Six habits to support a healthy menstrual cycle
A healthy, regular menstrual cycle is our monthly check in with our mind and body. When our cycle is healthy, it shows that we are healthy and in balance. Imbalances in the menstrual cycle can occur, such as irregular cycles, absent periods, scant or heavy periods.
Here are my top tips to ensuring a regular menstrual cycle.
During sleep is when our body repairs and regulates. Not only this but when we sleep well, we are more relaxed and not likely to reach for sugary foods or caffeine. Poor sleep raises blood sugar and encourages unhealthy eating patterns. Good sleep ensures we are balanced, relaxed and this means that our cycle balances too.
2. Balanced nutrition
This ensures healthy insulin and blood sugar levels which impacts on our overall hormone health. Not only this, but what we eat is fuel for each and every cell in our body and every body process. So great nutrition means great hormonal and body functions.
Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds and avocados are essential for hormone balance. Fibre is essential for good digestion and effective hormonal balance as excess hormones oestrogen is excreted through the digestive system as well as hormones being regulated by the liver. Healthy digestion and liver contributes to healthy hormone balance and a healthy menstrual cycle.
It is also recommended to quit or at least significantly reduce alcohol consumption. Alcohol causes oestrogen to rise, it can also contribute to weight gain and loss of control over eating habits.
Fasting, low calorie diets and carbohydrate restricting diets are not recommended, as these can suppress ovulation and impact on cycle regularity.
3. Cyclical exercise
Moving our body is so important for many reasons, it keeps the body fit and supports our mental health. I’ve mentioned cyclical exercise as too much intense, heavy exercise, particularly during our period can begin to disrupt our cycle and hormones. Cyclical exercise means varying our activities during our cycle, gentle yoga in the run up to menstruation, rest during our period and more exertion during pre-ovulation and ovulation.
Being aware of our exercise and getting enough but not too much can support a healthy cycle. Exercising to excess can actually cause your periods to become irregular or stop.
4. Cycle charting
Cycle charting can help you to live in tune with your cycle, knowing when to rest more or when to avoid more stressful situation can really help you to manage your cycle. Knowing when your period is due can reduce stress and ensure that you’re able to plan your life around your cycle instead of fighting against it!
Charting includes taking and recording your waking body temperature (basal body temperature or BBT) each morning. As well as charting the consistency of your cervical fluid (it goes stretchy and egg white when fertile) and any symptoms you notice, such as breast tenderness, very tiny amount of spotting, slight pelvic discomfort or bloating. Any pain, significant mid-cycle spotting, bleeding or unusual discharge should be investigated.
You'll need a fertility thermometer with 2 decimal points (for Celsius) that goes under the tongue, because you need to take your temperature in bed before you get up, talk or drink and at a similar time each day.
Fertility ones tend to have a memory so you can just take it and doze off again! Take your temperature every morning as soon as you wake up. You can take it provided you’ve had three hours sleep, so if you’ve had a very broken sleep without three hours together, be aware that it may not be accurate and disregard that temperature.
Charting your temperature will show you after you’ve ovulated. The rise in the hormone progesterone causes your temperature to rise. Therefore, if you ovulate you’ll see a rise in your temperature. There may be a very slight temperature drop before you ovulate but this can be very minimal just 0.something degree so you may miss it.
5. Herbs and essential oils
So many menstrual cycle loving options to choose from! Herbs such as raspberry leaf tea support the womb and cycle. Lemon balm can aid stress relief and relaxation. Essential oils such as geranium have been shown to have a calming and balancing effect. Ylang ylang and lavender are calming, as is frankincense, clary sage is great for hormonal balancing.
As mentioned above, being relaxed is so important for hormonal balance. When we’re stressed the stress hormone cortisol is released which can impact on our hormonal balance. Increased stress also encourages poor nutrition, excess sugar, caffeine and results in poor sleep, all of which can affect our hormone balance. Walks in nature, meditation and herbs and essential oils can help us to reduce stress and feel calm.
Overall a balanced and healthy lifestyle and regular relaxation can help to balance your cycle. If you have concerns regarding your cycle please see your GP to arrange blood and other tests which can rule out an underlying cause.
* Seek professional advice for essential oils and herbs if you have an underlying condition, take medication, are pregnant or breastfeeding.