PERIOD PRIDE FINALE: Luteal Phase and Period Party!
We are in the process of organizing a menstruation celebration- a way for all people with uteruses to join together to celebrate our periods. We will have a panel of speakers, prizes and helpful period products that will make you feel good about your period and the environment.
Sign up below if you’d like to receive an invite to the period party (this isn’t a confirmation, just a request to get invited)!
In our last Period Pride post, Naturopathic Doctor Joanna Rosenfeld will explore the luteal phase- the time from ovulation, to the start of your period. Unlike the follicular phase which varies drastically between women, or even between cycles, the luteal phase is fairly constant, and typically lasts between 12-14 days. Dr. Rosenfeld will even outline all the different types of PMS! Any suggestions or advice provided by Dr. Rosenfeld does not replace a visit to your health care practitioner.
This second half of your menstrual cycle is all about progesterone. Once the egg is released during ovulation, the corpus luteum is formed. The main purpose of the corpus luteum is to secrete progesterone, and to a lesser degree, estrogen. The progesterone supports the uterine lining in the event that the egg was fertilized. If the egg was not fertilized, then the corpus luteum breaks down, levels of estrogen and progesterone fall, and your period begins.
How you might feel:
This is the phase of the menstrual cycle associated with PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Up to 85% percent of women experience at least one PMS symptom during this phase, 3-8% of women experiencing PMDD, marked by more severe changes in mood, often in conjunction with physical symptoms.
Not all PMS symptoms are alike! Some women don’t experience any symptoms at all before their period, but if you do, you might fall into one or more of these categories:
PMS - Type A (Anxiety)
This type of PMS is characterized by increased irritability, frustration, anxiety and insomnia before your period. This can be due to lower levels of progesterone, or high levels of stress. Naturopathic treatment focuses on using herbs and nutrients to help support progesterone production, and lifestyle changes to help reduce stress.
PMS - Type C (Cravings)
Do you crave chocolate, chips or just about any type of junk food before your period? This often points to a dysregulation in the hormone insulin, which is critical for regulating your blood sugar. Higher amounts of sugar during this time can also aggravate other PMS symptoms. If you know you will crave these foods before your period, try to make sure you are eating foods with high amounts of protein and fat to help control blood sugar levels throughout your cycle. Certain herbs like cinnamon can also help with sugar cravings. And if you can’t resist the urge to indulge, dark chocolate is helpful :)
PMS - Type D (Depression)
This type of PMS is typical of women who show symptoms of depression, tearfulness, sadness, hopelessness, and sometimes even suicidal thoughts. Low levels of estrogen before your period contribute to these mood changes. Ensuring a healthy body weight and doing regular exercise can help. Choosing certain herbs that help to balance estrogen and support serotonin levels can also be beneficial during this time.
PMS - Type H (Hyperhydration)
Affecting about 70% of women, this type of PMS causes bloating, water retention, breast tenderness and weight gain. Progesterone slows down your digestion, which can also lead to constipation. Ensure that you are drinking plenty of water, and adding diuretic teas such as dandelion or nettle can help decrease water retention.
PMS - Type P (Pain)
Some women will experience intense lower back pain, or pelvic cramping, before and during their period. These women have elevated levels of prostaglandins which contribute to pain, or in some cases can be suffering from a condition called endometriosis. Avoiding inflammatory foods, which for many people include gluten, dairy and sugar, can often help. Also add in anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger and turmeric to help reduce pain.
What to Eat:
This is a very important time to focus on eating well, and including healthy proteins, fats and vegetables in the diet. Eating high amounts of dairy and sugar, or excess caffeine, can often make PMS symptoms worse. If you are having strong cravings, try to substitute for dark chocolate and calming herbal teas to help make this transition a little bit smoother for you.
What to Do:
Try to keep your body moving during these two weeks. Sometimes PMS makes us drop our typical exercise routine because we feel too bloated, or emotional, but regular movement will help with all of the symptoms listed above. Most importantly, listen to your body, and be kind to yourself:-)