Keeping track of our menstrual cycle seems like an easy job, a source
of huge self-knowledge, and an important tool in terms of health, but in
reality, there are many women who do not know enough about their menstrual cycle
and live their daily lives without even considering it.
It was with this in mind that the authors, Tânia Costa and Inês
Mestre, recently published a book called "Agenda teen", which in
English means teen's diary. In this diary they explain everything young
girls need to know when they have their first menstrual period, but also some
tools on how to manage emotions.
"We have an awareness part. We teach them how they can make their
astrological chart and we give some tips. We have some meditations, yoga poses,
breathing exercises, personality tests, etc.," which are extremely
interesting and will certainly help these young girls going through a smoother
adolescence (their parents won't even notice) and make them much more
However, this is not just a tool that can be used during teenage
years. Although the main target is between 11 and 17 years old, there are women
in their 50s buying the diary. “It was only around the age of 40 that I
realised I didn't know anything about my cycle," said Inês, one of the
Lack of knowledge
"In schools it is shown from a very scientific point of view, but
no connection is made with the girls who are passing through this new
experience. I work as a menstrual educator and fertility awareness educator, initially more for
mothers, but if we start from an early age with this self-knowledge about
ourselves, it is even better," Inês Mestre added.
"The diary is a tool for them to learn to deal with something
that is happening to them and that will be present in their lives for 40 years
so the earlier we start the better. There are many adults who lack information
about these issues," they added.
Despite the improvements between generations, in school the approach
is still very insufficient and young people remain poorly informed.
"We are unique, and we cannot apply the same method to everyone. We are not
machines”, Tânia said.
Although many parents are much more open-minded than before, they
don't have the time and can't tell their daughters what they don't even know
about. The good news is that the younger generations are less self-conscious
about it. As such, they have no problems in telling their friends they are
In this regard, “social media platforms made a huge difference. I
think there is a greater interest to talk about the subject and this has the
ability to reach a lot of people and there is already an openness to talk about
the subject. But there's still a lot to do in Portugal, it's still thought that
it's only a women's issue that doesn't have implications for the rest of our
lives - when it does have implications for our professional lives,
relationships, etc”, Inês said.
Fertility awareness consists of a series of practices that allow women
to know when we are fertile and then try to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy.
"When we keep an eye on our cycle it allows us to realise that we have
four phases in each cycle, and it becomes easier through taking notes of that
cycle. We are unique people with different needs throughout these cycles
because there is a change in hormones throughout the cycle," she said.
However, this does not happen during the pill. "There are women who
don't want to take the pill, but don't know what to do because gynaecologists
don't give them any other options”, she added.
Also, people still think that cycles are “28 days long and we ovulate
on the 14th, but there are women with 32-day cycles, and they ovulate on the
20th," Inês told me.
These changes in hormones during the cycles will cause physical
reactions in the body. “Naturally we will have more sleep in some phases, less
sleep-in others, more energy in some cases, less energy in others. We will have
greater capacity for physical exercise, we will have greater mental clarity in
some phases than in others, we will feel much happier to speak and socialise
in some phases than in others and this is a great tool for self-knowledge”, she
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Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252