Period panties, PMS coaches, flow trackers, menstrual brownies: Cosmo goes on an adventure through the wild wilderness (and still-developing science) of the new period lifestyle. (Oh, P.S. This story originally ran in our June issue, so if you like what you see, you should probably snag a hard copy ASAP. Bye!)
Once or twice a year, my period disappears for months. This is kind of convenient, TBH (three blood-free months sounds pretty sweet, no?), so I’ve ignored it rather than tried to bring it back with the pill. But the older I get, the more nervous I’ve gotten about these dry spells. What do they mean?
My new period coach is kind of alarmed too. Erica Chidi Cohen, the cofounder and CEO of Loom, an education centre for reproductive wellness in L.A., is one of the new cycle experts who uses lifestyle fixes to help women deal with issues like PMS. Los Angeles–based ob-gyn Suzanne Gilberg, MD, helped develop the coaching program, which I hoped would give me insight into why my period sometimes dips out for 80 days—without suggesting overly ambitious lifestyle choices (read: diet) that I’d have no discipline to follow.
Cohen wants to know everything about my cycle and MIA periods (bleed amount, PMS symptoms, even bowel movements) when I “meet” her over a 45-minute Google Hangouts sesh. She also asks about my stress level, but she’s not buying it when I tell her I’m not feeling any angstier than usual.
That’s because there can be a “discrepancy,” she says, between “how we experience stress intellectually and how our body processes it.” (So splashing cold water on my face and screaming “GET IT TOGETHER” at my reflection in the mirror hasn’t actually been working?! Noted.)
“I’m a little offended at first, but the more I think about it, the freer I feel.”
I’m a little offended at first, but the more I think about it, the freer I feel: Maybe, if I’m so stressed that my body bypasses my brain into self-protection mode, I should just give into those feelings. Why run away from them?
Cohen suggests a vitex supplement, which may help my bod trigger luteinizing hormone to encourage regular ovulation (she says I should talk to my doctor first, since it can interact with certain drugs like antidepressant SSRIs—of which I’m on several). She also suggests an ultrasound to rule out PCOS and red raspberry leaf tea to “make it easier for the uterus to contract.” When she talks about the “phases” of my cycle, she makes it sound like a horoscope. I feel a weight lift off my shoulders that I didn’t even know I was carrying. My sluggishness during my menstrual phase isn’t my fault at all!
When we sign off, I’m already feeling soothed from hearing Cohen repeat the word “luteinizing” in hushed tones. I’m already thinking of booking a vacay. Period coach’s orders! Now this is a lifestyle fix I can get behind.