It’s estimated over the course of a lifetime that women and all people who menstruate can expect to have about 450 periods. It’s a massive number that begs the question: how can we move from simply managing our periods, to getting the most out of our fluctuating hormones every month?
“We are very much focused on menstruation as a problem. As something to be fixed and managed discreetly,” Lucy Peach, a self-described ‘period preacher’ told Women’s Agenda recently.
“But it’s a part of who you are, you’re going to do it 450 times in your life, and there are some feelings that you might have and changes to your energy that are predictable. It’s something you can really use.”
A former human biology teacher and folk musician, Lucy Peach has made a career out of sharing this knowledge with children and adults alike, so they can become experts on their own menstrual cycles. She says harnessing the power of the menstrual cycle can be life changing.
She’s written a book called Period Queen, delivered a memorable TED Talk, developed an award-winning theatre show called My Greatest Period Ever, and written and delivered multiple courses on the topic.
Peach wants us to move on from the long-held beliefs so many of us have about our menstrual cycle, principally the idea that our hormones take us on an emotional rollercoaster that we have no way of predicting.
As she so eloquently described to Women’s Agenda, it might be time we started looking at each phase of our cycle in terms of its potential, and as something we can use to take care of ourselves and even boost our productivity.
Peach breaks down the four phases with the labels “dream”, “do”, “give”, and “take”, and explains how to recognise how our fluctuating hormone levels affect us every month.
Phase one, when your period starts, is time to dream, take it easy and check in with yourself, according to Peach. Phase two is when your oestrogen hormone kicks in and you’re high on energy, which presents the perfect opportunity to get stuck into work. Phase three, when the progesterone hormone takes over, is a great time to give our emotional energy to others. The final phase, ‘take’, is when we are pre-menstrual, and Peach says it’s perfect time to set boundaries and use your energy creatively.
Peach first began to think of her own cycle this way after reading a book called The Optimised Woman – Using Your Menstrual Cycle to Achieve Success and Fulfilment by Miranda Gray in 2009.
“My internal dialogue was always very critical during the pre-menstrual phase. I slowly began to realise that I could use that energy in way that was beneficial to write songs,” Peach explains.
She would schedule a couple of days in her calendar during her pre-menstrual phase where she wouldn’t take on extra tasks and would block out time to write songs. Using this method, she made an EP and ended up winning Western Australia’s Best Folk Award that year.
“We talk about the emotional labour women do that is unpaid and unseen,” Peach says. “But what about the emotional labour of having to be the same every day, when hormonally and energetically you’re actually not.”
“What would it be like in a workplace if you’d be able to say, “Hey, I’m day 7 and I’m killing it, if anyone needs help hit me up!”
Peach points to the U.S National Women’s Soccer Team, where some of the world’s best female football players tracked their menstrual cycles to develop the ultimate training schedule.
“People use this stuff to be elite athletes. The American team said it’s what gave them the edge to win the 2019 Women’s World Cup,” she says.
In her work, Peach uses music, humour, and stories to help get kids and adults comfortable with their menstrual cycles. She also thinks it’s important to bring boys and men into the conversation.
“Having boys and men as part of the conversation about menstruation is crucial. The reality is we all either have a period or know someone who does,” Peach says.
“It is still very difficult for many people to talk about their periods and cycles, with their partners, friends, children or colleagues. What would it be like if we learnt to listen to our bodies and had more permission to ask ourselves, what do I actually need right now? It’s such a simple practice that can change your life. We deserve this.”
Learn more about Lucy Peach’s menstrual cycle education offerings here.