Is it the Period? Or is it us?
“It all lies in the poop”, this is rightly said. If there was a statement with equal significance, it would read “it all lies in the period”. For women. Period.
In the light of the proud Oscar moment where “Period. End of Sentence” produced by Guneet Monga stresses on awareness & health of women resting on sanitation and hygiene, this article will highlight the significance & importance of the menstrual cycle itself.
The period is important. Period. It is important that it visits every single woman during her reproductive years every single month. Period. Without fail. Period.
It is distressing (to say in the least) to note the number of young urban women suffering from hormonal imbalances resulting in irregular periods, amenorrhea, PCOD and excessive bleeding. What is even more alarming is the age range they hail from, from as young as 13 to the majority between the ages of 18-32 years. What should have been a norm is becoming a relief statement for those who have escaped the tentacles of the period malfunction.
The problems are several but finger tip countable, thankfully.
Lack of sleep
Junking on processed food
Use of contraceptive pills
Deficiency of nutrients
Sleep is of penultimate importance. Urbanization has seen the new age women migrate, at 2am, from the bedroom to the living room with the blue light (from mobiles & tabs) and wide open eyes for company. Regulation of sleep is important for a healthy period. If one is truly serious about repairing her period, her stress and supposed stress-buster (smoking) must be shown the no entry board. Going cold turkey on smoking is the best way to give it up. De-addict yourself while you can.
A healthy period must make an appearance every 21-38 days. Must go through every step of a healthy menstrual cycle from the rise in estrogen levels to maturation of follicles to the formation of the egg and finally the birth of the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland (when progesterone rises). This perfect as a pea cycle stabilizes a woman’s hormones, her mood, endorses her spirit and keeps her feeling as good on the insides as she feels outside.
A healthy period regulates the optimal rise and fall of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and GABA taking primary care of a woman’s mental wellness, which is in jeopardy when the situation catapults.
The perfect pea is no longer visible and like a pack of cards, every aspect of the menstrual cycle takes a beating. And to make matters worse, it’s almost always a catch 22. Stress messes with the period and the messed up cycle drives the stress to new unseen heights. One takes the pill to regularize the period and then the pill increases the risk of not seeing a period without the pill. Mood swings, acne, heavy bleeding, anxiety and depression are unbecoming accompaniments.
This cycle needs to be reversed, broken, realigned and cycled in the right direction. How?
Pay attention to supplementation & lifestyle, ensuring that you take decisions regarding your health under the guidance of a medical practitioner.
Magnesium, B6, Vit D, B12, Iron, Zinc, Vit E and C – These nutrients are closely associated with the health of your period. Ensure their sufficiency
Professionally guided use of herbs like Ashwagandha and Chasteberry can help to regulate periods.
Exercise to de-stress. De-stress as if it were your job. Prioritize your to-dos and practice the art of regulating stress
Stop fuming, stop smoking. Smoking tends to reduce the follicular stage thus increasing the risk of anovulation (no egg formation) and a shorter period, states a study by the American journal of Clinical nutrition. Smoking may also be responsible for potential increase in cramps during periods.
Sleep 7-8 hours every night. This keeps the cortisol hormone in balance thus offering better regulation of the thyroid and female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Which in turn helps regularize periods.
Increase the consumption of good fats like virgin coconut oil, almonds, walnuts, ghee, coconut milk, flaxseeds and MCT oils. The steroid hormone duo, estrogen and progesterone need fats for it’s make-up. The increase in fats can also reduce insulin spikes better regulating the blood sugar levels which is conducive to a healthy period.
Sulphur rich foods like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can reduce estrogen dominance and regulate levels of progesterone.
And last of all but not in the least, make fermented foods like yoghurt, beet kvass, pickled vegetables and the like a part of your dining table culture. A good gut boosted by fermented foods has a momentous effect on mental wellness thus reducing stress and balancing hormones.
There’s more to be said but this is a start and enough of a start. Pay attention ladies, the world is yours if you will let yourselves have it! Period Health is pivotal to Women’s health and just must not be ignored.
Anupama Menon is a nutritionist and food coach based in Mumbai and Bangalore offering sustainable nutritional plans with 3 chEATs per week. To book an appointment call 9902060225 or follow her on Instagram @iamanupamamenon