Regulating your period may be a lot simpler than you think.
Though it is a test of patience (changes can take anywhere from one month to two years depending on what you’re dealing with), what’s missing from many hormone-health recommendations are the basics!
Wellness culture wants you to think that your hormone problems can be solved with supplements and superfood powders and tinctures and potions. Clients often come to me with a laundry list of pills that they’re taking and when I ask how they created their regimen, they usually respond with something along the lines of “I read about it online.”
I get it! We often have to fend for ourselves due to dismissiveness from doctors, lack of health insurance, budget, etc. I’ve definitely been influenced on Instagram many times, and have tried lots of these things too!
But if you don’t have the basics in place, you might just be wasting money.
Back to basics
Are you eating enough?
Do your meals have a good balance of the three macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates)?
Are you drinking enough water?
Going to the bathroom regularly?
Moving your body?
All the ashwagandha in the world isn’t going to help if the answer is NO to these fundamental aspects of your health.
How to regulate your menstrual cycle
As fun as it is to have a cabinet full of well-branded bottles and smoothie add-ins, they’re not going to offer much in the way of hormone balance without a good foundation in place. Once you have the basics down, then you can start fine-tuning based on what symptoms still remain. Your wallet (and your uterus) will thank you.
Stabilize your blood sugar
Blood sugar regulation is fundamental to hormone balance and the health of your menstrual cycle. You can help keep it stable with:
- balanced meals (the elements of a balanced meal are fat, fiber, and protein)
- eating regularly (not going for long periods of time between meals other than when you’re sleeping)
- not limiting your portions based on an amount someone else decided for you
- following your intuition and listening to your hunger and fullness signals
Drinking enough water is also important for circulating nutrients and hormones around the body, supporting your pathways of elimination, and hydrating your muscles (pro tip: the uterus is a muscular organ).
We eliminate used and excess hormones through our stool. If you’re constipated (which can happen with dehydration), estrogen can reabsorb into the body and contribute to estrogen dominance. This is a common contributor to many period-related issues.
Manage your sleep and stress
Sleep and stress go hand-in-hand because one often impacts the other. Going without sleep can create mental and physical stress, and on the flip side, stress can lead to trouble falling or staying asleep.
We require sleep not just for energy, but for the repair and rejuvenation processes that happen overnight. This includes brain cleansing, liver detoxification, and gut repair, among many others.
Stress throws a wrench in the gears of our repair processes as well. We’ve evolved so that coping with stress is our body’s #1 priority, and our energy is diverted away from things we don’t need for immediate survival, like digestion and reproduction. It’s a major reason for hormone imbalances, and zeroing in on the sources of stress in your life can really make a difference in your PMS and other period problems.
To learn more about the stress-sleep cycle, see my workshop, Sleeping Your Way to Less Stress.
Move your body
Rather than following a strict fitness routine, I like to look at exercise as a “choose-your-own-adventure” kind of thing based on where you are in your cycle. Energy levels vary day to day for those of us who menstruate, so daily high-intensity workouts aren’t always going to feel good, and they can create physical stress the more you resist your cyclical needs.
Less than 40% of participants in exercise studies are women. Certain workouts are simply better for men’s constitutions, and the blanket recommendation for everyone based on male-centered research can add to your period problems. So keep that in mind as you try to release yourself from the idea that you MUST go hard all the time.
You can still have a routine — I recommend scheduling time to work out, but not deciding what that workout will be until you wake up and check in with yourself. You still have the container to move your body, and can do so in a way that aligns with your needs. This becomes intuitive over time as you get to know your cycle and personal rhythms.
You already know what to do!
The simple things that *you already know* about must be in place before adding more complicated layers of herbs and supplements to your routine (they’re called “supplements” for a reason). Food, water, sleep, exercise — pick one to focus on this week and see how you feel.