The feminine cycle is a creative superpower!
It’s true. It’s just centuries of patriarchy that have repressed this. Think about all the different slang used instead of saying truthful terms like period or menstruating. Equally, consider all the slang words attributed to the vulva and vagina. Growing up, I doubt few people called them that. I know I didn’t. Why are words attributed to body parts like ear and mouth absolutely fine, but when someone says vulva and vagina aloud, we cringe because it feels so taboo?
When we’re approaching our period, we apologise because we’re hormonal (in fact, our hormones are taking a nosedive at this precise point, so it’s factually incorrect). Do men apologise because their natural boost in testosterone causes them to take risks and become more aggressive? Do we say to a man, ‘Oooh, you’re being hormonal!’
It needs to stop!
It’s a man’s world
If, like me, you’re left-handed, you will understand how frustrating and awkward it is to work around things designed for predominantly right-handed people. It is similar for women, girls and people who menstruate. We have to adapt to a male-orientated world, and instead of being frustrated at having to fit in a world that doesn’t suit us; we turn our thoughts inward and blame ourselves and our bodies.
An obvious example is the gender pay gap. But there are examples which are more subtle, such as health and fitness research being hugely disproportionate to men and its conclusions being recommended to women despite the lack of research on how it may affect their bodies.
Speaking of health, because our reproductive organs aren’t essential to our survival, they’re the first to feel any effects of imbalances in our body. Your cycle might be late if you have a cold or ovulation and your periods stop because you are on an extreme diet and over-exercising.
Your body wants you to get pregnant (whether you like it or not)
The primary function of our menstrual cycle is to prepare it for an impending pregnancy and goes through four phases. The Follicular Phase is when the follicles in the ovaries mature. FHS (follicle-stimulating hormone) and oestrogen increase. Oestrogen stimulates the uterine lining to thicken. We become much more outward looking and sociable. Ovulation is triggered by a spike in FHS, luteinising hormone (LH) and an egg is released by the ovaries. We feel more aroused. The Luteal Phase is when the follicle which released the egg transforms into the corpus luteum, which produces oestrogen and progesterone to prepare the uterus for a potential pregnancy. We become more introvert during this phase as our body wants to keep us safe and secure in the expectation we are pregnant. If pregnancy does not occur, progesterone takes a nosedive, resulting in the Menstrual Phase.
The body is going to loop through this regardless of your plans. You can manage it by using birth control, which is totally fine. Do the research and go with what works for you. Alternatively, you can learn to work in alignment with your cycle.
The following examples I will use in this blog relate to creativity, but you can align this in pretty much every area of your life.
What if I no longer have a menstrual cycle?
If you no longer menstruate or do not menstruate regularly, you can work with the moon phases. A good cycle length is 28-29 days, which aligns with the lunar phase. The circadian rhythm influences our hormones. The moon is powerful enough to produce the tides, and we’re predominantly water, so the moon’s pull and light will affect our bodies.
What if I am using birth control?
Most birth control tricks the brain into thinking that ovulation has already occurred and your body stays in the luteal phase of your cycle. If you use the coil, you will still ovulate, but the lining of your uterus cannot thicken enough for implantation to occur. If you are using birth control and not experiencing a true menstrual cycle, work with the moon.
Menstrual Phase / New Moon
It is a time to slow down, rest, surrender, and just be.
Life won’t always allow you to lie on the sofa all day in thick socks with a hot water bottle on your belly while bingeing on your favourite films, but it’s a good idea to slow down and delegate what you can. It’s not a good time to be an extrovert. You want to be inward with your emotions and physical sensations.
It is a time to put any work in process or newly finished creative work aside and give it some breathing space. It is also an opportunity to think of new ideas for future projects and to daydream. It is time to ignite the spark and pool your energy inward.
It is also a good time to wipe the slate clean. Imagine menstruation as a moment of death and rebirth. Now might be the moment to ditch a creative piece that isn’t working.
Follicular Phase / Waxing Moon
It is the time for action and for new projects. Thinking, planning ahead, and organising, but also an excellent opportunity to be playful and curious. Maybe you want to explore new techniques or be totally adventurous and try writing outside your usual genre. It is even a good time to indulge and enjoy the pleasure of being creative. It is not a good time to be restrictive. It is the time for first drafts, trying new things and making mistakes.
Ovulation / Full Moon
You are dynamic and at your full potential at this moment. It’s a great time to work on the details and fine-tune things. It’s also an opportunity to get out there and showcase your work. Also, give yourself a high-five and feel gratitude for just how awesome you are. It is the moment for being outwardly expressive and creative and taking influences from the external world.
Luteal Phase / Waning Moon
We still hold on to that spark to go into the details and organise, but we are turning inward rather than being as extroverted as we were in the first half of our cycle. It is the best time in our menstrual cycle to get creative because we can use our artistic outlets to express our inner landscape.
We are also much sharper and brutally honest in this phase. It is a powerful time to edit your work (or beta read or critique someone else’s). However, this is also part of the cycle where the inner critic might decide to pop up and tell you your work is rubbish and why you even bother. Just remember it is a phase, and your inner voice will speak differently in a few days’ time.
Tuning in to our creative superpower
Keep a journal and note how you’re feeling mentally and physically and how it relates to your cycle. Becoming in tune with it can help us utilise its benefits and tell us when to adapt or slow down. Talking openly about our menstrual cycle still feels very embarrassing and taboo, so I encourage you to add your voice and make it common knowledge so we no longer have to use other terms when we actually mean our period or our vagina.
Do you notice any difference in your creativity during your menstrual cycle? Post a comment below. If you want more content about creativity and my Cornish capers, subscribe to my monthly newsletter.