Fix your pe­ri­ods

Many women suf­fer fa­tigue, cramps, er­ratic moods, ten­der breasts and acne but there are nat­u­ral ways im­prove things, says spe­cial­ist Ni­cole Jardim

Daily Record - - LIFE -

MENSTRUATI­ON should never be painful or mis­er­able and, if it is, you can bet there’s an un­der­ly­ing health is­sue that needs to be ad­dressed.

Your pe­riod should be used as a barom­e­ter for your over­all health. Here, we look at a few sim­ple steps to get your pe­riod back on track.

Know your cy­cle

Use a pe­riod-track­ing app and pay at­ten­tion to how long your pe­riod lasts, what it looks like and any symp­toms such as cramps, mood­i­ness and breast pain.

You have four phases – fol­lic­u­lar, ovu­la­tory, luteal and men­strual. In the fol­lic­u­lar phase, the pi­tu­itary gland re­leases FSH (which stim­u­lates the fol­li­cles in one of your ovaries to ma­ture) and LH, which is re­spon­si­ble for ovu­la­tion.

This stim­u­lates the next phase (ovu­la­tory), when an egg is re­leased into the Fal­lop­ian tube. If the egg is not fer­tilised, your sex hor­mones de­cline as the egg-pro­duc­ing fol­li­cle be­gins pro­duc­ing pro­ges­terone to stim­u­late the growth of the uter­ine lin­ing – the luteal phase.

Fi­nally, pro­ges­terone drops and the uter­ine lin­ing be­gins to shed in the men­strual phase – hello again, pe­riod – and the cy­cle restarts.

In the men­strual phase, be­cause of this hor­monal shift (and the fact that menstruati­on is an in­flam­ma­tory process), it’s nor­mal for women to feel mildly fa­tigued, with­drawn and in­tro­spec­tive.

Mov­ing to­wards ovu­la­tion, our oe­stro­gen and testos­terone lev­els peak, which means our en­ergy lev­els, sex drive and the abil­ity to be bold start to dom­i­nate. This is a great time for more phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, to ask for a pay rise or have im­por­tant con­ver­sa­tions as brain skills be­come en­hanced.

In the luteal phase, when pro­ges­terone starts to rise, nat­u­ral feel­ings of nest­ing and in­tro­spec­tion are com­mon.

Bal­ance your blood sugar

Sugar and other re­fined carbs (think any­thing made of flour) can badly af­fect your en­docrine sys­tem – the col­lec­tion of glands that pro­duce hor­mones. I rec­om­mend cut­ting out re­fined flour and sugar and load­ing your plate with leafy green veg­eta­bles and beans.

Al­ways pair carbs with pro­tein and fat to keep your blood sugar sta­ble be­tween meals.

Ditch dis­rup­tors

Xe­noe­stro­gens, in­clud­ing parabens and pes­ti­cides, act like oe­stro­gen in the body, dis­rupt­ing our hor­monal mes­sen­ger sys­tem and leading to con­di­tions like oe­stro­gen dom­i­nance (when your oe­stro­gen lev­els are ab­nor­mally high rel­a­tive to your pro­ges­terone).

This im­bal­ance alone is to blame for a host of pe­riod prob­lems, in­clud­ing weight gain, bloat­ing, breast ten­der­ness, mood swings, fa­tigue and low li­bido.

Switch out your beauty prod­ucts for more nat­u­ral op­tions, clean­ing sup­plies for greener al­ter­na­tives and avoid plas­tic, par­tic­u­larly drinks bot­tles and cups that con­tain bisphe­nol A (BPA).

Cut stress

Stress leads to over­pro­duc­tion of cor­ti­sol, caus­ing fa­tigue, brain fog and driv­ing down mela­tonin to in­hibit sleep.

High cor­ti­sol lev­els also dis­rupt the con­ver­sa­tion be­tween your brain and ovaries, in­di­rectly telling the ovaries to de­crease pro­duc­tion of oe­stro­gen, pro­ges­terone and testos­terone. As a re­sult, the whole men­strual cy­cle goes hay­wire.

Mit­i­gate the ef­fects by get­ting out in na­ture once a day, ask­ing for help with chores, prac­tis­ing med­i­ta­tion or sched­ul­ing in a chance to catch up with friends.

Take mag­ne­sium

Mag­ne­sium sup­ports the ner­vous sys­tem and pro­vides a calm­ing ef­fect and aids in blood-sugar bal­anc­ing and PMS re­lief. It’s the go-to for all women, es­pe­cially those suf­fer­ing from poly­cys­tic ovary syn­drome. Mag­ne­sium, to­gether with B6, al­le­vi­ates anx­i­etyre­lated PMS symp­toms, as well as men­strual weight gain, breast ten­der­ness and cramps.

Pri­ori­tise qual­ity sleep

If you don’t sleep well, your cor­ti­sol might be too high or too low in the morn­ing. It sets you up for in­ter­mit­tent en­ergy slumps, sugar crav­ings and low moods.

Too much or too lit­tle mela­tonin – the night time hor­mone that helps dic­tate our cir­ca­dian rhythm – can im­pact ovu­la­tion, fer­til­ity and our men­strual cy­cles.

Be­gin a re­lax­ing rou­tine, make your bed­room as dark as pos­si­ble and re­duce your ex­po­sure to blue light from screens af­ter sun­set.

Get your thy­roid tested

If you’re hav­ing heavy or miss­ing pe­ri­ods, your thy­roid may be the key. Very low or very high thy­roid hor­mones can cause light, heavy, ir­reg­u­lar or non-ex­is­tent pe­ri­ods and dis­rupt ovu­la­tion.

If you sus­pect dys­func­tion, ask for com­pre­hen­sive blood tests that screen all of the thy­roid hor­mones, not just TSH and/or T4, which GPs usu­ally of­fer. Fix Your Pe­riod by Ni­cole Jardim is out now (£14.99, Ver­mil­ion).

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