The majority of my Clients are women and a high percentage of these women come to me with PMT or some kind of menstrual disorder, and this can range from debilitating and disabling, to inconvenient and uncomfortable and everything in between. An increasing number of women I meet are unaware of their natural cycle and how it affects all of them and how all of them affects their cycle. There is so much women can do relatively easily and cheaply to help alleviate symptoms, but it all starts with a knowledge of our internal female rhythms. You might dismiss this as ‘New Age’ hippy crap , but it’s actually fundamental to any true understanding of how to effectively manage our health as women.
Most of us learned all we know of our reproductive cycles from studying Biology at school and therefore our knowledge may be at best perfunctory! We know that we produce an egg, which gets released and if not fertilised it, and the lining of our wombs gets released in menstrual blood each month. These days when Biology is no longer a compulsory subject at many schools, some young girls are not even in possession of these rudimentory facts. What is rarely, if ever taught is how these internal activities affect us in other ways – physically and emotionally. How our choices in what we eat affect us, how well our bodies are working at eliminating waste or toxins, whether our Mothers took The Pill or not and how we lead our lives can all affect our menstrual cycle and in turn be affected by it. Perhaps most importantly of all, there is no teaching of how wonderful we women are in our ability to generate and produce new life, what an amazing thing our bodies do every month and how we should honour and celebrate this. Instead too many girls are bought up feeling shame and disgust at their bodies and what comes out of them. They learn early on how to suppress this and subvert it for convenience and how to largly ignore it unless it shouts loud and clear PLEASE MAKE TIME!!
In many, many less materially rich societies, a womans cycle is celebrated and honoured with different foods, rituals and time off from the usual daily chores. I read an article recently about a tradition in the middle east, of women who are menstruating all living together in a community with none of the daily chores. They could relax, sleep more, eat and enjoy the company of other women. Some critics in the article condemned this as isolating and ostracising the women, but in doing so they have completely missed the point! The intention is not to punish but to honour the fact that women are doing important internal work and for them they could do what their bodies were urging them to do – slow down, be quieter, more introspective, not have sex, eat delicious foods and not over exert themselves – what’s not to like! (There’s a fabulous book set in Biblical times that explores this ‘The Red Tent’ by Anita Diamant – a work of fiction but drawing from many factual customs – read it in your pre-menstrual week!!)
These days in western society, women (and men), are expected to continue their fast paced, multi-tasking lives without any interruption. Any feelings of illness, exhaustion, changeable moods, irritability, weepiness, sore breasts, cramping, headaches etc etc can not be allowed to get in the way of anything – the Show Must Go On!! Women have become completely divorced from their bodies and their natural cycle and therefore what they need at any time during that cycle, to remain healthy and well. We know and understand that the definition of stress is being forced to do something or behave in a way that is contrary to our natural way of being. So therefore, most women are stressed physically and emotionally because they are not supporting their own natural internal rhythms. On top of this due, to various pharmaceutical drugs eg painkillers, unhealthy foods eg sugar, alcohol consumption, and other forms of toxicity, womens routes of elimination -(Liver, Kidneys & bowels)- don’t work properly. So just before, during and after a menstrual bleed when there are extra bits of rubbish that the body needs to process, the Liver, in particular, gets overloaded and struggles to do its job. This contributes to a build up of toxins in the whole system which produces symptoms like headaches, cramps, skin irritations, tiredness and irritability all of which will be made far worse if the bowels are not moving as well.
It is often very difficult for many women to truelly and fully honour their natural internal rhythms due to work/job/life constraints. However, we could all be a lot more mindful of what we need at any given time of our cycles and for example, ensure that we get to bed earlier, limit alcohol, sugar etc, eat more regularly and just slow the pace down a notch during days 22 to 28 of our cycle – the pre-menstrual week. Trying to schedule more energetic committments or activities during days 8-14 could pay dividends as we are naturally at our peak during this time and more outgoing and sociable. Keeping a diary of how we feel, both physically and emotionally, and including things like sugar cravings or appetite changes will soon show your own patterns, and marking these patterns on your calender will increase your awareness that any particular week you need to mind yourself more than usual and not be burning the candle at both ends.
This useful graphic shows some of the symptoms of PMT and how they relate to the stages of our cycles – ofcourse its only a rough guide and not all women have a 28 day cycle.
There are many reasons why women seem to be having more and more difficulties and pain with their periods including the results of several generations of synthetic hormones from The Pill, HRT, and other natural hormone disruptors. There have been several studies out recently on the long term effects of the contraceptive Pill and in my practice I see a high degree of problems from The Mirena Coil which pumps Progesterone into the system upsetting the delicate natural balance of oestrogen & progesterone. (I find it interesting that very few GP’s seem to be offering the ‘old fashioned’ coil that doesn’t pump hormones into the system and yet it is still available.) The first side effect of too much Progesterone is no more menstrual bleeding, which plays straight into the whole convenience, don’t ever stop ethos of society, but plays havoc with womens whole delicate system and alters the entire metabolism. What younger women tend not to think about is the effects of synthetic hormones on firstly their fertility, and secondly how they do menopause. Generally speaking, the less synthetic hormone use in a womans history the less problems experienced with both periods and menopause.
There are very limited options available to women who want to pursue pharmaceutical medicines approach to PMT symptoms – by and large it will be more synthetic hormones and pain killers and sleeping pills. But there are lots and lots of options available to those women open to a more natural approach. Making changes to Diet, increasing Exercise – even just walking, fresh air and enough good quality sleep can do wonders, and particularly if you know when you most need it. But for me – and my Clients – Homeopathy excells since it always looks at the whole woman, her entire history including her Mothers history and it has thousands of remedies to draw upon.
So if you are suffering from monthly painful cramping, extremely heavy bleeding, prolonged bleeding or no bleeding, unacceptable mood swings, prolonged irritability or anger, unexplained weepiness, headaches or absolute exhaustion please book a consultation with me. Together we can get to the bottom of why it’s happening, alleviate symptoms and start to re-balance your endocrine system so you do not have to experience this any more. Please Make Time for yourself to understand what you need to be well and not only will you feel better, but you may be changing how future generations of women in your family experience their menstrual cycle!