MY CYCLE: Writer & Podcaster Jasmine Wallis
Jasmine Wallis is a writer and co-host of the weekly Culture Club podcast. When we picked her brain about her cycle routine and period hacks, we found a back to basics approach. For Jasmine, it’s the little things that make a big difference. Finding joy everyday, listening to and honouring her body and giving herself permission to rest and take things slow. There’s a real mindfulness in her period routine, that comes from being in tune with her hormones.
I have a love-hate relationship with my period. I had severely painful periods as a young teen that eased up a bit when I began taking the pill. Once I decided to give my body and hormones a break from the pill I didn’t have a period for six months. That’s when I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It took a long time to get my period back and regular so now when I get it I feel relieved and grateful because I know it means my PCOS and fertility is semi-under control but then the pain arrives. Ugh. Last year I was also diagnosed with Adenomyosis (often called the evil cousin of endometriosis) which has been another explanation for my heavy and painful periods.
I was only 11 when I got my first period. It was a couple of weeks before I started Year 7. What a tumultuous time! I remember feeling cramps and being a little worried and when I went to the bathroom I saw blood on my undies. Luckily I’d been given some of those teenage guide books like Girl Stuff by Kaz Cooke so I knew what it was. I told my mum when she got home and thus started my first ever period.
I can usually tell it’s coming on when I begin crying over small things like TikToks or a kind message from a friend. Then once I start getting stabbing cramps about 3-5 days before, I check my Clue app and see that my red friend is coming to town. When I have PMS I make sure to take extra care of myself. I wind down social activities and give myself more space to rest and take it slow. I’ve recently started using a Tens device for my pain and it’s a life-saver. I pair it with a hot water bottle and ibuprofen on extra painful days.
As well as using a mixture of treatments I also use a range of period products. These include the Scarlet Cup and period undies as well as pads and tampons sometimes when I’m out for most of the day (which let’s be honest, isn’t very often anymore). I’m trying to be more environmentally friendly when it comes to my period routine.
In the week I’m bleeding I take extra care of my sensitive acne-prone skin, go on slow walks and drink lots of tea. I also give myself permission to eat whatever I crave. It’s all about listening to and honoring your body. Also, as I’ve gotten older I feel that cleansing your space around your cycle is important. It’s like having spring clean but every few weeks. Throw away the junk, light incense or a candle and have space for you.
My main form of exercise is running so between period boobs and low energy I usually pare it back a lot when bleeding. But again - I just listen to what my body needs, if I feel I have a bit more energy I go for a slow jog or just a walk. I also love stretching and yoga all cycle round but especially during my period. I can literally feel the cobra pose stretching out my sore uterus.
I get period-induced cystic acne so during that time I take extra care in thinking about what I’m putting on my skin. I don’t overload it with fancy serums and products but just go back to basics and know what works. The Go-To Removalist mask is also a must-do to draw out impurities and calm my redness down. There’s so much power in beauty routines I think. Taking things slow, being mindful of what you’re using and only focusing on that one action for a few minutes can be so restorative. It’s not about looking good but feeling like you’re taking care of the home that you’re living in.
Number one of course is sunscreen! Living in Australia you just have to wear it everyday rain, hail or shine. I use a 50+ SPF one every morning. I have a couple of holy grail serums that have changed my skin so much lately and they are the Aesthetics Rx C Serum 23% and the La Roche Posay Effaclar Serum. As someone with PCOS I also can’t live without my tweezers! (Thanks hormones).
I’m currently in a long distance relationship, so no - my cycle doesn’t get in the way of my dating life. I just cry about missing him a bit more! It does get in the way of my other relationships like friendships and family when I can be a bit more snappy or have to cancel plans due to pain but everyone in my life knows what I go through each month with my conditions so they understand.
I’m only just learning more about how our cycle doesn’t just affect us in the weeks of our period but all cycle around. During my period however I slow right down. I find my brain isn’t as sharp on my period (something you kind of need as a writer) so I move all of my pitching and big deadlines to the middle of my cycle where possible - I have so much energy in the ovulation phase so try to use that to my advantage when I have it.
I will never stop recommending a TENS machine for people dealing with pain. It’s reduced my ibruprofen intake and means I can actually think straight rather than being consumed with pain. Basically small electrical pulses are sent to your nerves which overload your nervous system to reduce its ability to send pain signals to your brain - clever, right?
Another one is rest, rest, rest. Your body is literally shedding an internal organ - that takes energy! Go easy on yourself; that’s my 2021 motto.