What your period can tell you about your health – your report card
Whether you get your period every 28 days on the dot, or you have unpredictable or painful cycles, this is one way your body is cluing you into your overall health status.
Your period is like a report card, either reporting that you have fantastic hormonal balance, a nourished and well functioning system with easy, smooth, predictable periods, or that you may have a deeper health issue resulting in a not-so-great report card with irregularity, cramps, pain, nausea, severely erratic moods.
Knowing your cycle is actually a wonderful tool that women get to have to help keep track of their health status, a monthly report on if they should pay a bit more attention to their health and their bodies.
Whether I have a female client come to me to get help with their cycles or if they have other health concerns, I am always asking them about their periods because this can give me valuable clues into how their body is functioning.
Thyroid health, gut health, stubborn weight, fatigue and muscle weakness, gluten intolerance, poor carbohydrate metabolism… these can all be factors or symptoms that can affect or result from hormone imbalance and a messed up cycle.
We so easily think that horrible cramps, bloating, drastic mood swings are just a “normal” part of being female and having your period. So much so that if you are angry or acting off others may joke to you that it is “your time of the month.” But remember that “normal” and “common” are very different terms. Yes, it may be common that many women experience symptoms around their time of the month, but that sure as heck does not make it normal.
Why we need to mention hormonal birth control
Now what tends to happen conventionally with these issues? You probably get prescribed a synthetic hormonal birth control, a bandaid approach not actually exploring the underlying cause of your issues. There are other reasons for taking birth control (as in to prevent getting pregnant), but here I am specifically going to talk about the problem of taking birth control to try to "fix" other issues.
Many women are on birth control to “treat” their irregular or painful cycles, however this is not actually addressing any of the real issues as to why there are problems in the first place. You are often just taking dangerous synthetic hormones that may help cover your natural symptoms (while typically causing many other side effects), this can result in further breakdown of your health and a frustrating amount of time spent to try to recover from. For example, thyroid health is critical to a women’s hormones and period health. It is also a dangerously ignored or very lightly brushed over topic when women look to get support. If you are on hormonal birth control and your thyroid is the root issue of your problems, you are not going to be healing, your thyroid health is likely further degrading.
You do not have a period when you are taking hormonal birth control and suppressing ovulation. Let me repeat that, you are NOT having a period. Yes, you do bleed, most likely in a cyclic fashion that would be similar to a healthy hormonal cycle, but you are not having a real period. You must understand that difference before we go any further.
The good news is that more and more women are realizing that trying to cover up their period symptoms with the pill are just concealing what is really going on in their body. Because if your thyroid is not functioning well, if you are still eating an inflammatory diet, whatever may be the actual underlying cause to your period problems are still there, the problems will only get worse. Synthetic hormones can not fix this, but can help cover them up for years as your problems grow deeper roots and become more difficult to naturally correct.
Why do I care so much? Because I have experienced this first hand. Before I knew better, I tried to ignore what my body was telling me, and unfortunately, it has taken me a very long time to heal from this. But I’ve learned it’s not about fighting against my body, but actually listening and working with it.
If your report card is not giving you an A+ I urge you to think about what you body may be needing from you. Although healing naturally can take its time, the benefits are worth all the effort. This approach is gentle, it has no harsh, long-term side effects, you can support not only your hormones and fertility, but the health of your entire body and your future. And once you know how to fully support your body, you can do this forever.
3 steps to take now for a healthy period
1)Don’t put it off any longer.
There is no magic pill and when you work naturally it can take time. If you have been on the pill or hormonal birth control for a long time (I know many of you, it has been decades) then consider that you may have carved in deep patterns within your system that can take a while to correct the course of. If you are considering getting pregnant in the next few years than I am specifically looking at you!
2) Track your cycles
If you are in your natural cycles now then it is a good idea to get a clear picture as to what is going on. There are tons of period tracker apps out there you can get that can make it easy to input your data as your cycle moves a long. Take this even a step further to track regular ovulation by monitoring your morning basal body temperature.
3) Create a healthy lifestyle
If you are needing help with your cycles the first thing I am going to recommend is that you create a healthy foundation. This includes eating real, whole foods, moderating your alcohol and sugar intake, getting quality sleep and getting regular exercise. If you are a newbie to this start by making small goals each week, whether its scheduling 3 workouts, cooking more at home, or staying hydrated, every small step counts.