By Neha Kirpal
With more than two decades of experience researching and treating thousands of patients, health tech pioneer and women’s health expert Kirsten Karchmer found that most period problems women experience are reflective of one’s overall health and fertility, and are totally correctable.
In 2000, Kirsten opened one of the first reproductive acupuncture clinics in the US, where she treated thousands of women with fertility and reproductive issues. In her new book Seeing Red: The One Book Every Woman Needs to Read. Period (Simon & Schuster), she writes:
“1.7 billion people on this planet menstruate. That means 4.2 million people are having their periods right now. And more than 80 percent of them suffer from significant and life-interrupting health concerns such as premenstrual syndrome, cramps, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. That seems like a really big deal for women and their health… so it’s odd that no one seems to be talking about it.”
The author begins by tracing the history of the period only to find that age-old attitudes towards this “disease” have not changed in centuries. Since time immemorial, menstruating women were considered filthy, feeble and inferior, and periods were considered a curse to be endured.
In India, the stigma for menstruating women to enter temples is well known, as is “menstrual shame”, as if it is something to be hidden and be ashamed about.
In this practical data-driven guide to a woman’s optimal health and wellness, the author explains the importance of a healthy menstrual cycle and how to achieve it, and why it matters to the progress of the women’s movement.
While breaking down many taboos and myths around menstruation, Kirsten draws the correlations between a woman’s cycle and her overall health, so much so that she exclusively used the menstrual cycle as her primary diagnostic tool. The author illuminates that the period is a woman’s most instructive feedback mechanism for her health and fertility. It’s a sound barometer of one’s overall health that arrives on schedule every month to give one a full systems check and provide beneficial clues about one’s health.
The author also explains how it is possible to “biohack” one’s period – through medicine, technology as well as simple and sustainable diet and lifestyle changes, such as enough sleep, water and exercise. Add to this healthy relationships and social support. Apart from this, she also emphasizes the importance of having the right mindset, “where the mind goes, the body follows”.
“If our goal as a society is to really empower women, we have to start with women’s health. A woman’s cycle is not a curse but possibly the most valuable, regularly occurring, and free feedback tool a woman can use to measure her overall health. It can also provide a road map for fixing it and improving her current and future health, as well as quality of life, and access to power, and freedom… It’s time we broke the silence surrounding the messy, uncomfortable matters related to the female body. It’s time we started SEEING RED.”
First published in eShe’s January 2020 issue