We’ve all been told (probably numerous times) that our worst period problems — cramps, PMS, super heavy flow, blood clots, migraines, teenagelike acne, bloating, and exhaustion — are completely normal. Yup, just part of this whole “being a woman” thing.
Well, ladies, we’ve been lied to for a very long time.
For years I had most of these symptoms, and every time I saw my doctor, she’d always say my complaints were nothing to worry about. She’d tell me some of her patients were in bed for days, so I should feel lucky that I could pop some ibuprofen and still function.
Then she’d push the birth control pill on me as a solution to my period woes.
None of this sat well with me. It just seemed like such a defeatist approach to my health. I didn’t want to be prescribed birth control pills and painkillers as a bandage.
Instead, I wanted to know why I was plagued by all these problems in the first place. I knew something was really wrong, and I wanted to know what I could do to actually fix the root cause of my symptoms.
I’m not the type of person who can just accept the status quo, so naturally I decided to do a little digging on my own. What I found out blew my mind, and I think it will blow yours, too.
I know you’ve been told you just have to “deal with it” — but that’s not actually true. In my research and training, I discovered a variety of easy tips, tricks, and practices you can implement to naturally fix your most frustrating period problems.
Get to know your flow
The first step is to become your own period expert. Start tracking your menstrual cycle using an app like Clue, Kindara, or Dot. Track when your period arrives, how long it is, and what it looks like.
Don’t forget to make a note of fluctuations in energy levels, changes in bowel movements, sex drive, moods, cravings, and sleep. This personal data will help you determine what’s normal for your particular body.
If there was ever a mineral I’d recommend for women, it’d be magnesium. I refer to it as natural Valium, because it supports the nervous system and addresses feelings of nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, and irritability. No small feat for us modern girls, right?
Leafy green vegetables are rich in it — think kale, spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli. But if you’re deficient, you can also opt for a magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate supplement.
Get enough Zzz’s
Many of us are walking around with a sleep deficit, which continues to grow when we skimp on much-needed nightly rest. Signs of sleep deprivation include feeling tired when you wake up, that “tired but wired” feeling at night, and energy slumps throughout the day (around 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.). Any of this sound familiar?
Melatonin — the nighttime hormone that helps dictate our circadian rhythms — has a big impact on the menstrual cycle. In fact, supplementing melatonin may improve ovulation and fertility and treat chronic pelvic pain in endometriosis.
Address your sleep debt by reducing your light at night, too. Use light-blocking shades or curtains, put tape over the lights on your alarm and TV, and stop using your phone and computer after 9 p.m.
Turn on night mode/night shift on your phone and get f.lux for your computer. Both of these adjust the blue light to a more reddish hue. No kidding, it helps protect your melatonin supply.
Cycle your seeds
This may sound far-fetched, but bear with me for a minute. Seed cycling is a practice of rotating between four different types of seeds — pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower — according to the phases of your menstrual cycle. Many women are deficient in the essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals found in these seeds that can support their periods.
I recommend seed cycling for women who have:
- irregular periods
- anovulatory cycles
- missing periods
- period pain
- short luteal phases
In the first half, from day 1 to 14, eat a tablespoon each of ground pumpkin seeds and flax seeds every day. From day 15 to 28, do the same with sunflower and sesame seeds.
For women with no periods or irregular periods, switch back to day 1 seeds after day 28. Once you get your period, start over with day 1 seeds.
Remember, your period problems may be statistically normal, but they’re not biologically normal. We often suffer for years because we’ve been conditioned to believe that this is just our “lot in life.”
These tips are a great first step to fixing your period, but if you continue to struggle with disruptive period symptoms, I suggest you dig a little deeper to find out the root cause.
Nicole Jardim is a certified women’s health coach and the creator of Fix Your Period, a series of programs that empower women to reclaim their hormone health using a method that combines simplicity and sass. Her incredible work has impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of women around the world in effectively addressing a wide variety of period problems, including PMS, irregular periods, PCOS, painful periods, amenorrhea, and many more. Nicole is also the co-host of “The Period Party,” a top-rated podcast on iTunes — be sure to tune in if you want to learn more about how to fix your period. She’s also the creator of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s hormone health continuing education course. Take Nicole’s Period Quiz to get a custom report based on your unique physiology and discover what’s up with your period!