Every month our reproductive systems concoct a wonderful raspberry pavlova, a delicious pudding (named after Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballerina and choreographer). Only three ingredients are needed – egg-white, whipped cream and ripe, juicy, red raspberries on top.
We create a base of meringue, with our stretchy egg-white cervical secretions which appears just before ovulation. Our cervix secretes it – it is thin and will stretch at least 5 cm (2”) between finger and thumb. Sperm love it and will swim up it towards our ovum, given half a chance. If our egg is not fertilised, then our secretions change, becoming like cream, thick and white. This I call ‘desert’ (dessert – get it?) secretion, for sperm find it inhospitable and cannot travel along it. As time marches on, the lining of our womb (the endometrium) sheds as menstrual blood, like red raspberry juice. Hey presto – a pavlova!
We need all three ingredients working in harmony to make it. Whoever heard of a pavlova without the berries, cream or meringue? We need to appreciate our cream and meringue, as well as the raspberry layer. Parents, please share this recipe with your children. It could help prevent unwanted pregnancies or bring about desired conceptions as well as allay anxiety.
I can remember as a young teenager being concerned by the secretions my vagina expelled. What was this stuff – sometimes stringy, sometimes runny, sometimes like cottage cheese? No-body had prepared me for it and I was anxious. Too embarrassed to ask my mother, I assumed for many years that I was abnormal. I knew about periods, but had no knowledge of this weird mutating substance. There was no reference to it in the teen magazines I read and my girl friends didn’t seem to know much either. Years later I read it was called ‘vaginal discharge’ and could be the sign of an sexually transmitted infection. This was worrying. It turned out I didn’t have an STI and was completely normal. As I grew older I learned that the egg-white secretion was weirdly called ‘cervical mucus’. This was useful information, but framed in the context of trying to conceive a baby. It would have been helpful to have known about it from the start of my reproductive life and not just when I wanted to try and get pregnant.
Dear menstruators, we need to shine a light on our egg-white and cream and start to fill up our collective cauldron with our stories and experiences. We are doing this so successfully with menstruation – let us expand this out some more.
The Red Tent movement is gathering momentum as we gather, creating a giant red, growing snowball which is hurtling through the land. We are starting to reclaim menstruation in great number, with some 21,000 people ‘liking’ the Occupy Menstruation Facebook Page. This is all fantastic, but we need to pay more attention to our other neglected vaginal and cervical secretions as well.
Eskimos have 50 words for snow because it’s an essential part of their life. Can we co-create a new vocabulary of 50 new words/terms to talk about menstruation and our mucus, in all its shades and incarnations? Let our creative juices flow together. The time is now.