Hello dear friends!
This is a special post for the ladies, and the menstruating people among us…but hey, even if that doesn’t apply to you, feel free to stick around! I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who has struggled with her cycles- the mood swings, the cramping, the irregular periods, and all the other goodies that come with being a lady. And I’m also sure I’m not the only one who has looked at the piles of trash that I’ve created month after month, and felt terrible- tampons, pads, pantyliners, extra tp, you name it.
However, after many years of trial and error, I can finally say that I don’t absolutely loathe my cycle, and spew curse words at my body every month. I feel like I’ve finally reached a place where I have relatively normal, healthy, natural periods, and that I’m not trashing up the planet because of them. Hooray!
As you already know, there are a lot of things that go into making your body tick. A woman’s cycle is sensitive to just about everything: the foods she eats, cosmetics and body products she uses, her sleep patterns, and even things like electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and the phases of the moon (which are electromagnetic as well). And obviously, things like hormonal birth control methods have a very strong influence too.
I started taking birth control pills when I was in my late teens, and I admit, it was really nice knowing exactly when my period was gonna start. However, the other side effects weren’t so great. I gained some weight, felt depleted, lost most of my libido, and it honestly felt like I had a low-grade depression the whole time. Granted, not everyone who takes hormonal birth control pills has bad side effects, but for me, they didn’t seem to be worth it.
I switched brands a couple of times, and it helped a bit, but in the end, I decided that it wasn’t right for my body. Thankfully, I had a monogamous female partner at the time, so it wasn’t a big risk. I tossed those stupid pills in the trash. And hey, I won’t lie to you, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine from then on. Coming off artificial hormones, which I had been taking for nearly ten years, wasn’t easy. It took my body many, many months to re-adjust. But nowadays, I couldn’t be happier that I made that decision.
Whether you’re on hormonal birth control or not, you deserve to have a healthy, hassle-free period, right? Nobody should have to deal with irregular bleeding, pain, or buying hundreds of dollars worth of menstrual products each year. Screw that.
Here are my tips to have a healthy, natural, and eco-friendly period:
1. Dump the disposables
When I was growing up, using pads and tampons was just what you did when your period came. But it’s not the only option- it’s not even the best option! Most pads and tampons are made from a combination of plastic, rayon, cotton, bleach, and several other chemicals, but even the ones that are pure organic cotton still clog up the landfills! It’s been estimated that the average woman, over her lifetime, uses nearly 10,000 tampons and spends upwards of $5k on period-related products.
It took me a while to work up the courage to try a menstrual cup, and to find the one I liked the best (I use Lunette), but now, I wouldn’t give up that thing for the world. And I now have a stash of reusable pads and pantyliners that I can simply wrap up and throw in the wash every month. I know I’m not putting harmful chemicals into my body, and my periods don’t result in overfull trash cans. If you’re hesitant to throw yourself into the zero-waste period club, go slowly- try out a menstrual cup or natural sea sponge and see how it goes. Or just swap to reusable pads for nighttime use. Baby steps count too!
2. Balance hormones with herbs
Before I became a huge herb-nerd, I had no clue that there were plants out there that could naturally balance your hormones and make your cycle easier. I sure wish someone would have told me a long time ago! When I went to my naturopath a few years back, she diagnosed me with estrogen dominance, and we worked to increase my levels of progesterone with herbal supplements. I had already been taking some adaptogens, like ashwagandha, but when we introduced this wild yam cream, my world was changed!
I still take several herbs at different points during my cycle, and I have more energy, less bloating, and less pain than I used to. Plus, my cycles seem to finally be regular, thank god! There are many different herbs that work on the female endocrine system, so find the one(s) that work best for your body. Check out things like: wild yam, vitex (aka chasteberry), black cohosh, shatavari, dong quai, maca root, red raspberry leaf, and motherwort. I even make my own herbal tinctures, featuring many of these herbs. (you can find these in my Etsy shop!)
3. Quell your PMS
I can always tell when my period is getting close, but it’s nowhere near the terror-fest that it used to be. I no longer go off the rails with extreme carb/sugar cravings, or yell at everyone, or have to take time off of work during the first couple days of my period. I think this positive shift has been a combination of things, including switching to a paleo diet, using herbs, and having a daily meditation/yoga practice. When emotions run high, it’s so important to have a lot of different tools in your toolbox.
Supportive dietary changes include getting off of dairy, cutting back on sugar, and only eating organic/pastured/free range animal products. For cramps, you can try CBD oil/cannabis, cramp bark (herb), heat therapy, hydrotherapy, or an abdominal massage with essential oils like peppermint, camphor, wintergreen, lavender, eucalyptus, and chamomile. And of course, I recommend any kind of meditation or pranayama practice to help bring you back to center during your PMS time!
4. Connect with your unique rhythm
As a health coach and energy worker, I always advocate for people to get in better touch with their own bodies, and their intuition. Our culture is so disconnected, and too many women go through their lives never really understanding their body, and feeling like it’s more of a stranger than a friend. Tuning into your body’s individual signs and cycles does take some mindful practice, but in my opinion, it’s one of the most important things you can do! Understanding how your energy shifts, and in response to what stimuli (both internal and external) is the best way to find what things resonate with your own expression of optimal wellness.
When it comes to listening to your body, I always recommend starting with some kind of meditation practice or inner work. It’s often in the quiet that we can best hear our inner voice. Body and energy practices like Reiki and yoga are also fantastic. Consider keeping a journal to track changes throughout the month and/or use a natural fertility/contraception app like Natural Cycles to better understand the subtle shifts over each cycle.
In today's modern age, with ever-rising levels of environmental pollution, emotional stress, and contaminated food, it’s important, as women, to invest even more in our self-care. Embracing our natural cycles is a key part in overall wellness and empowerment, especially when we can work with mother nature, and not against her. Besides, there is no reason for us to suffer month after month, or dread having our periods- we’ve all got living to do!
So, friends, what kinds of things do you do to ease your PMS or track your monthly cycle? Have you tried a menstrual cup? Dish in the comments below!
And, of course, as always…
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~
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