Hormones are not to blame for your period problems
I recently spoke with a woman who told me she hadn’t had a period for three months.
This is something I see regularly in my clinic.
The female hormonal system is intelligent and sensitive.
Hormones are part of a biological system that includes the gut, liver, hypothalamus, pituitary, ovary and adrenal glands.
Period health is affected by emotional stress and anything you eat or put inside your body, including over-the-counter medication such as painkillers and antihistamines.
The real reason why periods aren’t easy is because they’re an accurate reflection of overall health.
This is also why period problems respond well to being treated holistically.
Common period problems
- Irregular periods
- Light periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Severe period pain
- Mood swings
- Trouble getting pregnant
It’s hard to get on with life when you’re dreading your periods because of the pain, or your skin is making you feel rubbish.
I see many women who feel awful for two weeks every month. That’s the equivalent of three months out of every year.
Mood swings can really affect your work and personal relationships.
Irregular and/or light periods might not be affecting you in the same kind of way except maybe you’re feeling that something’s not right.
It might seem as though your hormones have a life of their own and are totally to blame for your period problems.
Yes, but also no.
The answer is different for everyone but stress and gut health are two possible causes.
How does stress affect periods?
Stress has a big impact on your periods.
When your body is stressed it works to produce higher levels of the hormone cortisol which manages stress in your body.
Because progesterone is the precursor to cortisol, when cortisol levels increase, progesterone levels drop.
Progesterone is a key hormone for period health. [Related post: Four hormones that support your well-being]
Cortisol is what helps us be focused and responsive when we are under stress. [Related post: How to feel less tired every day]
Not surprisingly, the body prioritises that more than periods and fertility.
You can’t repair your period cycle without looking at the big picture.
How does gut health affect periods?
There is emerging research that the gut plays a central role in the regulation of hormones in the body. [Related post: How antibiotics affect your gut]
The gut micro-biome is affected by:
- Hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy
- Pesticides on fruit and vegetables
- Petro-chemicals in beauty products
- Birth control hormones: the pill, implant, injection or coil
- The morning-after pill
- The abortion pill
- Steroid inhalers
What are normal periods?
Naturopathic Doctor Lara Briden in her book The Period Repair Manual describes normal periods:
- 21 – 35 days
- Menstrual fluid should be liquid, with no large clots
- Small clots are normal
- It should be red to reddish-brown
- You should lose a total of about 3 tablespoons across your entire period
- Your period should last between 2 – 7 days
- Mild cramps are normal
In my practice I usually see periods return to a 4 week cycle, with a 5 day bleed.
I expect to see improvements within the first couple of cycles. It can take 4-6 months for periods to normalise.
In some cases, it can take longer.
Puberty, fertility and menopause
Heavy or painful periods are normal during puberty, as hormone levels are still changing.
I recommend exploring alternatives to the pill while still in puberty. Research indicates a higher risk of depression for teenagers taking the pill.
Between age 20 and 40, periods should be regular and painfree.
Between age 40 and 50 periods will start to change in response as part of natural ageing.
Cycles will be shorter at first, then longer, with heavier periods.
Menopause is when periods stop completely, which typically happens between 45 and 55.
Different ways to balance
In my practice I see many women who want to balance their hormones.
Women in their 20s and 30s consult me for period pain, abnormal bleeding, migraine, acne and hair loss.
Some want support in coming off the pill, while others are looking for help after they’ve already stopped. They’re concerned about side-effects from painkillers, antibiotics and other drugs.
Women in their 30s may want to get in balance before trying for a baby.
Others have experienced a miscarriage and want support to help them recover both physically and emotionally. [Related post: Successful pregnancy after miscarriage]
Then there are women in their 40s who are starting to see signs of perimenopause.
Mood swings and hot flashes are the worst symptoms at this stage.
Natural tools for period problems
Homeopathy and homeobotanicals are gentle but powerful tools to help rebalance hormones.
- Calming herbs encourage relaxation and restful sleep.
- Homeopathy clears toxic residue.
- Adaptogens build resilience.
- Probiotics support the micro-biome.
- Magnesium supplements calm hormones.
Are you looking for professional help?
If you’re experiencing one or more period problems and you’re not sure where to start, maybe I can help?
I would recommend Tracy to anyone. I have been seeing her for a year now and she has helped me in so many ways. I feel great! Skin, immunity, hormones, digestion, mood and confidence are just some of the things that I have seen a big positive change in. She is excellent and very knowledgeable in what she does.
If there’s something here that resonates with you, feel free to get in touch.