful periods, but now I know that there is more to understand and more care and awareness to be expressed and communicated in the way that I am living. Knowing that there is always an expanding relationship to be had with my cycle will always be my inspiration.
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is the process by which eggs are removed from your ovaries and mixed with sperm in a laboratory culture dish. Fertilisation takes place in this dish, “in vitro”, which means literally “in glass”. The embryo is then placed back into the womb for implantation.
During a consultation of an IVF treatment you are advised that the aim is to produce as many eggs as possible, so there is a better chance of fertilisation. The process of IVF is to take over your body, by stopping your regular period cycles, in order to create more eggs to be used for fertilisation.
During my IVF treatment I was advised that this is done by taking drugs for 2 weeks to down regulate hormones which puts the body into a “false menopause”. You are then given different drugs for two weeks to re-stimulate ovaries to create as many eggs as possible for fertilisation – it’s like shutting the system down and re-booting it again (artificially).
My journey to becoming a parent and having a family of my own started when I was around 37 years old.
Life was ticking along, I was feeling the pressure of ageing, society and running out of time.
Looking back, my life was actually very intense, but at the time and being immersed in this constant commotionto me felt normal, like life is always just that way.
I was holding two jobs, one of which was self-owned business, traveling long hours and always busy doing something, either working or socialising.
Life never stopped, unless I was forced to stop.
Every few months, I would go through colds, sinuses, back pains, intense periods, but never did I pause to ponder that these might have been messages from my body to slow down. I would have regular complementary treatments all the time believing this was supporting me and that with that as well as with exercise and food I could somehow get my life in balance. I would go on detoxes convinced the body needed it, even if it didn’t. I trained as a yoga teacher and in meditation, convinced all of this was bringing balance into my life before I embarked on the journey to try for a baby.
But my body was not responding so we explored IVF.
I went through the whole four weeks of taking drugs daily, from down regulating to re-stimulation. To begin with I felt no side effects. I was too determined to make it work, that nothing would have stopped me. On collection, they managed to retrieve three eggs which they were able to fertilise, and put back two embryos for implantation. The implantation failed. It wasn’t until this point that I started to feel the impact my body had gone through. I had not stopped working throughout the drug stage and I felt exhausted. I only stopped for the two weeks after the embryo was put back hoping that would support. But in truth, reflecting back, there was no or very little chance for the process to work.
It was a very quick process and I never really allowed any time to fully understand the impact of the treatment. I had three tries on IVF and what stuck in my head was that the treatment takes you through “false menopause”. At the time I did not understand menopause and, honestly, I was not interested in knowing. The fact that I had painful periods was not a concern to me or to my consultants. During internal examinations I was informed I only had one active ovary. The other had shut down and was not visible in the scans. And yet, even at this point when I was given a clear warning that something was not right, I didn’t listen. Determined to have a child I went along with the whole process.
I had been pushing my body so hard and working to the point of exhaustion which was considered totally normal and no different to how the majority around me were living. I never for a moment considered that my painful periods and clotting, my colds, sinuses and permanent state of exhaustion could be at all connected with the way I was living and what I had been putting my body through. And even though I felt a high level of exhaustion I was determined to put my body through the IVF with all the drugs just to have a baby. I was too fixated on: baby first, body second.
What came after was horrible. I went through major depression and decided I would not put myself through IVF again. I started seeing a friend who was practicing the Esoteric Healing Modalities who I had been seeing during the IVF Program. Without any judgment she allowed me the loving space to connect to a deeper understanding within myself of the choices I had been making and how they had been affecting my body and my general way of being.
I started to truly want to find ways to support my body and to look at what I could possibly change about the way I was living in order to get a greater understanding of what was going on for me, hence my return to the practitioner for more Esoteric Healing to go deeper in dealing with the hurts I was feeling, like sadness and depression. My practitioner had changed over the years I had known her and I was inspired, so I wanted to know how and what changes she made in her life. It was from this inspiration that I went on to attend Universal Medicine presentations. I started to take responsibility for my life.
At first I worked on my exhaustion by going to bed earlier to get enough restful sleep. I then stopped drinking alcohol as I found that it added to the exhaustion and definitely made my depression worse. Next, I started to change my diet and looked closer at what I was eating that was adding to the tiredness I felt. I explored foods without gluten, diary and sugar, given that I found these all contributed to my tiredness. This way of living felt amazing. I felt healthier and more energised in my body than I ever had. I looked younger than my age. To me this was a definite big improvement in the way I was living.
At some point I met Natalie Benhayon who I learnt was offering Esoteric Ovary Massage as a part of Esoteric Healing. What prompted my particular interest in approaching Natalie was that I wanted to explore if there was a connection between the way I was living my life and the fact, as confirmed by my medical consultant, that my reproductive system had shut down. I began regular sessions with Natalie twice a year with the intention to at least attempt to uncover what might be buried deep down in my ovaries. With the support of Natalie and other practitioners, I began to be much more sensitive to how my body was and to really see why my body was in the state it was. My periods, which were regular as clockwork prior to IVF never returned to normal. I had gaps when I never had a period and these gaps started getting bigger during cycles.
My commitment to heal my own body kept growing and with the support of Serge Benhayon, Universal Medicine and their practitioners I was opening to all that was being presented and shared, be that through sessions, workshops or courses. There was lots of great wisdom being shared which I took on board and applied into my daily life with practical tools and techniques, one of them being the Gentle Breath Meditation – a simple way and a great support to connecting back to my body through creating moments of stops. Another was the Esoteric Yoga, a very gentle and powerful yoga where I was able to bring full awareness back into the body through a deeper level of stillness, which is possible through surrender of the body and mind, causing the mind to stop wandering and allowing the body to focus on the stillness within. My body started to process and eventually clear a lot of hurts and buried issues.
Two years later I was still feeling the want to have a child as did my husband, however, I could not face going through traditional IVF again. I found out about Natural IVF, investigated a bit more, and discovered a clinic that specialised and encouraged Natural IVF over IVF, as it is less invasive, does not require drugs for one month and there is no reason why women with low ovarian reserves need to take the full drugs. In my case this made sense as I had low ovarian reserves. The fact that there were no drugs to take is what interested me since it was less invasive to the body. My husband and I went along for an open evening and we found out more about both forms of IVF and why Natural IVF is a better and cheaper option for me.
Natural IVF is very simple. You are monitored from the two weeks before ovulation to check the egg is growing and then when they feel it’s at a right size, you take one injection so you don’t ovulate and then within that 48hrs the egg is collected, fertilised in the laboratory and the embryo put back. No side effects of drugs.
My experience with this clinic was amazing. They checked everything and with a 3D scanner they could see blood flow to the womb. The scans were regular, every other day, to know when the egg would be ready for collection. They also knew that my blood was not thin enough to support implantation so agreed to give me blood thinners to aid the process.
I was told before I commenced on the program that both my ovaries were functioning again. This was a miracle considering one had completely shut down a few years prior. I got to understand that through even the simplest changes I had made in my life, such as slowing down, taking even small breaks to rest when feeling tired, being active but not frantic, focusing on how I moved around and conducted myself throughout a day even down to some very simple things and something I used to discard as ‘unimportant’ like keeping my body warm when any part of it was cold, going to the loo when I needed to and not waiting till I was ‘bursting’ and all of the increased awareness of the importance of looking after myself like I might after a precious newborn came with the support of the Esoteric Modalities, and the more great results I was experiencing the more I was able to make more loving choices, which allowed this miracle to happen. It was my own way of living that brought this amazing change. I was definitely the queen of that castle.
I was informed that as I had very low ovarian reserves I only had a 10% chance of success rate. What was beautiful about this place was that they were open and honest and it never felt like it was about making money but truly supporting me and actually wanting a positive outcome.
Two weeks later when I was informed I was pregnant I was over the moon. Yet, part of me could not believe how quick, simple and less invasive it was especially after the previous journey I had gone through. I had some doubts and knew my body still had a lot more to heal, even though I really wanted to be a mother and wanted my own child. I went for a 6-week scan, then a 7-week scan. I was then called back for another scan as they picked up some abnormality. The 8-week scan showed that the embryo’s heart beat had stopped. My heart felt like it had stopped too. The consultants and nurses were so lovely and reassured me not to give up. I was in shock. I could not cry, but I felt my body hardening and going into protection mode. My upper chest tightened and closed in, upper arms tensed up and lower arms become heavier. I didn’t want to speak to anyone about my lossbecause I did not want anyone to feel sorry for me. Instead, I put on a brave face and went on with my day.
It so happened that straight after the scan I had an Esoteric Healing session. I shared my experience and had the space to connect to what I felt more deeply and feel the sadness of the loss and allow the grieving process. I was able to surrender and let go and feel the sadness. I had to allow the body to go through natural miscarriage.
During the next few weeks I worked on just simply allowing my body to go through what it was going through, until the night when the miscarriage took place. I had three hours of intense pain, as the lining of my womb separated from the fetus. The pain was excruciating and no pain killer was touching this pain. I had to just bear the pain and allow it to pass. In these moments my life flashed me by in how I had been living, what I was experiencing and in that I felt there was a major healing of past momentums. The next several weeks were tough as I had to deal with loss, but with the support of Esoteric practitioners, the process felt much easier than I might have expected it to be as my body went through some great healing. I came to understand there was nothing I had done wrong, but that in the same way we all have a choice, the child had a choice too and in this case the child chose not to come. This for me was a great healing moment.
In the coming days I had a whole week of support where I received numerous healing sessions and support from Serge Benhayon and various other practitioners.
I knew I had one more chance still to try again. Three months later rather than giving myself six months needed break I rushed into the last Natural IVF. Needless to say, my body was not ready and this time no eggs were collected, just a fractured egg.
The consultant was honest with me and shared I would be wasting money to try with my own eggs as I had very few eggs left. She advised the better option for me was to go with an egg donor and that my body was strong enough to carry even until I was sixty. On one side it was sad to hear that I had very little chance of having my own child, but it was a great confirmation in how having taken much greater care of myself had such profound impact on my body that I now had a higher chance of carrying a child. What I learnt from all this is that the body is very clever.It knows everything and it really is up to us to continuously make loving choices, to support our body to stay healthy.
Many would say my journey is sad or even unfortunate. When people ask if I have children and I explain I have not been able to have my own, they feel sorry or don’t know what to say. I share with them that it’s ok, it’s my journey and it’s been ahuge blessing, one where I have learnt so much about my body, how I have lived and how I have learnt through my own living experience that my every choice affects everything. What we cannot do is underestimate our body and the messages that we constantly get given.
Ironically (or not) I have learnt more about parenting and children through Universal Medicine, courses, workshops and presentations, through our attempt to adopt a child and perhaps most significantly through being with and observing other children grow up around me.
There is no right and wrong in how we become a parent. The IVF process in fact brought me to my new understandings and that the key thing is to firstly understand and honour our bodies and how we live.
Today I feel very blessed that I have a deep level of understanding about my body, my own healing, self-care, self-nurturing and self-love.
By Amita, UK
* Published with permission of my husband.
For further inspiration..
What if infertility is about my relationship with me first and foremost?
Six years ago the doctor asked me if I wanted anti-depressants and suggested I saw apsychotherapist for eating disorders. I’d had some big life changes and reacted with ahuge amount of emotional turmoil and stress. I lost about 12kg and went down to 42kgwithin a few months. My periods stopped and I had no energy or enthusiasm for anythingin life.
I thought I didn’t have an eating disorder because I wasn’t obsessed with my weight or my body – I just didn’t care, about myself or anything else. I shut myself down as a woman, to myself and the world, and gave up.
In the last 6 years my life has changed massively. While a few things have changed on the outside, they are nothing compared to the inner re-vamp that has been – and is still – taking place on the inside. I have energy for life and I actually want to be here and I’m finally starting to love being a woman.
Not that I wanted to be a man, more that I just didn’t want to be here at all in the first place and secondly, I didn’t want to feel and connect to the delicacy and power of how it feels to be myself, as a woman.
Slowly, and with the support of esoteric practitioners, I began to see and feel that I wasn’t broken, and – amazingly – there was nothing to fix. I was just hurt, and I got the support I needed and the tools to start to deal with those hurts and to start taking care of myself.
I got to see that I had been addicted to getting it right, and, underneath a perfectly calm-looking facade, addicted to stress: the drama, the rush, the working things out, the needing to ask 20 people the same thing… just to be sure it was the ‘right’ decision, and that nothing could possibly go wrong.
Having designated myself as Head Girl of Nailing Life at an early age and made it a sort of secret life ambition, I had this fixation with getting somewhere, being better, and thinking I had to work hard to get there. I even tried to make the Ageless Wisdom teachings into rules and found that it didn’t work. To my disappointment, and exasperation, there was no dogma to follow, no rule book to abide by, no one telling me what to do… and no perfection to be recognised for. Instead, I started to find that the more I let go, the easier life became and the easier I am on myself. I can be in life as an active and responsible participant but without having to think about it, because there is no right and wrong. Just infinite moments of choices to be continuously made that are either loving and truthful, or not, and then naturally results and consequences of those choices.
I made some changes to my life and started looking after myself; going to bed early, eating nourishing foods and not being controlling about food, generally letting go of that which did not belong in and around me and opening up to people more so I could let people in.
But my body wasn’t just going to give me a period in exchange for a couple of early nights. It is asking me to make some fundamental and consistent changes to my life: like pay attention to the quality I move in not just once a day while making my bed, but 24/7… and to enjoy and bathe in how deliciously light and expansive it feels to move in and with that connection.
I joined an online programme to look more closely at my period cycle, and discovered that even though I don’t have my periods, my body is still going through a cycle. Makes so much sense – just because we don’t see the Moon every night it doesn’t mean it’s not there and like its gravitational dance with Earth is not causing tide to ebb and flow. I had known that we’re always connected to cycles, but had chosen not to payattention to it, or to practically apply it, and so it remained as knowledge in my head andnothing more.
Following advice from my medical practitioner, I’m now applying bio identical hormonal creams to give my body the support that it needs and I can feel that there is a rhythm with that. My body is trying to ovulate. There are changes to my breasts, how connected I am to my body to be able to actually have a sense of my ovaries, differences in cervical mucus… Once I started to pay attention to it, I saw that my body is always communicating something to me and it’s up to me to listen or not.
I learned that there are times of the cycle where we are naturally inclined to gomore inwards, and other times where the focus is on outward expression of thatdepth. And I noticed a pattern: that often, when I felt the pull to go inwards, I wouldcounteract it by making life and work complicated and stressful, when in fact, itneedn’t be at all.
Through charting how my body is feeling at the end of every day, I felt more aware of how I’m feeling at different times of the day, not just at the end when I was charting. To me this has been a revelation: it wasn’t something I had to put on my to do list or set an alarm to do, it just started happening without me even thinking about it. I experienced that it wasn’t that hard to connect to my body, just a choice to be made from moment to moment to remember to stay in the flow of that connection and not get distracted or lost in whatever I am doing. I’ve begun to see much more than ever before how much I have wanted to not feel things and not deal with situations, conveniently checking out into the perceived safety of my head whenever things got a little bit too intense.
Paying more attention to the quality of how I am moving meant that I started to notice the quality of everything else: my thoughts, the space around me, energies coming through me and other people. In a really simple way… not good or bad, just… what does it feel like?
I don’t have my periods back, but the whole experience is so enriching andsupporting me to build a loving relationship with myself where I trust myself andwhat I can feel, and have my own back. I am loving learning to let go more and moreand learning to live from how I feel in my body: do I feel a quality of space andlightness in my body and a steadiness and a consistency that I can trust, or am I insome kind of drama, delay or dilemma? When I stay with the steady consistency, Ifeel in the flow of life. Standing in the full flow of the stream of life and trying tobuild a wall, or even trying to send it back the other way is no longer quite theappealing game it used to be.
There is much more of an ease and a gentleness with how I move and am with myself now. I no longer resent my body for reflecting back to me something that I don’t want to see and patterns that I don’t want to let go of and change. I am discovering that being a woman is absolutely delicious and that this ease, grace and beauty in how I move is not something I have to try to make or be. It is already there, within me, and is now beginning to unfold, unfurl and truly blossom.
Since my early twenties I have had severely irregular periods and could go three to six months, sometimes longer, without any.
I was overweight, moody and had excess facial hair.
I felt uncomfortable as a woman.
I was diagnosed with Poly CysticOvarian Syndrome (PCOS) and so began my journey with ‘fixing’ my periods.
For as long as I can remember I’ve tracked my periods, complete with my own shorthand, noting symptoms and any other details I felt to include.
We’re talking 20 years here.
Initially, the main reason was because I didn’t know when or if I’d get the period.
What is PCOS?
Internet search would inform one that PCOS was first ‘discovered’ in 1935. Estimates suggest between 5 and 10% of women aged between 18 and 44 are affected.
Symptoms can vary and be more or less severe, but in general they can include irregular periods, hormonal issues, excess body hair, mood swings, weight and fertility issues. According to medical claim PCOS is not curable but can be treated and managed.
I’m now 51 and for the last 15 years I’ve had regular periods which are less heavy and with less PMS symptoms than ever before. They just flow, and I genuinely love having them. No longer do I have all those terrible symptoms and the dread I’d felt for years around my periods is now gone.
It’s been a huge celebration to get to a place where I have regular periods, usually every 30 days or so, and my whole body and attitude has changed. I’ve lost significant amounts of weight and those mood swings are now a thing of the past. I am more on an even keel than ever before. My whole approach to life has changed, and I now enjoy being me. I can safely say that I do delight in being a woman.
For years I’d felt being a woman was a chore and my issues with periods and having to work so hard to have something close to regular ones, I took as a confirmation of that struggle. I’d have that inner voice which said, you’re born a woman, and it’s your natural state of being and yet, here you are with facial hair, which looks really ugly, periods you’re never entirely sure of, excess weight and a general clumsiness around how you feel about yourself and who are you. There wasn’t an ease or a joy in being who I was, rather a struggle and a tetchiness which wasn’t pleasant for anyone, not for me or those around me. Put it this way, you really didn’t want to cross me (!)
After my initial diagnosis I tried many things following hormonal tests and consultations with endocrinologists and gynecologists. I was prescribed Dianette, a form of the contraceptive pill which addresses hirsutism and gives you ‘regular’ periods. For 8 years I took Dianette and it worked in that I had what you might call ‘regular’ periods. My facial hair became less whilst in addition I had electrolysis and laser to address it. Otherwise, I was still overweight and still had mood swings.
Eventually I decided I wanted to find out how my body really was and how my periods were really going.
I came off Dianette.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that my periods returned to being as irregular as ever, without the prop of Dianette, and that not much had really changed.
Much research followed, as I wanted to find another way to address it and not just mask what was going on. I read many forums, talked to many people who discussed how important diet, and in particular sugar, was with PCOS. I began seeing a nutritionist who specialised in Women’s Health and started taking supplements, chromium in particular to help support me to reduce my sugar intake. For a while I dabbled in many alternate methods including homeopathy and herbs, which brought my periods under control to some degree, so more regular, but still up to 6 weeks in between. Nevertheless, it all felt like I was managing the symptoms and just scratching the surface of the greater, underlying problem.
Having understood that diet and lifestyle were key for me, I continued experimenting with food – dropping dairy over time, cutting back on alcohol to reduce my sugar intake and dabbling with dropping wheat, all of which helped my weight. However, I lacked consistency and so I yo-yoed in my weight and continued searching for other ways.
During my session I felt very strongly how the left side of my body was rock solid, like concrete, and I had this feeling that my body was split into two halves. I was shocked, surprised and curious, and it stopped me.
The woman practitioner was super considerate and treated me with a tremendous level of care and respect.
I felt safe.
Something in this experience asked me to continue, and this was the first time I had stopped to consider what might be going on underneath all the physical symptoms I had, what might be going on in my inner unseen to the eye world.
Almost all of my work to date with my PCOS had purely been about dealing with the physical symptoms and getting to a point where I functioned right (to some degree), but nothing beyond that. I just wanted to fix it, and I saw it as a way to fix me as a woman.
From having never looked beyond having things function ‘right’, I now began a series of both esoteric healing and EBM sessions slowly exploring what I felt and my connection to me and my body, and how I felt about being a woman.
I continued refining my diet and beverage consumption over a period of time. There was no regime but as I experimented I found that the less I had certain foods and drinks, the better I felt. Without trying at all, weight just fell away. I started to feel more vital. All these changes I implemented supported me to accept myself more, and to not feel like I am my own enemy.
Principally by bringing more understanding and beginning to have those conversations with myself where I questioned the ideals, standards and expectations I had and the associated harshness with which I applied them. This largely (if not solely) came about as I met people who inspired me to consider that it is possible to be loving with yourself and mostly that they did not judge me for how I was or had been, but gave me the space to consider that the way I had been operating did not have to stay, and that it was within my remit to change that.
It was very important to be shown and to understand that I could be fragile and delicate, and that neither were dirty words and that others graced me with the space to see that. In addition, it was crucial to see and know that how I’d grown up and the harshness and survival I’d gone into, at that place and time, did not have to continue. That I did not have to be a victim, and more importantly, that I’d never been one at all.And that, that old way of being was not normal.
It was a gradual process, of taking the blinkers off, and letting go of the rigidness with how I’d been and starting to see more of the horizon around, to knowing that no matter where you’ve been, you can be loving and seeing that you can try new things, and that you can fail, pick yourself up and start again. It was like allowing a shaft of light into my inner world, which offered a different possibility of being and once that was seen and understood, it became possible to consider that I too could live that true way of being.
I moved differently, I allowed myself to enjoy life, to enjoy the people in my life and to deeply appreciate who I am. That being me exactly as I was, was something to nurture and cherish.
This allowed me to look beyond those physical ways of being into considering how I’d been treating myself, how I’d been speaking to myself, and as I did, I changed, my body changed and my periods changed. Over time they became regular.
But this was less about a goal and more about the general quality of how I was with myself and with all others around me, so in fact my previous drive was about being ‘normal’ and having regular periods, now it was more about living with and moving myself in a quality of care and love that deeply honoured who I am, not because of anything I did, but simply because I was me and worthy of this.
As I embraced being the woman I am, exploring my unique flavour in how I wanted to express that woman, there were the physical things, with clothes, with make-up (yes, new ground that), but most importantly it was a change in inner attitude which said there is something here which is precious and to be honoured and it’s in my power to do that. In all of this my body responded, and flourished, and I felt a freedom and a lightness in me I’d not experienced to that point, something I could not and did not want to ignore, but wanted to live and express. That shaft of light just kept getting bigger!
Having EBMs helped me to understand that I had not been valuing myself as a woman and felt something was innately wrong with me as a woman. I could feel and see that I’d despised myself and had not considered myself worth taking care of.
During EBMs I connected to and felt in me a deep feeling of stillness, a tender pulse and something precious deep within me, something that was always there no matter what. It moved me deeply, and supported me in wanting to live and honour this more in my day to day life. It meant I started to choose to be less hard on myself and began to take even greater care of myself, my diet, how I thought of myself, not in order to fix anything, but because I got to feel for the first time ever something beautiful and gorgeous deep in me that I wanted to take care of.
This did not happen overnight. It has been a continuing journey, and the support I’ve received from having EBMs and from its practitioners has been key. Having role models in my life who lived the gorgeousness of who they are as women was a huge support in allowing me to understand that this is possible for me and for all of us as women.
I’ve discovered I am a beautiful woman and I now live and dress as one, more and more each day. For me, addressing PCOS meant that I needed to understand and feel that beauty in me. I needed to understand that underneath it all I have in me that preciousness, and in doing so I was able to make the changes outwardly in my life to live that inner knowing.
Within a couple of months the stress I had placed myself under to get a flat and job resulted in me eating very little and dropping from 50/55kg to 41.7kg.
Prior to 2014, my periods came every month. I rarely had any symptoms in the week leading to my period, but when it came, it was nothing short of horrendous.
If it came at night (which frequently it did), then I would have a mass exodus of everything and anything from my body leaving me sleeping on the bathroom floor in an exhausted heap because I was fed up of going from my bed to the bathroom every five seconds. If it wasn’t that, then I would get restless leg syndrome and my legs would constantly shake beyond my control or ability to stop it. Even when exhausted they would continue to shake.
The cramping pain would be equally unbearable by day, living on painkillers for a week at the maximum dosage I was allowed, often having to take time off work.
Moving to London was a huge step up for me and while I had lived away from home when I was 16 and was used to being away from family, now the sole responsibility of finding somewhere to live was on my shoulders. And yet, I wasn’t completely alone. In hindsight, I had tons of support but couldn’t see it and I had the belief that I had to do it all by myself.
It wasn’t until my periods stopped that I realised how much I had shut myself off from acknowledging and claiming that I was actually a woman. I know – the oddity of this statement has not been lost on me.
Once the periods stopped I had the space to see and feel what my relationship with myself truly was. I had a long-lasting momentum of constantly ignoring my body, where any messages would get smothered with gaming, my food choices, self-criticism or negative thoughts. It was through the support of the Universal Medicinemodalities that I started to heal and see how my choices were impacting on my body and any future choices.
I continued to live in a victim mode and acted like a small child for some time further because at the time it seemed convenient to absolve myself of any responsibility for the state my choices got me to, but things started to turn around with the combined help of Universal Medicine modalities, practitioners of esoteric healing modalities and conventional medicine.
With the Esoteric practitioners, I worked through my hurts, expectations and beliefs. I joined a sacred movement class and during this time I got to see how my behaviour of throwing a tantrum as a kid and getting attention was still being played out in my 20’s. Eventually, I learnt that such behaviour only drained my energy and since it wasn’t getting the desired response, it started to fall away.
My journey of rebuilding my relationship with myself started with the Gentle Breath Mediation once a day. Esoteric Yoga I later found to be a huge support in rebuilding a connection with my body and the essence within it. I began to see that at my core I wasn’t something to be ignored but actually very beautiful and worth taking care of. I laid a foundation to build a relationship with my body whereby I trusted and followed more how my body was needing me to live than what was coming through my head.
Of conventional medicine, I had all the appropriate tests and scans and it all boiled it down to I had to gain more weight. At one point I tried to force the weight gain but it wouldn’t work, so I gave up. Within a space of about a year my weight stabilised at around 52-55 but still no period.
Over the course of these four years, conventional medicine would suggest the pill to give me a fake period. I didn’t want to take the pill and carry on as usual as somewhere deep down I had a sense that the root of the matter wasn’t going to be healed if I did do this. Eventually, I would take the pill for one or two courses then drop it. Months passed then I’d pick it up and drop it again. However, towards the end I found that this resistance to taking the pill built up more hardness towards myself. In the end I went back to the pill when I felt it was supportive to prevent bone density degradation.
When I did have a bleed from these induced periods the way I experienced them during my teenage/early 20s came flooding back in, waiting for me to address it. I found that while wearing pads, my pelvic floor and groin muscles would be super tight, and having become more aware and taken greater care of my body this behaviour felt very painful. Over time I learned to relax my muscles and not tense up and clench in fear of something bad happening. I found this to be a supportive aspect of the pill as it did get me to look at how I was with myself during my period.
Over time and as my relationship with my body strengthened, the scared little girl persona dropped away. The weight returned naturally, I felt more steady in myself and found that the best place to be is not in my head (mind) but in the stillness of my body which without fail every time made sense and a massive difference.
Between January and April 2018, I wanted to change jobs but couldn’t due to certain circumstances. In reaction, I started to eat more (working in a restaurant made this extra, super easy to do) and went up to 65k. Now I was well over the recommended weight from the doctor but felt this was not a true weight for me either. What did happen though was my natural cycle restarted.
Since my periods came back I have had to relearn how to be with the process. It is still syncing itself as in, it is still taking time to regain a steady set number of days, but the way I am with it now has changed.
Before the pause in periods, I would get no pre-menstrual symptoms. The week before my first returned period it felt like my breasts were constantly on fire and I actually thought I was becoming mentally unstable because I was so reactive. It was only once my first returned period came did I realise that I wasn’t going mad but it was pre-menstrual tension. I know now that these before symptoms are a message to be listened to and since I’ve been looking at that and as a result of observing how I live between the periods, each week before my period the tension has lessened in intensity, I no longer feel like I want to bite someone’s head off! Likewise, when my period has come, I have not had such extreme symptoms like I used to have. I have not experienced restless legs nor do I live on painkillers anymore.
I now marvel at how supportive and responsive my body is back with me, either starting my period in the night, or just after work or on my day off, giving me the first day/hours a chance to rest. I also love how the flow works as well, very light in the evenings and moderate during the day and consistent throughout and over the months.
These days I take far more care of myself while I am on my period than I did ever before and I know that how I am living will be all brought back to me in the periods to come. I have this in my consideration whereas before I did not. I never had any connection between how I was living and the symptoms I was experiencing.
Knowing what I have learnt through this experience I consider having had Amenorrhea a blessing as it has allowed me to stop what I was doing and go deeper into the relationship I have with myself which ultimately then affects the relationship I have with life and everything and everyone else around me. There is far more to learn and this time I approach it more openly and want to enjoy getting to know and care for myself deeper as this then equally extends outwardly.
By Leigh, UK
For further inspiration…
Periods and joy in the same sentence? Totally possible.. Shevon shares her experience.
A woman’s cycle is an opportunity each and every month.. what are the different phases of our menstrual cycle and what are they showing us? Check out this three-minute video.
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