For some women, periods being referred to as ‘The Curse’, is not a strong enough label. Imagine standing up after a meeting at work to notice a large red blob on your chair? Or missing a friend’s wedding as you are in agony at home in bed? How about cleaning blood from the carpet of your hotel room as you ‘leaked’? These are REAL incidents from female clients. And each of these clients went on to have pain-free, normal periods.
Painful periods (dysmenorrhoea) are categorised as primary or secondary dysmenorrhoea. Primary dysmenorrhoea is where there are no issues with the pelvic organs and is generally seen in teenage girls. Secondary dysmenorrhoea is seen in women from their twenties onwards. It is caused by anatomical issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease etc.
Five years ago a client came to see me. Let’s call her Jo. Jo was 40 years old, divorced 9 years ago but recently in a relationship again. She was crippled with a combination of severe period pain and heavy periods. Every month Jo spent 2 days in bed when her period arrived. Jo had missed friend’s birthday parties, engagement parties and weddings. She had been diagnosed with endometriosis a few years ago.
Her Manager at work was not very sympathetic to Jo’s condition, and Jo felt guilty about the amount of sick leave she had taken over the years. The past 18 months at work had been very stressful and Jo had been to HR to discuss her Manager’s behaviour towards her. Jo admitted to being a workaholic in the past, but was ‘more balanced now’.
Jo would bleed for 7 days and be crippled for 2 days, literally unable to walk and forced to stay in bed. Some months she would have flooding (profuse uncontrolled bleeding). Jo used a super tampon and a sanitary towel (changing them 4 times a day) for the first 4 days of bleeding. She also suffered from water retention and PMS, and was sensitive and moody the week prior to her period.
Jo’s diet was adequate but there was room for improvement. Her breakfast during the week was either toast and vegemite, or a fresh juice (carrot, apple, orange and beetroot). At weekends it would be bacon and eggs etc. Lunch during the week was a tuna salad from a food court, or a Thai/Chinese noodle dish. Her evening meals were high in carbohydrates such as pasta, sausage and mash, pizza etc. Jo also had half a bottle of wine every night. Snacks during the day were fruit, but also chocolate biscuits and cake, as there was often a birthday or similar celebration in the office where Jo worked! Jo also drank 3 cups of tea a day.
To improve her diet I recommended that Jo eat oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel 2-3 times a week and increase her consumption of nuts and seeds. The omega-3-fatty acids in oily fish, nuts and seeds would reduce the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, which cause pain. I advised Jo to have more nuts, seeds and fish the week before her period, as that is when the prostaglandins would start to increase.
Exercise assists with venous return and helps to prevent blood pooling in the pelvic region. I recommended Jo get up 30 mins earlier 3 times a week and go for a brisk walk before work. Sleeping with her legs raised a few days before her period would also helped with pelvic congestion by helping venous blood drainage overnight.
Jo had mild anaemia from her heavy bleeding so I advised her to use lemon juice when eating spinach, kale, broccoli etc to increase her iron absorption. Vitamin C increases the ability for you to absorb iron from vegetables. I also asked Jo to increase her consumption of beetroot to increase her iron levels.
As the liver needs to clear hormones, and endometriosis relates to hormone imbalances, to help reduce Jo’s bleeding and pain I advised her to remove caffeine and alcohol the week before her period. As they are both toxins, the liver would focus on clearing caffeine and alcohol instead of clearing hormones, resulting in increased pain and heavy bleeding.
As well as the dietary and lifestyle recommendations, I mixed a herbal formula specifically for Jo to help with her endometriosis, fluid retention and heavy bleeding.
In her next consult 4 weeks later Jo said the pain and discomfort was 40% better, and her emotions before her period were less erratic. The blood flow was also reduced, with her able to use just a sanitary towel on day 4 as opposed to a tampon and towel.
By her 3rd consult Jo attended a friend’s birthday on day 2 of her period, which would have been previously impossible. Jo was amazed that diet and lifestyle changes, herbs and supplements could have altered her life so dramatically.
Do you suffer from heavy, painful periods and have found NO relief? Drop Anita an email at [email protected]lifestyle.com.au or call her for a Naturopathy consult on 0434 915 423. Anita Chakraburtty (MSc Chem, B.Nat, Dip.Nut, Dip.Astrology) is a Naturopath who specialises in female and male reproductive health, fertility, labour, and chronic skin conditions. As a member of the FAA (Federation of Australian Astrology), Anita uses ancient astrological techniques to boost conception success. For more information visit her website at www.anitanaturallifestyle.com.au