Over 40 million women in the United States alone struggle with hormonal issues, meaning lots of us are struggling with painful periods, infertility, PMS, anxiety, excess weight and low energy. Sound depressing? It doesn’t have to be.
Today we’re getting back to basics and turning to our friend Alisa Vitti of Flo Living, better known as the hormone whisperer to chat all about that time of the month. Alisa is an incredible functional nutritionist and holistic health counselor that helps women live their best and most powerful lives with their health (and hormones!) as the foundation. We’ll let her take it from here.
Ever since I started the period club in the 6th grade, I have been fascinated with everything that goes on with my body every month. I want to know every nook and cranny of how my hormones work, what my period means, and what to eat so that I can look and feel my best.
Menstruation is an overlooked, underutilized vital sign and just like blood pressure can tell us much about the state of our health. When your period goes missing, you know that something is amiss, but there are also many other, less obvious indicators we can observe that will give us useful information about our overall health.
The appearance of your menstrual blood and the duration of your period can reveal a hormonal imbalance that will lead to other health issues. It’s possible to heal all hormonal imbalances and their resulting symptoms by addressing diet and lifestyle.
Here we help you decode this important vital sign and start working towards a healthier menstrual cycle.
What’s a normal menstrual cycle?
The ideal menstrual cycle is 5-7 days, and starts and ends with a bright happy cranberry color and is the consistency of jello mix that hasn’t set yet (medium viscosity, not too thin, not too thick) and occurs every 28-30 days.
There are many dietary and lifestyle reasons why this cycle gets thrown off for us women. Sometimes is a one or two-month situation, and sometimes cycle issues can last years. I want you to observe your cycle every month as a barometer of how well your diet and lifestyle are supporting your hormones. If your cycle isn’t as I described above then you’ve got to immediately make diet changes to get your cycle back to a healthy flow.
Interpreting the color of your period.
Here’s a guide for you to use for interpreting the color of your cycle every month and my favorite fixes for each to bring you quickly back to good.
Brown, spotty stains to start YOUR PERIOD
Has your period started? What is that brown stuff exactly? Should you count this day as day one?
That brown stuff is old oxidized blood that didn’t make it out of your uterus last cycle. This is caused by low levels of progesterone. Low progesterone is the trigger for many period-related problems. You may also struggle to ovulate regularly in addition to having the odd coloration and you may also develop irregular cycles, or PCOS.
- The herb vitex is a great treatment for this issue as it helps the pituitary gland make more Luteinizing hormone indirectly supporting your progesterone production.
- Eating eggs with the yolk contains progesterone precursors.
- Taking extra B6 will get those levels up and help your period start the cranberry red color you’re meant to see on day one.
Heavy Bleeding with Clots
Are you changing your pad or tampon once an hour? Do you have special sheets for that time of the month? Do you have large clots that are dark purple in color?
Specifically, you have elevated estrogen levels. Estrogen builds the lining of your uterus. If you’re eating a diet that prevents your liver from breaking down this hormone, it can build up and wreak havoc on your cycle. In addition to the heavy bleeding and clots, you may also struggle with endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts, or polyps.
- Milk thistle is an herb that helps detoxify the liver and helps even out estrogen.
- Learning uterine massage technique via an experienced practitioner will help uterine congestion and lessen clotting.
- Increasing the amount of water you drink and eating more leafy greens like collards and kale will assist the estrogen detox process.
- Take liquid chlorophyll to boost iron in your blood and deal with the anemia that typically develops from chronic heavy bleeding.
Very short periods, very light bleeding, skipped periods
Is it coming? Spotting for several days? A short period (less than 3 days in length) and only light bleeding can indicate low estrogen levels. Your hormones are made from the food you eat, so your low estrogen is likely due to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies from improper and extreme dieting as well as from adrenal burnout.
- Eat protein – hormones are made from amino acids – you can’t get your estrogen up if you can’t make enough of it from your food!
- Eat fat – especially omega 3s – which helps stabilize hormone production in the body.
Super short cycles (if you’re bleeding twice or more within a 28-36 day cycle)
Didn’t you just have your period last week? Does it seem like you are constantly starting your period? This can indicate a sluggish thyroid even though you might be within normal range on your blood work.
- Try supplementing with Gaia Herbals Thyroid Support as a start.
- Make sure your salt contains iodine to support your thyroid.
- Eat sea veggies – thyroid happy food!