Strategies to Balance Hormones During Period!

Imbalances in hormones during period can cause many common, but not normal, symptoms.
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Imbalance of hormones during your period can cause many symptoms

Do you have premenstrual symptoms, and want to find out how to eliminate them?

Me too.

In another post, we reviewed how hormones during period fluctuate to control the Monthly Flow.

In this post, we will discuss, more in depth, how imbalances between these hormones might not necessarily disrupt your flow, but could be at the root of your sore boobs, back, or terrible moodiness pre-cycle.

How do we balance the hormones during period.

I, like many, thought that sore boobs were an expected inconvenience, that was necessary to be endured if you were gifted to have a uterus at birth. But, after chatting with Erin Borbet, I learned that no, this is a Western (specifically American) idea, that we must be miserable on our periods, and that in Chinese medicine, the only symptoms of a monthly cycle ought to be light to moderate bleeding for 3-5 days.

I’m going to repeat that for those in the back:

From a Chinese Medicine Perspective, the only symptoms of a menstrual cycle should be light to moderate bleeding for 3-5 days. No cramping, no moodiness. Just the bleeding.

I want that. I want that for me, and I want that for you.

Picture of Kelly, looking shocked and unelieving at a picture of Erin Borbet, an accupuncturist, who has just told Kelly that periods should be symptom free.  Kelly doesn't believe her yet in this picture, but does by the end of the article.
Kelly’s face after Erin told her that periods should be symptom free. We did an incredible Instagram LIVE (my first one ever), and you can watch it on my Instagram account.

I want less symptoms with my monthly flow: Teach me how to stabilize the hormones during period

Will do. Let’s break it down by Phase to make it easier. Remember to check out my earlier post that gave a 10,000ft view of hormones during period.

This one is more about symptoms, and how lifestyle choices we make, can help contribute to a less painful, more safe, more enjoyable period!

1. The Menstrual Phase (Bleedy Part): Western Perspective

  • Individuals who are cramping during this time, are more prone to injury due in part to pain inhibition, something your brain does automatically, to try to block out the pain and protect you. But it ends up only blocking out your ability to sense your body position in space, and thus makes you more likely to hurt yourself. Good one, brain. But we still love you.
  • We can reduce this risk of injury by taking time to perform gentle exercises to improve blood flow and connection to the muscles of the core. Check out this post on beginner breathing and pelvic floor exercises for some starter ideas. This reconnects the brain to the body and reduces injury risk.
  • If you have a relative energy deficicency, or are amenhorreic at times, during this phase you are loosing even more iron and red blood cells. Appropriate nutrition is important, and a primary goal should be to modify lifestyle choices to make that period be regular again!
  • We can address some of the relative energy deficiency by working on normalizing sleep-wake cycles; working with dieticians to normalize caloric intake and optimize source of nutrients.

1. The Menstrual Phase (Bleedy Part): Eastern Perspective

  • A relative blood defciency here can lead to symptoms of headache, dizziness and fatigue.
  • Address this by staying warm. Especially the bottoms of your feet, low back and abdomen.

2. Between Menstruation and Ovulation: Western Perspective

An important note about NSAID use (at anytime throughout the cycle, but greatest potential effect will be seen here):

  • Because they work by inhibiting prostaglandins, NSAIDS can reduce pain, but also can delay ovulation.  This is important if you are in pain, and having difficulty conceiving.  
  • Furthermore, delaying ovulation can leave you with lower progesterone levels, and now your are “Estrogen Dominant” which is often associated with MORE PMD symptoms 🙁 🙁   Taking NSAIDS regulary and long term can actually alter the hormones during period!  
  • Furthermore a second time, NSAIDS do reduce pain, but they also reduce the active movement of the Uterus, which could lead to development of adhesions between the Uterus and other pelvic organs and structures over time…so that when you do have a cycle without the NSAID, it is EXTRA painful because the moving Uterus is breaking apart the restrictions from all the past cycles.
  • So maybe, if we are having a lot of menstrual symptoms (sore boobs, back, etc) and really taking a lot of NSAIDS…try a month or two without them, and see what happens to your symptoms!
  • And if we’re having difficulty getting pregnant, and taking a lot of NSAIDS? Stop the NSAIDs. Talk to your primary medical provider for other options that will be safe for you!

2. Between Menstruation and Ovulation: Eastern Perspective

  • This is the beginning of a higher energy, social phase.
  • Nourish with healthy fats, colorful veggies, and easy to digest proteins

3. Ovulation (mid-cycle, around day 14): Western Perspective

  • From a body work perspective, we need to be careful about avoiding deep soft tissue work to the lower abdomen during this time, so as not to provoke an ovarian cyst to form and/or rupture.  
  • Evidence shows isometric strength levels may be the highest here, but also that risk for injury is elevated here for recreational skiers. So if you a recreational skiier, do 1-2 dynamic warm up activities pre-run if you are mid-cycle.

3. Ovulation (mid-cycle, around day 14): : Eastern Perspective

  • Here is the ultimate transition from yin to yang – how does your body handle change? How do you handle change?  Consider meditation or counseling work to improve coping strategies to change.
  • -Close tie to stress response, maintaining balanced liver qi is important (combo of movement + meditation). Discuss your symptoms directly with a provider to determine an appropriate supplement and or dietary advice to optimize your liver health and qi.

4. Between Ovulation & Next Period: Western Perspective

Many PMS-PMD symptoms are present here (headaches, moodiness, sore boobs, back, etc). So this can be a great time of the month to guage your progress from last month.

  • Relaxin is building from ovulation through the start of your next period, so if you have a history of injury or instability, you need to be MORE careful during this time.
  • NSAIDS.  They work by inhibiting prostaglandins.  That DOES reduce pain…but can also inhibit muscular strength rebuilding after workouts, so if you are bewteen ovulation and next period, and taking NSAIDs, consider an extra recovery day between hard workouts. 
  • Just like earlier in the cycle, if there is pain associated with this cycle, for you personally, you will have pain inhibition of core muscles, and perhaps be vulnerable to injury if you don’t do a few basic NMR activities before your workout.  Talk to a PT about a dynamic warm up that would work for you!
  • PT wise, if your blood flow to the pelvic region in general is negatively affected by chronic pain, injury, or just because it was never great to begin with, trigger point muscle work can be a HUGE asset to improve tissue mobility and circulation, and reduce pain during this phase.  This is GENTLE manual work, and has been shown to reduce pain in many populations, both in bike seat area, as well as low back and abdomen!  This work is often utilized during fertility treatments. Talk to a pelvic floor PT to learn more about how this can help you!

4. Between Ovulation & Next Period: Eastern Perspective

  • Yang/qi phase
  • Gentle Movement, yin yoga, introspection can reduce symptoms during this phase
  • Nourshing food with tonic foods: black strap molasses, bone broth, soups stews, slow cooked meats, organ meats. Talk to your Chinese Medicine Practitioner to determine what foods you need for you, specifically.
  • As always, working on balancing your stress response, so that the hormones of your period can work together in their best possible way.

What is the ONE thing I can do to help balance the hormones during my period, and minimize negative symptoms?

Here are 4 great places to start:

  1. Sleep and stress load. This is number one. All the supplementation and exercise in the world won’t reduce your symptoms, if your stress-sleep cycle is terrible. Realistically look at your life. How are you sleeping? How are you eating? Are you happy? (no pressure there, but seriously, just consider).
  2. Minimize plastics. They significantly alter balance of hormones of your period. Can you reduce the single use plastic in your life by 25%? 50%? More?
  3. Reduce Other Environmental Load: Beauty Products, Tampons, Detergents. Are they organic? How much do you use, how often? Chemicals buildling up in your system will not be beneficial to the hormones during your period.
  4. Food-Nutrition: Literally the building blocks of your body. Do you know where your meat comes from? Were extra hormones utilized in the production of the meat? If so, they could be throwing your hormonal balance during your period way off. Not all meat is bad, but consider its origin and life cycle. Can you obtain cleaner protein? Or a better source for your meat?

Check out my Pelvic Floored Signature Lecture Series for a much more in depth training in everything related to your pelvic floor!  And be on the lookout for a website upgrade in late 2022 (new site will be orange!!), where fresh classes will launch, some that ‘may’ pertain to this topic 🙂 🙂

Thanks for reading! If you haven’t already, please follow me on Instagram, join my mailing list to be kept up to date on other AMAZING blog posts with practical tips for improving your pelvic (and overall) health! Mailing list subscribers also get first notice and exclusive discounts to Pelvic Floored products, as well as access to subscriber only events!  Don’t miss out!  Sign up Today! 

Thanks for reading!

xoxo, Dr. Kelly

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