Let’s talk pe­ri­ods

In the Moment - - Wellbeing - Words: An­gelique Pana­gos

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).

An­gelique Pana­gos

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.

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