"A pioneer of the menstrual movement... a revolutionary who has been chipping away at the systems that society has outgrown"
Annie Auerbach, Flex: Reinventing Work for a Smarter, Happier life" (Harper Collins)
MENSTRUAL HEALTH PIONEER
CEO & FOUNDER
Kate Shepherd Cohen is an award-winning "menstrual health pioneer".
A leading menstrual literacy expert and social entrepreneur, she is Founder & CEO of Health Tech menstrual education organisation Menstrual Cycle Support, credited for being the first to take non-clinical menstrual cycle support into mainstream healthcare in the UK, on referral through the GP on social prescription.
She won Innovator of the Year 2021 at the International Social Prescribing Awards for 'pioneering menstrual health', is a member of the College of Medicine and Integrative Health, the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR) and the Alliance for Innovation at the National Academy for Social Prescribing.
"Through Menstrual Cycle Support,
I am able to act on my deeply held belief that universal menstrual literacy can ease menstrual suffering, for the benefit of all."
"A rapidly growing global human health & rights movement is eagerly awaiting your findings"
Dr Sally King, Founder Menstrual Matters
MENSTRUAL CYCLE SUPPORT
ON SOCIAL PRESCRIPTION
"I suffered for years (and years) with my menstrual cycle.
I wondered why the doctors didn't prescribe simple menstrual cycle support alongside pills & procedures.
That wondering became a calling"
Kate Shepherd Cohen is credited with creating the world's first menstrual literacy available on referral through the GP surgery on social prescription (self-referral available) through her eHealth menstrual education organisation, Menstrual Cycle Support.
The organisation is born from Kate's experience at the 'coalface of menstrual suffering', guiding those struggling with severe pain and emotional distress to reframe the menstrual cycle experience in workshops & 1:1s.
The free clinically-backed online Menstrual Cycle Support course can be referred by all healthcare professionals, as well as a trusted signposting service for employers and colleagues at work.
The course applies the 'Red School Approach' to menstrual cycle awareness.
MENSTRUAL ACTIVIST &EDUCATOR
Kate is what leading US menstrual scholar Chris Bobel would call a 'menstrual activist': both her public and private life revolve around breaking down barriers to universal menstrual education.
She has spent nearly a decade researching the menstrual cycle from a sociological and historical perspective (whilst raising three children) and has worked with countless individuals suffering with their menstrual cycles - sharing simple menstrual education.
Kate is a regular media commentator on the menstrual cycle and global menstrual movement (which she calls 'menstrualism'), she has written and contributed to Financial Times, Huffington Post, BBC among others.
TED.com: Period Problems - why there's hope
"I am an advocate for menstrual health, a menstrual educator, a menstrual activist, a menstrual mentor, a menstrual artist, a menstrual environmentalist, a daily menstrual cycle awareness practitioner and I apply the menstrual cycle for my personal spiritual practice.
I believe in the power of the menstrual cycle for systemic change at home, at work and in education.
"I am a Menstrualist."
I AM A MENSTRUALIST
Kate Shepherd Cohen calls the global menstrual movement 'menstrualism' and herself a 'menstrualist'.
"It was in the year 2000 that dear friend and now-documentary-film-maker Alexis Burke and I first joked about starting a movement 'menstrualism', inspired by a lack of female-led movements we were studying in modernist art and avant-garde cultural history. The idea was a satire, laughed at by our friends for its tease of the taboo, little did we know that there was a real menstrual movement underway, a movement that had been growing in strength over at least thirty years by that point (though has rapidly spread in the last ten)."
There are many pioneers in the menstrual movement: in sport, science, art, technology and beyond but a menstrualist can be anyone who prioritises the menstrual cycle (and finds it changes their world).
1. The trans-disciplinary global menstrual & menopause movement; an evolution of feminism.
2. A movement to prioritise the menstrual cycle (and peri/menopause), to establish the challenges and opportunities it presents, in private individual lives and collectively, for the wellbeing of society.
3. The converging and evolving global movements of menstruality; menstrual activism; menstrual equity; menstrual justice & advocacy; menstrual health & hygiene; menstrual literacy/education; critical menstruation studies; menstrual tech; menopause; menstrual art & menstrala, period poverty; period dignity; period power; menstrual capitalism & consumerism; and 'environmenstrualism'.
4. Menstrualism is inclusive of all sexual-orientations, ethnicities, faiths and genders/non-binary. You do not have to have a menstrual cycle to prioritise the menstrual cycle.
In gratitude to Kate's teachers, Alexandra Pope & Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer of Red School, world leaders of Menstruality and
pioneers of 'Menstrual Cycle Awareness' with whom she completed an Apprenticeship with in 2017; also to Wisdom Teacher Mandy Adams (1970-2021).
Kate hopes to continue the lineage with the same spirit, compassion and kindness that she received at Red School and which revolutionised her own experience of the menstrual cycle.
Kate recognises the influence of indigenous cultures on her teachings and expresses deep respect and gratitude to all ethnicities, cultures & traditions for inspiration in this work.
Thanks also to all menstrualists who have paved the way for this work and to all those who have been generous in sharing their menstrual stories in my workshops and 1:1s.
"As the taboo around the menstrual cycle breaks, I am filled with hope for a more equitable world, with the menstrual cycle a power tool for influencing systemic change."
Kate Shepherd Cohen lives in Cornwall, UK, and was born and raised in Wales (Cymru), with grandmothers from Ireland and from Scotland. Kate acknowledges indigenous Celtic (and pre-Celtic) wisdom that deeply reveres the natural cycles and interconnectedness of life and how this folk wisdom has influenced her teachings on the menstrual cycle.
Kate's paternal family tree (Shepherd) has been traced 500 years to St Brides Netherwent (Sant-y-brid) in SE Wales (less than 20 miles from where she grew up): an ancient sacred site in Wentwood Forest (Coed Gwent) dedicated [St] Brigid, patroness/goddess of poetry, learning, healing, protection and black smithery.
South East Wales is the heartland of the indigenous Celtic Silures Tribe. Much blood was shed over conquest of the territory: the tribe resisted the Roman invasion resulting in it becoming a centre of the Roman Legion; it was fought over by Welsh Lords as the war-ravaged Kingdom of Gwent; and, eventually succumbed to Norman rule (the area has the highest concentration of medieval Norman castles in Europe).
Kate expresses gratitude to the ancestors of her husband, Simon, for her married name (Cohen) and the lineage of Kohanim ("priests"), descendants of the tribe of Levi.
Kate works with her own menstrual cycle, drawing on indigenous practices (for example expanded consciousness at menstruation), to build a capacity of forgiveness for our patriarchal systems that have decimated indigenous cultures, birthed white and male privilege, suppressed the menstrual cycle and persecuted female power.
For Surviving and for my years of PMDD (and PTSD) that followed
For the experience of intense period (and ovulation) pain
For having experienced pre-menstrual psychosis
For the 'black hole' of Post Natal Depression I fell into after the birth of my second daughter
For my cycling years and perimenopause on the horizon
For the burning injustice I feel for having been denied my birth right for most of my cycling years - and the incentive to change the status quo.