Self-care is self-love! With so many different ways to practice self-care, one form of self-care we want to highlight this week is… self-care down there! This week we interviewed Taq Kaur Bhandal, the CEO of @imwithperiods and The Mahwari Research Institute, and author of Self-Care Down There. Taq is a period health educator and researcher, advocating for period positivity, sustainability, and self-care!
When asked about her first period experience, Taq recalls that she got her first period in 6th Grade at around 11 years old. Taq shares: “I was very grateful to receive my period while living with my mom after starting at a new school, and feeling liberated from the trauma of my parent’s marriage that ended when I was 8. I distinctly remember that I had my hair in two pig tails with a ramal (Punjabi head covering) and went to use the bathroom. To my surprise there was a little glob of blood mixed with cervical fluid on my underwear! I told my mom about it, she showed me how to use my first pad, and I remembered going to the school yard after and walking around like a penguin because it was such a foreign experience!”
I remember that my period education mainly came from a lot of Google searches. I remember periods were BRIEFLY taught in school health class, but they didn’t talk about topics like PMS symptoms or tracking your period cycle or how your period can change over time. When we asked Taq about what her period education was like, Taq detailed that she received:
“Pretty much none except for how to use a pad. At one point I put two and two together and discovered that having sex with a male as a female would lead to pregnancy, and that periods disappeared when one is pregnant.”
Period stigmas can often trigger feelings of embarrassment, shame, and even anger. Taq describes “I definitely felt some aspect of shame, however the main feeling I had towards it was anger. Anger that it was painful, Anger that I had to wear pads and deal with catching blood.” Taq further explains that “It took a lot of years of unlearning, however the aha moment for me came when my therapist encouraged me to come off of the birth control pill due to the negative impact it was having on my mental health and sex drive. Coming off the pill I learned how to chart my mahwari cycles (menstrual cycles in Punjabi). In this process I built a healthy, abundant, and conscious relationship with my period and all 4 seasons of mahwari cycles. It was this moment in 2017 when I fell madly in love with my period, and felt safe in my body for the first time since I was born.”
Because of how ingrained stigmas and period taboos are in our society, it can take months, years, and even decades of unlearning menstruation myths, shedding harmful stigmas, and accepting our periods. When we embrace and accept our periods, we reach a new form and
new level of self-care and self-love! “A total 180 degree turn that took needle point moves from 2017 to the present moment. I used to dread my period, feel nauseous while being on the pill, and learning that I actually suppressed ovulation for the 7 years I was on synthetic birth control. Now I exclaim I LOVE YOU PERIOD from my shower whenever she arrives. I schedule my productivity and care work time according to the 4 seasons of mahwari cycles, and am generally living my best life with my period ever! Since I have embraced and fallen in love with my period, I am making the most money I ever have. My relationships have gotten stronger and more sustainable. My spiritual connection has seen a huge evolution. And my health (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) is at an all-time high.”
When asked about what her biggest challenge associated with her period, Taq details: “The pain of receiving it, and navigating my desire to not get pregnant ever. I have found a really great birth control regiment now since I have built a conscious and loving relationship with my period.” Taq shares that she was inspired to create @imwithperiods and The Mahwari Research Institute to “pay it forward. To help as many people as I can to fall madly in love with their mahwari and menstrual cycles in service of living our most abundant lives.”
To learn more about how you can practice self-care down there, Taq shares her advice: “Pick up a copy of my book Self-Care Down There and begin to apply the sacred self-care tips one step at a time. De-stigmatizing menstrual health requires detoxing and decluttering our current limiting beliefs and negativity we have absorbed over time. Then the acquisition of new knowledge and belief systems that honour the abundance and wisdom of mahwari cycles. And finally, the application of these perspectives to our everyday lives! Our guidebook Self-Care Down There will act as a guide for you during this process, y’all. I’m right here alongside you to support YOU in living your best life.”
We hope that Taq’s story resonates and relates to you! We want to continue normalizing period conversations and building a supportive network for people who menstruate. If you would like to see your period story featured on our blog contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on social media! If you love sustainable menstrual pads you can sign up HERE to pre-order your very own Ruth pads! Thank you for reading! Don’t forget to wear your masks, wash your hands, and stay safe!