She doubles over in pain, her insides feel twisted, she holds her breath momentarily as her hormones wreak havoc. She curses and sobs simultaneously and occasionally is silenced by a splitting headache. Her tender breasts and abdomen bulge with water retention to the point that she believes she may possibly be pregnant. Ladies (and gentlemen), this is what many women passing you in the streets experience on a monthly basis and unfortunately it has become commonplace in society and therefore accepted as normal. Myth buster: this is NOT a normal, healthy menstruation!
Due to similar experiences shared among fellow females, this reality is justified and commonly remedied with the oral contraception pill or pain-killer medication. Although these scientific advances have given us the power to continue pounding the pavement despite physical turmoil, we are neglecting to take advantage of the insight granted to females monthly about their internal health.
What is a healthy period? An optimal period occurs without prominent PMS, in fact, you should not even be aware that your period is near, due to the absence of any physical symptoms! Bleeding most commonly will begin when urinating or defecating due to the baring-down motion which naturally occurs. There should not be any cramps, although there often is a sensation of heaviness in the pelvis. Bleeding should have a consistent flow of bright red blood for five consecutive days, typically accompanied with slight fatigue. Fatigue can be combatted by ensuring adequate iron stores are available in the body, by assessing ferritin levels in the blood and attaining a minimum level of 60. There should not be any mucous before or after a period and clots ideally are non-existent. Acne may appear during ovulation (approximately day 14), prior or during menstruation; however, the lesions should be superficial, remedied within 2 days and small in diameter. Does that sound like a dream to of you versus the nightmare the majority of women experience?
The contrast is drastic and as a result we can see how the undesirable symptoms are indeed messages from the body asking for support before it potentially develops into something more debilitating. For example, women suffering from PCOS commonly have cystic hormonal acne and if left unbalanced, it has been shown to be linked to difficulties conceiving. Extreme menstrual cramps have been shown to be exacerbated by excessive consumption of sugar and alcohol in the previous month due to increased inflammation. Although each symptom may have several contributing factors and it is the responsibility of your integrative doctor to uncover the underlying imbalance.
We live in a high intensity, face-paced society where symptoms that do not impose on our exterior appearance or prevent us from participating in an activity; moreover, they are only experienced for a few days every month, are neglected and forgotten as soon as they pass. Pay attention to your beautiful bodies ladies; they have more innate wisdom than is known.
If you battle significant hormonal symptoms, I would recommend seeking professional guidance from an integrative medical doctor or naturopathic doctor. With their expertise, you will untangle the hormonal imbalance rather than palliate with a band-aid approach using analgesic medication, for example.
I have two main components to basic hormonal health which you can implement at home to get started. Firstly, we need to support the liver, the main organ for hormone processing, by starting our day with ½ lemon squeezed in a small glass of water, including cruciferous vegetables regularly into our daily diet and incorporating gentle liver cleansing herbal teas such as milk thistle. Secondly, digestion needs to be in tip-top shape. Ensuring adequate fibre is essential and my favourite to include is 2 tbsp of freshly ground flaxseed daily which serves to bind to excreted estrogens in the stool to prevent re-circulation of “garbage” back into the body and ensure regular waste removal.
As a naturopathic doctor, I commonly address hormonal issues with a high degree of success in practice and without harmful side effects. It’s truly possible to feel like the wonder-woman you are without relying on medication.