Have you ever considered the idea that your menstrual cycle might be more than just your monthly period?
Truth be told, you can learn a fair amount about your body beyond your reproductive health through observing your cycle.
In a sense, your period is your 5th vital sign, and can be considered a direct reflection of your overall health & fertility.
Let me as you this… Do you experience mood swings that make you feel like a completely different person for 2 weeks out of every month? Hormonal acne right before your period worse than puberty? Or cramping alongside heavy periods that makes you feel nauseous & riddled in pain?
If you answered yes, your period is likely trying to tell you something very important about your health & wellbeing.
The truth is, even though menstrual symptoms might be common, they are definitely not normal, and you don’t have to experience them.
Symptomatic cycles are one of the ways that your body tries to notify you that something’s not quite right.
Similarly, the better you are able to understand what your body is telling you through your period symptoms, the more equip you are to get to the root of your issues & overcome them once & for all.
Understanding the language of your period
To understand what your period is trying to say, you must first learn the language of your body.
Your body speaks to you through symptoms because it cannot speak to you with words. This is why symptoms may be subtle at first, but if ignored, they tend to increase in intensity/frequency. After a certain point, your body will begin to scream at you to pay attention, and by that point, you won’t be able to ignore it.
Ask yourself, how long have you been experiencing cycle symptoms? Have they increased over time?
Perhaps you decided to go on the pill to reduce your cycle symptoms… Even though the pill may be helpful in managing symptoms, what it’s really doing is shutting off the communication of your body, your hormones & your cycle so that you no longer hear what your body is trying to tell you.
So even though you might not be experiencing the same amount of pain or PMS while on the pill, the underlying reason is still there, which may factor into why so many women have the experience of their symptoms returning, and often with a vengeance, after discontinuing the pill.
I know it may seem challenging to face your pain or symptoms head on. I also get that it can be confusing & complicated to decipher what your period is actually trying to tell you about your body on your own, and let’s be honest, there definitely isn’t easy access to the kind of support you need for this work.
Likely, if you go to your conventional doc and say “hey, I don’t think my period pain is normal, could something else be going on that we’re missing?” You’ll likely get a response like “You’re fine, period pain is normal, just take some ibuprofen and decrease your stress”
There’s truly nothing that irks me more than the medical system not taking us (females) seriously about our experiences & concerns.
So, what do we wind up doing? We log on to Dr.Google and start digging through the research.
Believe me, it’s easy enough to get lost in the vast amount of research and opinion articles online and come out of it even more confused than when you started.
Honestly, I don’t even have enough fingers/toes to count how many “diets”, “supplements” and “detoxes” there are out there claiming to erase all of your symptoms & restore your health & vitality.
But let’s entertain the idea that IF managing period symptoms were as simple as taking a 1-a-day supplement, or restricting a certain food from your diet, then the problems that many women face with their cycles wouldn’t be such a huge, invasive issue. We’d have all the answers we’d need, right?!
Unfortunately, getting to the root of your symptoms is waaaay more complex, which is why so many women don’t have success with those approaches.
The other complicated side of the coin is that learning to listen to our body & understanding what it’s saying isn’t necessarily an easy task either.
As individuals, we often have “blinders” on ourselves, preventing us from being able to figure out what’s actually going on with us.
This is where the support of an outside opinion comes very much in handy. Although, finding someone to support you in this capacity is few & far between.
Interested in talking about how I can help to support you in this area of your health & wellbeing? Book a free discovery call with me today!
So what can you do on your own to better understand what your period might be trying to tell you about your health & fertility?
Let’s take a closer look.
Determining the Imbalance
Now, I must first disclaim that the information in this article is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or mitigate diseases. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice or care from your primary physician.
Cycle symptoms, more often than not, arise from an internal hormone imbalance. However, other conditions can factor into the experience of period issues as well.
Hormone imbalances such as excess estrogen, low progesterone, low estrogen or excess androgens (male hormones) can all factor into the onset of cycle symptoms.
Heavy bleeding, painful cramps, cravings and breast tenderness could be a way that your period is notifying you that you have too much estrogen in your system.
Alternatively, if you experience symptoms such as vaginal dryness, painful sex, low libido and hot flashes, your period could be trying to tell you that you don't have enough estrogen.
However, on the other hand, your period symptoms could also be notifying you of certain conditions such as digestive stress, systemic inflammation, blood sugar imbalances, and poor nutrition, which can all factor into cycle imbalances and symptoms.
So how can you tell which is which?
You may very well need to take a step back and take a look at the big picture perspective of your situation.
Do you experience the same symptoms each and every cycle? Or do they fluctuate from month to month depending upon your stress levels and what you eat?
If you are unsure, my best advice is to track a few cycles and see what patterns you come across then go from there.
Although many menstrual symptoms might be very common amongst women, they are definitely not normal, nor optimal. It’s best to work with a qualified practitioner to help you understand the fundamental causes of your menstrual issues and get to the root of those imbalances so you can restore your menstrual health & vitality. Book a free discovery call with me to get to the root of your cycle symptoms for good.
What should a healthy period look like?
Every woman’s period is just about as unique as herself. We each have our own cycle patterns and norms that are unique to us. Therefore, what may be considered “healthy” to one person, could be a sign of dysfunction in another.
Although, there are still some general guidelines to a healthy period such as:
A common response I get from many women after describing what a healthy period should look like is “So, you’re telling me I’ve never had a healthy period??”
Believe me, I get it, I completely understand the frustration, anger & rage that can come from learning what’s considered “normal” and what’s not. Oftentimes we are led to believe that cycle symptoms are normal, or “all in our head” when in reality, they’re a sign of imbalance and a way that our body is calling out for help.
Thankfully, our periods & our hormones are malleable. With that, we have options and opportunity to correct our imbalances and experience symptom-free periods.
YES! It is entirely possible to have a symptom-free period! That means a period without PMS, without terrible cramping, fatigue, nausea, headaches, bloating, etc.
Periods are NOT meant to be painful. Your period does NOT have to lead to you feeling emotional, irrational & out of control of your body & symptoms. Regardless of what’s commonly thought, I am here to say that you do not have to endure through the pain & discomfort each & every month! You CAN have a symptom-free period and it is entirely within your reach.
How to Fix Your Cycle
Unfortunately, there isn’t one “fix all” solution to managing your period. Every woman is unique in her situation, and with that, you may need a specific, individualized approach to help you overcome your period symptoms with complete success.
That’s why, as we said earlier, all those “fad diets” and “fix-it-all supplements” do not work.
However, in general, there are a handful of things that you can do to support hormone balance & a healthy menstrual experience.
Here are my key tips for fixing your cycle:
Eat a Nutrient Dense Diet
Many menstrual problems are associated with nutritional deficiencies. Make sure to eat 3 balanced meals per day and avoid overly processed, denatured foods such as refined sugar, white flour and other gluten-containing grains, conventional dairy, and vegetable oils (such as canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil and sunflower oil)
Lower Your Inflammation
Many of the processed foods listed above will contribute to underlying inflammation in your body which can trigger hormone imbalances and menstrual symptoms. In tandem with a nutrient-dense diet, you may consider supplementing with inflammation-modulating nutrients such as Turmeric, Ginger and Fish Oil (make sure your fish oil is from a reputable brand such as Nordic Naturals)
Support Your Digestion
Your digestion is the first stop in nutrient absorption in your body. An inflamed, disturbed digestive system (if you experience bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, etc.) will impair nutrient absorption and increase systemic inflammation - which is not good for hormone balance! Your body also eliminates excess hormones (like estrogen) through the digestive system. If you experience chronic constipation, or have a case of case of bacterial imbalance, unhealthy gut microbes will produce an enzyme activity called beta-glucuronidase which works to recirculate hormones back into your system causing hormone imbalances like estrogen dominance. So make sure you’re pooping daily, taking a high quality probiotic and eating plenty of fiber-rich vegetables!
To continue reading & to find out my 4 other key tips for fixing your period naturally, check out The Healthy Period Manual in my store resources.
Because you’ve read this far, please use the code: HEALTHYPERIODS for a $3 off coupon!
your menstrual cycle is much more than simply bleeding once per month. Your period can provide you with great insight as to the status of your overall health & wellbeing.
By paying attention, tracking your symptoms & connecting the dots, you’ll begin to recognize patterns in which you can use to help you begin to understand the language of your body.
The more we pause, listen & provide our bodies with the tools & resources it needs to function properly, the easier it becomes to balance hormones & experience a symptom-free menstrual cycle.
Ashe Milkovic, NTP is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Womxn's Health Specialist & Hormone Expert focusing in the field of womxn's reproductive health.