As you are no doubt aware by now, there are certain rules and exceptions for women in Islam, and one of them pertains to her monthly cycle. Try your best not to think of it as a limitation, but as a reprieve.
A woman who is in her monthly cycle cannot:
1. Perform the five prescribed prayers (Salat al Fard) (prayers missed due to menstruation do not have to be made up)
2. Touch the Qur'an,
3. Make ta'waf around the Kaba,
4. Fast (Days of fasting missed during Ramadan may be made up within the next lunar year)
5. Engage in sexual intercourse with her husband (kissing, hugging, and other intimate touching outside of the genital area is okay).
6. It is better for her not to be in the musallah (area where prayers are performed) in the masjid or Islamic centre.
A woman who is in her monthly cycle can:
1. Make du'a,
2. Listen to a recitation of the Qur'an, or silently recite it to herself
3. Celebrate the praises of Allah ta'ala,
4. Study Islamic texts, including hadith,
5. Attend Eid celebrations.
When your menses is finished: ghusl
When your cycle is ended, then you must perform the ritual purification bath, called ghusl. It includes washing your entire body, including the head. If your hair is so tightly braided that water would not reach your scalp underneath, then you are obliged to undo your hair. Otherwise, you do not need to undo your style, but only run some water over it.
It is often difficult for new Muslimas to understand why they are suddenly unable to make salat for five days or so. Many may feel that it is a limitation on them due to their gender. Others may misunderstand this, and think that they can not engage in any Islamic activities for the duration of their menses. This is simply not so. Many women suffer from extreme cramps, heavy bleeding, nausea, headaches, and other maladies during their cycle. It is truly a sign of the Mercy of Allah ta'ala that we are excused from prayer during this time. I know more than one sister who would be unable to perform the physical duties of the prayer during her cycle.
Islam does not ask you to give up your spirituality or pursuit of Islamic knowledge during this time either. While it is true that you can't read the Qur'an physically, you aren't prohibited from listening to tapes of the Qur'an, or from listening to someone else recite it. You may even recite the verses to yourself silently. You can still pray, through Du'a, and you can still celebrate the praises of Allah ta'ala during this time as well. There is nothing to stop you from reading Islamic texts outside of the Qur'an, including hadith.