If you suffer with PMS, severe menstrual cramps, and other reproductive discomfort you are in good company. For many women, their bleeding time each month can be a painful experience. According to some statistics, nearly 85% of adolescent and adult women experience some degree of menstrual cramps or pain related to their menses.
I get more hormone and fertility related questions than any other; questions about PMS, menstrual cramps, and common female reproductive issues like endometriosis, fibroids, and cyst, and figured these are important issues to address. I use to struggle with discomfort myself, and can certainly sympathize with how frustrating these things can be.
What is PMS?
PMS, by definition refers to a wide range of symptoms which include headache, dizziness, cramps, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, food cravings or aversions, weight gain, irritability, depression, anxiety and fatigue. These symptoms usually occur before our menses begins and subside gradually at the start of the period.
What are menstrual cramps?
Other menstrual symptoms like abdominal cramping and heavy bleeding can occur during menses. Menstrual cramps or dysmenorrhea, is dull pain in the lower abdomen before or during menstrual periods. The pain sometimes radiates to the low back or thigh area.
Traditionally, it’s very common for women to take ibuprofen or any pain relief medication at the first sign of menstrual discomfort. While in fact, it’s best to avoid ibuprofen and most over-the-counter pain relief medications. They should be a last resort to dealing with pain, and preferably not a monthly addition to our diet. Ibuprofen and any pain medication can cause bad side effects in our digestive system, nervous system, and cardiovascular systems!
Conventional PMS & Menstrual Cramp Remedies:
Hormonal Birth Control
Another common suggestion for menstrual cramp remedies and heavy bleeding is to take hormonal birth control pills. This makes sense on some level since the latest research suggests that cramps and other menstrual issues start with hormonal imbalances. However, birth control pills are synthetic hormones. They override the normal hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian hormonal axis to prevent ovulation. In other words: very unnatural.
Hormones regulate the body's growth, metabolism (physical & chemical processes of the body), our sexual development and function, mental processes and more. Hormonal birth control are major endocrine disruptors, and they send the woman's body into total chaos, especially if and when taken for years.
And lets be honest, most women supplement with birth control for long lengths of time: 3 years, 5 years, 10 years. Thus, making the "pill" a huge contributor to the high percentage of women experiencing problems such as weight gain, inflammation, tissue growth (fibroids, cyst), reproductive issues, premenopausal symptoms and more.
Take a look at the list of side effects that comes with each package of pills. How safe do they seem? Even without immediate reactions, long term use of hormonal birth control leaves individuals wide open for potentially major problems including infertility, cancer, stroke, blood clots, early menopause etc.
The belief that birth control pills are safe comes from more than 40 years of continuous brainwashing by the pharmaceutical industry to both physicians and the public. We are victims of misinformation and dangerous practices. – Erika Schwartz, MD
Therefore, it’s best to avoid “conventional” approaches to remedying our problem. They may take away the pain, but at what cost? I understand that those who suffer from intense menstrual cramps are desperate for relief. But please consider the long term affects before casually sipping down another pill.
Any hormone replacement therapy used to augment our body's natural hormone levels, interferes with our bodies' ability to produce and regulate its own!
On the “much safer” spectrum of common menstrual cramp remedies are things that ultimately help bring oxygen to the muscles. This is good since cramp pain is due to intense contractions that temporarily cut off oxygen to the surrounding muscles.
The most common natural remedies include:
These are definitely great things to try for immediate cramp relief.
But instead of just finding cramp remedies or relief, wouldn't you like to STOP your menstrual cramps for good, so you don't have to worry about remedies?
Let’s get to the root of the problem.
While a variety of factors can influence a woman's symptoms or menstrual disorders during this time (including genetics, medications, nutrition etc.), it is largely controlled by hormones, and getting our hormones in proper balance can go a long way toward reducing symptoms.
Hormones have a much bigger impact than many people realize, and women who struggle from hormone related pain and other symptoms realized this acutely. The fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone largely controls a woman's cycle and their are theories that these hormones can interact with certain brain chemicals, creating real symptoms during this time.
In a perfect environment, these hormones are in balance and working correctly, causing little to no discomfort or symptoms. But, if these hormones are out of balance, a variety of symptoms occur.
Imbalanced hormones are partially caused by nutritional deficiencies. They are also caused by environmental toxins and stress. While every person is different, taking a serious look at food, digestion, and the environment can provide some real solutions. Let’s briefly look at each of these:
Nutrition & Standard American Diet
When you think about the standard American diet, it’s easy to see why cramps are such a common issue these days. Menstrual cramps affect more than 50% of women, and among these, up to 15% would describe their menstrual cramps as severe.
Implementing whole, organic, nutrient-dense real foods into your diet would aide in reversing cramping.
Let your food be your medicine, and let your medicine be your food.
Taking the commitment to eat real food is a gradual, long process for most. It is not easy, but it is very simple. When we get our body back to its natural state through real nutrition it functions a whole lot better. It’s one of the best approaches to lifelong menstrual cramp relief.
I eat a whole foods diet and STILL get cramps? What's the deal?
If you still suffer from menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding despite eating a real foods diet chances are that you may have some digestive issues going on.
Odds are pretty great that you will be surprised to learn, in nearly every case of menstrual cramps, it all goes back to digestion… When I talk about digestion, I’m talking about people’s ability to properly break down the food they are eating. – T.C. Hale
If you have food allergies and/or leaky gut, you may have more complex hormonal problems. Your body must be able to properly absorb and USE the food you eat.
Specific Foods to Consider...
The following is not a complete list. It’s simply some suggestions of foods that may be used to help bring balance to your body. Remember, if your body has been dealing with poor diet for many years it will take some time to heal. In my experience and Health Coaching you will notice improvement quickly, but full recovery can take years. Keep reminding yourself that you want a permanent menstrual cramp remedy, not just a short-term band-aid.
Along with a real foods diet, consider including the following:
Maca Root: Maca is a cruciferous root found growing in the high regions of Peru and has been cultivated for about two thousand years. It has been traditionally and is currently used as a food. The Peruvians believe it gives strength and endurance, enhances ones fertility, and supports pregnancies and menstruation.
Magnesium and Calcium: These two minerals reduce muscle soreness, which make them an obvious contender for tried and true natural menstrual cramp relief. Although it can take time for you to see a noticeable effect. Research also suggest that getting 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day can help lessen many menstrual symptoms. Raw milk is a great source of minerals (and also useful in helping your body absorb minerals, too.)
Plenty of good fats and fiber rich foods!
Food to avoid:
While I believe food is the biggest culprit to menstrual issues, other environmental factors can add to the problem.
You may find relief from eliminating the following:
Remember, the goal is to get your body and hormones back to a balanced state. Even though many assume cramps are just part of life, our bodies are designed to function without pain. Pain is always an indication that something needs attention.
In closing Beloved, if you're experiencing heavy bleeding, painful cramping and 7 plus days of menstruating; it’s time to consider your nutritional habits and your hormonal and emotional health. While there are many causes of discomfort for the woman, unhealthy eating and hormonal imbalance is more likely to be the case.
When stressed or imbalanced, it mirrors in your monthly cycle or lack thereof. Our body is always signaling us when something is wrong. It’s just that we normalize dysfunction to such a degree that it goes unwarranted. Due to Western culture and family perceived normality (mother or other women experiencing the same type of period), this issue is often overlooked and often considered normal.
*While I do believe that the majority of women struggling with cramps and heavy bleeding are due to hormonal imbalances triggered by poor nutrition or environmental factors, everyone is different. In some instances, a “tipped” uterus or other biological abnormalities can be the result.
Start your journey to a pain free period with us! Organic Feminine Care....
*PMS Cramp Salve
*Womb Detox Tea
*Womb Care Package
- Shavonne Richardson -
Holistic Health Coach
Founder & Creator, Inspire Organics
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