Tips For Managing Your (Period) Naturally!

Period pain.

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.

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*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!
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  • 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!
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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.
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  • 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!

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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?

The Truth About Reusable Hygiene Products.

If you would’ve told me 6 years ago that I’d be doing some of the things I do now, I would’ve raised an eyebrow at you.

And what I mean by that is how I’ve embraced this journey to living a life filled with less chemicals and opting for more natural alternatives. Sparing you the details of my reproductive history, I want to talk about some things I’ve been doing in the last couple of years that have a made a huge difference in my health.

But let’s start with the not so great news.

When it comes to disposable hygiene products like pads and tampons, did you know there are toxic chemicals in them?

Today, most cotton is genetically engineered (GE) and soaked in pesticides as it is not a consumable product. However, inserting a GE cotton tampon into your vagina several times each month may be worse than ingesting pesticides from GE food, considering the highly permeable nature of the vaginal wall. (Mercola)


The manufacturers of these products aren’t required by the FDA to disclose what is in their product. And while they want you to believe that the amount of chemicals in them is harmless, think about something for a moment. The skin in your lady parts is VERY thin and highly absorbent. ALSO I have a problem with the fact that the FDA isn’t requiring these companies to disclose the toxic ingredients they’re putting in their products? NOT COOL. Also not surprising.

Anyways.

Think about how many YEARS you use these products. The average women menstruates from the time she’s 14 until she’s 50. Many girls are getting their periods as early as 10 years old because of all the synthetic hormones in our food and water. That is a LONG TIME. It’s not hard to imagine that years and years of absorbing harmful chemicals can lead to serious health risks. I sometimes wonder how much those toxic chemicals have played a part in increasing the risk of things like cancer, PCOS, infertility and other reproductive health issues in women. Interesting thought.

I didn’t know any of this until a few years ago when I came across the silicone menstrual cup known as the Diva Cup. It’s exactly what it says it is. A silicone cup that you insert inside of you when you are menstruating. It can hold up to an ounce of liquid (don’t quote me on that) because there are different sizes (and brands) of cups. You can wear it for up to 12 hours but ideally would empty (and rinse it) every few hours.

The Pros:

  • No smell.
  • Can wear much longer (safely) than a tampon.
  • One time cost.
  • More regulated cycles
  • I experienced fewer and then NO cramps after a few cycles of using the cup.
  • Easy to clean once your cycle is over! You can boil your cup on the stove. Let air dry and store in it’s breathable, cloth bag for your next cycle. *Don’t do what I did and leave it out where a child or cat could get it. My cat chewed my first cup because he’s a little A-hole!

The Cons

  • Tricky to insert. It can take a few cycles to get used to inserting and removing the cup.
  • Messy. It CAN be (doesn’t have to be) messy to empty the cup if you aren’t at home. I’m generally home 99% of the time so I empty, rinse in the sink and re-insert. I avoid emptying my cup if I’m not home for sanitary reasons. I avoid public restrooms in general.
  • Can Leak. Leaks are possible if you aren’t wearing the correct size or it isn’t inserted properly.

After the birth of my first son when I had to wear those awesome mesh panties and giant sized pads because you know, afterbirth is just lovely-I discovered I was allergic to these things. All these years and I never knew thats what was going on. I developed a horrific infection and rash while still healing from blowing out a baby. I mean it was worse than labour and delivery, to be honest. I was miserable for at least a month if not longer.

I swore I would invest in cloth pads for after my next baby, when I found out I was pregnant again.

So let’s talk about Cloth Pads. They are exactly what you think they are. You wear them, store them after use and then wash them. Cloth pads can be overwhelming to navigate because there are so many different materials that people use to make them. You could even make your own cloth pads if you are handy with a sewing machine!

Pros:

  • One time cost.
  • Comfortable.
  • Chemical free
  • More regulated cycles
  • Less and then NO cramping after using these for a few cycles
  • Easy to wash! Throw in the wash ( I LOVE Nellie’s) NO fabric softener and then line dry or tumble in the dryer.

Cons:

  • Tricky to find the right style and fabric with the best absorption that feels comfortable for you.
  • A learning curve to store after use when on the go (you need a wet bag)
  • Expensive (deff an investment!)

It’s important to do your own research and figure out which reusable hygiene product works for you. There are so many different brands, materials and models available now. There are quizzes you can take online to determine fit for maximum protection and comfort.

And, again you could even make your own pads if you can sew!

I talked about experiencing less to no cramps and more regulated cycles when I started using a cup and cloth pads. You might have done a double take?

That isn’t an exaggeration. I used to get wicked PMS with accompanying cramps once my cycle started. I would often resort to OTC pain meds, a hot water bottle and lay on the couch because I was so miserable. But switching to reusable menstrual products has eliminated my cramps and almost all of the PMS I used to experience as well as helped regulate my cycles. You might wonder how that is possible?

I don’t have a super educated answer for you but I suspect it has to do with the fact that I’m no longer exposing my lady parts (inside and out) to toxic chemicals. I also noticed a huge difference in my cycles once I stopped using hormonal birth control, but we’ll save that topic for another day.

That is my spiel on reusable hygiene products. I personally have found the switch to be easy! That might be because I’ve embrace cloth diapers but I want to encourage you-don’t be afraid of reusable hygiene products. You can’t go wrong with something that is good for you AND our environment! IF you struggle with difficult, inconsistent, or painful cycles maybe think about it.

Do you use reusable hygiene products?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!