If your period is painful, it’s a sign something needs attention – the menstrual cycle is a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual barometer for the wellbeing of a woman.
Culturally we’ve become so accustomed to surviving rather than thriving, that many people – men and women – believe it is normal for a period to be physically painful and difficult and awash with irrational mood swings. SO much so that a woman’s bleed is often referred to as that “dreaded time of the month”. What so many women (and by extension all the people in her life) are missing out on, is the experience, magic and ease of a healthy menstrual cycle.
Yes, menstrual cramps are common. Common doesn’t mean normal (or healthy) though. It is an unfortunate sign of our times, and our current medical system (largely constructed by men), that there is so little understanding, honouring and appropriate care for women’s health and wellbeing. There are many reasons for painful periods – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. One or combo may be the reason for any individual woman.
A Healthy Menstrual Cycle
A healthy menstrual cycle has a regular cadence (similar to the moon cycle, give or take a couple of days), tangible variations in energy (at times feeling more introverted, at time more extroverted for example), minimal if any premenstrual symptoms and results in a pain free bleed of bright red blood. Menstruation offers an invitation to slow down, connect in and experience the magic of a time when your sensitivity and intuition are the strongest they will be all month. A time to receive messages / downloads / intuitive knowledge. It is a powerful time when a woman is an oracle, should she create AND be given the space to rest.
Premenstrual symptoms are lights on your dashboard, drawing attention to aspects of your wellbeing that need attention. Symptoms commonly experienced are breast swelling and or tenderness, cyclical breast lumps, fluid retention, changes in bowel habits, bloating, skin breakouts, immune disturbances (the time you’re most likely to get an infection or for chronic inflammatory conditions to flare up), changes in mood ranging from mild to severe. The causes of such symptoms can be
- Physiological: such as oestrogen dominance, constipation resulting in oestrogen retention, disruptions in your gut microbiome responsible for metabolising hormones, exposure / accumulation of mould mycotoxins or xeno-oestrogens from fragrances and or plastics, or nutrient deficiencies such as iodine, zinc or magnesium)
- Psychoemotional: a result of what hasn’t been said, that needed to be said throughout the month – to voice your needs and or boundaries. Premenstrually thanks to drops in oestrogen, the capacity to filter or suppress these things is limited, so it will often all spill out at once if not spoken and dealt with at the time it occurred.
Painful uterine contractions are a result of inflammation and or stagnant blood (this may be indicated by dark red / brown blood rather than bright red blood, and or blood clots, for example). A few common contributors to inflammation and stagnation include:
- An inflammatory diet (too much sugar / carbs / processed food / alcohol etc) – what the majority of the western population eats these days.
- Overloaded liver burden (e.g. from excess sugar, alcohol, artificially fragranced household and body care products etc)
- Levels of thyroid hormone strongly impact menstrual health.
- shame around sexuality, being a woman or having experienced shame inducing abuse – sexual or otherwise.
- nutrient deficiencies (like Mg or B6)
- oestrogen dominance, xeno-oestrogen exposures (e.g. from perfumes & other fragrant chemicals, plastics etc), or inhibitions of oestrogen detoxification and elimination pathways (even constipation can have a major impact here).
- Part of our gut microbiome is called the oestrobolome because of its roles in metabolising oestrogen. With so many dietary and environmental stressors impacting our microbiome, the disruption of the balance of microbes in our gut also has a major influence on regulating our oestrogen balance and how we experience our menstrual cycles.
- Sedentary lifestyle
- And of course stress, circadian rhythm and sleep quality are big players in menstrual health as well.
As always, our exquisitely intelligent bodies are in constant communication with us, hoping we will listen to its whispers so it doesn’t have to scream. Our menstrual cycles are an incredibly powerful barometer to help us bring more harmony, rhythm, routine, rest and balance into our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When we listen, our menstrual cycles will guide us home to where we thrive, and as an added bonus those around us reap the gifts of us living in tune with ourselves.