Over the years I have written about some pretty hard and deep things. Recently I have had a lot of talks with friends about something I think is so important to women’s health…so much so I decided to write an entire blog post about Flow.
You know the Flow I’m talking about. This one is for the girls…or any men who want to understand their wives and daughters better.
Let’s start at the beginning and let me share why this became such a big deal to me. We all remember when we started. There isn’t really a way to NOT remember this momentous time in our lives. So I was at a state competition for Science Olympiad (don’t get any ideas…science was not my strong suit) and we were staying in this strange motel that had this giant indoor tropical like atrium. And I was not prepared. I wanted to be, but I wasn’t. So my interest really came in first from a need and a desire to be prepared and to help other girls be prepared.
Later this developed on a deeper level after I was married and I was ready to start having more babies. I hated how birth control made me feel and honestly it wasn’t something that I ever really understood or wanted to take. (Hear me…I am not telling anyone to not take the pill. You know your body and you know what’s best for you. I am not a doctor, I am just sharing what has helped and worked for me.) So before my daughter Lyla was born I went off the pill. My good friend started talking about “tracking her ovulation” and I was over here like, “What sort of wizardry are you speaking of?! I thought that was only for women who couldn’t get pregnant?” She explained that she wanted to PLAN her pregnancy and therefore she wanted to know when she was most likely to get pregnant and so she shared a lot of her knowledge with me on natural family planning. The other thing that happened was that I heard another friend talking about hormones and her body and how she just “knew” her body and what was happening. Basically I was blown over and had no clue what she was talking about and didn’t ask any more questions.
A few years after my daughter Lyla was born, I read a book called The Red Tent. I don’t really recommend this book although it was interesting in a strange sort of way. What has never left me from that book though was this: The book was set in ye olden times way back before electricity and cars and cellphones and one of the main themes of the book is what women would do on the week of their period. (I know right?!) So basically the young girls who hadn’t had started their flow and the older women who were done with their flow–would take care of and dote on the women who did have their flow! It was basically a week of women being together, having community, and doting on each other for an ENTIRE week every single month. Now, I am not necessarily advocating for a week long break every single month, but I think it’s a wonderful idea! I’ll talk more about slowing down more in a minute.
So fast forward to last year and I was listening to a podcast and it was all about women “doing less.” At first I was thinking, yeah…like that is going to happen. How can we do less…we are doing it all!!!? But the more she talked the more I realized what she was saying was so important and it’s all relative.
So here is the deal: God made us. He made use unique and our bodies are a creative and scientific masterpiece. Every part of who we are and every way that our body works is a thing of beauty. God is our creator and he created women to create life. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? So really what I have to share is super simple but it is so often over looked, misunderstood, and not shared. I believe that in sharing this will all women and girls, it gives us freedom to be who God created us to be.
What is Flow? The flow I am referring to is your menstrual cycle. I am referring to it as flow because I think it is so much easier to understand that our cycle isn’t a line or a square or a calendar, it’s actually a continuous circle. We always end one phase of the cycle and go straight into another and this never ends.
“The follicular phase biologically is when the egg-producing follicles in your ovaries begin to mature and the ovary gets ready to release an egg. This happens after you bleed during the menstrual phase of your period. The lining of your uterus begins to build up, ready to welcome a possible pregnancy.
The ovulation phase is when your body is most fertile, an ovary has released an egg and it’s ready and available to be fertilized. You release pheromones at this time, chemicals that have been proven to make you more attractive to the opposite sex. (my note: this is when you get pregnant!!!!! Yay! You now have the information to avoid sex during this phase if you do not want to get pregnant. Or, if you do want to get pregnant this is the time to get busy. Also, you can take your basal temperature or track your discharge if you want to know the exact day of ovulation. Read more on natural family planning here.)
The luteal phase starts when you ovulate and ends when you menstruate. The corpus luteum, which is what’s left of the ovarian follicle that was housing the egg that was released at ovulation, produces progesterone. This hormone turns the endometrium, or uterine lining, into a soft bed to welcome a fertilized egg. The luteal phase lasts 12-14 days in most women.
The menstrual phase is the time when you bleed. If during your flow the egg your body released has not been fertilized, then during this phase your body releases the uterine lining that’s been building up ever since the follicular phase. The corpus luteum stops producing progesterone, which signals the uterine lining to release and prepare for the next flow. ” – Kate Northrup
How does Flow affect me? So now that we know what our flow is, here is where it gets really cool!!! I want you to think for a second about how the tide works. The moon affects our tides and is also on a cycle. That is why they have tide charts and they know exactly when the tide is coming in/out etc. Before we had lights and electricity did you know that every single woman’s flow was the same week and was able to be tracked by the moon phases?! So when there was a new moon (not visible in a night sky) that is when women were in the menstrual phase of bleeding. This is just a deeper part of God’s design but he also created us to have times within Flow that we are better suited for different things. One of the easiest ways to think about these different times within the Flow and how it affects us is to think of the seasons.
Spring Flow/Follicular: Energetically the energy that you saved and stored up during the menstrual phase now ramps up and this is when you are most primed to plan, dream, brainstorm, and start new things. It is all about new beginnings.
Summer Flow/Ovulation: Energetically you are the most fertile and because you are more attractive to the opposite sex, you also feel the most confident and are very articulate verbally. This is a great time to meet face to face, work on building friendships, or speak about things you are passionate about.
Fall Flow/Luteal: Energetically you start to turn inward. This is a great time to finish projects around the house, tie up loose ends, and you naturally will want to start slowing down during this phase.
Winter Flow/Menstrual: Energetically you are at your lowest. This is when it’s best for rest and reflection. Your brain lights up as your body slows down and you are smarter, more intuitive, and have great clarity.
So when you think about “doing less” it’s really about being focused on where you are in your flow and creating a schedule that works WITH your flow, not against it! The other super powerful thing is knowing what is happening with your body and being able to plan accordingly. I feel like knowledge is power and I think that had I known as an 18 year old that I could have avoided pregnancy naturally just by knowing what is going on in my own body, this would have been life changing. As I have shared previously, I wouldn’t wish my son away for anything!! God knew I needed him and it turned out exactly as it was supposed to. But for girls and women who don’t have access to birth control and want to be in control of when they get pregnant, this is hands down the best option. (Now, please know I am a huge advocate for abstinence before marriage. You can read all about that here.) I just know there are so many young girls out there who are in difficult, dark, lost situations who need this information.
ALL women and girls need to know what is going on in their bodies. We need to know that our Flow is beautiful and understanding it can help us live our best life. I hope this gives someone information they need to help them in any stage of life.