It’s difficult to know what a normal cycle is, especially when so many women experience symptoms throughout their cycle.
Just because these symptoms are common doesn’t mean they are normal… on the contrary!
Pre-menstrual and cyclic symptoms are actually ‘an alert’ to us that our hormones are out of ‘whack’.
And this is where, with a little knowledge and awareness, we can re-balance these hormones so you can live a much more harmony-filled and balanced life.
Has Your Cycle changed during COVID-lockdown?
Our menstrual cycle is controlled by a delicate balance of hormones, that if compromised by excessive stress or, inadequate hormonal clearance by an unhealthy gut and liver, or an onslaught of sugar-laden and processed foods, then symptoms may very well develop.
Whilst symptoms of pain, cramping, headaches, mood disturbances, sugar cravings, tiredness, breast tenderness and weight gain are common, they are not necessarily ‘normal’ and are a sign of dysfunction.
We have noticed a sharp rise of women who have had an increase of and/or exacerbation of these cyclic symptoms during the COVID-lockdown. And this makes sense as there is a huge link between what you ate (and drank), your level of exercise and the level of stress you experience, to the health of your cycle.
Given most of us have experienced extraordinary levels of stress during the Corona Virus pandemic which may have compromised our eating (and drinking) habits as well as influenced our level of physical activity, it is no wonder cyclic symptoms have arisen.
Understanding your ‘normal’ is the first step
Whilst a ‘textbook-normal’ cycle is 28 days, every woman is different, so it is important to understand what a normal cycle is for you. And the best way to understand your norm is to track your cycle.
Throughout all stages of life, tracking the menstrual cycle can be beneficial as we can observe the patterns of our cycle. Simply noting the day of the first bleed and how long the bleed lasts, on the calendar is a great habit to be in, as it creates a baseline. Then if your cycle shortens or extends at any time, you have a ‘normal’ on which to compare this information.
For an adolescent girl it can help her to predict when her period may arrive and help her to ascertain how many days apart her cycle tends to be, which may still be settling into a rhythm.
If you are in your mid-20s or 30s cycle tracking can help you to identify when you are ovulating which is a useful tool for both conception and/or in understanding contraception.
As we approach Menopause, a good understanding of your cycle helps us to identify when and how cycles may be shortening, or becoming more irregular.
Useful things to Track
The most obvious thing to track is cycle length. Even a simple symbol in your diary on the first day of your period is a great start. Other valuable things to take note of is the length of your period, whether you experience any symptoms during your cycle (either before or during your period, or ovulation) such as breast tenderness, pain, mood changes etc, or whether the bleed is particularly heavy or if there is clotting.
Tracking these signs and symptoms of your menstrual cycle can be hugely relevant to many of the issues women seek help for in our Naturopathic clinic such as fatigue, poor sleep, weight gain, lowered mood, acne etc., as hormonal imbalance can be an underlying driver of many health issues.
Period Tracker Apps
There are some great period tracker apps available to use to track your periods, identify when you ovulate, note any symptoms and then, if needed, be well informed if seeking help with any symptoms.
- Period Tracker
Webinar: Harmonising Hormonal Havoc during COVID-lockdown
Wednesday 12th August at 7pm
You are invited to Join us from the comfort of your home tomorrow evening where our Naturopathic Team will discuss how to achieve a Hormonal Balance, a Healthy cycle and what to do if you are experiencing symptoms.
Register Now by replying to this email and include your Name and Email. (NB if you are already on our Wednesday Wellness Webinar list you will automatically receive your Webinar link).
Look out for the ‘Join Webinar’ link in your inbox to Join the Webinar.
You can watch it live with us tomorrow evening, or alternatively click the link anytime after the Webinar and watch the recording at your convenience.
Registering will also add you to our Wednesday Webinar list where you will automatically receive the links to all our upcoming Wednesday Wellness Webinars.
Brought to you by the Mammoth Health Clinic Practitioners
Herbs, Dietary and Lifestyle Tips for Hormonal Harmony
There are a number of beautiful herbs we can use to help harmonise and balance our hormones. These are some of our favourites…
- Chasteberry (Vitex agnus castus)
Vitex has as a long history of use for women who suffer with premenstrual symptoms such as nervous tension, mood swings and irritability. It has an action on the pituitary gland to promote the production of progesterone and so it normalises oestrogen and progesterone activity. Therefore it is perfect for regulating your cycle and addressing symptoms such as heavy periods, painful periods, erratic or painful ovulation or absence of periods. Traditionally vitex is taken on rising.
Shatavari is a beautiful Ayrvedic herb and is personally one of my favourites.
It is commonly known as the “Queen of Herbs” because is said to promote love and devotion. In Hindi it literally translates “to possess a hundred husbands”
It is traditionally used throughout a woman’s entire reproductive life cycle because of its cleansing, nourishing, soothing and strengthening effects on the female reproductive system. It is especially effective for low libido at all stages and ages and it is also used for vaginal dryness and other typical symptoms of the natural ageing process.
- Dong quai (Angelica polymorpha)
Dong quai is a Traditional Chinese Medicine herb and is a tonic to the whole female reproductive system so it is very nurturing and nourishing
When women are suffering from very heavy and dull period pain or heavy periods we typically prescribe Dong quai for its very warming and nourishing properties.
Paeony is another Traditional Chinese herb used for irregular periods (with vitex). It is also used for period pain. It is very nourishing to the blood and so used to treat anaemia as a blood tonic. It also has an action on the liver so perfect to help aid break-down and clearance of excess oestrogen.
So What Do We Mean by Excess Oestrogen?
We tend to be over-exposed to oestrogen today compared with our mothers and grandmothers
So what’s the reason for this?
a) Poor excretion levels - our lifestyle impairs oestrogen excretion via liver and bowel and favours higher circulating levels in the blood
b) Environmental exposure – the xeno-oestrogens in plastics and pesticides disrupt our hormones and are a risk factor in disease development
c) And simply we have more periods per lifetime then our ancestors.
- St Mary’s Thistle (is a beautiful liver herb)
St Mary’s Thistle is perfect to support the liver to clear excess oestrogen and keep oestrogen in balance. It is helpful for pre-menstrual pimple/acne breakouts.
Along with a high sugar and fatty food intake, hormonal breakouts are also caused by the liver being on overload and not detoxifying properly.
- Gymnema, Cinnamon with Chromium & Zinc
This is a great combination to help with those premenstrual sugar cravings – a very common PMS symptom
Passionflower is a beautiful herb traditionally used for anxiety, nervousness, irritability and insomnia. Commonly used with Valerian which helps you to get to sleep, Passionflower helps your stay asleep.
If one of your PMS symptoms is poor sleep or insomnia, Passionflower is fantastic as it has the capacity to deepen sleep so you’ll experience a more effective and better quality of sleep.
- Vitamin B-Complex (especially Vitamin B6)
The B-vitamins have a beneficial effect on the emotional symptoms such as being teary or sadness, irritability and tiredness
Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and can help with PMS pain and when taken at night can help induce sleep
- Fish Oil or Omega 3’s
It is important to be eating (or supplementing) with adequate Omega 3’s to ensure adequate essential fatty acids which help with breast pain & tenderness as well as abdominal pain.
Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Hormonal Harmony
- Make Exercise a Priority to help reduce PMS symptoms. Ideally 30-45min of exercise most days will help with all symptoms especially emotional (i.e.stress, irritability, anger)
- Eat a Diet High in fresh vegetables, salad and fruit, nuts and seeds and lean protein sources as this will provide essential phytonutrients and antioxidants magnesium and calcium
- Reduce salt to help with fluid retention and bloating
- Minimize those festive foods that are very depleting eg. foods that contain sugar & white flour, refined food, coffee, tea, chocolate and cola drinks. They will spike your blood sugar and feed those cravings. Sugar also increases urinary excretion of magnesium which is often depleted in PMS sufferers
- Include vegetables from the Brassicacea family (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) family as they support the liver to detoxify hormones
- Increase Fibre intake to facilitate excretion of metabolised hormones and toxins
- Include iron-rich foods in your diets (red meat, salmon, beetroot, spinach)
Get the Best Advice from Qualified Practitioners
If you need some Practitioner help with Hormonal Harmony and your Menstrual Cycle, it is the time to book a professional consultation with the Mammoth Health Naturopaths. By working on your individual health needs, our Practitioner team experience great success in addressing underlying causes and achieving optimal health and vitality for our patients.
Consultations are available daily at our In-store Clinics or via Telehealth for your convenience. Book your Consultation Now