If you are reading this, I want to shed some light on a subject that often gets swept under the rug, and has many women suffering in silence, and struggling with their own version of hormone hell. Hormone imbalances can leave us feeling sick and tired of dreading this inevitable time of the month, and lead us in desperation to our doctor for a pill, or worse, surgery to correct period problems like heavy bleeding, uterine cysts, or fibroids.
Maybe you have to reorganize your life for 10 or more days every month because you feel so awful the week leading up to your period, and feel drained during your period, and don’t fully feel human until you’ve recovered a week after your period. This was me for many years. It was awful. I was at a point where there was only about a week out of the month that I felt somewhat normal without debilitating fatigue. I suffered from chronic migraines, acne, and heavy periods that left me dangerously anemic. In past blogs I have shared my story about being in complete Adrenal Burnout, with low cortisol. I believe it was this that started the cascade of other issues, because when we are highly stressed and our nervous system is in a chronic state of fight-or-flight mode, eventually our adrenal glands get tired, and can’t produce enough cortisol (stress hormone) and they start to take from our sex hormone progesterone. It is very common for a woman with low progesterone to also have low cortisol, and both need to be treated simultaneously to achieve results.
Sadly, many women will opt for hysterectomies or other unnecessary procedures to erase their symptoms, when there are other alternatives to treating these issues at the root. You can remove body parts, but this won’t correct the imbalance that started the problem in the first place. Sure, there are times when surgery is necessary, but I believe most times it is not, and it is an easy go-to quick fix to remove the problem when lifestyle changes, and holistic health care could have reversed the dis-ease at the source.
Maybe, like me, you have tried many things like supplements, changing your diet, taking medications, exercise, spent a fortune on alternative healthcare practitioners, and nothing has made a whole lot of difference, and you are frustrated and feeling hopeless. I totally get it. So many women struggle in silence, it’s not really something we talk about with our friends is it? If you are feeling at the end of your rope, please read on.
There is hope. You can feel better. You can heal yourself.
My journey through hormone imbalance, and complete adrenal burnout has been a really long and tough road. There were honestly times when I questioned if I would ever fully recover.
I have been determined to heal naturally, despite doctors telling me the only way to resolve my issues were through synthetic hormone therapy, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, or worse, surgery. I did not want to go there.
My mission is to empower and educate women to take their power back in all areas of their life, and that in doing so, these issues will resolve on their own! If you have opted for surgery, and are still experiencing issues, the hormone imbalance still needs to be addressed and diagnosed through proper testing.
Menstrual problems are related to Sacral Chakra issues. I found a great article explaining this and what to do here.
I felt inspired to write about a topic I have never written about before, specifically for women out there that are suffering greatly with premenstrual symptoms. PMS is labeled as a “syndrome” because there is no other way to label this time of the month, when many women experience a notable shift in their hormones, mood, coping abilities, and how they feel. Let me start by saying, there is nothing wrong with you, you are not crazy, and it is not your hormones! It is the relationship you have with yourself. That is where it begins.
As with any health issue, if our hormones are out of balance, we have to look within to find the answers. No pill or potion is going to cure what needs to be addressed at the emotional-soul level.
Instead of treating this natural and beautiful cycle of life as some sort of illness we are afflicted with, I want to invite you to see this time of the month differently, and to give you some direction toward discovering the underlying messages beneath your symptoms.
Common emotional symptoms that women report 7-10 days before their period starts are irritability, a short fuse, anger, rage, depression, feeling raw emotionally, crying more easily, and the feeling of needing to retreat from life altogether.
Let me start by saying that there is no pill that will cure your premenstrual agony. It may mask or cover up the symptoms, but the root issue will still be simmering beneath the surface, and it will get louder and louder until you pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you.
We are not a compartmentalized system, everything effects the other. Everything is connected. Our mental- emotional health effects our physical health.
So this is why it is so important to take a holistic approach when we are trying to heal ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically.
If you go to your doctor they will likely suggest synthetic hormone pills, or antidepressant medication to take away the symptoms. In some cases, antidepressants can be useful for some people, however for the majority of us, we can turn things around by dealing with our physical health, emotional-mental health, using food as medicine, daily exercise, discovering underlying food allergies and sensitivities, and getting specific testing done to determine what hormones are off balance.
I help women deal with their overall health, including hormone issues with my integrative approach to therapy. I assist them to get a handle on their emotional well-being, and reduce their overall stress load as a starting place. The goal is to return to wholeness.
I also address their primary relationships and determine if this could be a source of stress and anxiety that is feeding the physical symptoms – and more often than not, relationship discord and stress is a contributing factor.
I also assist them in making dietary shifts including omitting certain foods that are stressful to our bodies, such as sugar and caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods. I also start them out with a manageable exercise plan if they are new to exercise, and encourage them to reduce the intensity if they are over-exercising. All of these things combined have a cumulative effect, and will work over time to balance things out.
I am not going to lie and say this is easy, because it isn’t! Doing this work of personal and lifestyle transformation takes determination to get well, and passion for learning and growing. It takes effort, but in the end it is your life, and what better place to invest your time, energy and resources than on your own health and well – being?
You have to want it so badly, that you will do whatever is within your power to create better health. You will invest money even when you tell yourself you can’t afford it, you will educate yourself about nutrition, and seek support from health practitioners that can guide you along the path. Where there is a will, there is a way. If you want it bad enough you will find a way. If not, you will always find an excuse.
I also encourage women to record their cycles and symptoms in a journal so that they can learn to tune in to their body and its changing needs.
This time of the month is the perfect inner-barometer for how well we are caring for our whole being the month prior. Pay attention, and you will see a pattern of worsening symptoms if you had a stressful month, little self-care time, had a few too many late nights, junk food, or a few too many drinks.
What you do the month prior to your period
will effect how you feel premenstrually,
and how severe your periods are.
The bottom line: take good care of yourself every day if you want to improve how you feel! It is about changing your overall approach to your lifestyle and habits.
Where other times during the month I am able to brush off, deep breathe away, meditate on, walk off and journal through – and just soldier on with day-to-day life, I am not able to during this highly intuitive time of the month. It took me awhile to connect the dots, and start to pay attention to my emotional state even more during this time. I encourage you to practice this as well. Journal your cycles and pay attention to what comes up 7-10 days before your period. It may surprise you that certain themes come up. Things you can no longer tolerate, and the need to reassess things. You will know it, because it is intensified, and you can not ignore your soul’s messages. They get louder and louder until you hit a “breakdown to breakthrough” moment. What needs to change in your life? Inquire during this time and see what comes up. And trust it. Your journal will be your greatest tool in discovering the themes in how you feel emotionally, what pains come up from the past, what problems in your marriage come up repeatedly.
Our flow time is a time of releasing and letting go. You may find that you have an emotional release that feels like it is coming from the depths of your soul during this time, if you are allowing yourself to feel your feelings that is. And just know that this is HEALTHY! It is healthy to FEEL! So many women feel shame around their heightened sensitivity and emotion – we need to stop this now, today. It ls literally making us sick to deny how we feel.
It is not one thing that is going to heal you, but the accumulation of caring for all aspects of your being. A food intolerance test and avoiding foods you are sensitive to is important, so is eating a nutrient dense organic diet, exercise, having a spiritual practice and understanding of energy medicine and metaphysical principles and how it relates to health. But just one or two of these are not going to be enough to heal dis-ease. It is the whole picture. Now I am not going to tell you that changing everything at one is necessary, in fact I don’t recommend overhauling everything at once. Instead start somewhere, start to build the momentum toward feeling better, and add things in as you go along. It is all about balance.
If you are experiencing physical and emotional symptoms that are heightened during your premenstrual time, here are 4 things I recommend that you do to get started:
- 7-10 days before your period, start to increase your self-care and relaxation practices. Become more introspective, and go within. Take time alone. You can get my free Women’s Guide to Vibrant Health here This guide will show you how to make self-care a priority toward improving your health. What comes up emotionally during this time needs our attention. Journal, have lots of reflective time, meditate, get into nature, talk through your experience with a trusted friend or professional. These will all serve you greatly to begin your healing process.
- If you are able to invest in your health I highly recommend seeing a naturopath to get a definitive diagnosis of what is going on hormonally through saliva testing, as well as having a food allergy panel testing done through a blood test. These two tests will show a whole lot regarding what is going on inside your body, and focusing on these 2 things alone will transform your health incredibly, if you adhere to the protocol prescribed, and avoid foods that you are sensitive to.
- Feel what you feel. During this time of the month, our feelings of what is not working in our lives are emphasized, and impossible to ignore. You may also find when you begin to pay attention, that the same things come up for you every single month at the exact same time of your cycle! Whatever it is, be grateful your body’s intuitive wisdom is working to protect you, and guide you toward what you need to heal and address in your life. Allow yourself to cry, feel irritable, frustrated, sad …release it. Allow it to move through you. Don’t stuff, judge it, or avoid feeling it, you will only make it worse. And your body will just get louder and louder to get your attention!
- Buy a beautiful moon time journal specifically for recording your emotions, physical symptoms, and what comes up for you 7-10 days before and during your period. You will find great insights with this practice. And it helps to be in tune with where our body is at during the month, and phases of our cycle. Alternatively there are apps that you can track this in the same way, I like the old school paper journals myself, but do what feels right for you.
- Pay attention to your nutrition. This is a whole other subject I could go into depth with. But sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods mess with our hormones! So use these in small amounts. Also avoid pesticide sprayed produce, go for organic as much as possible, as well as conventional animal products that contain hormones and antibiotics. This includes dairy products, which should be consumed in small amounts as it can be inflammatory and is difficult to digest for many people.
- Subdue your Stress. When we are chronically stressed, our adrenals glands which pump out our stress hormone cortisol eventually become depleted, and eventually start taking from our Progesterone. When this happens, you will start to see worsening PMS and period problems.
Out-of-control stress is surely part of the picture no matter what your health symptoms may be. Reducing our stress load is crucial to the healing process and improving PMS and period problems.
- See a holistic centered therapist that can help you address areas of your life that you can’t see clearly. Emotional healing is essential to the process. It is always helpful to have guidance and support – we are not meant to do this all alone!
- Exercise. Walk, get out into nature, do some yoga that is safe to do during menstruation. Avoid strenuous activity during your flow time. If you are having hormone troubles, excessive exercise is depleting and stresses the body further. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Exercise from a place of love for your body in ways you enjoy.
- Invest in care from a Naturopath. They can test for specific imbalances and put you on a natural protocol of supplementation to support your body while you are working on the other areas I have addressed here.
- Make time for a spiritual practice that grounds you, and and allows you to be present to what is going on within you.
Remember it is the whole picture, you will no resolve this by doing one thing, and ignoring the rest. You also don’y have to do it all at once. Just start somewhere. Seek support, follow your intuition, start putting yourself at the top of the priority list, speak up for your needs and ask for what you want, practice radical self-care.
If you would like to further your study of the mind-body-emotional-spiritual connection to your health and cycles, I highly recommend:
- The 7 Stages of Power and Healing by Carolyn Myss
- Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup
They are truly two of the best resources of mind-body healing that I am aware of.
If you have any questions, please email info(at)leanneoaten.com. I am always happy to help.