When your cycle's off, you're off. Am I right?
If things are flowing smoothly in the mood, energy, bleeding, and gut categories, it frees you up to be the best wife, mom, teacher, employee, and volunteer that you can be.
But when you're bleeding excessively (or not at all!), your energy has tanked, your #cramps are threatening to destroy you, and your tummy is paying the price, all you want to do is to check out of life.
And let's face it. Women can't check out of life. Too much depends on us.
I love to see women's cycles start to regulate and #balance out. This takes a concerted effort on their part, to be sure. I teach and I guide, but I simply cannot do the work that it takes to change habits and practices that begin to regulate my clients' #period problems.
This means, when the real change occurs, it's due to the efforts and commitment of the one who is putting in the hard work- you, the client. And that is pretty empowering!
I see period problem patterns in my girls. I've pulled three of the top period complaints to share with you. I'll also share some tips on how to fix these problems yourself.
Period Problem #1: Super Heavy Bleeding
What does a normal flow look like?
"The usual amount of blood loss per period is 10 to 35 ml. Each soaked normal-sized tampon or pad holds a teaspoon (5ml) of blood. That means it is normal to soak one to seven normal-sized pads or tampons in a whole period." (source).
If you're soakin' more than that, you may suffer from menorrhagia, which is a condition associated with super heavy bleeding (more than 16 soaked pads or tampons, or about 80 ml of blood), clots, and flooding.
A heavy flow can lead to #anemia and #iron deficiency. Clinically, this looks like extreme exhaustion. If you're bleeding a ton during your periods and your are tired all of the time, get the following lab work:
If you are low in iron and also ferritin (the storage form of iron), you'll need to supplement with some extra iron until your flow subsides.
Heavy flow is typically my clients' #1 complaint. We address this problem using the #FDN "DRESS" protocol- diet, rest, exercise, stress relief, and supplementation.
First, I have clients follow my signature meal plan. My plans are high in lean protein, include tons of fruits and vegetables, and schedule regular meals and also treats to keep adherence high and cravings low. You can search this site to find plenty of #recipes and #mealplans. Here's a whole week of dinner recipes to get you started.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables is a great place to start.
Here's a video from my group The Raw Carrot Challenge (now, the Hydration Challenge- free to all!) that talks about how carrots particularly can balance hormones like estrogen that lead to heavy flow.
And that's the name of the game.
High and unopposed estrogen causes heavy bleeding. Many of us have high and unopposed estrogen because we live estrogen-promoting lifestyles.
Alcohol consumption raises estrogen levels.
A Western diet, high in processed fats and low in fiber, raises estrogen levels.
Many cosmetics and personal care products raise estrogen levels.
Constipation raises estrogen levels (and vice versa!).
Basically, a western lifestyle can cause high estrogen levels, which can in turn, cause heavy menstrual bleeding.
Note: estrogen levels are usually the highest during late adolescence and during perimenopause. This is when women report the heaviest bleeding. Basically, the onset and the offset of your period can lead to heavier bleeding.
Supplement help: Blood Builder
Period Problem #2: Cramps
Cramps are a bit of a bear. For some women, cramping only happens the first day or so of their actual bleeding. For others, cramping and pain can happen during ovulation, or during PMS week.
If your cramps have you laid out on the couch with a heating pad on your abdomen, month after month, we've got a problem. But there are solutions to this problem.
This is what causes cramps in a nutshell: prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are chemicals secreted from the endometrium during the menstrual cycle that cause the uterus to contract and relax.
Some prostaglandins are normal and necessary.
Too many prostaglandins cause uterine hypercontractility, or prolonged and painful cramping of the uterus. Prostaglandins also reduce blood flow to the uterus, and this can increase pain and cramping as well. They can also increase nerve sensitivity and pain (source).
A diet high in processed fats and sugar can increase prostaglandins in the body.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fried foods and sugars can decrease excess prostaglandins in the body.
Here's something interesting I noticed: a few weeks ago, when I was experimenting with my first gallbladder cleanse, I was supposed to be drinking 32 ounces of apple juice a day. At first, I was elated as I freaking love apple juice. It used to be the only thing that would quench my thirst after a long volleyball or track practice.
But the first day of preparing for the cleanse by drinking tons of apple juice was the first day of my bleed.
And my cramps were excruciating.
I don't really get cramps anymore. My periods are normal and pretty easy. So this threw me for a loop and I was pretty irritable about it.
Sugar, insulin, blood glucose, and estrogen can all conspire to make both a heavier flow and also more intense cramping. Excess sugar is inflammatory, no matter what form it takes.
Since I had consumed three times this amount, I had ingested over 120 grams of sugar that day.
The recommendation for women is to get about 6 tsp of sugar per day.
No wonder I was doubled over with cramps. While softening my gallstones with the malic acid, I had increase my inflammation considerably, which manifested in the cramps from hell.
Never mind all of the bloating that came with this sugar rush.
Live and learn. Next time, I'm doing powdered malic acid.
So I can now tell you as a clinician and also as a fellow female cramp sufferer- sugar will increase your cramps. Fried foods will increase your #cramps. It's about the prostaglandins.
So, what helps reduce cramping?
Specifically, #magnesium. And perhaps a bit of calcium if you're truly deficient.
Magnesium is one of the top #supplements I recommend to clients.
Period Problem #3: Breakthrough Bleeding
When you are bleeding when you ought not bleed, you may get a little concerned. Some women bleed a bit after sex, and some just spot in a trickle all throughout the month.
Neither one of those are normal or desirable.
I experienced this about five years back. I was both bleeding after sex and also spotting here and there throughout the month.
My OB-GYN put me on some progesterone, and it cleared up after awhile. Many of my clients have also gone this route. Their spotting clears up by adding a bit of targeted progesterone.
You don't want to take progesterone every day, though. It's a cyclical hormone.
See how progesterone is supposed to spike around ovulation? For some women, that doesn't happen.
These are reasons you may be progesterone deficient:
you're under a lot of stress
you're not eating enough protein
you're not eating enough fat
you're on a statin
you are estrogen dominant
A natural way to balance this deficiency out is to eat a ton of good quality animal fats, protein, root vegetables, and fruits. These foods are the building blocks of all of your sex hormones like progesterone. They are also calming and soothing to your brain and your body's stress response. Cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and broccoli can pull down estrogen in the body, as can carrots.
If you use progesterone, only take it for the last half of your cycle- from ovulation to the day of your first bleed.
Really, the answer to breakthrough bleeding lies in creating a balance between estrogen and progesterone.
With a problem like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), ovulation is intermittent. Because of the lack of ovulation, estrogen runs unopposed. You tend to lack progesterone secretion it's the corpus luteum that secretes progesterone.
Without ovulation, the corpus luteum never forms, and progesterone is not released. And the follicle just keeps growing, creating the many cysts that are a hallmark of PCOS.
So PCOS means you're not only estrogen dominant, but also testosterone dominant.
I have some resources for you if you want to treat yourself.
Start working on yourself, and have a better period within three months. These Roadmaps give the information that I use with private clients. The information is all there in an easy-to-digest and easy-to-implement program.
Are these the issues you have? Are there other period problems you suffer from? I have a lot more to discuss, but my husband always tells me my blogs are too long. After researching and typing for three hours, I tend to agree. So I will bring you more next week if you want it.
Happy weekend, dears. And thanks for reading. You girls are the best.