Over the past 20 years or so, our diets, lifestyles, endocrine disrupting chemicals (acknowledged by the UN & WHO as a cause for the rise in infertility and hormonal-related problems) and the availability of medicines like the Pill, have put a lot of pressure on our hormonal system.
 
How to use the signs of your menstrual cycle to determine your hormonal balance
Below is a list of associations, and is not in any way intended as a diagnostic tool. My goal is to help you read your body and listen when it is telling you something is out of balance. The menstrual cycle is one of the best ways the body communicates about your fertility.
  • Missing a period: Missing one or two is not the end of the world - though probably indicates a period of high/ prolonged stress that needs to be addressed
  • Shorter cycles: Short cycles can cause fertility issues due to lack of ovulation, too short of a follicular or luteal phase, lack of nutrition, deficiencies, anemia or low body weight.
  • Longer periods: A longer period may be an indication of hormonal imbalance and/or a failure to ovulate.
  • Heavy menstruation: This is known to be caused by a prostaglandin imbalance and/or over-stimulation of the uterine lining from estrogens (estrogen dominance).
  • Cramping: Again, looking at an imbalance in the main sex hormones and/ or nutritional deficiencies to relax muscles and keep blood flow to the region strong. Period pain is caused by contractions in the uterus. The blood vessels in the muscle wall are compressed by the contractions, which cut off blood supply to the womb, starving it of oxygen and adding to the discomfort. Dysmenorrhea, as period pain is medically known.
  • Colour: Bright and red is good news, dark or brown can show a sluggish system, and a pale colour can show weak/ poor blood quality.
  • Spotting: This is generally hard to tie down and it is a multi-factorial issue. Most of the time, not to be flippant, but it is generally a response to a particular situation - from failure to ovulate, to hormone imbalances, ovarian cysts, stress or excessive exercise.
As a general rule, the more severe the symptoms are, or if they are more frequent than the norm, this would be suggestive of an underlying condition. You can see your GP and, if needed, you can be referred to a gynaecologist. This is also something that a fertility clinic can help with. Always consult your healthcare practitioner if you think it a valid reason to do so.
 
 
But what can you do to help normalise your cycle, leading to better ovulation and hopefully a better environment to encourage conception and implantation?
  • Correcting the hormonal imbalance: Substances like Omega-3, Magnesium, B vitamins including B6, B12 and Folic acid, Vitamin E, NAC have all been shown to help improve the hormonal cycle, should they be needed.
  • Reducing stress: Cortisol, a necessary hormone, that when called on in prolonged cases, can really impact on the health of the hormonal cycle. Stress boosts levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which inhibits the body’s main sex hormones GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) and subsequently may suppress ovulation, sexual activity and sperm count.
  • The liver: Your liver is responsible for the removal of old and used hormones, including both naturally-made hormones in the body and those taken in from medicines or other sources. A healthy liver is essential for proper hormone regulation.
  • Exercise: As always, exercise, or at the very least moving away from our sedentary lifestyles, can improve hormonal balance. Exercise can improve blood flow in the body and lymphatic flow. This will help in removing toxins
Should you need more advice, hints or tips, keep an eye on our blog, Facebook and Twitter pages. If you are worried about your hormonal cycle, consult your healthcare practitioner.
Fertility Specialist
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