there aren't many naturally occurring life events that are more disliked. The popular consensus is that bleeding time is a bad time: cramps, bloating, moodiness -- all that stuff. That's how it used to be for me, too, until I discovered there's more to menstruation than Mom or my phys-ed health class ever told me. Is it because our society still feels pretty uncomfortable with female sexuality and pleasure that I had to discover completely on my own that menstruation can actually feel erotically and sexually pleasurable?
The first time I had this experience it took me months to put the pieces together. Then it hit me like a lightning bolt. What parts of you are pulsating to get that blood on out of your body? The same parts that quiver and quake when you come! And if you stop fighting them, fearing them or shaming them, those monthly rhythmic contractions can feel ecstatic !
I made that discovery 14 years ago. Since then, some of the most profound, spiritually satisfying sexual experiences of my life have been given to me by my period. Opening up to my bleeding self has been a lot like discovering a built-in lover who's dear enough to visit every month.
The nice thing is, I don't even have to do much to experience pleasure with this partner; my period likes being the active one. The moment often arrives (usually on the first or second day) when I feel compelled to lie back and relax my whole body and mind as deeply as I can. Then the love vibes originating in my womb and yoni begin travelling far and wide through my bodily landscape.
Menstrual pleasures are often more mystical, I find, than those achieved through self-pleasuring or partnered sex. As my belly pulsates, so does my mind, drifting in and out of dreams, intuitions, memories shimmering like reflections in a lake. Sounds, colours, sensations can take on a particularly intense and vibrant reality. Sometimes I've felt like I'm somehow hearing or seeing the essence of what I'm focused on. In some of my peak period moments, I've felt streams of life energy gently but insistently rise through my body, reminding me of the stubbornness a salmon brings to its swim upstream.
It's not always easy. My period has turned out to be a totally tuned in and uncompromising lover. If there's a place in my body, mind or heart that's not fully open to that month's flow, my menstruation informs me in the language of pain -- without fail. Hard experience has taught me that mistreating myself or another in any way tends to "cramp" my pleasure.
It can be very hard, I've found, to face up to everything my period wants me to know about how I treat myself and others. But if I insist on remaining unaware, I can't clear the way for that sweet menstrual wave. Setting things right again means we'll have another delightful romp, if not this month, then next. I'll open my heart to the waves animating my womb and vagina and feel the wide, free and blissful loving of my moontime paramour.
Personal issues aren't the only ones that interfere with my love affair. Social convention isn't exactly supportive of menstrual eroticism. According to women's magazines, what I really need are painkillers, super-absorbent "feminine hygiene" products that won't give away the horrible secret that, like most women, I menstruate, or better yet, synthetic hormone brews or surgeries that will stop the inconvenient blood altogether. (The articles and doctors promoting these treatments often talk about how we find menstruation inconvenient. They never talk about the darker secret, that many of us are more than inconvenienced -- we're ashamed and disgusted by our periods, ourselves.)
I wonder sometimes whether a lot of the moodiness and cramps so many of my sisters experience are just a reflection of repressed sexuality, the cries of our rejected monthly lover.
My menstrual lover also demands time, time most employers or families don't easily concede. I've had to become assertive to let my period make love to me. It's not a widely accepted excuse for rescheduling a dinner date, if you know what I mean.
Then there's the whole female sexual autonomy thing. If a period can make you feel good all on its own, that can be threatening to the old patriarchal gods we still sometimes carry inside, the ones that insist that women envy the penis and need a man -- and a child in the womb -- to ful"fill" them.
For me, the struggle to be with my menstrual partner has been completely worth it. I'm a way happier, healthier human than I used to be. And like any woman worth her salt -- or in this case, her salty blood -- I'm going to keep doing what it takes to be with my beloved, on our terms. After all, we go back a long, long way.