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Women With Sparkle

5 things you never knew about your period that will revolutionise your health

  • 5th December 2017
PHOTOGRAPHY: ollieweait.com

To be a woman with sparkle ALL the time, the BEST thing you can do is balance your hormones. Period.

And speaking of periods… mine used to be utterly horrendous! Throughout my twenties, every month I would be doubled over in pain, crying because of strong cramps, feeling like I was going to throw up or pass out, sweating as if I had a killer flu and often needing to miss work.  I needed to cuddle hot water bottles, take warm baths and down painkillers like they were smarties just to barely function.

Now? Well, it’s a different story. My period arrives on the day it’s meant to, leaves on the day it’s meant to and generally, I feel really good! Yes, you heard me right. I feel good on my period!

As women, we’re taught that our periods are gross, painful, a curse, something we should hate and just get rid of (usually by using the birth control pill). What we’ve not been told is that our periods are needed and absolutely key to knowing what’s going on in our bodies.

Believe me, getting rid of them or medicating them so they don’t bother us is not the wonderful thing some of you might think.

A painful period is the equivalent of your best friend screaming: “HELP!!!!! I HAVE A PROBLEM THAT I NEED YOU TO LOOK AT!”  and you just taping over her mouth to solve the problem. Ladies, we MUST learn about our incredible bodies and listen to what our periods (and hormones in general) are telling us.

So here’s 5 things you never knew about your period that will revolutionise your health:

1) Your period is your free monthly health check-up.

Did you know that there are four ‘vital signs’ measured by doctors at health check-ups or in an emergency situation? They are your heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and temperature. These all indicate how well your body is functioning. However, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists have now decreed that, as a woman, your period is your 5th vital sign. It’s now seen as a truly important indicator of your overall short and long-term health.

This means every month, if you have a period, you are literally being given free lab test results by your body. Isn’t that incredible! Your period being painful or changing or disappearing is one of the first signs that something is not right (eg. You may be stressed or malnourished or have an excess/low levels of a vital hormone) and a change needs to happen.

 

2) The colour of your period holds key information about your hormones.

Did you know that a healthy period should be bright cranberry red (with a consistency like runny jam)? TMI? Look, I’d rather you know this stuff now and not get ill with a hormone related disease like I did (you can read my story here). So, we all need to stop being squeamish and start being sexy scientists!

Any other colour period is a sign that something is not working as it should in your body. If your period is brown, then this means you have old blood that didn’t make it out of your uterus from your last period (likely meaning your progesterone levels are low). If your period is dark purple/blue (typically with clots) this is an indicator that you have too much oestrogen (which short-term can lead to fibroids/cysts/endometriosis but much more serious health problems long-term). If your period is scarce and very light pink, it indicates that you may have too little oestrogen (likely meaning your body is not getting the nutrients it requires to function optimally). So start taking notice of the colour of your period to prevent a health ‘code red’ situation.

 

3) You’re not meant to exercise on your period.

I hate to break it to you but you’re not a man. A man’s hormonal cycle is a 24-hour repetitive pattern. A woman’s cycle is 28-days (or there abouts), which means that if a man wants to hit the gym every day, then it will not affect him adversely. However, because women’s hormone levels change dramatically over our 28 day cycles (read more about it here), then when we are on our periods we do not have the hormones to support high intensity exercise/cardio. Your hormone levels are at their lowest concentrations as your body is going through the intense process of shedding your uterus lining so needs to rest and conserve energy. The way you support this process and not damage your health is to rest, relax and reflect more. This is a time to up your self-care and not worry about calories or working out (which is pretty blooming great if you ask me!).

 

4) Your brain is able to work things out and prevent serious depression or breakdowns.

We often play into the negative stereotype of a woman on her period and try to blame our tears/mini meltdowns on it being the “time of the month.” But actually, your hormone levels when you’re on your period mean that something incredible happens to your brain. It doesn’t become more foggy or irrational, actually the right and left sides (the ‘factual’ and the ‘feeling’ sides) become their most connected. That means that we are “wired” (via the corpus callosum – a big bundle of nerve fibres that connect the two parts of your brain) to process all that has gone on in the past month and reflect on what adjustments are needed to improve our overall happiness. We’re actually great decision makers due to this happening – but only if we’ve taken time out to think properly and don’t just keep the “go, go, go” mentality that many of us have.

When you’re on your period, it’s the perfect time to “check in” with yourself and know how you’re really feeling in terms of your health/career/relationships/self-care etc. You can then work out adjustments that need to be made to keep your mind, body and spirit healthy. Depression, break downs, and feeling overwhelmed do not just appear out of nowhere and we’ve been given a time each month where, if we take some time out, our brain can show us what we’re struggling with and make changes before we have big problems mentally or physically.

 

5) Problem periods stop you losing weight. 

Yes, yes, your jeans may be getting a little tighter at this time of year as you inhale several trays of mince pies each week, but I’m not talking about your seasonal weight gain. I’m talking about you always feeling bloated and like it’s a constant struggle to lose weight no matter what diet plan you try and stick to. Painful periods are normally the result of having too much oestrogen. Too much oestrogen in your body means you will retain water and gain weight. It also means that you’ll feel more sluggish and tired and so, psychologically, you’re also not able to have the energy or positivity it takes to embark on a new health regime. So if you have painful periods and constantly battle with your weight, look to reduce your oestrogen levels (through diet and detox methods with the help of a nutritionist/naturopath). Yes, you want to do this so that you feel great about your body, but also for your long-term health, you don’t want to have consistently high oestrogen levels, as this has links with all kinds of serious diseases.

 

Sooooo, can you see how amazing your periods are? Can I ask you to invest in your health and work with someone to get your periods pain-free and regular? Your body is a source of incredible wisdom. Use it, don’t ignore it. Know that having good periods is possible. If I hadn’t had such a dramatic change in my own life, I would’ve never believed it was possible. I want the same for you too. I want you to feel great about yourself, understand your body, work with it to have good health and not let anything – especially something that happens every month – stop you from sparkling.

If you have problem periods and/or other hormonal issues and want to book a free 30-minute Skype consultation with me, then feel free to use the contact form or email me womenwithsparkle[at]gmail[dot]com.

I also recommend that you download the MyFlo app to understand your cycle and how best to support it nutritionally and practically and buy this book Womancode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive and Become a Power Source

 

 

Big love,

Sally x

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