It seems like it’s something that is unavoidable in the lives of most women today. I remember spending years in college throwing back Midol and. praying I didn’t run out of my synthetic period products.
I totally had that nightmare moment in grade 9 where I had to tie a sweater around my waist because my conventional tampon didn’t do it’s job. I missed days of school (and work) over the years because of my cycle and eventually went on oral contraceptives to manage them.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of oral contraceptives because there is so MUCH information on the topic but I will share a few thoughts.
*I am not a medical professional nor do I claim to be. Discuss your health with your doctor and do not rely on my blog as medical advice.
This Pubmed article discusses a study that shows it took 80% of the women (in the study) a year before they successfully conceived after discontinuing the oral contraceptive they were on. I’ve seen that to be true in many conversations I’ve had over the years. Many women think they can get pregnant immediately after quitting their birth control only to find out it’s quiet difficult. Think about this way. Birth control makes yours uterus a hostile environment to conception. You essentially are damaging that environment so it has to heal and if it does heal, there may be a better chance of successfully conceiving.
I’m not a doctor but life experience as a woman has opened my eyes to many things pertaining to reproductive health.
This is an interesting article on the risks and benefits of oral contraceptives which discusses how long term uses puts women at risk of blood clots, heart attacks, stroke, increased blood pressure, liver tumours as well as an increased risk of breast and cervical cancer! YIKES.
I ditched oral contraceptives and conventional period products the first year of my marriage. If you’re curious about how to manage fertility naturally, check out this article which explains various methods.
I want to share 14 ways I (naturally) manage my cycle today and how it’s impacted my reproductive health for the better.
Ditch The Dirtys.
- No More Birth Control. Like I mentioned above, I quit birth control and opted for NFP. I’ll never forget my first cycle after birth control because it was extremely painful. Now that I’ve had two children naturally, I can say the pain of that period was similar to early labour pains. I think it was because my body was completely detoxing from birth control. It took my body a year to regulate my cycle. IF that doesn’t say something about chemical contraceptives, I don’t know what does!
- Opted for Reusable Period Products. Have you tried them yet? Check out my blog post on reusable period products here. The truth may surprise you! I love cloth pads and menstrual cups. I’ll never go back to tampons and cotton pads. I don’t miss the chemicals or the mess! Amazingly, switching to these types of products has reduced my period pain almost completely. No more cramps and that alone is half the battle!
- No More Midol. Is Midol even a thing anymore? My age is showing! So, I don’t avoid medication all together but if there is a more natural option, I want to try that instead. Long term use of OTC meds like aspirin, ibuprofen and Tylenol are going have to have an impact on our liver. If I can avoid that, I’ll try. Sometimes my natural methods may not be able to get a migraine under control and I have to pop a Tylenol and drink a coke. That is worst case scenario for me, though.
Natural Pain Management.
- Essential Oils. If you know me, you know I love to use a variety of things for health and illness. Essential oils are one of those things that are so versatile. You can diffuse them, dilute them with a carrier oil to put over your lower abdomen or put a few drops in your bath! I love Lavender for it’s soothing scent and anti-inflammatory properties. Peppermint is my go to for nausea and headache! There are so many more excellent oils for pain management. A little research goes a long way!
- Heat. Heat therapy has been used for many years to manage pain. I like to switch things up with a hot bath, hot water bottle or heating pad of I’m having any pain. Since I’ve switched to natural products, I rarely experience cramps now but I love heat therapy when I do!
Herbs. If I could become an herbalist…….but seriously herbs are an incredible way to manage period pain, naturally. When I was pregnant I drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea to strengthen my uterus. It’s also incredibly useful for cramps during your cycle. After my sons were born, I took this herbal tincture to help with the pain of after birth. Skullcap tincture has been useful for me to manage headaches associated with PMS. This article by Herbal Academy goes into more detail about the various types of pain relieving herbs and their profiles!
- CBD Oil and THC. I’m fairly new to trying CBD and THC for pain management but I have to say that the pain relieving properties of both are incredible. I find that CBD oil taken orally is my go to for headaches and general pain. CBD oil has also been great for my mood regulation and anxiety that often peaks during PMS. It’s important to understand that there is a difference between CBD and Cannabis products. CBD has very little if any THC in it, which is the component that has hallucinogenic properties.
For pain management I typically take 1 ML of CBD oil sublingually. It also has helped my focus and concentration when I’m fatigued. 5 MG of THC is what often helps me sleep at night, especially if I have any pain or anxiety flaring up. This amount does not bring on any hallucinogenic feelings for me but instead makes me feel very sleepy. I take it orally in the form of a gummy. It’s very important to research both CBD and THC to understand pain receptors, dosing and the different ways in which it will affect you, depending on how you ingest it. It also takes time to figure out appropriate dosing, especially for pain management.
- Chiropractic Care. Is there anything that chiropractic care can’t do? But seriously, it has been instrumental in relieving pain associated with my cycle and the overall management of my cycle. You can’t go wrong with Chiropractic care. A little research goes a long way in showing how helpful spinal manipulation can be for improving pain associated with your menstrual cycle!
Inside and Out.
- You Are What You Eat. So, I’m not suggesting you diet to feel better when you’re pmsing. But I am talking about how our overall diet going to have an impact on how our body manages pain. I’ve personally noticed that I feel better when I’m eating clean. Whereas I tend to have the worst periods when I’m eating highly processed foods. Sadly, those are the things I crave so I try to have a balance.
- Water. Is water the cure for everything? When I keep myself hydrated, I feel better. If I get tired of plain water, I’ll grab a club soda for that fizzy feeling. Staying hydrated is going to help ward off headaches that are often brought on by fluctuating hormones. Get yourself a cute (and functional) water bottle so it’s easier to keep yourself hydrated.
- Rest. Fatigue can be a huge symptom of my cycle. Sometimes I can feel like I’m walking through mud. Having two toddlers to chase all day is probably part of the exhaustion! But I try to be intentional about getting adequate if not more rest during my cycle. Last night I went to bed at 8:30! I also try to keep my days low key, even if that means having the TV on more than usual, for my kids. Do what you have to, to give your body the rest it needs.
- Track It. Natural Family Planning helped me understand where I was at in my cycle based on things like cervical position, cervical mucus and body temperature. Having an app to track your period and ovulation can be extremely helpful! It can give you a heads up to start preparing for your cycle so you aren’t caught off guard and unprepared.
Keep It Clean.
- Get a Peri bottle. Is it weird that I still have my peri bottle from when I gave birth? Don’t worry, I disinfect it! It’s a game changer for me when I’m on my cycle. It also means I don’t have to shower 5 times a day. It lessens my use to TP as well. Good for me, good for the earth. Win win!
- Cloth Wipes. I love my reusable TP. I love it even more during that time of the month! It just provides a better, more efficient clean. Cloth wipes and a peri bottle keep things clean and fresh. Who doesn’t want that?! Check out Etsy for handmade reusable TP. It’s so easy to use and I wash mine with my cloth pads.
I have no secrets of success when it comes to managing my cycle but I have learned so much about my body over the years by doing two things. I listen to my body and I research everything. I’m a firm believe in self advocacy when it comes to health. No-one is going to care more about my health than ME!
If I can do things for my body that contain less chemicals, I’m going to do it. I know that it means a happier, healthier me.
What are some ways that you’ve been able to manage your cycle over the years?