Hormone Cycle Education Protects and Empowers Girls
Katharine Krueger Interviews Leslie Carol Botha
Sisters, we’re joyfully re-membering the practice of passing on women’s ways to girls as they mature toward menache. We teach them to love, honor and understand their bodies. Yes, it’s deepening and celebratory, but it’s also about core survival.
We face menstrual/body shaming, harassment/violence, and environmental factors that disrupt our monthly cycling including 24/7 screentime, irregular sleep, mood-stabilizers, and hormonal birth control. How might these affect an adolescent girl’s monthly hormonal rollercoaster ride?
As a youth mentor, I see girls feeling shame, confusion, and out-of-control in their emotions, choices, and relationships – which may manifest as depression, anxiety, and a range of risky, addictive or self-harming behaviors.
Fortunately, both ancient wisdom and modern research is available. Teaching girls about their monthly hormone cycle helps them feel at home in their body-minds and empowered. To learn more, I interviewed Leslie Carol Botha, researcher and co-author of “Understanding Your Mind, Mood, and Hormone Cycle” about her menstrual health curriculum, “My Body, My Power™.”
KK: Why are girls who do not understand their monthly hormone cycle “at risk"?
LCB: Over 90% of teen girls who are arrested have their period while in jail, according to data I collected. So they ‘acted out’ – hormonally out-of-control, often exacerbated by alcohol/drugs – during the paramenstrum [four days before Day One and first four of bleeding ]. These girls are labeled ‘delinquents’ and prescribed psychotropics. What they need is education about how hormones influence their behavior.
And girls need this information *before* they get their first periods.
KK: What would you like girls to know about their fertility cycle?
LCB: That once they understand how their bodies work, they can learn to effectively manage their emotions and choices. They can ditch shame and feel proud, confident and trusting in their bodies and feelings.
Early education about their hormone cycle is vital, since hormone shifts begins up to two years before menarche.
KK: What activities help girls tune into their bodily rhythms?
LCB: When I taught menstrual health to adolescent girls in a residential treatment program, I developed a 31 day grid. With stickers and colored markers, we made an art project to describe our physical, mental, emotional states and behaviors in relation to the menstrual cycle.
Regardless of age, weight, self-esteem, or history of trauma/abuse - they all fell down the rabbit hole during the paramenstrum. After three months of charting, they saw the repetitive pattern of their acting out. With awareness, plus tools for behavioral management, these girls were visibly more attuned to their bodies and trusting of their emotions. This empowers girls to make wholesome choices and to get along better with family and peers.
KK: What positive steps can parents, mentors and teachers take to help girls understand and attune to their cycle?
LCB: All caregivers need to be aware of extreme hormone shifts in girls and be slow to judge them. It’s simple – girls act out during the paramenstrum, like clockwork. Adults need to engage with these girls in positive ways rather than a ‘What’s wrong with you?’ attitude.
Mothers and daughters can chart their hormone/menstrual cycle and their emotions/behaviors at home. As they become more aware of each other’s cyclic moods, hormonal harmony at home arises. Like magic.
KK: You didn’t mention your book! “Understanding Your Mind, Mood, and Hormone Cycle” is a treasure trove of research and wisdom for understanding our cycles from menarche to menopause and beyond. Thank you for writing it and for speaking with me.
Leslie Carol Botha is an author, broadcast journalist and internationally-recognized expert on women’s hormonal health. Connect on Facebook: Holy Hormones. Read her research and articles at http://holyhormones.com Click BOOKSTORE to sample her book or buy it here .
Katharine Krueger directs Journey of Young Women, offering Girl Empowerment and Coming of Age Circles and training/consulting to parents and mentors. She is also a mechanical engineer, facilitator, Waldorf-inspired educator, former director of a Zen Buddhist Sunday School, and parent of two teens. Connect on Facebook: Journey of Young Women, Occupy Menstruation, and Boys Mentorship Collaborative.