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Sport x Menstruation: Moving while Bleeding

Do you remember the day that it started, having this red stain spreading up in your panties? What was the first feeling that came to your mind?
Shame, pride, excitement, panic…? It has been the first sense of a long emotional roller coaster that came as a bonus of having this new cycle into your life. 

Shame, you said. A large part of women has felt a sense of embarrassment simply because they were on their period. NewYork Post studies show that it can go over 50% in the US. There are so many women getting it that there are a true expression and work-studies into period shaming. It is a high rate of shame for something we have no control over. 

During our menstruation, our mood swings, partners might joke about it, and in some workplaces, it is still not an open discussion.
Open space might not collide with open-mindedness. Hiding your tampon in your hand while running into the bathroom, hoping that no one would see. Secretly exchanging protection as we were suddenly the new cartel of Medellin. Really? Small actions got women to feel like they had to be discreet around the topic for ages. Let’s stop blushing when an army of tampons falls over our bags. We’ll zip it better next time. 

Often, we are not vocal about symptoms. Mentioning “code red”, being into “the red zone”, people find funny terms, trying to alert on the danger of those upcoming “dark” days. In a sight, you might hear some using that we get into “this time on the month”, as an excuse for our changing behavior. 

Well, you got it right, detective. I am into this time of the month, casually called menstruation, and I’m healthy enough to have them this month again

Indeed, let’s talk about health here. 

The menstrual cycle is a natural process of human nature.
There is nothing to be ashamed of.

Every woman will experience a pretty similar route within her life. Knowing we spend an average of 2280 days of our life having our period, we better be ready for the ride! 

Being healthy is per nature something we all tend to. It doesn’t mean being fit and eating clean. Being healthy is having a body that works correctly. Where all organs play their roles so you can live. This is being healthy, and getting our periods is part of it. 

Sport mainly comes into the conversation when we talk about health. The impact on both physical and mental health has been shown, and that is why we support sports since the youngest age. Even by encouraging adults and kids to exercise, girls could deprive themselves of being healthy while menstruating, because shame comes over. 

  • How many of us wanted to skip PE class when they had their periods, with the fear of leaking blood in their pants while running? 
  • How many of us didn’t want to skip PE, but teachers or parents, willing to protect, were gently telling us to stay in, being calm and cozy?
  • How many of us had to find excuses, being asked to go to the pool, and not feeling comfortable wearing a bathing suit, swapping tiny bikini for high waisted panties. 

The rope of your tampon might show off – maybe – is that enough to stop you? 

Being lucky enough not to experience massive cramps or pain, I also had to do sport while menstruating when I was a kid. I was competing as a boxer at the time, and “period-break” wasn’t a thing. The only consideration coaches had was the fact that I could gain some weight. This weight gain is related to hormonal changes that occur in the luteal phase, just before getting our period. One of the many possible Pre Menstrual Symptoms, that usually goes away a few days after the period starts. 

This weight gain would have shown up on the scale. Big momentum that you face as a ritual before every competition. I wasn’t ashamed, though I always felt like I had to justify myself anyways, if I had them, or not. 

I learned that bleeding wouldn’t stop me from boxing – skiing– surfing or cycling, as long as I was feeling good and confident with myself. And I was. Tampon or more recently menstrual cups gave me the freedom to move and bleed at the same time. This feeling of freedom is so intense, that no one should be deprived of it. 

You can dance, spin, twist, fight, and bleed. Nobody should stop you from doing things that make you happy. Especially YOU shouldn’t stop yourself. Free your body from any form of shame and accept this natural cycle

We, women, have a superpower once a month that some may ignore. Let me tell you more. Scientifically, in the first phase of your menstrual cycle, also called the follicular phase, our hormones are low, and estrogen is high, which translates with a peak of power and energy. Running faster, training harder, even our creativity is blowing up. Listen to your body and feel the vibes and the energy is bringing in. 

As we are biologically different, we need to acknowledge that. Having cramps, cravings, difficulty to achieve daily tasks are also natural symptoms when menstruating. Take your time, this might come the first day, and then picking up again. Or maybe not picking at all. There is no generic science for all women and all bodies. Listen to yourself and do what feels good first. Without guilt. Self-gratitude first. It’s essential to take care of your own need. 

The important point here is to raise our voice around the topic. This cycle is here to regulate our body, being part of our daily life for a while, so why do we know so little about it? If we, women, are lacking knowledge about our own body, how can we ask men to be educated on the subject? Men need to be involved in the conversation. Coaches, fathers, lovers, friends, brothers, it’s up to us to include them on this natural topic of menstruation.

This implicit prohibition on menstruation needs to overcome over the years. It will take time; it will need voices. 

We need to stop being ashamed of our periods and do whatever feels great for us, for our bodies. Let’s empower ourselves, be vocal about it, embracing this monthly routine, guilt-free. 

References:

NYPost Nearly-half-of-women-have-experienced-period-shaming https://nypost.com/2018/01/03/nearly-half-of-women-have-experienced-period-shaming/

Unicef Menstruation matters … period.
https://blogs.unicef.org/blog/menstruation-matters-period/ 

Written by Manon.

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