I have gone through a transformation over the last six months. I am happier and more confident and I have more energy. I finally feel like myself.
There are two important events that lead me to this:
- I stopped taking the birth control pill.
- I read this book, started seriously tracking my cycle and now understand how my hormones work.
This book has changed my life, no exaggeration!
Who is Maisie Hill?
Maisie Hill describes herself as a “highly qualified practitioner” in women’s health issues, specifically the menstrual cycle. She has a number of qualifications in the alternative therapies space (acupuncture, massage, reflexology) as well as being a certified “life coach” (whatever that means!).
On her own profile page, she describes her own battles with her menstrual cycle, which lead her to read Take Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler, stopping the pill and feeling significantly better.
This inspired her passion for learning about the menstrual cycle and she subsequently took courses with Integrative Women’s Health Institute, Red School, Nicole Jardim and Nurturing Birth. Looking at the websites for these they are all quite new-agey and woo-woo spiritual in their language (a lot of “awakening” and “radical feminine power”). When I think about this is not surprising as it is well documents that the scientific medicine space is historically male-dominated and dismissive of female health issues. Nicole Jardim is another menstrual cycle and hormonal health advocate, very similar to Maisie, she has a book called Fix Your Period which focuses on treating symptoms, and also (from what I can tell) tries to use a plain language tone. I haven’t read that one as I don’t have any extreme symptoms in my own cycle.
Maisie has her own clinic offering therapies and support programmes, including her Flow Collective group coaching. All this to say that Maisie has a wealth of personal experience as well as those of her many clients over the years.
Period Power: Book Review
The writing I found very accessible and she uses a friendly, informal tone to get across what can be some quite complex biology – most of the hormones do not have catchy names! There are a few diagrams here and there as well which as in a hand-drawn style that I liked.
Value to the audience
The information in this book is invaluable to anybody who menstruates and anybody who lives with someone who menstruates. Honestly, it is the sort of thing that should be taught in school. I am 34 and I now know I was shockingly ignorant of how my own body and my hormones work. I can’t help but feel my relationships and my career even would have been different if I’d had this understanding earlier in my life.
All I remember on this top from school was at about 12 years old we were separated into boys and girls and the girls just got told about sanitary and tampons and some basic hygiene, and that was it. No information about how I was going to feel, how my moods, self-esteem and energy were going to change on a weekly basis.
We also never get told how taking the hormonal birth control pill will affect us – stopping that was the biggest change for my physical and mental health. If you are on the pill you are running synthetic hormones and won’t be experiencing a true menstrual cycle, therefore the information in this book won’t apply to you.
Maisie’s approach is to split the menstrual cycle into four phases that she names after the seasons.
- Winter: this is your period, while you are bleeding
- Spring: following your period as your oestrogen rises again
- Summer: ovulation at the peak of your oestrogen and then the decline as progesterone beings to rise.
- Autumn: your PMS time, when progesterone hits its peak to get ready for either pregnancy or your next period.
She explains how your hormones are behaving at these times, how this may make you feel physically and emotionally and offers advice for how to get the best out of each “season” in your relationships, work, creativity and fitness.
I have been playing around with Canva lately, and I found it helpful to make myself some infographic-style visual aids to remember the key points of each season, I’ve shared these on Instagram too and Pinterest!
Some readers have noted that a lot of her examples and advice (many of her individual experience) are from a privileged point of view (how many of us have a personal assistant who can track our periods and plan our meetings around it for us?!). She does acknowledge in the book that arranging your life around your menstrual cycle is not possible for most people, but there are areas where you may at least be able to manage your expectations, and your reactions, better if you have more understanding.
As noted above Maisie has a background in alternative therapies so she does make some recommendations for things very “rich white lady wellness” treatments like acupuncture, castor oil, seed cycling, and a rather odd bit about getting high on hallucinations from period pains… but you can take or leave that depending on your bent! For me, I just skipped over all these more “woo woo” parts as they are only interjections and not at all the main content of this book.
It is also acknowledged that – of course – no two people have the same experience with their menstrual cycle. Individual people will have different lengths for their cycle (which might fluctuate), and within that seasons may be different lengths, or how you react to the hormones may be different.
I would also like to note that care is taken to use inclusive language. Maisie uses the term “people who menstruate” rather than “women” to account for the spectrum of gender identities.
I had many “ah ha!” moments when reading this. Now I know why there are some days when I just want to rip the head off anyone asking me stupid questions, and when talking to people feels so hard. Why on some days I feel like I buzz with too many ideas at once and it is impossible for me to focus for any length of time? Why will wake up on certain days just out of the blue filled with anxiety a week before my period?
To get the most out of this you should start tracking your menstrual cycle, and Maisie offers some advice on how to do this. I will share how I do this soon. I am somewhat obsessed with my cycle tracker (my boyfriend is probably sick of hearing about it!)!
I think this book contains information that everyone born with a female reproductive system should be given when they hit puberty! Really everyone should know this, these are issues that affect half the population. It is written in a very accessible way, and while there may be a few points that made me raise my eyebrows I think overall it is an extremely useful book.
There is so much more than I could mention but I will save for future blog posts, this one was just meant to be a book review! This is a subject that I have become very interested and enthusiastic about, and I can’t help but apply now to all areas of life! It’s like I have finally been given the key to understanding myself and how I interact with the world … it has been incredibly inspiring!
If you want to listen to Maisie Hill talk more about this book and her work she was on a great episode of the iWeigh with Jameela Jamil (Ep. 88 10th Dec 2021). She does also have her own podcast but it’s not really my vibe!