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Period Power: Harness Your Hormones and Get Your Cycle Working For You

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Period Power is a profound but practical blueprint for aligning daily life with the menstrual cycle, to give women a no-nonsense explanation of what the hell happens to their hormones every month and how they can use each phase to its full advantage.

Ninety per cent of women experience symptoms of PMS, a syndrome which features a wide range of signs and symptoms and yet there’s an enduring lack of understanding about what it actually is, and a disappointingly meager range of treatment options.

So many of us have a Jekyll and Hyde experience of our lives; we feel on top of the world, capable, confident and sexy for part of each month, then find ourselves in a state of physical and emotional discomfort and fatigue, wanting nothing more than to collapse on the sofa in front of Netflix. But what if instead of just trying to plan for our dark days, women were equipped with ways to improve them? What if our desire to improve ourselves could be combined with our need to know just what our womb and ovaries are getting up to every month? Not to mention how to take advantage of the natural superpowers that sit in each phase of our cycle, so that we can plan our month to perform at our best.

Maisie Hill is uniquely placed, as an acupuncturist, women’s health practitioner and doula, to explain just how we can achieve this, as well as focusing on particular milestones that require an altered approach, such as coming off hormonal birth control, infertility, pregnancy, motherhood and the perimenopausal years. Using what Hill calls the cycle strategy--a woman’s secret weapon when it comes to improving her relationships, career and health--she will apply the principles of Eastern and Western medicine to give women all they need to make sense of their cycles, as well as accessible and practical suggestions through which readers can improve their physical symptoms, and stop berating themselves because of the way that they evolve through each menstrual month.

352 pages, Paperback

Published July 2, 2019

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About the author

Maisie Hill

13 books47 followers
Maisie Hill is a menstrual health expert with over 15 years of experience as a practitioner, coach, and birth doula. Maisie knows the power of working with the menstrual cycle and believes that our hormones are there to serve us and help us get what we want out of life.

In the growing trend for women to get a handle on their menstrual cycle and hormones, Maisie is a go-to authority and is quoted in publications from The Guardian to Grazia. Her first book, Period Power, came out May 2nd 2019 and became an instant bestseller, reaching the Top 50 of all books on Amazon. Her much-anticipated second book, Perimenopause Power, was published March 4th, 2020.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 590 reviews
Profile Image for Francesca.
723 reviews40 followers
July 31, 2020
I see a lot of people dismissing this book for being "woo", and yes, some of it gets a bit hokey. But do we want to read a scientific textbook, or do we want to be seen. The reason there is so little science in the book, is because science doesn't really give a crap about women and their menstrual "problems".

Maisie Hill approaches the subject with love, care, and tenderness. And sometimes that's what we need. I will openly admit I cried my eyes out in the first chapter. I was in a bad place with my periods before I started this book and I needed to feel like I wasn't alone, like other people knew what it was like, and this book gave me that.

This is the first non-fiction book I've ever voluntarily read from cover to cover and it has definitely awoken a thirst for knowledge in me. If they can all be this engaging, relevant and interesting then sign me up.

I will admit I was sceptical in a few places. She mentions acupuncture a few dozen times too many for my liking. And a lot of her stories are purely anecdotal. But there is so much in here that I was never told, that I don't think any girl was told! I found it very informative and comforting. I would highly recommend it to anyone, whether you menstruate or not.
Profile Image for Fiona.
49 reviews1 follower
May 27, 2019
So. Much. Woo. 😔

Save your money and look for a book about the menstrual cycle that sticks to facts and evidence.

There are portions of this book, like the first section, which provide a genuinely helpful insight into how our cycles work from a biological perspective. I did learn a lot about my body.

But (and it’s a big one) beyond that there is so much woo and quackery that I almost couldn’t finish the book (I held out in case there were any more nuggets of useful information - there weren’t)

Beyond the pseudoscientific “treatments” I also find it unhelpful to suggest restricting one’s life and work according to a *largely* arbitrary set of “seasons”. Who in the real world can reorganise all public speaking to land on a handful of days in the month? Or to restrict creativity, socialising, introspection, developing plans etc etc according to someone else’s imposed timetable? I really do find it odd in 2019 to be restricting women to be slaves to the monthly calendar. Feels like a real step away from equality.

And if you don’t believe me about the cycle seasons being largely arbitrary, try the section for those not menstruating (trans/post menopausal etc) which explains how you can just map the seasons into the phases of the moon!

How about this gem: “There hasn’t been much research on [cod liver oil packs], but it’s been used by women for over 100 years and is proven to work” (proven without research???)

If it sounds like a duck... 🦆
Profile Image for Anna.
1,631 reviews600 followers
November 10, 2019
I make no secret of the fact that I hate my periods. I hated them when they started, and twenty years later I hate them even more. However, this is the first book I’ve ever read, or indeed come across, on the subject of menstruation. I saw a copy in a bookshop and immediately became hopeful that it could tell me what I’ve been doing wrong all these years. The blurb makes some pretty grand promises about ‘taking control of your menstrual cycle’ and by nature I’m inclined to put great faith in reading books as a means of life improvement. It was therefore almost inevitable that I’d feel at least slightly let down by the reality of the book. I don’t regret reading it, however it hasn’t had the effect on me that the author clearly intended and I'm doubtful of whether it'll help me manage my periods any better.

The content is approximately half medical details of how menstrual cycles work and half somewhat dubious wellness stuff. The former half is intended to demystify a normal bodily function, to make it seem more like an amazing and cool thing. I appreciated Hill’s inclusive language and recognition of inequalities. Unfortunately, learning more about periods just reinforced my opinion that genitalia and everything to do with human reproduction are totally disgusting. More complicated than I'd previously known, yes, but still entirely gross. There is also a chapter detailing all the unpleasant illnesses associated with periods, which mainly frightened and confused me. I’m an anxious hypochondriac, so the lists of symptoms and causes were alarming. I’m lucky that my periods aren’t too bad - they make me feel ill for around a week to a greater or lesser degree, but are rarely incapacitating. Unlike friends of mine, I’ve yet to faint or vomit in the street thanks to a period. From 'Period Power' I now have a slightly better idea of which hormones to blame for the symptoms I do generally get, though: three types of pain, stomach upsets, loss of appetite, clumsiness, exhaustion, etc.

The wellness half of the book was more dubious. The menstrual cycle is charted as the four seasons, with winter as the actual period. Hill ascribes enormous significance to knowing where in your cycle you are at any given moment. I keep track of when my period is going to turn up, but am not sure how much this helps. My lecturing timetable has zero respect for whether I’m bleeding from the cunt and feeling like shit. Thus I wasn’t receptive to Hill’s suggestion not to treat period pain with painkillers and instead to see if you can experience the pain as a trippy ‘natural high’. I’ve been trapped on a train with period pain and nothing to treat it for hours and that is not an experience I care to repeat. (If I want to have a natural high via pain, I’ll get another tattoo.) That said, I take Hill’s point that by treating the pain we allow ourselves to keep going when our bodies actually need rest. I get through my periods by taking a painkiller as soon as they start, to head off the pain. This doesn’t help with any of the other symptoms, of course. Ideally I'd just lie on the sofa with a hot water bottle, but under capitalism this often isn't an option.

It was naive of me to hope that there was some magic secret to happy and painless periods which I just hadn’t known, but it seems there isn’t. Hill’s advice is depressingly similar to that in every self-help book and wellness blog: eat better, exercise more but not too much, try a long complicated list of supplements, and if in doubt see a ‘naturopath’. To be fair, Hill also encourages readers to take serious issues to a GP and advocate for treatment from an informed standpoint, which is laudable. However I know from experience that GPs have little to offer for period pain: I’ve been prescribed painkillers and told to eat complex carbs every few hours. While there might be people out there capable of eating complex carbs every couple of hours, I am not one of them and never will be. Given the lack of help from conventional medicine, this area is cluttered with wellness claims that are hard to evaluate.

I should not have been surprised, but was disappointed, to find so many suggestions of dietary exclusions in ‘Period Power’. At the very start of the ‘Self-care’ chapter is this, which practically made me shriek: 'The autoimmune paleo protocol is what I recommend following. In the first phase the foods that most commonly cause problems are eliminated, including: grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol, nuts, seeds, and nightshade vegetables (aubergine, tomato, bell peppers, and white potatoes). To be thorough, they should be excluded for at least three weeks.' It is no exaggeration to say that if I excluded all those foods for three weeks I’d starve to death. I’m a vegetarian, so the only things I eat that aren’t on that list are fruit, eggs, and I guess spinach? Hill does include on the next page a caution that, ‘If you have a history of disordered eating then I don’t recommend doing an elimination diet’ but still. Holy shit.

Suggestions to exclude gluten, dairy, and sugar recur elsewhere, notably as treatments for period pain. Yet Hill also comments that many of her clients/patients turn out to have menstrual problems related to undereating or lacking protein in their diets. What the hell are we supposed to eat? It’s all very overwhelming and depressing. I have in the past tried giving up wheat and dairy, which made my life much more difficult and did not make me feel any better. The idea of eating masses of special seeds fills me with horror. Maybe I should read Just Eat It: How intuitive eating can help you get your shit together around food again for reassurance. In a similar vein, Hill recommends exercise, which is fair enough, while also cautioning against over-exercise. So how are we supposed to know what the correct amount of exercise is? If the answer is to listen to your body, what if you have anxiety that causes your body to constantly mislead you?

There is some advice from the book that I will try to follow: Drink my morning coffee with breakfast, not before it. Eat more protein. Try and work out whether cheese is a protein. Stop microwaving plastic containers as apparently this releases toxins. Go to bed earlier. Get more B vitamins somehow. Not sure whether the cycle tracking format suggested would work for me, but I could try it?

As this list suggests, ‘Period Power’ left me feeling rather like the main character of The New Me: filled with vague intentions towards self-improvement that are highly unlikely to result in meaningful change due to wider issues. While it was refreshing to read a book about periods and Hill makes some good points about sexism and the environmental cost of disposable sanitary products, as a whole it didn’t really work for me. Someone trying to get pregnant and/or with greater tolerance for wellness advice and supplement suggestions would probably find it a lot more helpful.
Profile Image for Jill.
414 reviews219 followers
December 20, 2020
Short review --> "There are a lot of issues with this book, but regardless every single menstruator should read it: it sets a baseline for knowledge that's gatekept, particularly around hormones and irregular period cycles."

Longer review -->
Okay so look, I could talk about periods all day my friends. I'm also lucky and gay enough to not have to be on hormonal birth control, and so I know my cycle quite well. At the risk of TMI, what matters to this review is that I think my hormones? or my response to hormones? are flipped around a bit. The feelings you're supposed to have when you're ovulating -- bliss, centredness, joy, motivation, vibrancy, connection, attraction, all those euphoric things -- in my cycle, they pop up a few hours before I start bleeding. This has been essentially the same for the past 22 years. Right as my hormones are bottoming out, the bliss-feelz start ---- and start slowly dissipating as (I assume) my hormones start to climb, until I feel "normal". In Maisie Hill's parlance (aka: each 'week'-ish of your monthly cycle is named after a season), my experience of my "Winter" seems to be what the average menstruator experiences in their "Summer." And interestingly, far from being cheerful and vibrant when I'm ovulating, I tend to feel anxious/overwhelmed.

I did not tell you all this just for fun (although if you have a similar experience I would LOVE to chat periods with you hmu). Because here's the thing: I've done enough internet-reading about hormones to know that my cycle isn't typical, but there's also no way it's entirely unique. Like there just isn't. And yet. In this book, the closest description there is to a happy "Winter" (menstruation week) is of people literally tripping balls on naturally-produced pain-numbering endorphins while bleeding.

sorry say what
but also, that's not my experience. Not even close.

Maisie Hill admits, early on, that she's a "Summer" girl, and like, she's grown so much, she really has, the lady doth protest, but she used to think that anyone who enjoyed a part of their cycle other than the fertile window was nuts. That logic, of the superiority of "Summer", absolutely infuses this book. to its detriment. The overweening assumption is that all women respond similarly to their hormones, and that you will follow the same pattern -- you just need to track your cycle and you'll realize that you follow this pattern. Patently, that's not true for me. And maybe my hormones are outta whack, but there's nothing in this book that even touches on someone feeling best when bleeding and anxious when ovulating, and specifics aside, I just refuse to believe I'm the only person who doesn't like her "Summer." Yet Hill's rhetoric and strategies all center on being productive and amazing when you're feeling ~great in "Spring" and "Summer", and ~~taking care of yourself~~ in "Winter" and "Autumn."

I just can't express how much I couldn't relate to literally any of her descriptions, except Autumn. And that made it really difficult for me to take the rest of the book as seriously as she takes herself. There's a lot of floof, as other reviewers have said, and while it's clear that to some extent she knows what she's talking about, she's also drunk the new age kool-aid -- and she's not great at drawing boundaries around what's kool-aid and what's legit. So it all sort of melds together into her anecdotes and season-speak, alongside legitimately helpful information about hormones and body cycles (and why hormonal birth control is really terrifying).

So tl;dr a great deal of this book made absolutely no sense to me, and Maisie Hill is not a very self-aware writer. HOWEVER: if you menstruate, read this book. It's not going to be a seminal text. But it's one of the best that's out there right now for getting a grasp of what a 'typical' cycle looks like. We don't talk about it enough, and we don't track our cycles, and we don't understand our bodies because we're told they're disgusting & taboo. We need some kind of fkn baseline to work from, and this is that baseline. You can whine, like I did, about how your particular cycle doesn't fit into her explanation, but fuck man --- isn't it amazing to have an explanation? Even if you don't agree -- it's a starting point. That's enough, for this book.

And I will now be seeking out books about hormones for all of 2021, thank you, happy bleeding, and goodnight.
Profile Image for Vanessa.
861 reviews1,094 followers
July 29, 2019
I initially rated this 3 stars but have now downgraded it to 2 after I ruminated on it some more over the weekend. This was mainly due to a level of unease that Period Power left me with, as well as a feeling that I didn't really take as much away from it as I'd hoped.

I don't know if this was mainly because I'd already fairly recently read Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler (which was a phenomenally helpful and insightful text, almost like the bible of fertility really), but I didn't really find much in Maisie Hill's book that I didn't already know, at least from a biological perspective. The first few chapters are fairly comprehensive in terms of the female reproductive system and understanding how your body works, and Hill writes in a way that makes the topic very accessible. So there are definitely some positives to this book, especially if you haven't read much on the subject before and are fairly new to it.

However, the majority of this book was mainly dominated by what I've seen a couple of other reviewers refer to as 'woo', and I'd have to agree with them on this. While I think it's fun and fairly illustrative to define the stages of the menstrual cycle as 'seasons', with certain positives and negatives to be found in each stage, it didn't really feel like a lot of the content was based on solid scientific fact, more so conjecture and straight-up opinion. That's not to say that there's nothing in going on your own experience and that of others, and anecdotal evidence can sometimes help especially when it comes to managing symptoms, but I think that relying on this solely would be a mistake especially when dealing with more important reproductive issues. I also found the idea that you could pretty much tailor your life (including external commitments such as work and parenthood) around your cycle to be fairly naive and not possible for those who maybe come from a less than privileged background. Maybe it's ideal to not take on any commitments at your job during a certain season for example, but the fact of the matter is that when deadlines come looming, you'll be working towards them whether you feel like it or not. The reality of life going on around you is inescapable.

Another part of this book that made me feel uncomfortable was the vilifying of the pill. Now don't get me wrong, Hill re-iterates again and again that she feels that if you decide the pill is the absolute best option for you then that is fine, and that she respects people's opinions about what is best for them in terms of contraception. But I can't help but feel that this is just to cover her back because again and again she points out the negative aspects of using hormonal contraception. I do agree that there are a lot of negative side effects of using the pill, especially long term, and I'm not going to say her points are wholly incorrect - I'm not qualified to do so. But I did feel as though my personal decisions in the past were being attacked, and I felt depressed about the future in a way that I didn't feel reading Toni Weschler's book (which tackles many similar topics and more besides). I felt like I was in a hopeless place, like I had done irreparable harm to myself, and I don't think any book based on helping women with reproductive/fertility issues should make you feel this way. It should empower you if anything.

I also think that this book is definitely not one that should be listened to on audiobook in retrospect. Maisie Hill does a good job of narrating, don't get me wrong, but it's incredibly hard to remember where you have heard certain snippets of information that you maybe do want to remember and act upon. Unless you have a pen and paper to hand, it's going to be ultimately pointless, and the information will have been lost on you.

Overall I think this is an alright book. I think its heart is definitely in the right place, and I do believe that Maisie Hill has helped a lot of women to overcome fertility and cycle-related issues. But this book wasn't for me, and it just made me glad that I had read Weschler's book first.
Profile Image for Fran Walker.
6 reviews
June 20, 2019
This book is 10% very interesting facts and info about hormones/stages of your cycle etc that I'm very glad to have read and 90% filler/absolute nonsense.
Profile Image for Grace.
2,519 reviews108 followers
February 10, 2022
DNF ~60%

This had a really cool/interesting concept, and while there is some actual/factual information on periods in here (all stuff I already knew) the vast majority is woo, healthism bullshit with zero basis in actual fact. I can see how this would appeal to, and maybe even work for, some people, but literally any supporting evidence would have been great. I don't love when people speak with *such* authority on issues that they're not actually medically trained in, and then when I got to the chapter all about "health" with a number of misinformed and frankly elitist statements, I was out.
Profile Image for Tineke Dijkstra.
101 reviews11 followers
May 17, 2020
This book!!!!! This must be my favorite non-fiction in a long long time. Maybe of all non-fiction I’ve read so far, ever.
It’s well researched (for as far as I can tell), an easy read, very informative, dense, useful, funny at (many) times and inclusive in its language. It’s easy to understand despite the many biology lessons.
I’ve been reading the entire work throughout several months and during my last cycle, I’ve been reading about the different seasons while I was in a specific season (reading about “Winter” during menstruation, etc.).
Woah, this book is useful! I will be returning to this a lot, working on the cycle strategy and heightening my awareness of my cycle, but I am sure this will stay a five star read for me.
Highly recommend for anyone who is menstruating. Or used to. Or will. Or anyone who is hoping to get to know their partner/friend/family member who is menstruating, better.

p.s. it has some woolly bits; I like that but it may not be for you
p.p.s. Don’t read this while simultaneously reading a dystopian novel and going through a pandemic: you’ll have some weird dreams
Profile Image for Susie Dumond.
Author 2 books104 followers
March 6, 2019
Have you ever wondered what your body is doing while you’re on your period? Have you ever experienced a change in your cycle or symptoms and been unsure what it meant? Period Power is a fantastic guide to your body, your cycle, and ways to improve your relationship to menstruation. Maisie Hill strikes a great balance between accessibility and scientific background, making this book both readable and reliable. Don’t let the casual tone fool you; Period Power is full of research, experience, and practical advice. The biggest takeaway from this book is the life-changing influence of keeping a menstrual journal and tracking your personal patterns during your cycle. Period Power will have you saying, “Wow, I had no idea!” at least once per chapter.
Profile Image for Amy.
63 reviews
May 22, 2019
This book gave me whiplash. No doubt the author knows what she's talking about (she is fully qualified, after all) but one minute I'd be reading scientifically backed information about periods or hormones or the menstrual cycle, and the next I'd be told that the universe has my back during my spring. The more pseudo-scientific aspects of this book, and the whole idea of terming phases of your menstrual cycle as seasons and using that to shape your behaviour in each one, respectively, didn't really speak to me.

That said, I did enjoy reading this. Packed full of really interesting facts and links to resources. Plus the author is super inclusive! Definitely worth a go.
Profile Image for Kate MacRitchie.
Author 4 books35 followers
July 25, 2020
I'll start with what I liked. The first section that stuck to biological fact was genuinely insightful. The book also encouraged me to pay more attention to my cycle all month long, not just the week of my period. Self-knowledge is power and I agree with Maisie Hill that the subject of periods and women's bodies is glossed over by educational and medical institutions to the extent that women grow up knowing little about the monthly cycle that takes place in their bodies, ashamed of a natural bodily function or putting up with extreme pain for many years. It's disappointing that women's health is still so underserved in our 'enlightened' era.

BUT - all the great points the author makes are undermined by quackery and the childish tone. I'm a grown woman, I can understand what you're telling me without internet buzzwords.
Many of the ideas put forward in this book are the author's opinion and her 'feminism' is bizarre, with a judgemental tone hovering over the whole book. For example, she doesn't appreciate that some women just don't want to have sex on their period, claiming "but you can have sex without a penis! Or without penetration! There's this incredible thing you might want to try called masturbation! #girlswanktoo!!!"
Or...maybe you could just let women decide for themselves what they do with their body??
That's only one example and I'm not about to comb through the book for more (the diet section felt particularly judgemental). I also hate the term 'menstruator' which she uses regularly.

In short, I almost abandoned this book because of the infantile tone and pseudoscience but pushed through because I do agree with its core sentiment: that we deserve to know what's happening in our bodies so we can take back control and make informed decisions about our health.
Profile Image for Mann.
2 reviews2 followers
February 21, 2021
If you are thinking about reading it and feel the previous reviews mentioning woo approach make you feel a bit uneasy, I definitely suggest to read it. Unless you obtain a full overview about periods. My point is that you shouldn't be put off by couple of recommendations in the book which you may not agree with since she also recommends harnessing the issues or concerns you may face with a qualified practitioner. You have the power to choose how you approach, she just suggests different methods for different people. It's a shame staying ignorant if you actually have no clue about what processes are happening within you and why. I also wish I would have read it when I was waaayyyy younger.
This book has the best holistic approach regarding periods. It's difficult to write about the scientific side when it comes to hormones, health and reproductive organs if you don't have a specific background, but the way it was tackled in Period Power cracked me up and made it easy to read and understand.
Profile Image for Rosie.
313 reviews8 followers
February 4, 2021
The kind of book a wish I read at 18. while some of this you know already, it goes into a lot of detail about how hormones effect the body, how you might feel at different parts of your cycle, outside factors that have an effect on this, and how hormones used in contraception will effect your natural cycle. Too in depth for me (but will be relevant to some) are the bits on conceiving, diet, and medical gynecology issues, so can tune in and out of these where needed.

There's quite a few reviews on good reads complaining that there isn't a lot of science to back up some of the practices - and my response to them is that there just isn't enough of it. Women's health issues and pains are just not taken as seriously, with male health placed higher, which why is it that a male contraceptive pill was created but never approved. This book is a great step in the right direction of understanding the wonder and frustrations of the female body, and how you can work with biology, not against it.
17 reviews3 followers
October 1, 2022
Good in places but a bit pseudo sciency with problematic links between diet and depression (etc)
Profile Image for Anna Bogdanova.
16 reviews2 followers
June 8, 2020
Pros: full of interesting insights about what my hormones are doing while I'm just sitting there. I wish I knew this stuff sooner and just learning about it is pretty empowering.
Cons: I, a grown woman, do not enjoy being talked to as though I'm a small child. All this fluff about the universe having my back and "isn't our body wonderful" etc. just feels disingenuous and rather saccharine. Also, the author has me doubting her credibility since she mixes science with thinly veiled ads for the alternative practices that she sells.
Overall, I think it was an interesting introduction to the problem space for me, but I'll look for something less fluffy.
Profile Image for Alexis.
28 reviews
February 18, 2021
Generally helpful but the 50 pages devoted to diet culture were annoying.
Profile Image for Moh. Nasiri.
291 reviews100 followers
February 1, 2020
Medical book to be read by women and even men to avoid unwanted problems and have a healthy balanced lifestyle.
خلاصه این کتاب پزشکی را درباره بررسی علمی دوران پریود زنان از بلینکیست گوش دادم که تا شاید بصورت آگاهانه �� علمی با این موضوع مهم و البته تابو در جوامع روبرو شویم. خلاصه کتاب را در زیر گذاشتم.
Blinkist summary:

“She’s probably just on her period!”

How often have you heard, or overheard, this statement? Even in ostensibly progressive societies, it’s all too common for men to dismiss women’s ideas, opinions, or anger simply on the basis of their ability to bleed every month. The idea behind this is that periods somehow make you volatile, dangerous, or outright crazy.

But the fact that your hormones fluctuate every month doesn't make you any less of a level-headed or competent person. Changes in mood, energy, and desire throughout your cycle are all perfectly normal; if you learn to recognize and work with them, they can even boost your natural talents and abilities. 

To harness your “period power,” you just have to become familiar with the science behind your menstrual cycle, as well as the strengths and challenges that accompany each stage. By learning to go with the flow – quite literally – you’ll be able to access a power you never knew you possessed. 

Because your hormones are sensitive to stress, illness, and life changes, your menstrual cycle is a mark of your overall health and well-being. Tracking it can help you identify when in your cycle you thrive and struggle, and how to adjust your life to match your mood and energy better. The stages of your cycle correspond to the four seasons: Your period is winter, a time of rest and introspection. As hormone levels rise again, spring brings new energy, reaching its peak around ovulation, which is your summer. Your energy and mood drop again just before your period in fall, a time when it’s especially important to take care of yourself. 

Actionable advice:

Use homemade castor oil packs to ease menstrual cramps.

If your periods are painful, castor oil packs can be a simple and natural way to ease cramps. All you need is a piece of cotton or wool flannel, some castor oil, and a hot water bottle. You might also want to grab some old clothes and towels, as the process can get a bit messy. Let the flannel soak in the oil until it’s fully saturated, and place it on your abdomen with the hot water bottle on top. Leave it there for 30 to 60 minutes, and your cramps should improve. Afterwards, you can massage the leftover oil into your skin. 

Your menstrual cycle is regulated by the ebb and flow of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. 

Menstrual tracking will help you take charge of your hormonal well-being.

Hormones like estrogen and progesterone don’t just tell your uterus what to do. They affect your mood and behavior in all kinds of ways, regulating your energy, sleep, libido, and appetite. In fact, hormones don’t just affect menstruators – they rule all humans!

Because your menstrual cycle comprises an ebb and flow of hormones, the mental and physical changes you experience throughout can feel quite drastic. 

The different stages of your menstrual cycle are like the seasons of the year; each brings with it a different set of strengths and challenges. Your period, during which you withdraw from the world and rest, is like winter. After that comes spring, when your body and mind begin anew. Around ovulation you’re in summer, when you feel light and energetic. Finally, before your period, you move into fall to slow down and get ready for another winter.

Your menstrual cycle and the length and experience of each season are highly sensitive to changes in your life. Work stress, poor diet, relationship issues, and illness are just some of the things that can throw your hormones off balance. As a result, your cycles may be too long, too short, or very irregular. 

When your menstrual cycles are out of whack, it’s a sign that something in your life or body is not going according to plan. But tracking your cycle – one of the most underrated and underused tools – can help you take charge of your mental and physical health. The best thing is, all you need to get started are a pen and paper. 

Menstrual tracking can be as simple as jotting down a few words each day. Some useful things to note are energy levels, mood, quality of sleep, appetite, libido, headaches, digestion, or pain – but you can customize your data as you please. For example, write down how you’re feeling about your relationships, what food you’re currently craving, and which task feels extra hard today. Period apps such as Clue and Kindara are another simple way to keep track of your cycle.

Once you’ve tracked a full cycle, you’ll be able to see how your mood and energy changed throughout it. And after tracking a couple more cycles, not only will you be able to calculate when your next period is about to start – you’ll be able to plan for changes in mood, energy, and desire as well.

A healthy lifestyle can help balance your hormones and ease the darker seasons of your cycle.  

There are many things you can do to regulate your cycle and boost your menstrual health. Most changes will come to you naturally as you track your cycle and become familiar with your particular moods, quirks, and behaviors. 

A lot of menstrual health tips are pretty straightforward. A diet rich in nutrients from vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins will improve digestion and help your hormones stay on track. If you have PCOS, cutting out dairy, gluten, and sugar will be especially important to improving your condition. 

Exercise is another great way to boost your immune system and hormone production. It also allows you to sweat out excess estrogen, which can be useful if you suspect that you have “estrogen dominance,” a common condition in perimenopause. 

Sleep is another big factor in hormonal health. Just one night of bad sleep can mess with your blood sugar and raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn suppresses the production of estrogen and progesterone. To prevent this, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

Less obviously, you might want to consider your form of contraception. Hormonal contraceptives like the pill work via synthetic hormones that suppress your natural hormonal cycle and prevent ovulation. In recent years, hormonal contraceptives have been linked to significant health issues, from depression to inflammatory bowel disease to pain while having sex. And the pill’s negative effects extend well beyond its use. One study found that long-term pill use permanently decreased the thickness of the uterus lining, an important factor in your ability to conceive. 

Although a lot of health practitioners fail to inform their patients about the negative aspects of hormonal contraception, these are worth considering when deciding on a contraceptive. Your menstrual cycle shouldn’t be a burden to get rid of through hormonal contraceptives, but a source of joy and power. If you can work on regulating your cycles through lifestyle changes and with the help of a trusted healthcare professional, it’s worth a shot.

As you’ve learned in these blinks, going with the natural flow of your menstrual cycle can be a radical act of self-care. By helping you discover your individual patterns, faults, and strengths, it will enable you to thrive in all stages and areas of your life.

What to read next: Flow, by Elissa Stein & Susan Kim

Now that you know how to best work with your own period, perhaps you’re interested in taking a step back and considering periods as a cultural phenomenon. In Flow, Elissa Stein and Susan Kim trace the cultural, social, and political history of menstruation, and debunk the myths and misconceptions that still surround periods today.

ref: blinkist.com
Profile Image for Annabelle.
133 reviews5 followers
April 20, 2020
Hm. Dit boek was voor mij denk ik:
- 65% ergernis over: dat er tegen me gepraat werd alsof ik een klein kind was / het continue aanhalen van pseudo-wetenschappelijke bronnen / het Amerikaanse enthousiasme / de slechte vertaling / de voortdurende reclame voor haar volgende boek
- 35% informatie waar ik echt heel erg blij mee was en die mijn kijk op mijn eigen cyclus en manier van daarmee omgaan heel erg heeft verbeterd en veel aangenamer heeft gemaakt
Profile Image for Jess.
71 reviews
October 16, 2019
This borders on unreadable for me. Such a weird mix of science, pseudo-science, spirituality, opinion, waffle and sheer guff. The actual science was interesting and I’m pleased to have learned a few new things about my cycle. But this was so excessively long and tries to cover way too much, it became tedious beyond belief.
July 25, 2022
I’m my experience, menstruation has always been an immensely personal, usually painful however deeply connecting experience. To have a book that utilizes both the science around menstruation, and this emotional/spiritual aspect of menstruation was refreshing.

We live in a world that very much prioritizes efficiency and hard work (even to the devastation of your physical and mental health). One of the central focuses of the book is weaving around a hormonally male timed world, with a hormonal system that works in waves and cycles. In this, while many reviews here dislike her approach to taking a menstruation day or two off, or being a “slave” to the timing of your cycle I see this approach to working on your cycles clock as a greater form of equity. Our menstruation is immensely powerful, not just in terms of being a health meter in many cases, but also in often playing a role in the many “personas” we feel throughout the month. Respecting it as such makes one realize that menstruation isn’t a burden, or a side character in our lives we must “deal” with, it’s rather a confidant, and for many a serious partner within their lives.

Much criticism arrived to pseudoscience in some aspects and this I do have to agree with and would urge others to take caution with. However, that for me was not my purpose for reading, so I was less intent on taking everything said as fact. In the book, many of the things said are still genuine helpful treatments that doctors themselves do use (i.g Vitus Agni’s-Castus supplementation being a popular homeopathic remedy and upping fat intake etc) so I’d say the majority follows good word.

However, The book is still a radical voice on healthcares passive treatment to menstruation related issues, their lack of information surrounding birth control to those who take it, their ignorance to the radar of PMS, and their handling of menstruation as a nuisance. This book validated many menstruator’s (including mine) experiences with doctors and frustration with not hearing about their struggles or story. It also encouraged those menstruating to practice empathy with themselves, and understand their highs and lows without hating themselves for not fitting the classical model of 9-5 24/7 energy and perfection. With this I think the empathy and curiosity that Hill brings to the topic really adds a layer of depth to the menstruation conversation, and offers solutions that are perhaps more sustainable and less health impacting than the pill.

My only complaint would be for her to add more advice ( unless she has added it all). She’d often mention clients she helped to regulate their cycle, but not the specific steps within that and their direct effect. And once again the more pseudoscience suggestions be said with a grain of salt. This in turn would be my lowering of two stars.

Overall though, I think every menstruator should take a go at this book, if not for the explanation instead for the reasons to begin respecting and tuning in with a cycle that brings immensely valuable wisdom to the table. The book also caters to overarching menstruators, so the language is thoughtful and inclusive for those with a more complex relationship with the cycle.

Profile Image for Solitude and  books.
748 reviews30 followers
August 28, 2019
I donot know why our society still makes its a taboo and a burden to talk about Menstruation and reproduction when our species is continuing just because of these!
This book is NOT ONLY about Period but way more than that.It is so beautifully written in lucid words it never felt heavy even presents  motivation that however our body looks WE ALL ARE BEAUTIFUL naturally.

Let me write about this powerpacked informative guide . 350 pages poured  with knowledge regarding these topics that need to be learnt by all women as when we know our body we can take care of it better leading to greater wellness and longevity and of course self  confidence.I feel men can read it too,because if they know us better we can survive in a better understanding and harmonized community!

✔First it states that not all women bleed and not all females born with an womb needs to have kids.Sexuality is a choice.We need to respect that.I liked that part.
✔Then author states by  describing the process of how a fertilized egg in the womb takes form of a girl or a boy child.That a baby is naturally a girl but due to infusion of different levels of hormones it takes finally one of the genders,followed by description of various parts of female and male reproductive system with diagrams.These were things most of us have studied in school curriculum .
✔But then she has enlightened in the following chapters about few such topics that many of us are still naive about , like amazing facts about ovulation,its different phases,how each of our hormones make us feel through out the whole month,how to track our days for betterment.How to use  natural contraceptives,reduce hormonal imbalance by altering lifestyle routines of sleep cycle,diet and even the fact that we ovulate at different times of the day during different seasons was really fascinating to know along with the knowledge of implants,medicines,hymen myths,orgasms,reproductive issues and the fact that how badly it has affected the young generation by potraying female body as perfect on screen by using plastic surgery with other important info about maintaining female intimate hygiene actually needs no manmade products but the market is falsely selling them.I absolutely RECOMMEND this book to all.
Profile Image for Shagufta.
286 reviews46 followers
July 31, 2019
I pre-ordered this book so it arrived the day it was published (July 2019) and I have loved having this book around for the past month. The book talks about how our bodies go through seasons throughout each month that relate to where in your cycle you are (from the winter of your cycle to spring summer and autumn) - and it’s incredible how useful this model has been. The idea that we can need to go/will go slower or faster at different parts of the month, and that we feel deeper rage or greater joy at different parts of the month is deeply liberating because it helps to explain what you already feel in your body and helps you to care for yourself and be kind to yourself in better ways. This is a book that is great to read through and keep around for easy access. It’s intersectional feminism and women’s health and it’s wonderful!
Profile Image for Emily.
26 reviews
March 14, 2021
this book is really good if you want to understand what is happening to your body throughout the whole monthly cycle, not just your period. i feel much more connected to myself
Profile Image for Rebecca.
22 reviews6 followers
January 3, 2023
A great start to my 2023 reading list. I was recommended this book because I wanted to understand more about how I felt over the life of my menstrual cycle. I must admit, I knew painfully little about my entire cycle at the ripe age of 26, so this book was extremely useful.

I especially loved the chapters on each phase (neatly compared to the seasons in a year which has really helped me conceptualise them better for myself!) and the chapter on eating for hormone health.

Overall a great read, would recommend if you would like to know more about your menstrual cycle or if you would like to be able to understand a loved one who bleeds!

Kudos for an inclusive language and perspective throughout.
Profile Image for Nynke.
42 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2021
heeel erg amerikaans geschreven, maar wel belangrijk en misschien ga ik er ook wel iets mee doen
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