endometriosis

What to Do About Heavy Periods

Are you avoiding social events because of your heavy period? Missing work? Soaking through a great outfit, or your mattress?  How about getting on birth control for your wedding to avoid a blood bath on your special day?

If you have heavy periods, they can be very inconvenient. They can also be exhausting.  

I always say that your period blood isn’t ‘extra blood’, it’s real substance that your body made with work and nutrients. And it’s work to make it all over again.  Now, if you health is good and your flow is normal, it’s all good.  But when your flow is excessive, you can end up depleted.

This article will help define what a heavy period is, why it happens, and some great ideas on what to do about it.  So let’s get started!

 

1. How Much is Too Much Menstrual Bleeding?

 

The range of normal flow is 10-60 ml, according to the National Health Service of the UK.

According the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research, the average flow a woman has is 30 ml, or 2 Tablespoons.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s 6 soaked tampons or pads.  Considering that most women will have a heavy day or two, and a few light days (4-6 days in total), this sounds about right.

Over 60 ml or over 80 ml (depending who you ask), i.e. 16 soaked menstrual pads, is considered menorrhagia- very heavy menstrual bleeding often with clots and flooding.  Women in last category will often experience iron-deficient anemia (inadequate red blood cell count).

While it’s normal to have a heavy day or two, if you have to always pair a tampon with a pad, or re-arrange your schedule around your flow, it’s too much. If you have heavy multiple heavy days, like 4+ heavy days, it’s also too much. If you find yourself very exhausted and short of breath due to your period, these are further symptoms.

 

2. What Causes Excess Menstrual Bleeding?

 

The most common reason for heavy bleeding is estrogen dominance. First let’s define estrogen, and how it affects your cycle.

Estrogen is a hormone that influences many processes in your body, from bone formation to clear thinking. Estrogen is mainly made in the ovaries, although it can also be made by the adrenal glands or in your fat tissue.

Each time you have a period, your hormone levels drop. When they drop, the brain registers this change and signals your ovaries to make more estrogen. This estrogen ripens a new egg for the next period cycle, and the estrogen grows your uterine lining.  

This growth phase is fairly short. You have your period for 4-6 days (ideally), and then your build the lining up for about another ten days. At day 14 (ideally), you ovulate. While you continue to make estrogen, another hormone, progesterone, becomes the dominant player after ovulation.  The progesterone firms up and matures your uterine lining, making it hospitable for a potential pregnancy.  

Now let’s say this ideal picture is disturbed by too much estrogen, or not enough progesterone to balance out the estrogen. Then you get more growth in you uterine lining. This means more blood at period time, and can lead to big clots too.

There are lots of reasons for estrogen dominance. Not all of them will apply to you (:  So I’m giving a clear heading for each type, so you can scan over them and see which may be a match for you. In section three, we’ll cover ways to address these issues, so keep reading!

A.  You Are Getting Your First Periods

When you have your first period as a young woman, estrogen levels pump up!  As your ovaries come to life, your brain and ovaries learn how to dance together, and your first few years of cycling can be irregular. Heavy, painful periods are commonly reported in teenage women.

This does not mean you have to just accept your fate or get on birth control pills. Many young women have a poor diet and are being exposed to chemicals and growth hormones. Please see the ‘What Can You Do About Heavy Bleeding?’ section for tips!

B. You are Overweight

Your fat cells house an enzyme called aromatase, used in the manufacture of estrogen. The higher your percentage of body fat, the more estrogen you can produce. As you reduce stored body fat, your estrogen production will lessen as well. Ironically, when you lose weight you will release estrogen that was stored in that fat tissue, and you can become more hormonally imbalanced in the process. So lose weight at a moderate pace.

As you age, the lowered amount of estrogen you produce can slow your metabolism and lead to more weight gain, especially in the middle.  Conversely, the amount of estrogen you produce in your fat and other peripheral locations can cause an estrogen overload and heavy periods. Sometimes it’s just not fair! (Source

C.  You are Exposing Yourself to Chemicals and Food Additives

Before I became educated, I would look at my shampoo bottle and its list of chemical ingredients and think, “well I’m sure these are safe for me or they wouldn’t be in here.” Nope.  

According to a 2013 article in the NY Times, “In its history, the E.P.A. has mandated safety testing for only a small percentage of the 85,000 industrial chemicals available for use today. And once chemicals are in use, the burden on the E.P.A. is so high that it has succeeded in banning or restricting only five substances, and often only in specific applications: polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxin, hexavalent chromium, asbestos and chlorofluorocarbons.”

Many of these chemicals are xenoestrogens, or chemical compounds that look like estrogen to the body. When these chemicals get inside of you, through eating them, rubbing them on your skin, or inhaling them, they attach to estrogen receptors in the body. That means your cells get the estrogen message, and to the uterine lining that means “grow”! 

That’s why it’s so important to limit your exposure to these compounds, at any age. For a some women, these compounds could mean heavy periods.  For other women, they can contribute to breast and other cancers. (Source)

D.  You Have an Underactive Thyroid

Thyroid disease is skyrocketing in our culture. According to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime and women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. 

Your low thyroid activity can lead to low reproductive hormone production. This can mean you don’t ovulate as often, or that you make less progesterone.  

When you have low thyroid activity you also have decreased sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), which can mean that more estrogen in circulation, leading to heavy periods. (Source)

To complicate matters, high estrogen can bind up thyroid hormone, feeding the imbalance!

E.  You Are Not Ovulating  

Here’s some news that most women don’t seem to know; just because you have periods doesn’t necessarily mean you are ovulating. Sometimes the body seems to be cycling, because it is trying to achieve that, but it’s kind of going through the motions.

This can be due to stress, due to being underweight or nutrient deficient, due to perimenopause, or due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Whatever the cause, if you don’t ovulate, then you’re going to make less progesterone (which is made after ovulation), so you won’t have that to balance out the estrogen production.

If you don’t ovulate you can also get your period in a very delayed timeline, so then the estrogen is left unchecked for even longer.  

F.  You Have Low Progesterone

This cause is a cousin to the ‘you are not ovulating’ cause above. Even if you do ovulate, if you ovulate a poor quality egg, or have other hormone production problems, then the estrogen is left somewhat unchecked.  This may also cause spotting and breakthrough bleeding in weeks 3-4 of your cycle.

G.  You Are in Perimenopause

During perimenopause (the ~ 10 years before menopause), you ovarian function starts to decline.  The eggs are generally not as good of quality anymore, though some are better than others. Estrogen is being made well some months, and not so well other months. So some months you’ll have a more normal cycle, and other months you can flow quite early, late or heavily. 

To some extent this is ‘normal’, as the body is aging and getting ready to leave its reproductive phase. (It’s sad; I know.) But there are ways to ease the transition too.

H.  You Have Fibroids or Endometriosis

Fibroids are masses that form in or on your uterus. Estrogen dominance is generally to blame for how these grow in the first place. Then to make matters worse, they respond to the cyclic hormonal changes of your menstrual cycle, and grow and shed like your uterine lining.

This can cause very heavy bleeding and can lead to anemia.

Some women can have a separate condition called endometriosis. Uterine tissue migrates outside the uterus, for example, around the abdomen. When a woman menstruates, endometrial tissue - wherever it is in the body - bleeds.

I. You Have Recently Given Birth or Had a Miscarriage

Birth

After I gave birth to my son, I was shocked by how much bleeding I had for so long. Though everyone generously gave me blankets and baby toys, no one warned me about this!

According to the folks at What To Expect, “the heaviest of the bleeding will last for about three to ten days after labor and delivery and then it should taper off to lighter spotting after pregnancy. You'll see the difference in the color as this starts to happen, from red to pink, then brown, and finally to a yellowish white. Lochia (mix of blood, mucous, tissue) should stop flowing around four to six weeks after delivery.”

I definitely remember bleeding for a least a month. If you continue the bleed heavily after 10 days (like changing a pad every hour), contact your doctor.  Even if you had a C-Section, you will still be expelling blood and loch after birth.

Miscarriage

I have never had a miscarriage, but I’ve heard some horror stories from my clients.

If you are less than eight weeks pregnant when the miscarriage occurs, the expelled tissue will look no different from heavy menstrual bleeding. The further along you are in pregnancy, the heavier the bleeding and more severe the cramps.

According to Maricopa OBGYN page,

“During the miscarriage, you may bleed heavily, soaking a pad every 10 minutes.  The cramping can be quite uncomfortable. 

Although cramping, bleeding and occasional clotting is normal after both a miscarriage and a D&C, you should not be soaking more than 2 pads an hour nor experience worsening, exquisite pain after the uterus has been emptied.  These are important symptoms to report to you doctor.

During your recovery, you will continue to bleed, on and off, for up to 3 weeks.  Some minor cramping will continue in the next few days also. If bleeding increases or stays bright red, or if you have foul-smelling discharge or a fever or persistent cramping, contact your health care provider.”

J.  Uterine and Cervical Cancer

It is possible that heavy bleeding could arise from uterine or cervical cancer.  These conditions could involve heavy flow or spotting at random times, or after sex. The odds are that your heavy flow or spotting is due to an item in above list.  

Cervical cancer usually will not process to heavy bleeding unless the disease is quite progressed.  The best prevention is to practice safe safe and to get a pap smear every 5 years or as directed by your physician.  Cervical cancer often develops from certain strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

Uterine cancer is more comely diagnosed in women over 50 years old, although there are other risk factors such as obesity and a history of irregular cycles.  Every year, about 52,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with uterine cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

K. Hemophilia

It is possible that you will have heavy bleeding due to a blood clotting disorder.  If you are missing clotting factors VIII or IX, you will also experience easy bruising or nose bleeds, and can have very heavy bleeding after childbirth. You will probably have menstrual pain as well.  This condition is rare, 1 in 5,000 - 10,000 for type A and 1 in 50,000 - 100,000 in type B, but if you suspect this, especially if there is heavy bleeding in your family, ask your doctor.

 

3. What Can You Do About Heavy Bleeding?

 

As I shared above, the most common reason for heavy bleeding is estrogen dominance, so let’s start there for solutions:

A. Avoid Xenoestrogens

Xenoestrogens are synthetic chemicals that look and act like estrogen in your body. When these are present, it’s easy to get into estrogen dominance and heavy periods. The top tips are:  

  1. Eat organic

  2. Use all natural cleaning and beauty products

  3. Avoid using plastics for cooking and food storage.

B.  Watch your Weight

Estrogens are also made in your fat tissue through a process called aromatization. If you are trying to eat right and exercise but can’t lose weight, avoid xeno-estrogens, check your thyroid, make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

C. Check Your Thyroid

I love Izabella Wentz’s ‘safety theory’ that theorizes that when your body is under stress (emotional, chemical, or pathogenic), it dials down thyroid production as a way to get you to safely hibernate. It’s fascinating. Read about it here.  

If you do get your thyroid checked, be sure to do it up right, getting a full thyroid panel and having it interpreted by a functional medicine type practitioner. Jen Wittman of Thyroid Loving Care has some great info on that here.

D.  Try Herbs and Supplements

I am not a fan of using supplements unless you have a solid base of good habits, and have checked for other underlying causes.  But I will mention a few nice supplements here, and you can check with you doctor if it’s safe for you to use them.

1. Vitex - This herb, that is also called chaste tree berry, seems to benefit communication between your ovaries and your brain, and it’s especially good at increasing progesterone. It may not be as useful for women in their late 40s, and it may not be a fit for everyone, but it has many success stories. It can be taken daily throughout your cycle. Use for 6 months, unless you have an adverse reaction.

2. Di-Indoly Methane (DIM)- DIM is a star at clearing excess estrogen. It’s often used for PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) but it can be useful in most any case of estrogen dominance.  For more information, see this blog at NaturoDoc.  According to Dr. Holly Lucille, ND, RN, DIM shifts estrogen metabolism to the healthy 2-hydroxy pathway (makes for nice skin) in place of the troublesome 16-hydroxy pathway (makes for heavy periods and cancers).

3. Calcium-D-Glucarate (CDG)-This is one I’ve just learned about recently. CDG also does a great job at clearing spent estrogen from the body. Here’s some cool information on how it works from Dave Asprey at bulletproof.com

“One of the ways the body gets rid of toxins is through a process called conjugation.  During conjugation, toxins are packaged into water soluble compounds called glucuronides.  Glucuronides are meant to pass from the liver, to the bile, then to the gut where they are excreted.  However, high levels of an enzyme called beta-glucuronide can inhibit this process.  This enzyme separates toxins from their conjugate bond and allows them to be reabsorbed.  This allows toxins to keep circulating in the body where they make you fat, tired, and weak.

Calcium-d-glucarate prevents beta-glucuronide from disturbing this process.  It keeps the toxins bound inside a glucuronide which is then removed from the body.  Toxins are most damaging in their free form, which is why you want them to be bound (conjugated) and released from the body.  Calcium-d-glucarate inhibits beta-glucuronidase which allows toxins to be removed.”

E. Heal Your Gut

You might be surprised to hear that your digestive tract has anything to do with heavy periods!  But it’s so. Your gut is the place where food is broken down into the nutrients you need to make hormones. It’s also the place where used hormones are broken down and expelled. So it needs to be a healthy environment, free of inflammation, full of good bacteria, and moving daily.

This is a big topic to cover, but here are two top tips:

  1. Chew your food and eat a relaxed fashion. Gulping down food while scanning your smartphone does not lead to proper digestion.

  2. Eat a variety of fibers daily/ weekly. Fibers from berries, nuts, seeds and vegetables will fuel the friendly bacteria in your gut. And don’t get stuck eating the same 4-5 things; mix it up for greater bacteria diversity.

F.  Try Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine can be a relaxing way to balance your hormones. Herbal formulas like Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, and treatments like moxibustion on your spleen 1 point can stop a heavy flow.  Look for a practitioner who specializes in women’s health in your area. If you’re in Portland, Oregon, come check us out at Blue Sky Wellness Studio.

G. Zen Out

A major hormone disruptor is stress. It blocks hormone receptors, raises blood sugar and blocks production of reproductive hormones. The reproductive hormone that goes down first is usually progesterone, and you’ve learned you need that to balance out the estrogen.

My best advice here is to focus on having fun. If you stay connected with friends, go to a delicious meal with your sweetie, or take a work break to visit the sauna (I did this today), it’s hard to stay obsessed with your problems. Problems will always be there, so seize the moment and enjoy life!

H.  Seed Cycling

Seed cycling means taking certain nuts and seeds in the first 2 weeks or your cycle, and another type in the second two weeks.  The alternating phases support first your estrogen production and then your progesterone production, plus the fiber helps clear spent hormones. I already wrote a whole blog on this topic, which you can access here

Wow, thanks for sticking with me and reading this very long article on heavy periods! I hope it helps you. If you’d like more in-depth support, we offer private health coaching through our Restore Your Radiance program here.

We are soon coming out with our own line of supplements, and will have a formula that includes vitex, DIM and DCG!  Stay tuned through our newsletter here.

Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP

Founder of Women’s Wellness Collaborative

What to Do About Menstrual Cramps

I’ve have gotten a few questions in a row about menstrual cramps, so thank you for guiding me on what information you want!

There are two types of menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea), primary and secondary.  I’ll first give some tips on dealing with primary dysmenorrhea, and then cover the sources of secondary dysmenorrhea.  

Primary Dysmenorrhea

Primary dysmenorrhea is caused from the normal process of shedding your uterine lining each month with your period.  But the degree of pain and cramping varies for each woman, and you can influence the level of pain naturally.  

Here’s a bit of background on why menstrual cramps happen from the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine

“In the 1960s, it became evident that chemicals called prostaglandins are a central part of the problem. These chemicals are made from the traces of fat stored in cell membranes, and they promote inflammation. They are also involved in muscle contractions, blood vessel constriction, blood clotting, and pain.

Shortly before a period begins, the endometrial cells that form the lining of the uterus make large amounts of prostaglandins. When these cells break down during menstruation, the prostaglandins are released. They constrict the blood vessels in the uterus and make its muscle layer contract, causing painful cramps. Some of the prostaglandins also enter the bloodstream, causing headache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Researchers have measured the amount of prostaglandins produced by the endometrial cells and found that it is higher in women with menstrual pain than for women who have little or no pain.”

The article goes on to explain a way to lower prostaglandins through food. How can this be done? Because prostaglandins are produced in the endometrium (aka endometrial lining) of the uterus, and because the endometrium grows in response to estrogen, if we can keep estrogen within a healthy range, then that lining will not overgrow, causing an overproduction in prostaglandins.  Pretty cool, right?  

Tips for Menstrual Cramps

1.  Magnesium

Your uterus is smooth muscle, and it requires magnesium to cramp smoothly. This is true for labor as well as your monthly period.  In addition to relaxing the muscles, it helps calcium be absorbed, and calcium is important for proper muscle function as well.

Due to insufficient minerals in the soil, insufficient greens and healthy foods in the diet and increased mineral need due to bodily stress, most of us are not getting nearly enough magnesium.

When I ask women if they are taking magnesium, they usually say, “well I’m taking a multivitamin.”

Unless you are taking a multivitamin with several pills included, the chances are you are not getting enough magnesium for your supplementation.

Magnesium is very bulky, and it requires usually four pills to reach the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of 400 mg.  If you don’t want to take a handful of pills, there is also magnesium powder that you can mix up with water.  And there is magnesium spray for your skin, and magnesium salts (Epsom salts) that you can use in your bath.  You can also get more magnesium form getting lots more greens in smoothies, salads or cooked form. 

Also note the RDA of 400 mg may not be quite enough for you.  You can experiment with taking more, and can safely do so long as it does not cause diarrhea.  Of course always ask your physician first if you are taking medication or have special conditions.

2. Drink Enough Water

A handful of clients have told me that just drinking more water cured their cramps.  It’s a basic, un-sexy tip, but water is important for tissue hydration and detoxification, so it makes sense that it can help.

The usual guideline for how much water to drink is half your body weight in ounces of water.  So if you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water per day.  I think there is wiggle room here for less water if you are in cold climate and are no active, and more water if you are in a hot climate and more active.  

If you are actively detoxing, you may need more water.  That can include the natural process of detoxification that happens in the days before and during your period, and also if you are doing a detoxification protocol with a practitioner. 

Please try to drink filtered water, and don’t count coffee, juice or other heavier beverages in your ounces per day.  Note that coffee and other caffeinated beverages are actually de-hydrating because they act as a diuretic.  

Drink water away from meals as too much fluid with meals dilutes your digestive fluids.  Try to sip water to not overwhelm your body with fluid by gulping it down.  First thing is the morning is a great time to get hydrated and have a big glass of water.  Room temperature and warm is best, and you can add a generous squeeze of lemon of you like.

3.  Fish Oil (or Algae oil)

Whenever we have pain, including with menstrual cramps, there is usually inflammation. 

Fish oil is great anti-inflammatory substance.  It has the ability to manage inflammation over the long-term and also in acute situations. (Source)

For a standard maintenance dosage, 1,000 mg of fish oil is enough. But if you are coming from a background of lots of inflammation and you’ve never taken fish oil before, you may want to take 3,000 mg a day for a month. 

It’s not well known that fish oil can be used acutely at higher doses than 1,000 mg.  For example if you feel a flu coming on, you can take 3,000 + mg of fish oil a day, as it fortifies your cells’ walls so they don’t pass the virus.  For cramps, you can take a higher dose to help reduce the inflammatory prostaglandin activity.  

Another benefit of fish oil is it’s ability to regulate the immune system in cases of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases are more common in women, and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune thyroid disease, can contribute to estrogen dominance and resulting heavy periods and cramps.

If you are allergic to fish or on a vegetarian diet, you can take a DHA / EPA oil (these are two types of beneficial fat found in fish oil) made from algae instead of fish.  Here is a link to some products by Nordic Naturals.

4.  Anti-inflammatory Diet

Please don’t follow tips 1 - 3 without also creating a stable base with an anti-inflammatory diet. A big, big reason that women have menstrual pain is due to tissue inflammation from an inflammatory diet. Inflammation blocked hormone receptors, causing hormone imbalance.

Foods to avoid:

  • The whites- white bread, pasta, pastries and sugar

  • The drinks- wine, beer, juices, sodas, sweetened coffees and teas

  • The oils- seed oils like canola oil are inflammatory are found in most processed foods and restaurant foods

Foods to increase include:

  • Fatty fish like wild salmon and anchovies

  • Green vegetables

  • Berries like raspberry and blueberry

  • Fresh nuts and seeds like chia seeds and walnuts

  • Herbs like clove, ginger, cinnamon and rosemary

Foods high in fiber help clear excess circulating estrogen through the gut. As you learned earlier, keeping estrogen levels in a healthy range can reduce menstrual cramps caused by high prostaglandins.  

Other Reason for Menstrual Cramps (Secondary Dysmenorrhea)

A. Uterine Positioning

As you can hear about in my interview with Rachel Eyre, if your uterus is adhered to other tissues and can’t move freely, it is forced to twist which can cause you pain.  But you can treat that with specialized massage, castor oil packs or yoni steams, as Rachel explains.  

The whole interview is great, but I’ll point out that at minute 22 we start to talk about cramps, and at minute 35 we talk about techniques that can help.

B.  Endometriosis

Endometriosis can cause extreme pain, and also pain with intercourse, or bowel pain.  If your cramps require prescription painkillers and days off work, you may need to find a practitioner to help determine if you have endometriosis.  

Endometriosis occurs when endometrial tissue (the tissue that lines your inner uterus) is found outside the uterus.  This misplaced tissue adheres to other tissues, and the endometrial tissue also responds to changes in your hormone levels with bleeding and inflammation.

Here is an article by our friend Melissa Turner at Endo Empowered about how to ready yourself for your period if you do have endometriosis.  Some of the tips match mine above, but she has some great new ones too, including using warming herbs and exercise.  Melissa and I also recorded a video on turmeric, which is another herb she uses to reduce inflammation and pain.  

 

C.  Adenomyosis

In this condition, the endometrial lining embeds within the uterine muscle, causing period pain or lingering pain after sex.  Risk factors for adenomyosis are genetics, estrogen dominance, childbirth or a surgical cut into the uterus.  An ultrasound or MRI scan can help with diagnosis.

D.  Fibroids

Fibroids are tumors of the uterus that are non-cancerous 99% of the time.  Up to 80% of women experience fibroids, and most women will be symptom free.  Dark-skinned women have a greater chance of having fibroids.  This is theorized to be related to low vitamin D levels in dark-skinned women, emphasizing the importance of vitamin D to our hormonal balance.

The mechanism of fibroids is not totally understood, but they grow under the influence of estrogen, so women with estrogen dominance are susceptible.  Estrogen dominance is very common as women approach menopause, so women in their 40s are prone to fibroids.

Uterine fibroids can occur within the walls of the uterus, inside the uterus or outside the uterus. Fibroids can cause menstrual pain, pelvic pain, heavy bleeding, abnormal bleeding, fatigue and anemia.

We have a great interview on the subject with Dr. Allan Warshowsky here.

 

E.  Copper IUD (Intrauterine Device)

I use a copper IUD for birth control and have very rarely experienced pain from it.  But I have heard stories from other women in which they reacted very poorly to their IUD, having pain and heavy bleeding.  This seems to be more common in younger women who have not gone through childbirth.

If you recently got a copper IUD, you may need a few months to adjust.  If you suspect it is still a problem, consult with your physician.  Also consider following my four tips above before you throw in the towel.

F.  Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

If you have an untreated infection it can cause increased pain with your periods. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease occurs mainly due to STD (sexually transmitted disease), but can also occur after childbirth and pelvic surgeries, including abortions.  It can cause cause infertility and can seriously stress your other body systems. According to Wed MD, one million American women experience PID each year.

Other symptoms of PID could be abdominal pain, painful urination, pain after sex, yellow or green vaginal discharge, chills/fever and nausea/vomiting.  If you suspect a PID, see a doctor.  And always practice protected sex with an untested partner. (Source)

G.  Cervical Stenosis

I have never encountered this cause in my years or work, but it is a possible cause so I will share it. Cervical stenosis is a narrow or narrowing of the cervix, the lower portion of the uterus.  If this area is narrow and your menstrual blood is trying to pass, this can case increased pain.

H. Uterine Shape

Some women have an irregularly shaped uterus that can lead to increased menstrual pain.  These abnormalities are:   bicornuate uterus (two uteri that lead to one cervix), septate uterus (normal uterus with a fibrous band of tissue bisecting it), unicornuate uterus (a uterus that develops from only one mullerian duct), uterus didelphys (two uteri, two cervices, and a septum, or membrane, dividing the vaginal canal).  (Source)

These conditions can be diagnosed by medical imaging, and are sometimes diagnosed during a C section.

I hope this article helps you get out of some monthly distress!  

Feel free to share your own tips for menstrual cramps below.

If you have not yet taken our interactive quiz on Your Hidden Hormone Stressors, we invite you to do so here.

My Pain: My Motivation For Changing The Lives of Women by Melissa Turner

I had endometriosis. It was unbelievably painful. It is a condition that affects over 176 million women around the world and yet most of us have never heard of the condition. In some cases women endure pain for years before realizing that what they are experiencing is far from normal. I did this too. I believed that my excruciating period pain was normal. I thought my swollen belly and my aching body was normal. I thought that regular PMS and erratic mood swings were normal. Gotta love those TV commercials that say all of this is just part of being a women… right?

Women are told from an early age that period pain is simply part of their cycle. Something they have to learn to deal with. That they shouldn’t be so weak or pathetic and that every women goes through this. This is why endometriosis can take over ten years to get properly diagnosed and in many cases it can dramatically effect the ability of women to get pregnant!

I had never heard of endometriosis. Have you?

The most common symptoms of endometriosis include painful periods and pain during sex. Endometriosis is a condition where the cells which are meant to remain in the uterus, spread into the abdominal cavity and grow and change along with the cycle. These eventually form adhesions and cysts, which cause incredible pain for many women. Though pain is a key indicator of endometriosis, some women don’t experience any pain or little pain as their cysts form in less obtrusive places.

I had pain though. I had pain from my very first period and it lasted for over 15 years. I followed all the best meaning advice and went to the best specialists I could find. Some were doctors, endometriosis specialists and gynaecologist. I went through seven operations, a number of hormone treatments putting my body through menopause or stopping my periods all together. I had a huge arrange of pain-killers and drugs to overcome all the side-effects of the hormone treatments. I had a huge handbag and it was not filled with typical girly things. Instead it was filled with pain-killers and drugs to help me to get through a typical day.

As much as I reached out for help, I never found any new insights or options from the typical medical sources.

Something had to change, and it all began with me finally taking responsibility for myself and my health.
— Melissa Turner

I began with throwing out all the junk in my life. The junk food, the junk relationships, the junk thoughts and all the chemicals I was adding into my body each and every day. I shifted my focus in a big way… it was about taking care of myself and my body. It was about providing for my body with real, nourishing foods. It was about filling my mind with positive and uplifting thoughts and it was about finally acknowledging and realizing my own strengths and loving myself.

I won’t lie. It wasn’t an easy journey. I certainly can relate to so many women who struggle to make the shift in using a holistic approach for their endometriosis. However, I can tell you that it has shifted more than my pain levels. I no longer experience pain or symptoms from endometriosis. I never believed that I could ever say that!

I also never believed that changing my thoughts, my food and my focus could shift me into a whole new life for myself. One filled with real fulfillment from my work and my relationships. I am finally open and energetically ready to do anything I wish to do in this world, without fear or limitation.

This is why I do what I do. I want more women to experience the shifts that I experienced when I finally started taking care of myself properly. It goes beyond simply eating a healthy diet or moving our bodies. It is about putting ourselves first and deciding that we are worth it. Truly worth it. Beyond beauty products and pretty dresses but worth taking care of in terms of our health and our personal well-being.

The REACH Technique©

I run an online business which supports women with endometriosis who are keen to use a holistic approach. I guide women on how to:

  1. Eat for real nourishment
  2. Move to help heal their bodies of anxiety and poor posture
  3. Change their thinking and shift old emotional pain
  4. Cleanse the body of contributors to developing endometriosis

I call it the REACH Technique© and you can get the full picture in my free online mini course.

 

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Melissa Turner

Harness Your Cycle Superpowers!

My guests today are Audrey Sourroubille Arnold and Lucia Lukanova, both women's health coaches and also partners in a women's health app called The Flow.

A bit about the pair:

Audrey- Diagnosed with endometriosis  a few years ago.  She feels her former high pressure career contributed to her endometriosis diagnosis and overall burn-out. She switched careers into women's health.

Lucia- Working long hours doing big technology projects. She got burned out as well, and started to learn about hormones of stress and the menstrual cycle. She started to notice the subtle symptoms related to the phases of her cycle. She wanted an app to help her track her cycle, but didn’t find one, so she started to develop one, now out in several languages, called the Flow App.

Stages of the Cycle

Week One- Starts with day one of your cycle.   Cleanse time, from the inside out- want to be alone and peaceful.  Your verbal skills are lower, but is a 'wise stage.'  Energy is low and if you push you get cravings to create energy.

Paula Ratcliffe ran the Chicago marathon in world record time, and was on day 1 of her cycle.

In transition from period to the next stage (dynamic), is a good time to knock out your to-do list.

Week Two- Dynamic phase- energy is good, accomplish things, 'maiden' phase

Ovulation- femme fatale moment - phéromones are high, vocal chords have highest range, good time to ask for pay raise

Post-ovulation- a mini PMS is possible

Week Three- Reflexive phase- decide what to keep or give up, evaluate, very empathic, mother, femininity, caring, nurturing 

Week Four- Creative phase, Enchantress, represents Autumn season

Some resources we mention on the show:

Audrey's website

Miranda Gray's website

Jason Karp's book, Running for Women: Your Complete Guide for a Lifetime of Running

Video on How to Use the Flow App

Ultimately you will have to download the Flow App from the app store on your smartphone, but you can find more info on the Flow App here.

You can listen to the full interview below, but be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get an interview weekly!  Just got into your the podcast app on your smartphone and search, "Womens Wellness Radio."

Enjoying the show?  We'd really appreciate you taking a moment to rate and review us on iTunes.

Eliminate Endometriosis Pain with Melissa Turner

Hello, and a big thank you for listening.  We've had a surge in listeners in the past month, and it's thanks to YOU listening and sharing!

About 6-8% of all women have endometriosis (source), and many of those experience severe, chronic pelvic pain.  Many of those women will undergo surgery, or multiple surgeries, as our guest expert Melissa Turner did.

Exhausted and frustrated, Melissa turned to dietary changes to see if that could help. She did find relief there, but also found that there was more the solution than obsessing over diet.

Melissa now experiences her cycle with nary a blip on her radar, and she teaches others to do the same at endoempowered.com.

In this interview, she explains how she developed her REACH method. (She's got a new Endo Wellness Technique program starting soon here.)

Melissa also made an appearance on our youtube channel to take about turmeric.

And she generously wrote a blog for us called, What Few People Will Dare to Tell You About Endometriosis.  Intrigued? Check it out here!

If you are not a subscriber to our podcast, we'd love for you to become one!  You can do so at iTunes, or search your podcast player for "Womens Wellness Radio."

Do you have any experiences overcoming your endometriosis symptoms?  Please share below.