What's a Period Coach and Do You Need One?
For many people, a period, or what is colloquially referred to as "that time of the month," can be difficult to navigate. For some, there's a challenge to manage symptoms or even prepare for the natural process that the body goes through.
With that said, similar to how psychotherapists help people navigate mental health issues and pelvic floor therapists help those recovering from vaginismus, a period coach can help people better understand their menstrual cycle. Also known as cycle coaches, these professionals offer pain and period management on a higher level.
Where does a period coach get their expertise?
"A period coach uses their specialized knowledge of the menstrual cycle to help clients increase self-awareness and meet their goals and intentions through the wisdom of cyclic living," said Sarah Starrs, a cycle coach from Canada and an online course creator.
Starrs completed formal training from the Cycle Coach School, which is accredited by the International Institute for Complementary Therapists (IICT). Other coaches, like Stasha Washburn, a virtual period coach and author of "The Revolution Will Be Bloody," honed her skills through programs like Period Coaching School.
Washburn said, "This program helps students learn anatomy, healthy hormonal balance, what causes imbalances, what to expect from before menses to menopause, how it goes wrong," as well as how doctors can help, what types of tests can be done, and how to advocate for a healthy hormonal balance.
When do you start seeing a period coach?
Not everyone has to see a period coach. This varies from person to person, but Nicole Bendayan, a Toronto-based cycle synching nutritionist and founder of The Sync Society Academy, said she noticed some patterns in her practice.
She explained, "The age range we see most often is between 23 to 35. This is usually the time where women get tired of experiencing negative symptoms, are trying to reconnect with themselves or have been dismissed one too many times by a healthcare professional." While it may not be for everyone, people with painful periods, hormonal imbalance or excessive bleeding may want to consider a cycle specialist.
How can a period coach help?
Starrs explained that many of her clients come to her with particular challenges that are linked to their menstrual cycle. Others would simply like to learn more about their cycle.
In addition to navigating periods, one might seek out a cycle coach if they are pregnant, in perimenopause or menopause. Washburn said, "One can see a period coach for anything from reducing painful or problematic symptoms, like cramps, mood swings, fatigue, bloating, acne, etc., to helping people with specific problems, like PMS, PMDD, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)."
The process starts off with an initial consultation regarding what symptoms the client is looking to alleviate, and from there they work collaboratively to help alleviate them over a three- to six-month period.
"A period coach cannot diagnose or prescribe medication," said Starrs. "They can recommend lifestyle changes and practices to nourish the menstrual ecosystem. The knowledge that a period coach can provide is absolutely powerful, but it's also guidance into one's own embodied experience that increases self-awareness and self-compassion in transformative ways."
After seeing a cycle coach, clients usually report having a better understanding of and relationship with their period, although the reasons for seeking out guidance may be different depending on the individual.
"Often people report feeling more nourished, more rested, more at ease with themselves, more fulfilled, with a greater understanding of their own needs, and willingness to meet them," said Starrs.
How to find a period coach
Similar to other practitioners, whether it is doctors or therapists, you can approach finding a period coach in the same way. Starrs suggests doing research on Google, reaching out to someone you follow on social media or getting a recommendation from a friend or through a trusted professional network (like the IICT). It's rare that a period coach would accept insurance, but if your health insurance covers complementary therapies, it may include coverage for cycle/period coaching.
Rates for period coaches vary based on the practitioner. In the U.S., a coach typically starts at around $200 per month. For Starrs, her services are $250 per month and that includes two 60-minute sessions and support in between. For Washburn, she charges between $300 and $500, depending on a client's needs.
In terms of treatment, the duration of period coaching varies depending on a client's needs and circumstances. Most period coaches have a standard package of from three to six months, according to Bendayan. Clients can choose from there and then adjust their program length as needed in order to reach their goals.
While there won't be a referee on your side of the court—whistle in mouth, with a striped shirt on, shouting at you to balance those hormones—period coaches can offer a type of support and education that mirrors a mentorship. They offer guidance and knowledge in spaces outside of a sterile environment. Not everyone may want to join the team, but for some, it's worth the shot. The ball is in your court.