Period Pain

May 31, 2017

Lately in the media there has been a lot of discussion about allowing women 1 day a month off work for period pain.  Although I am all for women’s rights and making life more comfortable at a not so comfortable time, my thoughts are shouldn’t we be spending the money on better preventative health care and education to prevent this pain in the first place? 
Period pain is extremely common but that doesn’t mean that it is “normal” to have it.  In an ideal world, women should get their period every 28-32 days. bleed lightly for 3-5 days without any other uncomfortable symptoms.  Unfortunately this isn’t the case for most females and the list of symptoms for that time of the month can be cravings, moodiness/heightened emotions, back pain, uterine cramps, sore breasts, lumps in the breasts, headaches, and fatigue.  This is not to mention that the actual period can also have a lot of clots, very heavy flow, dizziness, and bowel irritability.  Most women will experience some of these symptoms with some women experiencing them all. 

It is important to get checked out to ensure that you do not have endometriosis or fibroids or any other structural issues.  Depending on the severity of the symptoms there is a lot that can be controlled and managed through simple changes in your diet and lifestyle.

A lot of the time, these hormonal issues are caused by an imbalance of your estrogen and progesterone.  Whether it is a matter of your estrogen levels actually being too high or more so that your progesterone is too low, it is still a matter of relative estrogen excess.  As much as estrogen is essential for healthy bone density, healthy skin, balancing cortisol levels and overall hormonal health, when we have an excess of estrogen (usually from an excess of estrogen like substances) it causes excess cell growth (cue endometriosis, fibroids, uterine linings – therefore heavy periods, cancerous cells, fat storage – particularly around the butt and thighs) as well as moodiness, liver congestion and acne.  It is essential to tame this beast to tame these monthly symptoms. So how to do this:

  • Support liver clearance – through the use of leafy green vegetables and particularly cruciferous vegies such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale.
  • Cut out or limit any use of plastics.  Plastics contain many oestrogen like substances that leach into our system which bind to our oestrogen receptors as they have a similar make up.  These in particular are things that contain PCBS, BPA and phthalates.
  • Consume turmeric and ginger each day to assist your body in decreasing levels of inflammation as well as increasing overall circulation.
  • Consume adequate levels of good quality plant fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds, coconut, olives as these are essential for healthy hormone balance and inflammation.
  • Consume a mostly plant based diet.  Many studies have shown diets high in animal meat has an adverse effect on hormonal health.  This is not to say that cutting out all meat is essential by any means, but ensuring that you are consuming red meat no more than 2 x week, and your eggs and chicken are organic.  Your plate should be full of seasonal vegetables with a small portion of meat, not the other way around.
  • Cut out sugar, gluten and dairy (and other foods you may be intolerant to) to reduce the overall systemic inflammation in your body.
  • A diet high in fibre (from your vegetables) is a diet that will assist in clearance of excess estrogen.
  • Drink adequate amounts of water each day to assist with your body to clear excess hormones.
  • De – stress.  Stress will cause a huge imbalance of your hormones, so if you cannot eliminate your stresses then ensure to manage that stress.  Things like meditation, yoga, walking, hiking, laughing, reading, etc.  Anything where your heart rate is slow and your breathing is slow and you feel relaxed and happy. 
  • Do not do any high intensity training on the first day of your period.  This will increase your inflammatory processes, increase chance of retrograde bleeding and will zap your energy that is needed for your body at the most crucial time of the month.

Of course there are also many helpful supplements and herbs that help with specific symptoms and the direct cause of the problem.  This is best to seek help from a healthcare practitioner as you don’t want to go and take herbs or nutrients that may not be appropriate for your unique hormonal issue.  

So sure, if the day off is offered, take it, embrace the rest from our fast paced life and give your body that delicious down time it needs, but don’t settle for pain and discomfort as part of your monthly pattern.  There are too many months in the year and too many years to put up with that.  Try the advice above to change your pattern and if there is still no improvement seek help from a Naturopath to help get your hormones happy again 🙂


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