Being a women isn’t always easy especially when mother nature comes for a visit. Lisa Hendrickson-Jack, a certified Fertility Awareness Educator and author of “The Fifth Vital Sign”, argues that menstruation isn’t just about having babies, it’s the fifth vital sign every woman should look to as a way to unlock critical health information. Many women struggle with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms, birth control side effects, and expensive feminine care products; which can be deliberating not just psychically, but both financially, and mentally.
Many of us spend our lives struggling through painful cycles and look to birth control and over the counter pain medicines for relief and management. However, there is a way to have a happy healthy period, naturally.
First, I want to make a distinction that many women may not be currently aware of. Periods or menstruation are the seven days of active bleeding. However, a menstrual cycle is much longer than that duration. Depending on what happens in the weeks leading up to those seven days, and the weeks after has a critical effect on overall period health.
Second, period pain is not normal, and birth control isn’t just “tricking our bodies into having a period and not getting pregnant”, it’s stealing key nutrients every woman needs. As naturopathic doctor and women’s health advocate, Lara Briden differentiates, “To prescribe birth control for “hormone balance” is simply nonsensical. Birth control does not balance hormones; it switches them off.” And, Dr. Jolene Brighten does warn against the harmful and damaging affects birth control plays and recommends ways to heal post-birth control syndrome.
If you’re looking to understand ways to support your body and have a happy healthy period, keep reading.
What Is A Menstrual Cycle?
Menstrual cycles can range anywhere between 28 day to 34 days. During this monthly cycle, the foods and drinks we consume, our lifestyle and stressors are indicators of how periods and PMS symptoms will treat us. The first phase of our cycle is called the follicular phase, where estrogen is at an all-time high and PMS symptoms are wreaking havoc. Estrogen is most likely the culprit for tender breasts, bloating, among many other PMS symptoms. Think of the follicular phase as the first week when you’re actually menstruating and one week after that. Then enters the luteal phase, the time between ovulation and right before the start of menstruation.
Understanding the cycle can really be key insight into getting the proper rest and eating the foods to manage periods better. Once we understand our cycles better, we can begin to make simple lifestyle changes towards a happy healthy period.
Eliminate Stress And Practice Self-Care
Stress is a huge factor on women’s health as long-term stress can cause PMS. One of the most immediate ways to have a happy healthy period is by eliminating stress. Stress can cause inflammation leading to more cramps. Try to find ways to reduce stress by sleeping more or practicing self-care like journaling, meditating, painting, or taking a walk.
Eating Well Is The Catalyst To Menstruation Wellness
“Magnesium is an essential nutrient for all-around hormonal health, supporting the nervous system, blood sugar regulation, promoting sleep, and more…dietary sources include dark chocolate, green leafy vegetables, and salmon,” says Amanda Laird, feminist holistic nutritionist and author of Heavy Flow. However, “…You can’t out-supplement a bad diet, ”cautions Laird who strongly encourages us all to prioritize food over supplements.
What we eat plays a huge factor into how heavy our period will be, how intense the cramps are, and things such as bloating and acne. Inflammatory foods affect our hormones. When we eat harmful, triggering foods that lack nutrients, such as processed foods, diary, and gluten it can lead to inflammation. Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response. If your body is inflamed, chances are so is your uterus. Medical News Today reports from a 2013 study suggested that women who ate more vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids were more protected from symptoms of endometriosis, while those who consumed red meat, trans fats, and coffee may have experienced the opposite effect. Incorporating vegetables and fruits which are loaded with key nutrients can really improve overall period pain and ultimately lead to a better, happier natural period.
Remember that follicular phase and the luteal phase? Critical nutrients are needed during these phases. One way to ensure you’re getting these nutrients is through seed cycling. The practice of seed cycling involves rotating seeds into the diet throughout the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle. This usually involves consuming 1 tablespoon of flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds depending on which phase of the cycle. These seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals like magnesium! Try Food Period to start having better periods, naturally.
Natural Remedies Can Help Heal Not Deplete
Exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do, but walking and yoga can really have a huge impact on cramps. Simply just moving your body can help reduce cramping. “The more active you are [overall] and more regular you are with your activity, the better your periods end up being—less cramping, less heavy flow,” explains Stacy Sims, PhD, an exercise physiologist for USA Cycling Women’s Track Endurance Program and co-founder of Osmo Nutrition. Exercising is healthy and free and isn’t stealing or depriving your body of essential nutrients; instead it’s helping to create more.
Cramps can be extremely painful, however unharmful over the counter remedies such as ibuprofen can cause potential risks, according to Time’s “The Ibuprofen Risks You Need to Know; “Studies have found that high doses of NSAIDs increased risk for heart attack and other heart problems by one third; ibuprofen, in particular, more than doubled the risk of a major heart event.”
Try a holistic remedy instead of reaching of over the counter medicine. Endometriosis News reports that Castor oil is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant oil that can be used to soothe sore joints. Castor oil packs are extremely beneficial and another way to battle painful cramping.
Having a happy and natural period is possible. Take the steps today to honor your body and your cycle. Start by being gentle with yourself. Do your best to sleep more, eat healthier and exercise. Let’s all vow now to take the time to heal our bodies from within as we all deserve a happier, healthier period.