What's in a Cycle and How Can it be More Peaceful?
Men you may or may not want to read this as it contains details about a woman’s menstrual flow. Yes that’s a woman’s period and if you are going to continue to read this, I say congratulations to you as every woman has a period, generally once a month for years. This includes your partner, girlfriend, and daughter. And quite frankly because women have periods, is the reason you are here on this earth so you should know some facts about how to help women when they do have their monthly cycle.
I am going to tell you about my story as parts might be common to other women and it presents its own warning about the pill. I was on the pill to control exactly when my period was going to come so it didn’t arrive when I didn’t want it (this was specifically for study and sporting tournaments). This worked fine for about 2 years then I had a break from the pill for about a year and a half. When I went back on it, all hell broke loose. I was having spotting at random times, this is where you get spots of blood before your period or maybe after the period appears to have stopped, I was super emotional, I had period pain and my periods didn’t come on the same day (day 28) as they used to. At the time I didn’t know differently so I followed the directions of my GP. She told me to skip my period for 3 whole months. When looking at a pill packet this means you do not take the sugar pills, which is normally when you have your period, and I had to do this consecutively for 3 months. The logic the GP gave was my system was out of whack and I needed to restart it and by skipping the period it’ll force the body to change what it had been doing.
I blindly followed.
Funnily enough during the 3 months of “no period” I did have spotting and clotting (a more severe form of spotting where you loose the blood forming the uterus lining). Afterwards I returned to having my period everything was still the same as it was before the 3 month experiment. So I went back to the doctor and have a guess what she said to do…… She told me to do the 3 months AGAIN!!!! This is where I drew the line and said this clearly isn’t working for my body and I am not going to make my body think it is growing a baby any longer. Yes this is what your body believes is happening when you are on the pill as this is the hormones that are released into your system from the pill.
I went off the pill and you may think the symptoms got better, but they actually got worse. My body didn’t know how to produce its own hormones, it was running on a system that had been lying to it for years. PLUS I got acne at the age of 25, when I had very limited acne as a teenager.
Luckily for me this was when I started learning about natural therapies and started to take note of what was happening within me. I also realised how much stress affected my body and in particular my period. The simplest explanation of this is when we are stressed we use cortisol in the body. However progesterone (our hormone that counters oestrogen) can be high-jacked away from the ovaries to make cortisol. This means there is lower progesterone than there should be and higher oestrogen, creating symptoms including mood swings, painful breasts and anxiety. I also realised that every time I inserted a tampon I would get a cramping, a super painful ache in my lower abdomen. I realised that although I would get spotting and clotting for up to a week my actual period may have only been 24-36 hours and the pain for this time was extreme. I started to shift some things I was doing and from that have created this list of things I found helpful which I hope you find helpful as well.
1. Magnesium – most of the time when women crave chocolate it is the magnesium in the chocolate they are wanting. Also magnesium reduces cramps. So take a magnesium supplement through the month or use magnesium cream on your lower abdomen to reduce cramps.
2. B6 – the nice little vitamin B6 can help with mood swings, irritability and anxiety. It also boosts progesterone production, which if low can have a negative impact on these symptoms as we become oestrogen dominant.
3. Menstrual cup/organic tampons – I found that when I used to use tampons I would actually get pain and contractions but upon changing to a menstrual cup I don’t get the severe cramping and pain. I am not sure if it’s about the shape or the ingredients used (the cotton crop is sprayed with the most chemicals) but either way the menstrual cup OR at least organic tampons are worth trying (for you and the environment).
4. Period panties – let that flow flow. Sometimes it’s a good idea (where possible) to not use a tampon or deva cup and let your body flow the way it is supposed to. Pads are not the best for the environment but period underwear are very common these days, you can even buy them from Woolworths. The way to use them could be simply by themselves to replace pads or you might use them if you are home and have your period, consider only using period underwear and see how your body responds to allowing the flow.
5. Yoga and/or meditation – it allowed my body to find times to relax throughout the month and in the lead up to my period and while I had it. By focusing on the pain I came to terms with it’s short existence in my life. This lead to a significant decrease in pain medication I was taking. If you want to try meditation, download the app called Insight Timer and look at the meditations for stress or pain. Practice these meditations outside your period so you can get used to checking in with how your body is feeling and can better implement the meditations during your period.
6. Keeping track – I noticed how out of sync my body was when I started recording when my symptoms came and how bad they were. This gave me the understanding that my period wasn’t the best and my body simply wasn’t coping with what was happening. I still keep a track about symptoms so I can see how my stress levels are affecting my periods.
7. Rest and sleep – you may find that you actually need more rest and relaxation time during your period. Take this time and rest as it’ll mean you are less run down in the long run and your body is more capable of doing what it needs.
8. Clary sage essential oil – this is believed to stimulate and regulate the cycle and helps reduce pain. Apply this with a base oil, such as coconut oil, onto the lower abdomen.
9. Green tea – is something delightful to drink if you are bloated and don’t feel like eating while you have your period. Plus green tea promotes blood flow and helps with cramps. Find a yummy mix of green tea to make it something special, rather than a chore while you have your period.
10.Water – by drinking enough water each day your body will be in a better state to get rid of waste. This waste includes old hormones, which can stay lingering in the body if they aren’t removed and cause issues. If these old hormones aren’t excreted they will make the body constantly work to try and remove them, meaning it wastes time constantly on these hormones rather than clearing the current batch of previously active hormones.
11.Heat pack – a good old fashioned heat pack to help warm the uterus. In Traditional Chinese Medicine an issue can be “cold uterus”, where the uterus is believed to be cold and that affects the cycle. Using a heat pack through the month can help this condition. But also using a heat pack during the period can help ease the cramps and the weight of the heat pack can also be a reassuring pressure on the lower belly.
You might have to try some of these options over months to see a difference as each month your stress levels will vary and your hormone production will vary. And it might be a combination of these that will work for you. But I am here to say there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel you face every month.
Some things I have noticed are that I have one month I can sail through with limited symptoms, while the other month is still a little more problematic. But I know what is likely to happen and I can plan for it. Sometimes the plan will need adjusting on the fly, for example if social or work plans change then you might need to change the plan. However by paying attention to your symptoms you can form a plan and that might be a reassuring thing simply in itself.
Try doing some of these options and see if it changes your periods.
If you need a little more personal guidance with what might be specifically the problem or what will help you, please call me on 0401 638 067 for an obligation free phone call or email me on email@example.com