I’ve been on a period kick recently. Weird, right? As a person who struggles with painful periods, I’ve become desperate for natural solutions for the pains, PMS, and problems that come along with being a menstratour. So, I’ve spent the last few weeks filling my brain with all the information I could find about our cycles. And wow, I was not disappointed. Friend, if you too struggle with your period, let me share a few things I’ve been learning. And hey, by the end of this post I might convince you to be on a period kick, too.
If you’re anything like me, you might think of your period as a one-week bother with a side of PMS (a big side, at that). But your cycle consists significantly more than PMS and bleeding. A woman’s menstruation process is actually a month-long cycle of various phases and hormonal changes. Our cycles go beyond bleeding and cramping. It involves our sleep, diet, emotions, energy, libido, cravings, mood, interest, and much more.
If we aren’t educated on our body's menstrual cycle, we won’t realize the positive changes we can make to our periods- naturally. It’s time to expand our view of our period.
Let’s jump in!
The Basic Breakdown
Let’s start with what’s actually happening in our body. As a fellow menstrator, I’m sure you’re well-aware of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) symptoms that begin about a week before your period. But did you know that our body is actually going through different week-long phases the entire month?
These are the four phases of our cycle:
Menstruation- 5-7 days when you are bleeding
Follicular phase- 5-7 days after you stop bleeding
ovulation- 5-7 days
Luteal phase- 5-7 days before bleeding (PMS)
During each of these phases, our hormones are rising and falling at different rates. The major hormones are the estrogen hormone, progesterone hormone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH).
Understanding the different phases might bring an “ah-ha” moment to seemingly-odd symptoms throughout the month such as cravings, high body temperature, and a rise in energy levels.
Check out these posts to learn more about the four phases of our cycle and the effects of each hormone:
Because of the changes in our hormonal levels, our body needs different nutrients at different times. When I first learned about the complexity of the different dietary needs, I was so overwhelmed. But don’t give up! I encourage you to take a look at this chart by Holistic Hormone Nutrition (@composednutrition) and see if there’s 1-2 takeaways you can start with.
Check out this post for more information on how to fuel your body during each phase of the cycle.
Want to podcast it?
If you’re wanting to learn more, check out this podcast by Jordan Lee Dooley. This has been my favorite resource so far! Jordan interviews a period expert and they talk about everything you need to know about your period.
Instagram accounts to follow:
Follow these accounts for regular content about all things natural periods!
@thefloacademy - Teaching you how to master your monthly flo, so you can have better periods.
@berrionlberry - Period educator and practitioner
@clueapp - This is the period tracker app I use
@scienceofessentials - If you’re an essential oil gal, you need to check out this page. Specifically check out her highlight called “Woman’s cycle” for a easy breakdown of the four phases
Is my period an excuse for being moody?
Now that we’ve chatted about the science behind our period, let’s end with some food for thought.
“Is my period an excuse for being moody?”
As someone with many mood swings during PMS, I’ve wrestled with this question a lot. Although, I’ve realized I might be asking this question in the wrong way.
The problem in this question begins with it’s terminology. The word “excuse” makes me think of laziness, shame, or a cop-out. Although, if we understand our cycle correctly, those words should NOT be associated with our period.
So instead of framing this conversation with the word excuse, let’s talk about expectations.
It is unfair towards our bodies to expect the same energy, productivity, and sociability during PMS. That’s not just my option, that's research. Your hormones are falling and your body is losing nutrients. Not only are you experiencing physical symptoms, but emotional symptoms as well. And that is something to be recognized and honored.
So sis, give yourself permission to lower your expectations for yourself. We must see our period being an important contributing factor towards our mood. You might not feel like your normal, cheery self and that’s okay.
It’s equally important to remember that the way we feel and the way we respond to that feeling are two very different things. Feeling irritated and cranky while PMSing is valid. But choosing to act out towards other people with those emotions is not. Again, give yourself grace and patience and learn the best ways you can cope with these emotions in a healthy way.
p.s: On my blog, I have a post about holistic period tips. If you’re looking for more practical tips, I got you girl! (https://www.myholisticheart.com/post/10-holistic-habits-for-your-period)