Lara Owen is recognised internationally for her pioneering work on the menstrual cycle. She is the author of Her Blood Is Gold: Awakening to the Wisdom of Menstruation, and has taught on menstruation and menopause for many years.
Originally from the UK, Lara is now based in Melbourne where she is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Management at Monash University Business School. Her current research is focused on two areas of menstrual organisation: workplace polices and sustainable products.
She also works as a consultant and researcher, and is particularly engaged with helping organisations develop supportive policies regarding menstruation and menopause in the workplace.
Lara Owen is a leader in the field of menstrual and menopausal wellbeing. One of the first menstrual activists, she has been a pioneer in advocating the value of paying positive attention to the menstrual cycle and reversing the harm caused by the menstrual taboo.
Lara’s influential article on conscious menstruation, The Sabbath of Women, was published in 1991, followed two years later by her first book, Her Blood Is Gold: Awakening to the Wisdom of Menstruation, which continues to sell in greater numbers each year.
Lara has worked as a consultant on menstruation and women’s wellbeing for individuals and organisations in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, and has spoken with thousands of women over the past three decades about their experiences, needs and feelings. She has a profound and detailed understanding of the nature of menstrual and menopausal experience across class, culture and lifestyle variations, of the cost to both physical and mental health caused by suppression and shame, and of the life-changing value of openness and education.
Most recently, in 2015 she completed a two year full-time research project and consultancy on menstruation and menopause for a women’s advocacy organisation in Melbourne, investigating the attitudes, experiences, and felt needs of over 3,300 women and girls internationally, and doing research with over thirty focus groups of women and girls in schools, homes, and businesses across the state of Victoria.
Lara now works as an independent consultant, teaches internationally, and is doing research on menstruation in organisational contexts at Monash University Business School.
Background: Lara graduated from the University of Warwick with an honours degree in American history and culture, with a focus on the history of women and feminism. She then studied traditional Chinese medicine, qualifying at advanced level in Beijing and the UK, and working as an acupuncturist and herbalist specialising in the treatment of women. She studied psychology in Switzerland and the US, including organisational psychology and group facilitation. She has trained in spiritual and healing practices in several traditions, especially with regard to menstruation, menopause, and women’s wellbeing.
Lara is the author of Her Blood Is Gold: Awakening to the Wisdom of Menstruation (HarperCollins 1993, Archive Publishing 2008), Growing Your Inner Light: A Guide to Independent Spiritual Practice (Beyond Words/Simon and Schuster 2009, Piatkus/Little, Brown 2011) and several other books. She has worked in publishing, documentary film and television as a writer, researcher, producer, editor and consultant specialising in women’s health. Her consulting clients have included the National Film Board of Canada, ABC and CBS television in the USA, and Random House Publishing.
Lara has given lectures and workshops internationally at many venues, including the University of California, the Findhorn Foundation, the London College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the California Acupuncture College, and the California State Oriental Medical Association. She has appeared on BBC TV and radio along with many other stations in the UK, US and Australia. Lara’s work has been positively reviewed and featured in a wide range of publications including the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Chicago Tribune, Whole Earth Review, Elle magazine, Woman’s Own and Good Housekeeping.
A Message From Lara
In my twenties I discovered that if I approached my menstrual cycle with loving care and deep attention, my periods became a time of healing and calm (this journey and its influences are detailed in my book, Her Blood Is Gold). As I became more practiced at this shift in behaviour and attitude, I was able to experience menstruation relatively free of cultural expectation. I found that my period gave me access to profound relaxation and clear awareness, an altered state of consciousness that was enriching psychologically and creatively. Much later, going through menopause, I discovered a sustained wellspring of strength and wisdom, again by honouring the promptings of my body and psyche.
Our attitudes to menstruation and menopause are culturally constructed. It is within our power to change these parts of our lives for the better.
How we treat ourselves and how society treats us during menstruation and menopause affects our physical, mental and spiritual health and resilience. Suppression and shame get in the way of our natural design, which is to release and renew on a monthly basis, and to go through major release and renewal at menopause.
How much and in what ways these transformative and balancing revitalisations occur varies from woman to woman. What is important to me is that you have the chance to find out what behaviours and practices best serve your health and your life.
My teaching experience and research over the years has shown me that shifting from suppression and shame to investigation and acceptance results in a greater capacity for self-care. We get stronger within ourselves and become more resilient in dealing with the vicissitudes of life. When we listen to our bodies we experience improved health and wellbeing. Often symptoms entirely subside.
This work has widespread implications for women’s health, sense of authentic personal power, and optimal social and workplace functioning and experience. Above all, by healing deeply internalised and often suppressed shame about the cyclical reality of being female, menstrual awareness liberates women from one of the most effective and insidious aspects of misogyny and patriarchal control.
I hope you will join me in this work, in whatever way best suits you. Please do feel free to get in touch with any questions or to let me know about any initiatives you are involved with to promote menstrual and menopausal wellbeing that I can share with my networks.
Lara Owen is a leader in the field of menstrual and menopausal wellbeing. Based in Melbourne, she teaches and consults internationally.