A woman`s menstrual cycle is like a barometer of her general health. We can tell a lot about how a woman is doing both physically and mentally through her menstrual symptoms.
Our bleed time is a time of release. We not only release our endometrium (our outer layer of womb lining) but we release all the emotional build-up of the month leading to that period.
If the month leading up to your period has been very hectic, demanding and emotionally taxing, you will feel it more at your bleed time. You may have an increase in cramps and discomfort, a heavier flow or indeed a missing bleed if it`s been particularly stressful. You may have more irritability in your pre-menstrual phase or feel more low in mood.
This is because when we are overwhelmed, the stress hormones that we release cause havoc with our reproductive systems and hormone health.
Think about it for a moment… If you were running away from a bear, your body wants to get your heart pumping strongly and your respiration to keep up. It wants you to move those legs as fast as you possibly can. It wants you to be alert enough to outwit the bear. The last thing it wants you to do in that situation is make a baby or sit down and eat a meal.
Your body diverts all its attention away from your reproductive hormone health, and your digestion. That`s why when you are living in a state of anxiety or overwhelm, you suffer from digestive problems and your menstrual cycles go a little wonky.
Yes, it`s most unlikely that you are going to come across a bear and need to run from it, but substitute that bear for anyone of the following and you are in the same situation :
Many of us encounter some or all of the above regularly and it has exactly the same effect. Your body will prioritise dealing with the situation that needs addressing and you will be living in a state of heightened adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones that you don`t want whizzing about in your body for too long because of their long term damaging effects on your health.
If you are not on any synthetic hormonal drugs (the birth control pill or the hormonal coil) your period will show you how you have been dealing with the previous month. It is a really valuable tool for your naturopath to discuss with you to assess how things are going. You can also be aware of this yourself and make changes to your lifestyle if you get a particularly uncomfortable bleed time.
When you do have your bleed, take a moment to mentally say goodbye to the stresses , arguments, self-doubts and emotional issues you have gone through in that month. Treat each cycle as a fresh start.
The way we think and focus has a massive effect on our hormonal health. Mindfulness is so popular because of the benefits it has on our adrenal responses. Whilst we are undertaking mindfulness activities, our attention is away from what has been bothering us and so we are giving our hormones a much needed break from all that cortisol and epinephrine that has been disrupting them.
So treat each period as a chance to re-birth yourself, to grow a new mind-set, to assess problems that need addressing and make important lifestyle and dietary changes. To distance yourself from anyone that has been causing you emotional upset or to lessen any burdens that have been put upon you.
There`s a reason why there`s an old saying about people “bleeding you dry”… Our periods are one of the first things that will show how we are allowing ourselves to be treated by others.
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Clinical Nutrition and Naturopathic Health
BA hons. NT. FNTP. AMNNA. Soc Nat
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