two diverse women chained together at their waists, symbolizing the common experience of menstrual cramps

How does repressed anger affect my health?

May 6, 2024

Unveiling the silent messages of menstrual cramps: A revolutionary perspective on anger, cancer, and self-healing

Menstrual cramps, often dismissed as a “normal part of womanhood”, can hold profound insights into our health and well-being — apart from the fact that they are not inherent to womanhood and should rather always be seen as a physical signal of underlying dis-ease or imbalance in the menstrual cycle. Beyond hormonal fluctuations and muscle spasms, they are manifestations of inflammation and stress responses within our bodies. In a world driven by linear, stress-inducing systems, the mismatch between our cyclical nature and societal demands can lead to the repression of emotions, particularly anger. However, repressed anger does not simply dissipate; it manifests in various health issues, including in its worst manifestation cancer. By reframing cramps as early warning signals and embracing healthy engagement with anger, we embark on a journey of self-healing and collective transformation.

Understanding menstrual cramps: beyond hormonal imbalances

Menstrual cramps encompass inflammation and stress responses. Dr. Lara Briden, a naturopathic doctor specializing in female health, emphasizes that “menstrual pain is not just a normal part of being a woman. It's a sign of imbalance.” This imbalance reflects the complex interplay of hormonal, emotional, and environmental factors. Research indicates that stress and inflammation contribute significantly to the severity of menstrual pain, highlighting the need for a holistic approach to menstrual health.

Living in a stress-inducing environment exacerbates the repression of emotions, particularly anger. Societal expectations and gender norms dictate that women and people assigned female at birth should suppress their anger to maintain a facade of politeness and compliance. Dr. Soraya Chemaly, author of “Rage Becomes Her”, notes, “Women are not allowed to be angry because it's not ladylike, it's not feminine.” This taboo against anger perpetuates a cycle of suppression, leading to detrimental effects on mental and physical health.

Research reveals the detrimental impact of suppressed anger on health outcomes. Chronic anger repression has been linked to increased levels of stress hormones and inflammation, contributing to the development of various health issues, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Dr. Gabor Maté, renowned physician and author, emphasizes that “unresolved emotional stress is a major contributing factor to disease.” Thus, addressing anger repression is essential for promoting holistic well-being.

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Repressed anger and health issues: exploring the connection to cancer

The connection between repressed anger and cancer underscores the importance of emotional health in disease prevention. Chronic inflammation, triggered by prolonged stress and suppressed emotions, creates an environment conducive to cancerous growth. Dr. Lisa Rankin, a physician and author, explains, “Anger and resentment create an acidic environment in the body, promoting the growth of cancer cells.” Psychosomatic research further corroborates this link, highlighting the role of emotional well-being in cancer prevention and treatment.

Real-life stories of individuals navigating anger and cancer shed light on the profound impact of emotional health on disease outcomes (Dr. Gabor Maté’s books “The Myth of Normal” and “When the Body Says No” include many good examples). By acknowledging and expressing our anger in constructive ways, people have experienced improvements in their physical health and overall quality of life. Dr. Aviva Romm, a Yale-trained physician, emphasizes that “our menstrual cycle is our fifth vital sign”, providing valuable insights into our overall health. By listening to these signals, we gain valuable information to guide our healing journey.

Embracing anger as a path to healing and change

Embracing anger as a catalyst for healing empowers us to reclaim agency over our health and well-being. Dr. Christiane Northrup, a leading authority on menstrual health, asserts that “anger is meant to be felt, processed, and released.” By acknowledging and expressing our anger in healthy ways, we address underlying issues and promote holistic well-being.

Practices for healthy anger expression, such as journaling, mindfulness, and assertive communication, empower individuals to channel their emotions constructively. Reflective questions prompt readers to explore their relationship with anger and its impact on their health and well-being. How does society's expectation of what female anger should look like influence your own expression of emotions? How can you cultivate a healthy relationship with anger to promote your emotional and physical well-being?

Reframing cramps as early warning signals for change

Reframing cramps as early warning signals can empower us to listen to our bodies and advocate for our health. Our menstrual cycle serves as a valuable indicator of our overall well-being, offering insights into potential imbalances and health issues. By paying attention to the messages our bodies convey, we can take proactive steps to address underlying issues and promote holistic health.

The importance of self-advocacy in healthcare systems underscores the need for systemic change. Dr. Kemi Doll, a gynecologic oncologist, highlights the disparities in cancer care faced by marginalized communities, urging for greater inclusivity and equity in healthcare systems. Reflective questions prompt readers to consider their role in advocating for health justice and liberation. How can you advocate for equitable access to healthcare for all individuals, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic status? What steps can you take to challenge systemic injustices and promote health equity in your community?

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Final thoughts

The connection between suppressed anger, cancerous patterns, and menstrual health underscores the need for a radical shift in our approach to healing. By reframing cramps as early warning signals and embracing healthy engagement with anger, we embark on a journey of self-healing and collective transformation. The path ahead requires us to challenge societal norms, advocate for systemic change, and prioritize emotional well-being as a cornerstone of holistic health. Together, we can reclaim agency over our health and contribute to a more just and equitable society.

Sources & Credits

Brown, Adrienne Maree. “Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good.” AK Press, 2019.

Hooks, Bell. “All About Love: New Visions.” William Morrow Paperbacks, 2001.

Davis, Angela Y. “Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement.” Haymarket Books, 2016.

Lorde, Audre. “Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.” Crossing Press, 1984.

Wu, Jie et al. “Anger Expression and Cancer Incidence: A Prospective Study.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research, vol. 84, 2016, pp. 55-61.

Zhang, Yaqi et al. “Association of Endometriosis and Cancer: A Comprehensive Review and a Critical Analysis of Clinical and Epidemiological Evidence.” Gynecologic Oncology, vol. 151, no. 2, 2018, pp. 331-341.