Technically, the bleeding that occurs after an anovulatory cycle isn’t menstruation:
Main Entry: men·stru·a·tion
Pronunciation: \ˌmen(t)-strə-ˈwā-shən, men-ˈstrā-\
: a discharging of blood, secretions, and tissue debris from the uterus that recurs in nonpregnant human and other primate females of breeding age at approximately monthly intervals and that is considered to represent a readjustment of the uterus to the nonpregnant state following proliferative changes accompanying the preceding ovulation ; also : period
Some women may have what is called an anovulatory cycle, (meaning no ovulation) and can experience some bleeding which is mistaken for a period, but it is actually not a true period. This bleeding is caused by either a buildup in the uterine lining that can no longer sustain itself or by an estrogen level drop.
So this is not a period. It’s just me bleeding forty-five days after the start of my previous cycle. But it still counts as day one. And everyone in the world who is not a medically trained quibbling pedant will call it a period. And we all may be “wrong”, technically, but given that knowledge doesn’t exist outside collective consciousness, and collective consciousness says this is a period, what does it matter?
This happens sometimes to everyone who menstruates. Sometimes our bodies just don’t quite get in rhythm and trip over their hormonal feet instead of dancing their way to ovulation. Thanks to symptothermal charting, I knew it was an anovulatory cycle, and didn’t flip out thinking it might be any other cause of weeks-delayed bleeding. This, too, is natural, and nothing to worry about.
…unless you’re my brain. If you’re my brain, you latch on to it, and decide There Must Be a Reason. We’re twenty-nine, it whispers, that’s almost thirty, almost old enough for perimenopause. And you’ve gained weight recently, perhaps it’s PCOS — or diabetes — or both. And short luteal phases? That’s nothing, see how you handle having none. And your ambivalence has caused this. And it doesn’t matter how much you work to fix one part of yourself, we’ll just fall apart somewhere else.
If you are my brain, you’re quite good at cruelty, and sometimes I hate you.
So it’s just as well you’re not.
At the start of last cycle, the anovulatory-cycle-to-be, I, succumbing to years of urgings from everyone with whom I talked about my ongoing coccyx pain to get internal work done, started Holistic Pelvic Care. Is it weird having someone I just met stick a finger in my vagina? Uh, yes. But the work itself — it’s not intimate, except in the way that deep and profound bodywork is, which is to say very, but also not. It doesn’t feel remotely sexual. It feels like nothing so much as trigger point work in the muscles of the pelvis (because that’s exactly what it is), which is strange only for the way of accessing them and because even those of us who Kegel, who reach inside regularly, who know the shape and feel of our cervixes — we don’t feel these muscles. They’re a part of orgasm, perhaps, but how much then are we paying attention to “Oh yes, that connects my tail bone to my ischial tuberosity, how interesting”? Very little, if we’re doing it right. But with internal pelvic work (which is a euphemism for “there’s a finger poking around in my pussy”), suddenly each muscle is felt — and each muscle’s tension is known, and, with pressure and that not-quite-pain of activated trigger points and the breathing that takes one back to birth, is calmed. Relaxed. Released.
Some people are taken back to (and often released from) memories of trauma, birth or rape or medical procedures. I suddenly had muscle tone. A rectocele too still, but… less.
And also, no ovulation. And a brain that declares this not a coincidence, ignoring the sensible steel of Occam’s razor.
I bought a Diva Cup a month ago, as part of a Halloween costume which was doomed to be idea only, lacking anyone to party with and the chutzpah to head out alone. With the increase in muscle tone, it fits, and, based on the past 24 hours, works. At least when, instructions and dire warnings aside, I flip it inside out.
That’s probably a metaphor.
One day, I will cease to cycle. One day, my ovaries, a bit at a time, will start to sit out from their decades-long dance. One day, they will retire altogether, graceful dames or cranky crones, to be thanked and honored and gradually forgotten either way. One day, I’ll have no more monthly(-ish) promptings to muse on menstruation, procreation, generation, genderization, humiliation, celebration, and the mundane monthly task of roughly half the population for roughly half our lifetimes to — one way or another — bleed and continue on living.
But please, not yet.