Movement, Period. Podcast Ep. 50

Episode 50: Movement, Period.

This episode of Katy Says isn’t just for females! If you’re a real anatomy geek or student of human movement, this show is for you. Because if periods didn’t exist, neither would you! Learn about the movement of menstruation and the whole-body movements that affect it.

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DANI: It’s the Katy Says podcast, where movement geek, Dani Hemmat – that’s me – joins biomechanist, Katy Bowman, author of Move Your DNA for discussions on body mechanics, movement nutrition, natural movement, and how movement can be the solution to modern ailments we all experience.


DANI: Okay, so today’s show I’m going to start with a letter, even though it’s not a mail bag show. Switching it up.


KATY: You’re a rule breaker.


DANI: I know. Are you ready? This letter’s for you.


KATY: Okay.


DANI: People – yeah. They always send you letters. I’m not sure what’s up with that. But I guess you’re the biomechanist. Okay. This is from Jennie. “Dear Katy, I’m not saying you claim to heal this, however I have recently been told that I may have endometriosis. I tried doing the Down There for Women DVD, and I’m so pleased. This was the first period I’ve had in so long that I was not bedridden for at least two days.”


KATY: Wow.


DANI: I know. “Also, most of the pain I have been having has been quite minimal since starting these movements. Thank you, thank you, for sharing this knowledge with the world in the way you do. It’s nice to watch an alignment video and laugh.” She should record a podcast with us. You think that’s funny? “This may be new-agey, but I notice when I do something that moves a certain part of my body that I haven’t moved in a while, I become emotional. While opening up this part of my physical self, it opens up part of my spiritual self, I feel. Now, for my question. Would you be able to explore any possible link between doing these types of movements and the healing of chronic ailments such as endometriosis? Thank you, Jennie.”


KATY: Hi, Jennie. Well, thank you for sending us the question – she sent it to us, really.


DANI: I know she did, I’m just giving you a hard time. And here’s the weird part about this? This question came in, like, 24 hours –


KATY: Before this pre-planned show. I mean, we’ve planned this show for months.


DANI: We knew our topic, yeah. We knew our topic today, what we were going to talk about, and then this came in. Like, whoa.


KATY: And I’m glad you started the show with it because I don’t know a better way to give what we’re going to talk about context, so this is – yes, this is an entire show about menstruation, period. (ding!) I know, so bad. But I want to say right now: any non-female listening to this show all the way through is going to get some major props from Dani and I. High fives, virtual high fives, especially if you’re someone who considers themselves an anatomy geek or a human movement specialist. You can’t avoid the human movements that make you uncomfortable. It’s all part of it, you know? If you were working with men and women, then you should know just about all the things that allow us to make more men and women.


DANI: Totally.


KATY: So we’re going to talk about menstruation. I was thinking about what’s the best way to frame it – we have some context, but I think you can think of menstruation as a movement. It’s a movement that makes – and I’m going to talk about the movement in a second – but it’s a movement of a body part and many, many parts that make human reproduction possible. I’m going to explain soon – shortly – about the movements that make a period. But what I am more fascinated with, or just as fascinated with, is how whole body movements will affect this other movement that creates your period. Like, what actually makes your period. We’re going to talk about that in a second.


DANI: Yeah, because I don’t think it’s fully understood – I mean, even just the stuff that you’ve sent me in the past or that I’ve read, it’s like, oh, really? I had no idea.


KATY: Right.


DANI: And I think that’s because there’s sort of, like, this taboo about it?


KATY: Sure. Sure.


DANI: And even between – it’s like, of course we don’t talk about it at dinner parties. But it’s even in more intimate settings, like mother-daughter, you know, or between girlfriends. It’s not always discussed and there’s this aura of taboo and mystery, you know, about it. Like the red tent – and we’re not going to get into why that is so, because that’s a whole other show.


KATY: That’s a show with a different set of expertise than we have.


DANI: Yes, that’s more cultural. But we can discuss, like, some of the issues and truly wonders of menstruation.


KATY: Well, PS – there is a great – there’s a great story, I will find you the link. It was on an American Life – This American Life is another podcast, maybe the top podcast in the United States, you know, second to Joe Rogan. But he – Ira Glass – like they had maybe 5 or 7 stories of just things that are so crazy, make you laugh, just strange things, and one of them was a story involving a period, a dinner party, and a small dog.


DANI: Oh my, I’m in.


KATY: I definitely think we should link it in the show notes – just – that’s for the adventurous listener.


DANI: Ooh, okay.


KATY: Yes. It’s funny, but it was like, they put it out there. So we’re just going to take our cue from This American Life like all other cues.


DANI: We’ll put it out there. All right, so let’s say, just a good place to start is just to remind everyone just how awesome menstruation is. Why it matters to all of us – like you mentioned in the beginning, men and women, because if it wasn’t for periods, there’d be no people. Period.


KATY: Right, so it’s of human interest – it’s a human-interest story. It’s not a women’s health story, it’s a human-interest story.


DANI: Exactly. Go for it, Ira. Tell us – part one, act one. Tell us how a period works.


KATY: Okay, so how a period works, this is kind of an anatomy blast, but the uterus is an organ that has I’m going to say 2 hunks of layers. Each layer is comprised of other layers, but there’s a muscular set of layers and then there’s a non-muscular set of layers. So the myometrium is that outside muscle that gives the uterus its shape that you’re used to seeing, you know, every time you look at your uterus.


DANI: It looks like a little steer head in those drawings.


KATY: When I was – you say steer head – when I was in –


DANI: Deep in the heart of Texas.


KATY: Calculus, you know you’re learning sin and co-sin graphs, like zero up, zero down, and you’re making those waves, so there was a – I can’t remember if it was a sin – it must have been a co-sin wave, like, what does it look like? A uterus! And I said it out loud in 10th grade, because that’s what it looked like. I was already seeing the world through the female pelvic organs. So anyway, the myometrium is 3 muscular layers. So when you think of shunting blood to your fun parts, when you think of the work that moves the baby out, that’s being done by the myometrium. And it’s interesting, an interesting note – and this is in a blog post that I wrote a few years ago – the myometrium, the layers of muscle are oriented – if you think of your abdominal muscle fibers, you’ve got diagonal fibers that go in opposite, internal and external obliques, so they’re diagonal but they’re diagonal in opposite directions. And then you’ve got your rectus abdominus up and down and your transverse abdominus. The three muscular layers of the uterus are all oriented differently.




KATY: It’s kind of cool. It’s like in between your ribs, your ribs are the same, your internal and external intercostals and they’re all at different angles so that you have different leverage in all different directions. So that’s the myometrium, and then you have the endometrium and the endometrium is non-muscular, two layers. The two layers are the stratum – pardon my Latin.


DANI: I’ll let it go this time.


KATY: I don’t even, I don’t know – I just know when I read it how it sounds in my head. Stratum – I don’t know if that’s basilis – because I always think basil – basilis – which is like a base layer. That layer does not shed, and then there is the part deep to that, so like, you’ve got the uterus: muscle, muscle, muscle, non-muscle layer, and then the innermost layer is the stratum functionalis, which is the part that sheds. That’s the part that you are losing.


DANI: Wow, that’s a complex little bugger.


KATY: It is! It’s five layers, you know, so we talk about the uterus – if you think about it as a single part, that’s what we call it as an organ, but there’s lots of different movements on different levels, and so the stratum functionalis – functional meaning maybe the part where things are happening, not the most functional, but that’s the part that you lose every year. So here’s the process – this is the normal process of a period: right before you get your period, blood vessels that go to the endometrium contract. So they’re shutting off oxygen to these linings. Really, the deepest lining, which is the stratum functionalis, so your body is withholding oxygen, which starves it and kills it. So that’s ischemia, when things die from blood loss. So you are moving your blood vessels, constricting them to withhold oxygen, and then this layer starts to die. In response to this death, your white blood cells are released to process and remove the now-dying functional layer of the endometrium, which is called desquamation.


DANI: Desquamation.


KATY: Desquamation. Like squamous, like, you’re getting rid of it. You get your little chewing cells and they’re going up and removing it. The white blood cells, they secrete digestive enzymes that are breaking the dead tissue up. In that process, so if you imagine that you have a lining but you have blood vessels to the lining, there’s going to be some overlap, right? There’s an overlap where the blood vessel and the tissue are sharing a common wall. So as the white blood cells are secreting this enzyme, as the enzymes are getting over, some of the enzymes are also getting on the blood vessels that feed that layer, just beneath the dying lining. And so you’ve got blood vessels that have lose a bit of their wall; they’re freshly exposed, and that’s what’s bleeding.


DANI: Wow. I am dazzled by this little bugger now.


KATY: I’ve been thinking about writing, like, Are You There, God…


DANI: Seriously, man. I mean, I thought I knew some things? I know nothing, Jon Snow. This is – whoa. I am going to invite a uterus over for dinner and ask questions, because this is – we’re so cool.


KATY: Humans are so cool. That’s your new answer, like, who would you like to meet, if you could have one dinner with one person? It would be, like, Elvis Presley’s uterus.


DANI: That was so cool, really.


KATY: I feel like, Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret could have gone into the period a little bit deeper than just, you know.


DANI: Well, and I explained it to make it cool for my own daughter because I was like, I didn’t want her to feel icky or weird or anything. It’s like, this is pretty cool, what we do. But I just had the basics. But now, as soon as I hang up with you, I’m going to have to go get her and like, okay, with my white board: here’s what’s happening. You thought this was –


KATY: Grab a neighbor kid.


DANI: That would be great. You thought this was cool before? Just you wait.


KATY: Well, you know, for me, I like seeing how things in my body function similarly to things out in a larger scale, so in the post that I wrote about this, when the stratum functionalis is removed, there are some base cells that are left. And then from that – so it’s like, I think in the post, I was like, it’s like a forest fire. The forest fire comes through and kills, you know, quote, everything, but it doesn’t really kill everything. There’s base cells and from those base cells, it repopulates, so you – your uterus is very similar in that way. You are a big hunk of an area is dying and shedding off, but what you’re left with is the potential for fresh, new growth every year. So you would not want to not have that process happen, because that process is part of what keeps that area healthy, and why you do it every month. So if you do choose to have a child, it starts in a very fresh, healthy lining. So anyway.


DANI: Wow. That’s freaking beautiful. I’m getting choked up. I think we have to go on. No, seriously.


KATY: Go on, go on!


DANI: The whole forest!


KATY: So there’s more – so dysmenorrhea is when your period doesn’t go as smoothly as all of that. Or when there’s this – when there’s a delayed repair, right? So now you’ve got all these exposed blood vessels, what’s happening? What’s happening is that your body quickly goes in, fixes the blood vessels, lays down the new layer, fresh growth, and a healthy body will – that process will be very fast. But when you have lots of bleeding for a long period of time, then your repair process is not functioning as it should. And what they have figured out, and we can put links to some other research in the show notes for people who want to learn more –


DANI: Okay.


KATY: When the white – sometimes the white blood cells don’t stop breaking. They don’t stop at breaking down the functional layer. They’re chewing through more blood vessels than what they’re supposed to. Like, the amount isn’t being regulated well.


DANI: Does anybody know what causes that?


KATY: It’s white blood – the white – let me see if I can kind of – I think it goes like this, when – as the functional layer – as oxygen is withheld from the functional layer – that – those cells produce a protein called hypoxia-inducible factor. HIF. I wrote about this in the blog years ago. HIF is what stimulates those cells to regrow. But the amount of HIF – hypoxia inducible factor – is varying between women. So the more HIF you produce, the faster you repair, the less you bleed. The less you produce, the more you bleed, the slower you repair, the more you bleed. So one of the things that’s of interest, and you can hold it in your pocket for later is that there has been some research showing hyperglycemia, too much blood sugar, is interfering with the function of HIF.


DANI: Does it – do you know – does it lessen it?


KATY: Yes, it’s affecting its – I don’t know if it’s like an absolute or a relative amount, if it fluctuates, but hyperglycemia seems to be maybe associated with dysmenorrhea. Looking at some of the stats for the show about dysmenorrhea, it’s like 50% of women have primary dysmenorrhea, meaning, like, they have a period that is functioning within the range of abnormal.


DANI: What was the percent again?
KATY: 50%.


DANI: That’s huge.


KATY: And I actually think that the research cited 50-80% because they were having a hard time nailing it down. But it’s huge, it’s not like 10%, it’s like a red flag, right? In Move Your DNA we talk about red flags, and I’ve – I’m – in graduate school, pelvic health was kind of my interest. The pelvis was my interest, and so I find as a human, like, from a biological perspective, things – red flags around reproduction, like, I really pay attention to red flags around reproduction. And so, to me, dysmenorrhea is a large one. I’ll talk about this in a second, but I want to add one more component to this – because I’m thinking about Jennie’s question; you know, she was going, I have this kind of painful period, like I’m bedridden for 2 days – and a lot of women are – so with dysmenorrhea, one of the reasons it’s such a big deal is because it’s not just heavier bleeding, it’s lack of work time or production time. It’s pain, and you’re usually taking medication. It is a normal, biological function that’s going awry that is requiring medicine, right?


DANI: Right.
KATY: So the fact that you can treat the symptom –


DANI: Like monthly doses.
KATY: Monthly doses. For some people, it’s pain pills, not just Tylenol. Pain pills. That was another letter that we got a long time ago. So it’s a big deal; so what they have been able to establish using a Doppler radar is that women who are experiencing painful periods, they’re not only having problems with blood flow around their uterus during their period. They are people who are having blood flow about their uterus all the time, meaning that population of people with compromised blood flow is a population that experiences issues. And so that’s – you know, when I think of things like endometriosis, dysmenorrhea as symptoms, rather than like, I have this condition – it’s like, well, your uterus is not living in a vacuum, right? Hopefully. If your uterus is in a vacuum, take it out immediately.


DANI: I’d like to see that.


KATY: Exactly. I shouldn’t judge. I feel like we’ve already had this conversation a long time ago. But – didn’t we, like, verbatim –


DANI: It always debases itself. It’s just the way that it goes. Why do we always gotta go there?


KATY: It’s entropy. It’s entropy. The show that blows apart every time. Um, but yes – so – so – going back, circling back, it’s like, okay, what are the movements of the whole body that – what are they like, and therefore, movement of the blood – so I talked about period being a movement – it’s a movement of blood, it’s the movement of repair, but you could have large, sedentary hunks of your body, maybe you could have a sedentary uterus, but maybe other parts of your body around your uterus are also sedentary and what we know about movement and blood flow and distribution and cellular adaptations to movement is you could have some large hunks of sedentary cells, you know, about especially the female pelvic organs, and that’s always been my entry point – you know, the pelvic list and strap stretch and calf stretch and pelvic tilt, and hamstring and quad strength and mobility of the hips, like I’ve always been naturally drawn to that area because, again, like I put into Move Your DNA, the function of the pelvis and the pelvic organs are a really good indicator of the ecosystem of how the whole body is working. It’s like a keystone species, if you’re familiar – if any ecologists out there – the pelvis is like a keystone species, like a carnivore. How is it doing? You know, if it’s not doing well, then some intervention might be there.


DANI: And we need those keystone species, we need it.


KATY: They definitely help. They help for sustainability.


DANI: I live next to a prairie dog preserve and people are always complaining about them, but it’s like, but then, you know, we wouldn’t have hawks and we wouldn’t have the foxes. You know, all this stuff, it’s like you can’t just obliterate them, because then, say goodbye to all sorts of stuff. So it’s important. I have to backtrack a minute, when you talked about the pain and what people are dealing with on a monthly basis – did I make this up, or did Great Britain move to pass some sort of leave for workers for period pain?


KATY: I don’t know.


DANI: They did. They did. Because I make stuff up all the time, and that just seems beyond my scope of creativity to make up. So I’m going to look that up, but that’s actually, like, moving into legislation as people are being able to leave every month because their period pain – or dysmenorrhea, would it be?


KATY: Yes, dysmenorrhea. I just did a quick search while you were talking and I do see some articles – UK companies – so I don’t know if it’s Britain.


DANI: Not legislation.


KATY: It looks like –


DANI: Just individual.


KATY: Some company has maybe – Nike introduced menstrual leave in 2007. Wow.
DANI: Wow.


KATY: Just do it! My goodness. So they’ve given them menstrual leave. So you didn’t make it up, I mean, it’s not a country, but it is a company within a country. And maybe other companies will be following suit.


DANI: Cool.


KATY: So what else?


DANI: Well, I have just a couple small period facts.


KATY: Okay.


DANI: That are not nearly as awesome as yours, but just –


KATY: Says you!


DANI: Says me. All right, well just –


KATY: I was sorry, I was just down on the floor squatting. When I said that, I was like, yelling up to the microphone, I was like, “says you!”


DANI: It sounded like you got up on your toes because you really mean it. All right. The average age for a girl to get her first period in the United States is 12, but the range is anywhere from 8-15. And women usually have periods until the age of 45-55, none of that exact.


KATY: I was 12.


DANI: You were 12? I was 11.


KATY: I’m average. Average!


DANI: Yep, my daughter was 11, I was 11. And – yeah, that’s about the extend of like, when I think about what we all know, it’s so simple, what we know about periods and I guess what we believe are the biological implications. Like, I get cramps, or I have to deal with this blood every month, or I feel oogy or whatever. It’s not really the whole story.


KATY: No, and um – I know we were talking about this earlier, because I kind of was adding some pieces in here, so – you go to school and there’s these biological knowns, right? Like, everyone gets their period, and women come with all of their eggs, and all of these things that you will learn, but it was maybe a few years ago that I came across an article, a research article, on like, I always just – I forget to consider other cultures. To me, I know that furniture sitting is a cultural thing, but a period must be shared among humans, right? But then, of course, you find pieces on hunter gatherer populations alive right now, or people who live radically different lifestyles than I do, and you see that what was – the one that we’ll link in the notes, because that’s the one that I could pull pretty quickly without much of a search – was that modern, western women have 4x as many periods over a lifetime as our hunter-gatherer ancestors.


DANI: Four times!


KATY: So one of the – so it’s not like – this idea that we have a period every month –


DANI: The whole world is not on a 28 day cycle. I mean, this – that is crazy, because again, that’s my in the tank thinking.


KATY: A 28 day cycle, that’s in your anatomy book, right? Again, the call for anatomy books really need to be clarified of who and living how, because –


DANI: We should be like Fight Club and sneak into universities and start marking up all the anatomy books, like, “the heart isn’t the only mover of the blood!” Stuff like that. Do our own little addendums.


KATY: Yeah, and I also saw that, like, four times as a hunter-gatherer and triple for women of our same descent but only 100 years ago. I don’t have a source for that one, too. So I think it has a lot to do with the abundance of food. When I was in a sports medicine class, amenorrhea was an indication of someone who wasn’t getting enough calories – an athlete, usually – who wasn’t getting enough nutrients. But again the nutrition perspective, It’s like, well, what type of nutrients are we talking about? So in populations that have no refrigerators or grocery stores, and super grocery stores, and also a lot of sugar in almost everything that is eaten, you know, that is really the population that is having the particular types of periods that we’re talking about. Maybe it’s also the population that is experiencing dysmenorrhea, so when we look at what are those biological baselines, well, like that quote from Dian Fossey, when you’re trying to troubleshoot an issue, what are the baselines? What are all the baseline activities of an animal? If you don’t know anything about that, how can you try to save an animal? So in talking about a period being its own animal, or a uterus, and the uterus isn’t doing well, it’s like, well, what is the baseline of input that it needs to be functioning? Just to be functioning fully, to be functioning well. You don’t have to have a super uterus.


DANI: So, do you think – back to that thing about our hunter-gatherer ancestors having a lot less periods, or even modern, you said, hunter-gatherer populations have it. Do you think that’s just the body protecting – not protecting itself, but it’s like, well, I can only issue so much. I have to go through this process every month, or, I have to go through this process when this happens – and I wonder if it’s just the relative in the nutrition, because it’s not the movement, right?


KATY: Well, it’s radically different between the two groups of people. So no one has really investigated what the difference is; why would a 24 year old, you know, only have, you know, 5 periods a year, and why would someone over here — but –


DANI: I just wondered because I don’t know if you were ever told this going up, but oh, well, women need to take iron or eat more, you know, stuff with iron in it because we bleed. And so I spent the first 25 years of my life thinking I needed to take an iron supplement because I was born this way. I mean, it’s just – so I’m just wondering if that’s kind of, or is that just hooey?


KATY: Well, I don’t – no one ever talked to me about my iron, however, if you are experiencing – and it’s kind of hard to say, like, that word “natural” is hard to – what’s natural? But let me go back for a second. If I imagine that it wouldn’t be feasible for a female animal, woman, human woman in this case, to become pregnant all of the time because food sources would vary – I mean, there’s a natural pregnancy cycle to a lot of different animals, just dependent on food availability, and that would vary throughout the year but also, perhaps, to particular seasons of years. If you are already have a baby, that’s where that whole natural pregnancy suppression through breastfeeding comes, I imagine that that has – I imagine – I can say first hand as someone who was nursing who also got pregnant at 8 months while I was nursing and not menstruating, that probably has more to do with food regulation. There’s a whole natural relationship – this will come in handy when we’re talking about movement ecology – that there’s a natural relationship of biological rhythms within people and also where they live and how they live. So you just have – you’re able to get pregnant and support more pregnancies when you’ve got a grocery store. You don’t have to do any physical labor, right? It all makes sense, so, you know, I don’t know if getting more periods is necessarily unnatural or if it’s the natural response to the habitat in which we are in. And if you are bleeding that frequently, it could be very well that your supermarket – supermarket, when was the last time you heard that word? – that your supermarket diet maybe doesn’t have that –


DANI: I heard it while I was at the dime store the other day. But carry on. Sally forth.


KATY: We’re playing our jacks on the sidewalk. Anyway, that your iron could be pretty low – I mean, if you’re bleeding that frequently, maybe there’s a relationship between the types of foods that we eat, the quality and the types and the quantities, the nutrients, and bleeding so frequently. I wouldn’t automatically say that you don’t need more iron in your diet.


DANI: But you answered my question. I was more concerned about the frequency, and I just phrased it in a way that – but you answered the question about that. That it’s, it could be based more on nutrition and surrounding stuff than just – yes.


KATY: Well, it’s interesting. I first started looking into hunter gatherer and menstruation populations when there was a big push a few years back for a particular – maybe it was a birth control pill that suppressed your periods. Everyone was sending it to me, and the big support of it was actually this document – this support, the medical support for suppressing your periods with this particular medication was that it’s not even natural to have a monthly period anyway. Here are all these women who don’t have one. So my comment at the time was, there’s a difference between you living a particular way and not having this process that I was describing and taking a medication to not have this process. So I was just saying that yes, it appears that not having a monthly period isn’t bad for your health or anything and it is probably how women have been for a long period of time, but to do it one way was not the same thing as doing it another way, which was my sole commentary on that. But that was when I started going oh, hey, there’s all these people – and also that women have started menstruating earlier. That it’s getting earlier and earlier, and I even have friends who have had, or who have read stories about daughters who have started menstruating below the ages of 7.


DANI: Whoa.


KATY: Like, really early, and having – I haven’t really seen anything more on that other than having some physician friends explain that perhaps they’re thinking it has something to do with the hormones that are in – maybe growth hormone or something – that’s in food? So I know that for my friend, her physician told them to take her off milk. But I don’t know any more about that.


DANI: That’s funny, because I always had fed my kids organic and growth hormone free milk because I had read that years and years ago, before I even had kids. But it’s strange, my daughter has developed at exactly the same spots that I have, and here I grew up guzzling – I didn’t drink a lot of milk, because I didn’t like it, but still, yeah, it’s hard to tell. I don’t know.


KATY: There’s not that much known.


DANI: I think – do you have a movement break for is it uteri? Uteruses? Uterinas, what is it?


KATY: The uterinas. That’s only if they’re twirly. I was just looking up right here – puberty before 10, a new normal. From The New York Times. So I think if you’re interested –


DANI: Did they really say a new normal in the title?


KATY: It said a new “normal.” It did. Question mark – question mark.


DANI: Whew, I was going to have to write them and say…


KATY: So she was starting to go through puberty at age 6, so I promise that I didn’t just make that up. You can go and see what they’re figuring out, why it is – now I’m doing a podcast right now, and I’m just reading an article on New York Times. I was like, just go ahead, Dani!


DANI: I would for you to lick your fingers and turn the pages, please.


KATY: So it does – I’m on the computer. I’m reading the New York Times. I just found this 2011 thing – so they’re saying that extremely high levels of estrogen mimicking chemicals in food and water supply – but anyway. I did a squat, and I’m just going to encourage everyone to do the same. You can squat and look it up on your toes and your heels, you can hold on to something, you can sit back, and you can turn your feet out – I don’t care how you squat. Just squat and then fidget in your squat, meaning that once you’re down, shift to the right, to the left, make circles in your squat. You were just here at RES week when I made an example of those 1990 science Exploratorium museums that we used to go to. There was one that had this pendulum that dripped paint and you would push on it, and it would like – so I want you to do that. Imagine that from your squat is dripping paint, and I want you to paint a circle in both directions. I’m going to go do that.


DANI: Seriously vivid picture.


KATY: It’s kinda gross.


DANI: Just let those uterinas twirl, everybody.


KATY: Ah, my hips! My knees!


DANI: Squat, there you go.
KATY: So that was your movement break. So anyway. Yeah.


DANI: Okay, gosh, there’s so many millions of questions.


KATY: well, I think that this is such a good – this is a good – I think that we could wrap this up in just a way of going, now you have a sense of how it works, and maybe everything you knew about your period might have been shaken up a little bit, which is cool. Why don’t we – we could do a call for questions about this, but I think in general –


DANI: Well, I had a handful. So maybe we should even do a 2nd show after people have had a chance to listen to this, and ask more in-depth questions.


KATY: And think about this, too – like, your organs itself, you know, not only is your uterus not just floating in a vacuum. It’s connected to other parts of your body, and high pressures, you know, are pushing on it and squeezing things from the outside, preventing movement can be affecting the way your blood is flowing to and from and within your uterus. There are ligaments that are attached to other pieces – the position of your body is going to change the position of your uterus. Like, if you’re just standing here and you tuck and untuck your pelvis, as you do that, you are tipping your uterus from side to side. So imagine this idea that your body – if you’ve come to kind of terms with your – your thighs or your torso isn’t getting the 360 degrees of movement that it needs to keep all aspects of it working well. You can take those ideas and just put them around your uterus, and to know that your uterus should be inside of a body that’s moving in lots of dynamic ways, and that that movement is part of what maintains not just the five layers of the uterus, but it’s what moves things in and around. And also the whole entire uterus, in that if you’re sitting in an office, you know, 6 hours a day in a particular position and suffering from dysmenorrhea, I’m kind of talking back to Jennie again – what type of environment would you expect from an organ and a body, really, that has all the parts for movement and really has, and movement is a part of the caretaking cycle and part of the function of it. Did I do this before, where I asked someone to, like, fill their mouth up with water and do a handstand and try to swallow up hill?


DANI: Yes.


KATY: Gravity matters! It really does matter, and you affect things like blood flow with the pressures and the positions that you create, and so just consider that. And so –


DANI: And just like Jennie wrote, she started doing different stuff with her body and the pain starts to go away. What more do you need after that, I guess?


KATY: Well, Down There was just – the DVD – was 5 simple exercises really for hip mobility so that you could put your pelvis in different positions when you chose to. It was a super primer, but the number of people who have written in, like, I was taking pain meds every month and I just did that and now I don’t have painful periods. And then the new pelvic DVD, which has so much more – it’s really just to –


DANI: Well, you dealt with painful periods.


KATY: Sure. I was a –


DANI: That was a big deal.


KATY: I was never a – I was a – I thought I was completely normal. I was the same as all of my friends.


DANI: I just put that in quotes. Like The New York Times.


KATY: “Normal.” Yeah, I was not a bedridden – I was not a missed work type period. However, I was a 2-3 Tylenol for 2 days, bad cramps. And then I was fine. Up the night before, like I would wake up at 3AM and then I would be up from 3AM. Never again. After – the strangest thing for me, and I started working on pelvic mobility and pelvic health probably when I was 27. I think I was 27 when I started graduate school. 26 or 27. Anyway, that’s when I really started doing pelvic stuff and I noticed my cramps get less. But when they fully went away was when I transitioned out of heeled shoes. When I transitioned to minimal shoes, that was my last painful period, and that was probably 30, 31 or 32. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


DANI: Good darn story. Well, I think since – you’re right. We should stop here, even though there’s so many other things, because this will give people – myself included – time to just kind of think about this kind of reframing of our little lovely uterinas. But listen to this and then just email in some questions – just so you know, I have lots of questions that I want Katy to answer later on about, you know, collection methods, because it’s something we all have to deal with and some movements and stuff. But if something that we talked about today really makes you, you need to chew on it a little bit more, just chew on it and send in a question and we’ll try this again.


KATY: Tweet us! Tweet us.


DANI: Tweet us. If you have a good Instagram of your uterus, it’s


KATY: Oh, my gosh.


DANI: #uterina. Twirling uterina. And again, we’ll have tons of links in the notes, because this is so rich with links for this particular show. There’s more to come later on –


KATY: You should have said ‘heavy with links.’ I’m surprised you didn’t say heavy with links.


DANI: You know, I had this whole list of fun things –


KATY: You deleted it all.


DANI: And I – are you proud of me? I was so grown up about this whole thing.


KATY: I so grown up!


DANI: I so grown up. I didn’t do anything. In fact, even when you’d say period, I stifled my chuckles, my Beavis and Butthead chuckles.


KATY: You put a plug in it. (ding!)


DANI: Because you’d say, dadadada, period. But I plugged it up. (ding!)


KATY: You did.


DANI: Stopped it up. Well, thank you so much. This was a real eye opener, as always.


KATY: High five, every dude who listened. High five!


DANI: Yeah, and even if you have been in menopause and you’re no longer dealing with a period, I’m sure this had to have been just kind of a nice retrospective of, ah, this is what was going on this whole time. Fascinating. We are such amazing creatures.


KATY: We are. Bodies are amazing. If you missed out on being an astronaut, be an innernaut instead. So much space to explore.


DANI: I call them somanauts. Let’s get in and explore. All right, take us out of here!


KATY: Oh, is that me? Is that what we’re waiting for? I just went back to read The New York Times. I was like, is she still talking?


DANI: I thought I heard you licking your fingers.


KATY: Okay! Well, thanks everyone, for listening; for more books, online information, classes, etc, you can find me at You can learn more about Dani Hemmat, Are You There, God, It’s Me, Movement Warrior at


DANI: All right, thanks for listening.


KATY: Bye.


DANI: Bye-bye.


We hope you find the general information on biomechanics, movement and alignment informative and helpful, but it isn’t intended to replace medical advice, and shouldn’t be used as such.






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6 thoughts on “Movement, Period. Podcast Ep. 50

  1. the reason for the huge disparity of number of periods in a life time for a hunter-gather woman versus a western industrialized woman is mostly due to pregnancy and lactation induced amenorrhea. And that the number of periods are averaged across a woman’s lifetime. Typically in a hunter-gather society all babies are breastfeed. Many for 2 or more years. Without the excess calories, or maybe not even just calories but estrogenic, hormone laden calories from our crazy processed food, the mother simply would not have a period while breastfeeding. So say a woman has four children, breast feeds each for 3 years, thats almost 15 years of no menstrual cycle. Average that over a 30-40 year span of time a woman is fertile and its almost half.

    1. Yes, the number of pregnancies is a contributing factor for sure. However, I think lactation-induced amenorrhea is misunderstood as a hormonal phenomenon as many modern women who breastfeed extensively (me included, 3.5 years for my first and 3.0 years for my second) did not miss any periods, meaning “lactation amenorrhea” might best be delineated as a nutrient/calories issue as I mentioned, not a whole-body state (i.e. breastfeeding).

  2. This is amazing. Will use it with my daughter! When I play your podcasts and my DD hears the intro music she bursts out “I love this program”. This program reminded me what my grade 9 Phys Ed teacher, Mrs. Seamen (yep that was the name) use to say to us, “Ladies, no amount of whining over period pain will get you out of class, Exercise -movement- is good for you!” I also remember in about grade 11 or 12 (16/17yrs) reading, hearing, learning that an indictor / precursor to your period starting is the % of body fat you have, it was tied in hormonally, and amenorrhea kind of ‘agrees’ with that thinking.

    thank you for all that you do!

  3. Do you think that the reason hunter gatherer women have only one fourth as many periods as western women is because they spend a lot more time pregnant? This is my assumption, but I wondered what you thought because I don’t think you mentioned this possibility.

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