3 ways your period talks to you (6min read)
Periods can feel like waiting for the arrival of dooms day. But did you know our periods reveal so much about our health? In the same way body temperature, pulse, heart rate and blood pressure are vital signs that communicate imbalance, periods are also a vital sign. We just need to know what to look out for. Whilst it’s difficult to define what a ‘normal’ period looks like to every woman, here’s 3 ways to spot whether you’re on the right track.
1.The colour of your blood. Period blood can range from really light red (really low oestrogen) to dark brown (excess oestrogen/ too little progesterone). What we’re aiming for is a nice vibrant red colour (like cranberry juice). Dark red or brown blood may also indicate slow and sluggish circulation and poor gut health. The fresher the blood, the more vibrant it will be.
2. The intensity & duration of your flow. What you describe as a ‘heavy’, may be seen as light to someone else. On average women lose between 30-60ml of blood per cycle. To put that in other terms, that’s roughly 3-6 table spoons of blood per cycle. If you find yourself changing sanitary wear every hour, that’s excessive and could suggest oestrogen dominance which makes the lining of the uterus thicker than it should be. This means when your uterine muscles contract, they shed extra tissue, meaning more blood is lost. Excess bleeding may also be linked to conditions such as fibroids or endometriosis. Be sure to check with a healthcare professional to rule out any chronic uterine conditions. In a normal cycle, it’s typical to change every 3-5 hours depending on flow. The type of sanitary wear used may also influence how often you change. I’ll list some alternatives to mainstream ones below.
It’s normal to have your heaviest flow in the first three days. If you’re bleeding heavily from day five onward without it ceasing, then get that checked by your physician/healthcare provider, as that is not normal.
3. The severity of your pain. Now, this is a tricky one. Pain is a very subjective thing as we all have different pain thresholds. However, if you find the pain so intense you’re having to miss work, passing out or going to A&E, then that’s definitely not normal. Intense pain may indicate too much oestrogen to progesterone hormones. The thicker the lining of uterus, the more contracting takes place, which leads to cramping and discomfort.
Tips to bring your hormones into balance
Increase foods such as leafy greens, seeds/nuts, fruits and vegetables which are high in fibre and help support a healthy gut. Fibre helps to bind to excess oestrogen and toxins and safely eliminates them from the body. Healthy fats such as nuts or seed/nut butters, coconut or avocado help increase progesterone levels which we need for a healthy cycle.
Increase warm spices to reduces stagnation and poor circulation which can cause heavy or dark ‘old’ blood. For example cardamom, black pepper, cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper and fennel. Teas such as ginger, chamomile, peppermint and cinnamon, and star anise help increase circulation and blood flow to the uterus which helps keep blood vibrant and flowing properly. These herbs have also been shown to reduce pain and as they help support and increase blood flow.
Try changing your sanitary wear from mainstream to cotton or reusable. Mainstream brands tend to soak their sanitary wear in chemicals such as dioxin. This gets absorbed into the bloodstream which increases the amount of synthetic oestrogen, again adding to the thickness of the inner lining (endometrium). Try using cotton pads/tampons, bamboo reusable or Moon cups and see how you get on.
You can track your cycle and know what you can do to prevent PMS through apps such as Clueapp, iPeriod, Kindara and MyFlo.
You can positively affect your period through small changes, you just have to be willing to listen to it.
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