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Soothing the cycle

A woman’s menstrual cycle can have a profound influence on her life - emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. The highs and lows experienced by many during the varying phases in their cycles can feel for some like a rollercoaster each month.

Working predominantly in women’s health and a woman myself the phase leading up to menstruation seems to be the most grueling. It’s all too common we can experience a change in mood, increased pelvic pain or discomfort, headaches, tension, lower back pain, increased moodiness or irritability, skin breakouts, cravings for chocolate or salty foods and lowered motivation to name a few. Returning to menstruation myself after having a baby I felt determined to find a way to ‘soothe my cycle’ and better understand all of my phases rather than preparing myself and family for the premenstrual onslaught!

Before I delved into the research I took time to take note of what stood out to me in my cycle. Pre-menses I felt depleted and irritable and post-menses I felt energised and increased motivation. And whilst I have at my fingertips a whole dispensary of supplements and herbal remedies, I thought of a new approach. To focus more on how I actually care for myself during these phases and avoid burn-out. The plan was simple, to scale down my commitments and simplify my home duties turning more inwards leading up to menses. In order to really put this in place I highlighted on my calendar my premenstrual phase (the week leading up to menstruation). Additionally I wrote reminders for that week each day in my diary to ‘slow down’, ‘remember to breathe’, ‘do your stretches’, ‘meditate’ ‘daily walks’. Another focus was my diet, cutting out processed sugar, dairy and gluten and eating more fresh organic fruit and vegetables, committing to a fresh cold-press juice each morning of celery, beetroot, carrot and apple.

Now after two cycles I can report a significant change, I have felt like I have truly ‘gone with the flow’ and I’m sure my family can testify too! No cravings, minimal irritability, less pain and tension and certainly more relaxed and at ease.

Why did this work?

  • I listened to my intuition first and foremost, I had unmet needs - as we all do when imbalanced (and that stands for male or female)

  • Lowered stress helps balance hormones - research has proven that stress greatly affects our endocrine system, causing hormonal dysfunction, inflammation, insulin imbalance (those sugar cravings!) and adrenal and thyroid issues. When our hypothalamic-adrenal axis is overstimulated it increases our cardiac output, skeletal muscle flow, sodium retention, reduced intestinal motility, increased glucose and behaviour activation.

  • Elevated prostaglandins - these are fatty compounds in our body that can mimic hormones. Elevated levels can cause a whole lot of pain and inflammation, particularly in women leading up to or during menstruation. Prostaglandin receptors are found in the uterus, due to their important role in childbirth. They tend to increase with poor diet, sedentary lifestyle (no exercise), injury and infections.

What else can you do?

  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet, enough protein, good fats, fibre and carbohydrates from fresh fruit and vegetables. If you can, choose organic or home-grown produce to limit your intake of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides that are all known hormone disruptors. And avoid trans-fats, processed sugars and limit dairy pre-menses.

  • Daily exercise - reduces your stress levels and your prostaglandins. But pre-menses you don’t need to go hard, remember, slow it down, a cruisey-paced walk in the bush, swimming, a gentle bike ride etc.

  • Herbal remedies: St Mary’s Thistle to help better metabolise your hormones, Shatavari to balance hormones for any age, Chamomile to soothe your gut and calm your mind, Turmeric to reduce pain and inflammation and Siberian Ginseng to nurture your adrenals. Chaste Tree is the queen of hormone modulation but best taken by guidance of a Herbalist or Naturopath.

Life is fast-paced for a lot of women so remember, no pressure to make these changes, start with what you feel capable of and notice with each change how you feel your mind and body. An increase in vitality will encourage the new habit and offer more energy to work on the next healthy change. That’s how I tackled it, and certainly how I encourage others as well.

Take care of you, love and light,

Jaunita ~ Your Family Naturopath

Recommended reading:

Period Repair Manual - Lara Briden

Period Queen - Lucy Peach


Period Repair Manual - Lara Briden

Period Queen - Lucy Peach

Stress and hormones, Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, S. Ranabir and K. Reetu

Everything you want to know about prostaglandins,, D. Weatherspoon PhD


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