Too often women are faced with the notion that our monthly menstruation is meant to cause us harm and suffering. These beliefs are perpetuated to us through the media and have even been passed down to us from our own families. These ideas are expressed and passed down because it’s all we’ve ever been told or known. We’ve accepted not recognizing our full potential is normal. What does that mean, you may ask? It means that your pain is a large indication of a hormone imbalance, and that the moment you learn to take charge of your health by noting which symptoms you suffer from, you will discover a new part of your life that’s been waiting to be revealed and understood.
Alisa Vitti highlights this path to discovering a new you in her book WomanCode, and has dedicated her life to helping women realize their full potential. Alisa came to understand the importance of diet when it came to treating her own PCOS, and with her background in endocrinology, hormone studies, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), functional nutrition, and chronology, she created her FLO Protocol. This practice aims to heal women of all their hormonal issues, from infertility and PCOS to low sex drive and painful periods.
Alisa compiled a list of 5 Period Myths that I would love to share with you today:
1. PMS Is Normal
This myth is so harmful, as it leaves so many women suffering unnecessarily with premenstrual symptoms, from mood swings to bloating to acne. PMS is used against women too, to dismiss our feelings, opinions, and judgements and to put us in the “hormonal” box (as though men don’t have hormones too!). I have renamed PMS, Prioritizing MySelf, and if more women did this, fewer would have these symptoms. PMS is absolutely triggered by diet choices (coffee, sugar, dairy, dieting, juice fasts, and low fat fads), but it’s also triggered by the wider suppression of feminine energy. The premenstrual phase can actually be a time of insight, clarity, and directives – it can fill you with a can-do, will-get-done attitude and a desire to clean house, literally and metaphorically. When women live in their FLO, PMS disappears, because PMS, although commonplace, is not how we are designed to operate an only arises from an imbalance of estrogen to progesterone during the luteal phase. The truth is simply that ratio can be improved with food – period.
2. You’re Supposed To Have Cramps
I often hear women say that we’re supposed to have cramps, or that we’re wired for them, or that it’s just women’s lot in life to suffer with period pain. I hate to hear this, because it’s simply not true. Did you know that while your body has 1 type of prostaglandin – PgE2 – which causes uterine contractions and, so, period cramps; your body also has 2 types of prostaglandin – PgE1 and PgE3 – that actually exist to counteract the contractions and are antispasmodic i.e. natural pain killers. Your body has twice the capacity for pain relief as for causing period pain! So your job is just to support your body in making of the good prostaglandins by providing the building blocks (food) it needs to do this! How awesome is that? There are dietary triggers for cramps, just as there are for PMS problems, and in both cases you can avoid it all by eating more of what your body needs, when it needs it.
3. You Still Have A Period On The Pill
The bleed you experience when on the birth control pill is a withdrawal bleed and not physiologically the same as menstruation. The pill, if you take your monthly break, actually creates a false period, for no other reason than…marketing! Originally it was thought women would be freaked out if they didn’t bleed at all and that this would stop them from using the pill. To have menstruation, you need to be ovulating, and the pill suppresses ovulation. Without ovulation your hormones cannot do the dance they need to do to get you to the point of a period. Suppressing your periods comes with side effects and health dangers.
4. You Don’t Need To Have A Period
Every so often an op-ed circulates in which some expert argues that women don’t need to have a period, that it’s somehow outdated or unnecessary, or even unhealthy to have a period! This myth is based in misinformation. Ovulation, and therefore menstruation, is important for ensuring bone, heart, and breast health and protecting women against some of the most common diseases. If you’re skipping periods due to PCOS, or you have irregular cycles, you will also be experiencing a host of symptoms from acne to mood swings to weight gain alongside this. ACOG recommends that menstruation is tracked as the 5th vital sign of a woman’s health, and, if periods are missing, it is considered an indicator of a health issue. A regular period is something to celebrate – it shows your body is healthy and happy! Your period can be observed for color, consistency, length and other symptoms to reveal a lot about your hormones and health – take my Period Type Quiz to find out more.
5. You Can’t Change Your Bad Period
When you get a cold, what do you do? Do you just let it run its course or do you do something? Most of us will up our vitamin C, sleep more, eat some good chicken soup and take care of ourselves to get better. When your period isn’t feeling good – i.e. you have cramps, heavy bleeding, spotting etc – we tend to just think that’s how things are for us, and that there’s nothing that can be done about it. We act this way because we’ve bought into the myth that there’s nothing you can do about a problem period, that if you have awful periods then you have them until menopause, just like your mom and grandma did. But it’s just not true, because you can take action and change your period. You don’t have to be a passive victim to your period plight. There are simple, matter-of-fact steps you can take and you will see results by your next cycle. My tackles all these problems head on with a combination of diet changes, supplements, and lifestyle hacks.
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In addition to Alisa’s research, you can also review an article of ours by OrganicOlivia, who believes the liver is to blame for symptoms and disorders like PCOS, endometriosis, IBS, ovarian cysts, and depression, and explains Qi stagnation in depth and how it is related to your liver.
“Stagnation and lack of proper energy flow in the liver is at the root of almost all reproductive, gastrointestinal, and even emotional conditions. And thanks to Traditional Chinese Medicine, we can all be on the road to healing.”
Some foods you can eat to help alleviate menstruation symptoms include parsley, spinach, kale, broccoli, pineapple, bananas, and blueberries. If you’d like a more in-depth look into which foods to eat, take a look at our article here, which also suggests some supplements and vitamins as well.
“Menstruation used to be celebrated and seen as a gift, an element of the Divine feminine that deserved appreciation and recognition. It’s a beautiful form of detoxification only women get to enjoy and this process allows us to birth life, a miracle that can only be made possible through menstruation.”
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