I’m a little late to the game and it took me a whole month to read and digest, but I finally read Period Power by Maisie Hill and I was not disappointed. My initial reaction was to give it five stars, but upon reflection (and reading some of the one star reviews on good reads), I decided to give it four. It was incredibly informative and I will definitely be taking some of the advice home with me, but there were definitely times that it felt a little ‘woo-woo’. In this blogpost, I want to give a more detailed breakdown of my take homes from this book and even include a handy PDF summarising the main feature of the book: the four seasons of your menstrual cycle.
There’s a lot to love about this book. The first section (Get to Know Yo’self) covers the science behind the menstrual cycle in depth and is definitely worth reading for any menstruator (a term that Hill coined, as not all women menstruate and not all people who menstruate are women – don’t get me started on J.K. Rowling.). It goes into far more detail than your Biology/PSHE lessons ever did and I think it’s really important for us to understand how our bodies work – it even inspired me to learn more about Human Biology in general (as you can see in this post on my professional instagram). At times, the book can feel a little ‘self help-y’ or ‘woo-woo’, as Hill has chosen to use ‘down to earth’, empowering language and is also a practitioner of various ‘non-medical’ remedies, but I don’t think that that should put you off reading this book. As with anything, you need to take what you read with a pinch of salt and research more before following any of the advice. I want to mainly address the main thrust of the book: Hill’s Cycle Strategy and the chats about general health and how important it is to your menstrual health.
The Four Seasons
The main aspect of this book is the section on Hill’s Cycle Strategy, where she breaks your cycle down into four ‘seasons’; Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. Winter is during your menstruation, Spring is the phase between menstruation and ovulation, Summer is the period during and after ovulation and is oestrogen dominant and Autumn is your luteal phase, which is progesterone dominant.
While I do agree with some of the one star reviews that say you obviously cannot rearrange your whole life to fit with these seasons, most of us have some leeway in being able to organise our lives. You may not be able to rearrange a meeting at work, but knowing when is best to work on personal projects or when you should say no to meeting up with friends and just stay home and chill on the sofa can help you to plan your life and assuage guilt or FOMO that you might otherwise feel. For me anyway, I will definitely be attempting to spend more time performing self-care during my period and waiting ’til my ‘Summer’ to go on a night out with friends.
This book doesn’t just address menstrual health, but it also talks about general health and how that can affect your menstrual cycle. Hill mentions many different conditions, such as endometriosis, adrenal dysfuntion and PCOS, as well as spreading awareness about your menarche (first period) and the perimenopausal phase. It has been proven that women often struggle to get diagnoses for certain disorders (on average, it takes 7.5 years to get a diagnosis for endometriosis) and their pain is often dismissed in medical settings, so it feels really important to me that women and menstruators are aware of how overall health affects their menstruation. I, personally, realised that I have symptoms of adrenal dysfunction and am currently awaiting diagnosis. And while Hill does make a lot of recommendations for certain diets and treatments, she always caveats it with saying that you should consult a trained practitioner or a medical professional and does not advocate for trying these things alone. It is so important that we understand our bodies, so that we can take note when something goes wrong. As someone who has suffered with gastrointestinal symptoms for at least the past 14 years (over half my life) and have been given various diagnoses, tested for numerous conditions and tried many treatments, reading this book makes me wonder why, in the UK, we don’t have regular health check ups. Sometimes you don’t realise something is wrong without it being looked for by a doctor and we don’t all have an amazing awareness of what a healthy body feels like.
Feminism and The Pill
Some reviewers have criticised Hill’s criticism of The Pill. While, at times, it can feel like a diatribe against hormonal contraception, it is an important topic. She references several studies that show that using hormonal contraception can have a long-lasting effect on your hormone levels and that it can cause a whole host of side effects and yet, we are often not told this when starting The Pill. I, personally, used hormonal contraception from the age of 17 to about 20-21 and it definitely had a hand in causing my depression and yet no doctor talked to me about the benefits and side effects of taking hormonal contraception.
In terms of feminism, Hill is clearly a feminist and even talks about the struggles of juggling managing your cycle with wanting to be a feminist and not being held back by your period (which is one of the reasons some people have criticised this book). However, I am a firm believer that being a feminist means fighting for equity not equality and wanting to be able to take time off during your period does not make you weak.
Overall, I thought this book was absolutely fantastic. Yes, it’s not perfect, but it’s incredibly informative and provided lots of food for thought.
Have you got any recommendations for any other books along this line? I would love to hear them in the comments or over on Instagram.
 “It takes an average 7.5 years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis – it shouldn’t”, Endometriosis UK, 3 March 2017, Source: https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/news/it-takes-average-75-years-get-diagnosis-endometriosis-it-shouldnt-37491#.XwH1WihKhPY