Let’s talk periods
Angelique Panagos is a speaker, writer, total foodie and health crusader who specialises in hormonal health. She struggled with the ups and downs of premenstrual syndrome for years before learning to work with her natural cycle.
“Optimising my hormones has been a journey; a series of gentle and consistent changes over time,” she says. “A lifestyle that achieves hormonal balance is about consistency, not deprivation.” You can nd her online on her website (www. angeliquepanagos.com) or on social media (@angeliquepanagos).
All too often, we ignore our hormones, only stopping to give them a second glance when there’s something wrong. Perhaps you’ve suddenly started su ering with menstrual cramps, or you’ve broken out in spots before a big date. You might be feeling irritable or moody, or your skinny jeans are refusing to button up because you’re struggling with bloating and a slow but steady weight gain. We put these things down to yet another bad period, then we move on. But the thing is, our hormones are actually responsible for so much more than those dreaded premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms – they are our body’s very own chemical messengers. They work hard to make sure that we stay happy and healthy, and we need to return the favour and help them function at their best.
Without them, we couldn’t survive. I like to think of them as a symphony, with all sorts of body parts and systems (from the hypothalamus in the brain, right through to our ovaries) working together to form the orchestra. With help from our hormones, we know when we are hungry or full, we can unwind and sleep after an exhausting day, or perhaps get some va va voom in the bedroom! They also help us to run from a stressful or dangerous situation, and they are even responsible for the characteristics that make us gorgeously female – think those feminine curves, and the pitch of our voice.
However, like instruments in an orchestra, our hormones also happen to be pretty delicate. They work best together and, ideally, in balance – and once things fall out of sync
(or out of tune!), we can really start to su er. When our hormones are balanced, it’s like the harmonious sound of a beautiful and graceful Viennese waltz. Yet, when they are in chaos – as they often are for many of us, whether we’re aware of it or not – it’s more like having to listen to a at rendition of the hokey cokey.
Many of us approach our period with dread. Yet, I believe that we should embrace our femininity, and all that goes with it. Once we start to understand our cycle, it can bring us closer to that graceful balance. Menstruation (the bleed, also known as the menstrual phase) is just one stage of our cycle: the others include the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase and the luteal phase (explained on the opposite page). Each phase of this incredible cycle works in synergy with the others and plays a pivotal role every month of your reproductive years, gearing up for the main event – ovulation.