Natural Strategies For Supporting Women's Monthly Cycle

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - 12:35pm

By Wendy Hodsdon, ND

Why are cycles so important? In nature, we recognize the importance of cycles. We see the cycle of the sun in a day and the moon in a month. The cycle of a year is reflected in seasons, and the cycle of ocean tides change daily, monthly and yearly. Cycles allow for change and balance.

Humans have cycles too. The heartbeat, breath, sleeping times and eating times are all expressions of the rhythmic cycles of the body. Human hormones also fluctuate in response to cycles. Cortisol is highest in the morning, growth hormone highest at night. Melatonin is secreted in relation to light exposure. Monthly, women’s hormones change according to the pattern of their menstrual cycle. The regularity of a cycle is our body’s normal functioning with nature’s rhythms. Cycles have a flow and momentum that allow our fluid human body to move, change and adapt more easily.

Menstruation and cycles

Animals, other than humans, do not have obvious monthly menstrual cycles. Menstruation most likely started when humans began to walk upright and the female pelvis became smaller, making childbirth more dangerous. Women needed a way to know that they were pregnant because of the risk involved in childbirth. Our menses is thus a sign of our evolution as a species.

Monthly bleeding has other benefits as well. The body uses menstruation to eliminate toxins, and therefore, it acts as a natural monthly cleansing. The hormones in women’s bodies help to keep bones strong and skin soft and resilient. Women often feel emotions more intensely and are more connected to their body right before or during menstruation. When a woman’s body is in hormonal balance, her period is a gentle, natural process and a blessing. However, too often women regard their period as an inconvenience and a mess. Periods are associated with mood swings, bloating, tender breasts and cramps. All these are not “normal,” but are signs that a body is out of hormonal balance. When a woman listens to what her body needs during her cycle, the physical symptoms often become less severe. Menstruation can be a time for rest and recuperation.

Ways to support your menstrual cycle

It is possible to support the body’s hormonal balance by supporting its cycles. During the first 14 days of a woman’s cycle, her body is making more estrogen. During days 15 until menstruation, the predominant hormone is progesterone.

To support these hormones and keep the liver functioning well, it is a good idea to avoid toxins that put an extra load on the hormone processing and elimination system. This can be as easy as making sure to drink enough water; reducing caffeine, alcohol and food allergens; and taking essential fatty acids on a rotating basis. Essential fatty acids are some of the building blocks the body uses to make hormones. To support the hormonal system, take fish oil days one to 14 of your cycle and fish oil plus evening primrose oil days 15 to 28 of your cycle. Rotational hormonal support can also be done with two tablespoons of ground flax or pumpkin seeds days one to 14 and ground sesame or sunflower seeds day 15 to 28. The seeds and oil taken during days 1 to 14 support estrogen; during 15 to 28, they support progesterone. The fiber in the seeds also helps the body to eliminate the hormones from the body at the appropriate time.

Listen to your body and recognise your cycle

Noticing your body’s cycles and the unique rhythm your body has though the years can be extremely enlightening and empowering. Try keeping track of when you menstruate, noting what cycle the moon is in when you do, what your mood is, what vaginal discharge is present. Can you notice when you ovulate? Can you tell which ovary releases the egg? Can you tell when menstruation will start? How do your cycles affect your sex drive? What happens to your premenstrual symptoms when you go on a cleanse or have a partner? Is there a time of year when your cycle is easier or more difficult? Notice how your body expresses cycles just as nature expresses cycles.

By observing your menstrual cycles, you can begin to see yourself connected to nature’s rhythms. These natural cycles are powerful in your body. Through constant movement, adjustments and changes, the body keeps from being stuck and allows for constant cleansing and renewal.