When we are stressed we produce a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol pumps through our system, creating the fight or flight response. When we keep ourselves in this stressed out state and our cortisol levels stay high, our hormones are disrupted and we start to see various effects with our reproductive system such as amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menorhegea, infertility, PMS, skin issues, fatigue, hot flashes, thyroid disorders sleep problems, etc.
What is happening when we allow ourselves to live in a constant state of stress is that we are basically living on credit. We keep borrowing from other systems in the body (i.e. reproductive system, nervous system, skeletal system etc.) in order to stay at this high stress level for an extended period of time. And since many of us don't do anything to actually pay back our debt, things start to physically break down and scream for help.
This constant stressful state is usually due the idea that we constantly need to prove ourselves in order to feel worthy and/or important. It is this feeling of being "less than" that we keep trying to fill with external achievements. And we keep running ourselves further and further into the ground because there is nothing outside ourselves that will truly fill that hole. Only true acceptance from within will. Knowing that not matter what your tittle is, no matter what you are doing or NOT doing, no matter where you live or what car you drive, you are enough, you are a blessing to this earth, you are important.
For women, we get hammered by society that we should do everything and be everything all while smiling, multitasking, being a "yes" gal and winning awards. Our reproductive systems are becoming so out of whack as we all stand in the dust wondering why we were cursed with PMS, bloating, painful cramping, adult acne, heavy bleeding, infertility, miscarriage, the list goes on..... as it is due to some unknown factor. But we DO know. And here are some things we can start to do about these issues.
What to do: Slow it down! Stop! Push Pause! Start looking at what you really want to be doing, what makes you happy and start creating your life to incorporate more and more of these things that fill you up instead of strip you of time and energy. The world will not stop when you do this, walls will not come crashing down. Life will go on, and for what it is worth, life will most likely get a heck of a lot better!
If you experience excess bleeding: This is categorized as menorrhagia and is usually due to excess pitta, meaning too much heat and inflammation. Too much physical activity, excess jogging, jumping or weight lifting can cause excess bleeding. With menorrhagia we need to watch out for iron deficiency leading to anemia. Here are a few options you could try:
- 1 tablespoon aloe gel 2x a day before food
- Drink 4oz pomegranate juice daily on an empty stomach
- Mix rose petal jam into 1/2 - 1 cup of milk of choice for a cooling and calming effect at night
- Drink CCF tea (cumin, coriander, fennel) 1 tablespoon of each spice to 2 quarts of water
- Drink hibiscus tea, which helps pull heat from the body, specifically the liver, which is correlated with blood and pitta
- Eat iron rich foods like raisins, currents, spinach, kale, molasses, beets, pumpkin
- Cook with turmeric, this helps with internal inflammation
- Take 500mg primrose capsule at bedtime
- Rub coconut oil on your belly nightly
- Take 1/2 tsp bhumyamalaki with pomegranate juice or aloe gel before bed. This is a mild laxative, a good source or iron and an anti-inflammatory. Do not take during menstruation.
- Back off of intense exercise
If you experience painful cramping: known as dysmenorrhea, which occurs shortly after the onset of menstruation. There are three main reasons for why this could be happening: 1) narrowing of the blood vessels and cervix due to vata imbalance causing constriction, while causing pain, 2) endometriosis which is due to pitta imbalance and inflammation of the uterine wall causing heat and pain, 3) excess tissue growth causing fibroid tumor(s) due to excess kapha.
For vata type, diet can be a huge factor. You may be eating too many raw, cold, dry foods like raw vegetables, beans, chickpeas, legumes, crackers, popcorn, etc. Other factors may be unresolved fear or anxiety, too much traveling, constant strenuous exercise, and too much chocolate, which can all effect vata. Constipation, gas and bloating before menstruation is a good sign that vata is playing a big roll.
- Eat warm, oily, nourishing foods, stay away from animal protein, dairy and sugars and eat really light foods like vegetables, fruits and broth based soups.
- Bring in yoga, breath work (like nadi shodana and anuloma viloma to help with anxiety and nervousness) and walking to change out harsh exercise
- Use a castor oil pack on your belly for 20-30 minutes daily followed by a hot bath
- Abyangha (full body massage) daily with sesame oil before shower or before bed
For Pitta type, factors may be too much working, high stress, too much self inflicted criticism, high tension, lack of spontaneity, tendency towards judgement of others and self. There might be hot flashes, excess irritability and anger, soreness in the body and headaches around menstruation. These are usually signs of a pitta imbalance.
- Baking soda baths - 1/3 - 1/2 cup baking soda in s warm bath (not too hot)
- 1 week before bleeding drink 1 tablespoon aloe gel with 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Abyangha daily with coconut oil
- After menstruation take 1/2 tsp Bhumyamalaki every night before bed to help as a purgation of heat from the body.
For kapha type, diet may be a huge factor by eating too many heavy, sweet building foods that just exaggerates the feelings of heaviness, depression and stagnation. Not moving enough will also contribute to poor circulation and low energy.
- Ginger bath - 1/2 cup ginger in a hot bath, this will help with circulation
- Follow a kapha diet - eating mostly pungent, bitter and astringent foods like vegetables, beans, legumes, and eliminating carbs, sugars, animal protein and fried foods, which contribute to excess building of tissues in the body.
- Make sure you are doing physical activity daily, first thing in the morning for 30-60 minutes
- Sprinkle kapha churna on food to help with digestion
- Use ginger, black pepper, cayenne, turmeric when cooking foods
If you experience missed/irregular periods: This is clinically called amenorrhea, which is the lack of a period or skipped period for one or more months (outside of being pregnant or breastfeeding or menopause). The most popular reasons for this to happen is due to malnutrition, over exercising, high stress, eating disorders, obesity, PCOS or thyroid dysfunctions (hyperthyroidism).
- Back off strenuous activities. Replace these things with yoga, thai chi, Qi gong, or walking.
- Start to make sure you are eating 3 meals a day that are made of fresh, organic, non GMO, whole foods that are mostly cooked.
- Make sure you are getting enough fat in your diet. Eat at least 1 tsp full fat with each meal. You can cook with ghee or coconut oil. You can add flax oil, hemp oil or olive oil to your foods after cooking. Add fish oil or flax oil every day in order to replenish omega-3's.
- Eat iron rich foods like papaya, pomegranate,mango, pumpkin, pineapple, currants, raisins, soaked almonds.
- At night make an Ojas Drink that will nourish your reproductive organs: 1 cup milk of choice, 2-3 dates, 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 2 pinches cardamon, 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, 5-8 soaked and peeled almonds, 1 tsp ashwagandha and 1/2 tsp bala (if you are very depleted and weak, add a dash of ginger powder if using bala). If you are hesitant about the herbs, the rest of the drink will still be very helpful. Mix everything into a pot and simmer for a few minutes, add to blender, blend for 1 minute or until well blended and frothy. Sprinkle with nutmeg and enjoy. Drink every night for 4 weeks.
If you are struggling with infertility or miscarages:
- Look at your stress levels. Lower them
- Start to find time for yourself every day
- Take time to go for a walk with a friend
- Meditate - start with 5 minutes every morning
- Take up yoga
- If you drink alcohol, slowly start to ween yourself off
- Practice abhyanga daily
- Drink an Ojas Drink (recipe above) 1-2 times a day. To the recipe above add 1 tsp ghee and honey and 1 tsp of ashwagandha and shatavari to the drink. These herbs are very important and will help with balancing your hormone levels and nourish your reproductive organs. Caution: if you have had cancer or it runs in your immediate family, do not take shitavari, instead replace with guduchi.
- Eat 3 nourishing meals a day
- Eat more vegetables and less meat
- Make sure you are getting good fats like Omega 3's, coconut oil, ghee and olive oil daily
- Forgive yourself
- Let go of whatever you are ready to release
No matter where you are in your symptoms, our bleeding time is meant for inner reflection and spiritual insight. So the first 3 days should be a time of slowing down, going within and not expelling too much energy. What this means is to take 3 days off from your physical activity, just this alone could do wonders for you. Try it for 3-6 months in a row and feel the difference. The three days of missed exercise per month will not have any negative impact on your body no matter what your mind tries to tell you.
- Lad, V. (1999). The complete book of Ayurvedic home remedies.
- Lad, V. (2012). Ayurvedic perspectives on selected pathologies
- Svoboda, R. (1999). Ayurveda for women: A guide to vitality and health
- Welch, C. (2011). Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life
* These are only suggestions. This post is not diagnosing or treating any disease.
Much love & health to you my fellow goddesses!