Ah, Periods. That dreaded time of the month, that embarrassing subject we never address. That eternal stigma, if I may say, that makes the modern-day woman feel inferior.
It’s amazing how we went – as a humanity – from celebrating periods as a sacred time to having it reduced as a mere hurdle that we must deny and overcome.
And so, ads for sanitary napkins show ‘unstoppable’ women who are lifting weights and running marathons during their periods, simply being out of tune with their body’s needs. Millions of women use contraceptive pills with no good medical reason, just so they won’t have to deal with their periods. I don’t find this approach to be empowering at all, but rather, a negation of the feminine. It is no wonder why our world is so out of balance!
I believe that a large portion of the stigma around periods lies in the lack of control over blood flow – in a world that is obsessed with controlling everything. Many women experience severe mood swings during their periods, which frame them as helpless, irrational, and not to be taken seriously in the eyes of modern society which is heavily rational, scientific, and ‘yang’ (masculine) in principal.
So, in a sense, I can understand where those menstruating marathon runners are coming from, but it really doesn’t have to be this way. Perhaps we can go back to the teachings of the ancients to get a deeper understanding of our menstrual cycles and ourselves as women.
The feminine is very connected to the moon. The moon goes through its full cycle in 28 days, waxing, coming to fullness, then waning; an exact imprint of this process is found in our wombs, also known as the cycle of ovulation.
It is said that before the invention of electricity, women ovulated when the moon was full, and bled when it was dark… At the point of most light in the night, the full moon, we are programmed to ovulate.
The moon’s magnetism affects the ebb and flow of the tides and, inevitably, affects all beings on this earth, as we are mostly made of water. Therefore our ‘moodiness’ is not an inconvenience, but a heightened sensitivity towards our surroundings. Women who spend a lot of time together or live in the same household tend to have their periods ‘synced up’ around the same time. This shows me a deeper ability to relate and connect with others. It is believed that the first calendars in human history were based upon women’s charts of their menstrual cycles and moon cycles.
The word “menstruation” is derived from the Latin mensis (month), which has its roots in the Greek word mene (moon). 
I find it eerie that the word ‘mood’ is similar to ‘moon’, and it is quite the synchronicity that I am writing this article during a full moon.
Everything around us, tangible and intangible, goes through a cycle of birth and death, transforming into something else, yet with the same essence. Having this inner clock within us, as women, makes us very connected to the times.
Ancients found the menstruation blood to be sacred as it is the source of life. Women were viewed as magical beings with heightened intuition, especially during their periods. Hence, rituals were carried out using menstrual blood. Women were not isolated because they were ‘dirty’ or ‘impure’, but rather to protect them from preying animals who can smell their blood. Since most ancestral women menstruated at the same time with the new moon, the seclusion huts (also called moon huts) were filled with women who together performed sacred rituals for the good of the community. 
The way I see it, the time of menstruation is a time of letting go of what no longer works or serves us. These so called “mood swings” are often issues that were unresolved during the month – or even longer – so they surface and come to a head to give us a chance to do something about them.
The more you are in touch with your inner self, finding healthy ways to deal with issues that bother you, the less aggressive and intense the mood swings will be. Forgive yourself if you lose control and get angry sometimes, just don’t make it a habit.
Our periods are a good time for us to take it easy and spend some time alone, reflecting on the past events of the month and preparing for the new cycle of events and projects to come about.
Periods have a lot of health benefits as well. They serve as a detox and cleansing of the body, flushing out toxins naturally. The natural hormonal balance gives us a beautiful, radiant look. Irregularity or a complete stop in menstrual cycles can warn women of undetected diseases, helping them in being more conscious of their health. 
So, let us be grateful that we are healthy, fertile and regular, and let us embrace our bodies as whole and worthy, ready to see the wisdom of their inner workings.
Dana Al Rashid is a writer and artist from Kuwait. She writes in Al Jarida newspaper and has also published English poems and articles in various magazines, often times illustrated. In her blog: “Reflecting Moon”, more intimate poetry and articles can be found.