PERIOD POWER
Marie Claire Australia|February 2022
Once a taboo topic, women are now shaking off the stigma associated with menstruation and are instead learning to sync their cycle for empowerment and optimum output. But does period hacking really work or is it just another wellness craze? Courtney Thompson finds out
Courtney Thompson

It was a warm spring day when I started bleeding for the first time. Fourteen years old, seated on the toilet, looking down at my under-pants that were now stained by brick-red brown, my stomach dropped and I could feel my face start to burn. I called out to my mum, who immediately rushed upstairs in a worry, only to sigh as she entered the bathroom and took in the scene. “I got my period,” I told her and promptly burst into tears.

My reaction was overly dramatic, perhaps. But not uncommon, nor entirely surprising. The framework I had for understanding menstruation at that time was rooted in reproduction and fear. At school, there was nothing more mortifying than having your period. It was something to hide and the greatest shame if, God forbid, you showed any signs of being a “bleeder”. When one of my schoolmates emerged from class one day with a burgundy spot on the backside of her dress, we all spoke about it in hushed tones. We felt sorry for her but were were mostly relieved that it hadn’t happened to us.

Since high school, things have changed a bit. Rupi Kaur famously posted a photo of herself bleeding through her pants in 2015, Australia’s tampon tax was abolished in 2019, and in 2020 Pantone launched a new shade of red named Period to end menstruation stigma. Writers such as Lena Dunham and Michaela Coel are producing television shows that are unafraid of depicting period sex, and companies around the world are implementing policies that account for the personal toll of menstruation. In May 2021, apparel brand Modibodi joined a growing contingent of Australian companies when it announced it would be adopting a menstrual leave policy, whereby employees are entitled to an additional 10 days paid leave per year for menstruation, menopause or miscarriage. In November, The Sydney Morning Herald declared “periods got political” as the movement to end period poverty gains steam.

But what does all this mean for us – the people who menstruate? If you ask the women who are now “period syncing”, it means a total liberation from the shame, embarrassment and inconvenience associated with “That Time of the Month” and a whole new lease on life. Period syncing – or tracking or hacking, whatever you want to call it – is the practice of monitoring your cycle over the month according to four phases, and making lifestyle decisions based on that information. Everything from what exercise you do, meetings you take, or holidays you might go on, are all decided based on what phase you’re in.

“I get letters most days from people saying that it’s changed their life,” says Lucy Peach, a folk singer, comedian and self-proclaimed “period preacher”. Peach went viral in 2018 with her TEDx talk, The Power of the Period, in which she spoke about how to transform your period from a curse into a blessing. She turned the talk into a book, Period Queen, and has started running workshops about how women can harness an understanding of their bodies into their “greatest period ever”. She also works as a consultant to the West Coast Eagles WAFL team, helping the athletes optimise their cycle for better performance.

A couple of years ago, I was visiting my doctor when the topic of contraception came up. She talked me through the options that would totally stop my period, or at least give me the option to skip it, almost with the assumption that would be something I’d want to do. “Most people don’t really enjoy getting their period,” she told me.

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