Fertility and menstrual issues can arise from the way you care for yourself during your period. Working hard and long hours, inadequate rest and sleep, lots of cold drinks and food, too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol and processed foods are all key offenders. Allegory with phases of the moon, our menstrual cycle is comparative to the lunar cycle whereby both recount a waiting period of approximately 28 days. The state of period reflects our womanly wellbeing. An ideal period has adequate flow, is punctual (give or take a few days), regular, without discomfort or clotting and looks fresh red in colour. This reflects that blood circulation, production and hormones are in order. This is something that most Western women are unaware of. If you have issues with your menstrual cycle, such as PMS, dysmenorrhoea or dark, clotty bleeding, it’s possible your lifestyle habits are contributing to these signs and symptoms.
What can cause menstrual irregularities?
A stressful lifestyle, poor diet or eating habits, emotional upset encourages blood being weak and stagnant qi (energy movement) .
10 Tips for Menstrual Self-Care
1. Keep clean & hygienic – avoid sex (unless it is your fertile time), nor tampons or vaginal examinations. Wear organic pads – click the link to read why. Don’t use soap or vaginal hygiene products on your vagina.
2. Avoid intensive exercise, overworking or lifting heavy things – exercise such as a good walk, gentle yoga poses or brisk jog is great.
3. Keep warm – avoid swimming, drinking or exposing yourself to cold water, drafts, rain, leaving your hair wet or damp and midriff exposed to cold or drafts.
4. Eat well and nutritious eg. soup, porridge, cooked fruits, whole grains and vegies, no cold, little raw, uncooked foods. Drink hot teas like raspberry leaf, nettle and ginger.
5. Protect yourself from overly emotional situations if you can during the period, you are weaker and we don’t deal so well with it. Rest more and go slow, getting sick during the period can mess with your hormones.
6. Keep your legs, feet and lower back to abdomen warm, the qi in the acupuncture meridians on this area of the body need to circulate well. Wear warm slippers/boots and socks, no bare feet on cold tiles!
8. Reduce salt, caffeine, sugar and alcohol intake the days before and during your period. They can increase cramping & PMS.
9. Foods rich in Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium.
10. Drink plenty of warm water to cleanse salt and electrolytes out of your body and reduce bloating.
Most importantly, be good to yourself, and be grateful that you are a woman who menstruates, and can experience the wonder of our femininity.
Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, @Ivanhoe