I have yet to hear the women around my Friendsgiving table cite their monthly period among their things to be thankful for. Sure, getting your period can be annoying, painful, and detrimental to your wardrobe and your plans. But there are, in fact, more things to be thankful for in Aunt Flo than we often give her credit for.
Real women tell Verily all the reasons they’re grateful for that time of the month, including why learning about our health would be much harder without a period.
01. It’s a marker of fertility.
One in eight women experience infertility, so being able to conceive is not something we should take for granted. “I am thankful for my period because it is an outward, visible sign of my fertility, which is a tremendous gift,” Elizabeth says.
02. It’s an indicator of positive health . . .
Jillian is grateful for her period because it’s “a good indicator of a lot of women's health issues.” Your cycle involves not only your reproductive system, but also your adrenal glands, thyroid, liver, and gall bladder, to name a few.
Andrea is thankful for her period as a “reminder of ongoing fertility and reproductive health, so while annoying, [it is] part of a critical system!” Getting your period means that you’ve ovulated, which Anna Halpine, CEO of FEMM, says is an even more “important indicator of health” than bleeding itself.
03. . . . and it flags negative health concerns.
Beth charts her monthly cycle and is thankful because “charting can tell me if there is something wrong that I would need to consult with my doctor.”
According to Dr. A. Nicky Hjort, M.D., OB-GYN, cycles that lie outside of the range of “normal” (a period about every twenty-eight days, give or take, with three to five days of bleeding) may signify an underlying issue. Certain patterns in the lengths of the various phases of a woman’s cycle can be indications of tough-to-diagnose conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and thyroid disorders.
04. It creates a sisterhood.
Who hasn’t given or received an emergency tampon on at least one occasion? Getting your period is a rite of passage, and dealing each month is something most women can relate to. Elena is thankful for the feminine resilience her period has taught her. “I'm not grossed out when I have to clean a salmon or deal with raw meat. I think the real reason women cook is because men can't deal with the blood!” she says (joking, of course).
Feminine health nurse practitioner Christina Maiale tells Verily, “[D]ue to the roller coaster of hormone changes that are taking place inside our bodies, most women's emotions will get to go along for the ride." We've been there. Sara “appreciate[s] the excuse to be a little extra emotional and the compassion for others that comes with it.”
05. It may help women live longer.
Thomas Perls, founder of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University and creator of the website LivingTo100.com says, “Women develop [cardiovascular disease, like heart attack and stroke] usually in their 70s and 80s, about 10 years later than men.” One cause may be women’s relative iron deficiency. In part because of Aunt Flo, “premenopausal women typically have 20 percent less blood in their bodies than men and a correspondingly lower iron load.” Iron ions are necessary for the formation of free radicals, which may age cells. Less iron could “lead to a lower rate of aging, cardiovascular disease and other age-related diseases,” Perls writes.
06. It’s good for your workout.
While you might not feel like exercising while on your period, understanding the phases of your cycle can help you get the most out of your workout. In the phase after menstruation—AKA the “follicular phase,” when follicles in the ovary mature to release an egg—you have higher pain tolerance, which you can use to push yourself harder in a tough workout.
07. It’s a reminder to respect our rhythms.
While certain phases of our cycle make us more energized, others leave us fatigued, reminding us of the valuable rhythm in a healthy lifestyle. We simply can’t go-go-go and never rest.
Melinda says, “There’s something so empowering and freeing about knowing the patterns in your personal cycle. It gives clarity to the emotions and feelings I experience, and it helps both my husband and I prepare and acknowledge that there are natural rules that need to be respected when it comes to a woman's body.”
On a lighter note, Elena says, “I'm grateful that it gives me an excuse to binge watch something for a morning with cramps.” We're with you, sister.
We’re not suggesting you proclaim your thankfulness for your cycle loud and proud on Turkey Day. (That would be kind of weird.) But you might say a silent thank you to your body for doing what it does best—and showing that gratitude by continuing to take care of yourself all year ‘round.
Photo Credit: Brittni Willie