Loved-it, NetGalley, Non-fiction, Women's

Heavy Flow by Amanda Laird: How Much Do You Know About What Happens To You Monthly? And Why Are We So Uncomfortable When It Comes To Talking About Menstruation?

I’ve noticed that when it comes to books for review, I often enjoy nonfiction the most – and Heavy Flow by Amanda Laird was no exception. I think this is an absolute MUST READ for every woman (in this case, I mean biologically). There are so many things we don’t talk about that make up the experience of being a woman, and periods are part of that. Or rather, periods are talked about, but the narrative is so incredibly cherry-picked that it affects our whole view on something that is completely natural and has been there in the lives of women basically since the dawn of time, and it affects it in certain, most often negative, ways. Heavy Flow is a book meant to not only open up this conversation, but speak about it as should be spoken about – on women’s terms, as well as educate its reader about the myths associated with this part of women’s lives, while explaining and promoting natural ways in which you could influence your cycle for your own wellbeing and health. The book promotes understanding and educating yourself, and l’m sure it will teach you at least a few things you didn’t know about your own body.

Heavy Flow: Breaking the Curse of Menstruation

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★★★★★ 5 stars

Heavy Flow is a book centered on clearing up the myths around periods, meant to explain the mechanisms behind them and how it ties into your overall health. It’s meant to help you understand that periods are only a part of your menstrual cycle, and period health tells you much more about your body than just how fertile it is. Amanda Laird tackles all sorts of cultural and emotional topics connected with periods, and not only this – at the end of the book, you will find several chapters on nutrition, hormone balance and self-care to let you understand more about self-regulation and how to balance yourself, if you are feeling off in your current day to day.

What Might We Not Know About Our Periods?

A GIF of Audrey Hepburn’s character in a movie, with a surprised face and taking off her glasses

As it turns out, we might not know quite a lot. Pretty much to the point where we should rather ask ourselves about what we actually know, as opposed to what we don’t know about our periods. Amanda Laird talks a lot about this, and why it is this way – starting with societal stigma that we have been raised with, and ending with the fact that most health classes are actually funded and backed by commercial entities that just want to sell you their hygiene products. The period narrative has been created and maintained by men and corporate entities – both of which don’t really have much to do with how women experience it (and back when the sanitary product narrative began, I’m pretty sure there weren’t even many women working in those companies either, if at all.)

This is partly why I stayed glued to Heavy Flow and finished it in one evening. The amount of myths, historical facts and trivia you might have never known about periods and conception is huge. And to think that talking about periods publicly has only become a thing in the past several years is staggering.

What Are Some Of These Facts You Might Not Know?

Well, for example, did you ever consider that your period is actually only a tiny part of your menstrual cycle? I wouldn’t expect anyone not actively trying to conceive to even be aware of this, because it isn’t common knowledge at all. Part of the reason for this, again, is that we’re only taught these facts about our periods that help companies sell us more pads and tampons (like how periods are gross, inconvenient, a hindrance to an active life and god forbid should anyone ever find out that we’re on our period right now, or really… ever!) Another one, this time one about contraception. How many of you know, especially if you’re on the pill yourself, that the ‘period’ you have when you’re on it, is actually no period at all? lts actually just a bleed that happens because your body is suddenly starved of the synthetic hormones you’ve been taking for the past few weeks. This bleed is not really necessary, but has been adopted mostly as a marketing technique when the pill was invented – because women felt just very uncomfortable about suddenly not having periods at all.

A GIF of a kitten, making a surprised-looking face and covering its nose with a paw

How We View Our Periods

Or rather, how we don’t really view them as ours! We have been taught to only see our periods in the light of fertility. Its part of the process of having children. That’s it!

Except its not.

A period is part of being a healthy female. It’s a general indicator of your health, and an outcome of certain processes in your body that regulate so much more than just your ability to have children or not. Part of the reason we don’t “own” our periods, for these of us who choose to have natural ones, is because we’re taught that they have nothing to do with us and are actually unnecessary, a hindrance, if you are not currently attempting to have children. Heavy Flow talks about this in depth and I think every woman should get familiar with this info and this reasoning. Having a menstrual cycle is part of a healthy body. You wouldn’t expect to remove a wheel from a car and expect it to keep moving like it did before. Except that’s what millions of women do to their bodies every day by disrupting part of their natural hormonal cycle.

A GIF of a male doctor, holding out a hand with some pills

I have to mention though, that this book is not against the pill – the author herself has used it for long periods in her life, like a lot of women do. It is an enabler for a lot of women to lead the lives they want to lead, to let them achieve careers, for one thing, and not only that. However, when doing something that concerns your health, you should know everything about it. You shouldn’t do it “just because everyone is doing it” or “because that’s the easiest way and it’s fine”. You should know all the whys and the hows, because that’s the only way to make a rational, informed decision about your body and your health.

Practical Odds And Ends In Heavy Flow

But Heavy Flow isn’t just about the facts or the histories. It also has chapters devoted purely to how you can make a difference in your life – by regulating your cycle if you’re experiencing painful or irregular periods, or even about how to ensure that your doctor will hear you out and take you seriously – because a lot of women still experience a lack of understanding from professionals when it comes to period trouble – on the grounds that periods ARE trouble and nothing can be done about it (which is an outlook that should go back to the 19th century and stay there.) There is quite a lot about nutrition in Heavy Flow, as well as general lifestyle tips about what can help you if you’re struggling. There are parts that can help you understand what processes are happening in your body and why, and what are your options. More than that, Heavy Flow treats your cycle health as part of your overall health, and may start you out on the way of looking at the whole, as opposed to particular parts of the body and trying to find separate symptoms relating to only those separated parts.

A GIF all sorts of healthy looking food – fruit, veggies, fish, egg and milk

 

Overall...

The body is a whole. And looking at it like that, periods are also part of the whole. Heavy Flow is a good resource to take the first steps towards understanding yourself as a whole and taking steps to connect to your femininity. I can definitely recommend it, and I think it’s required reading for every female out there. I will certainly be recommending it to all of my friends.

How much do you know about what happens to you monthly? And why are we so uncomfortable when it comes to talking about #menstruation? Questions answered in Heavy Flow by Amanda Laird: Click To Tweet

I thank Dundurn for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion. Receiving the book for free does not affect my opinion.

So how much do you know about your period? Does it ellicit negative feelings? Do you understand it as a part of yourself, or a nuisance that needs to be taken care of?

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

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Evelina AvalinahsBooksJ R LynnBecky @ A Fool's IngenuityLydia TewkesburyLexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookworms Recent comment authors

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Maggie
Guest

Great post. This sounds like a really intriguing book. I am always fascinated by how little people who menstruate (myself included) really know about all that jazz!

Nicola Niemc
Guest

I agree, all women should read this. As a bit of a hypochondriac, I love the fact that it has chapters on nutrition and healthcare! It sounds so obvious, but so cool, when you point out that cycle health is part of our overall health, and if we look after our health overall, then we might just improve our cycle health too.

Laura Thomas
Guest

Learned something new by reading your review! I no longer have a period. My change came early. and I can’t say I miss it. I do still get regular check ups to make sure nothing is wrong. Just because I don’t have one anymore doesn’t mean I shouldn’t stay vigilant. Great review.

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Gayathri
Guest

Wow those are news to me. It is true that we don’t see the flow separated from the baby making process. Sounds like another great read. I am glad 2019 is treating you so well!

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookworms
Guest

I actually know a lot about periods and menstruation… Not only do I have four children, and I actually feel when I ovulate most of the time… (Which is really seldom nowadays 😉 ) I had such a heavy flow that I was lacking iron, and felt really tired all the time. And sometimes, on my period, I almost fainted!! I had a hysterectomy almost ten years ago, and it changed my life. No more periods – which was weird at first. But truly, I got my energy back from not bleeding so much every month. And I talk to… Read more »

Lydia Tewkesbury
Guest

This book sounds so interesting! I read a different, but similar book a couple years ago and it blew my mind! I think the idea of talking about periods not as this annoying inconvenience that we have to deal with month after month so such a positive indicator of health. I know you said that she isn’t pill negative, but I am finding that as we are starting to talk more about periods and natural cycles etc there is some pill-shaming starting to happen, which really bothers me. People are on the pill for a whole range of reasons –… Read more »

Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity
Guest

Oh wow. This sounds so interesting! I don’t read huge amounts of nonfiction but books like this always interest me because I feel like there is so much about my own body I don’t fully understand because, as women, society seems to teach to be ashamed of certain aspects of ourselves. It’s great for a book to talk openly about periods and it sounds like there is a whole heap of stuff I need to learn. I definitely need to get a copy of this a in my life.

J R Lynn
Guest

Honestly, I associate my period with awful cramps and pain… so I guess I need to read this 🙂 There is so much negativity surrounding periods, which like you said needs to go back to the 19th century and stay there. Lovely review!

P.S. I tagged you for the Sunshine Blogger Award