So growing up in Britain in the 1970’s my understanding of the menstrual cycle was something like this:

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It didn’t exactly sell the idea of being a woman.  Although it did sell a range of shame-covering products designed to help us poor females disguise this unfortunate feature of our bodies.

Of course, no-one wants blood stains on their clothes, any more than they want coffee stains.  It’s also true that period pain and pre-menstrual emotions can both be crippling for some women.  This is the winter of our menstrual cycle.

But here’s the thing.

NO-ONE EVER TOLD US THERE WAS A SUMMER TOO.

I was probably in my 30’s before I started to understand what was going on but I gradually became aware of an intense period of extreme good feeling mid-cycle.  This is the time of ovulation, the fertile period, the flip side of ‘pre-menstrual’.  I became aware of myself overflowing with fertility: not just the ability to get pregnant but an all-encompassing sense of optimism, confidence and creativity, with sexual desire and desirability at a peak.

In later posts I will attempt to describe my experience of this time although it will be difficult to express its depth and intensity  in everyday language.

Despite much hunting for information, only the slightest hints seemed to indicate that this was a regular female experience.  “You may feel sexier around the time of ovulation” seemed to be the most anyone had to say. As if the female experience of fertility was, at most, an insignificant little buzz. “You may feel sexier”.  Or you may not.  Who cares?

For me, however, the experience of fertility (as part of a cycle which also includes a winter phase) has been central to my experience of being a woman.  It has been fiercely empowering  and wildly creative.  It is an essential part of my identity and without it my perceptions, my decisions and my whole life path would have been entirely different.  Although my fertile days are now over, it continues to shape my view of the world.

I can’t believe that my experience is unique.  I am sure other women feel this way.  But why is it that no-one talks about it?   Could it be that, for all our liberal notions, actually female fertility and sexual power is still absolutely taboo?  Is it easier for our society to focus on the pre-menstrual and bleeding aspects of our femaleness?  Are we easier to control as the weaker sex, rather than the powerful beyond all measure sex?  And crucially, how have so many of us unwittingly given up this power, our birthright, in return for “convenient” contraception?

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