By Leanne Myliotis, clinical nutritionist
Periods are generally affected by an imbalance of our hormones: predominantly estrogen, progesterone and also testosterone. A woman is unlikely to know when her hormones are IN balance, but will definitely know when she is OUT of balance. She may, however, not associate some of the body symptoms she is experiencing with hormones. Some of these symptoms may include irritability, weight gain, skin breakouts, cravings, headaches, fatigue and reduced libido. She may also not realise what an impact food can have on all of these factors.
As period health is not always discussed, often it is hard to know what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘normal for you’. Tracking your cycle can be the most helpful and insightful piece of information for your practitioner so that we can see over time what has been going on. There are some fantastic apps on the market now which make tracking your cycle very simple.
In clinic, when we start to investigate getting to the root cause of any issue with a client, we will ask a range of different questions relating to their period which can include:
The Bleed: Do you still have a period? If no, when was your last bleed? If yes, is it heavy? How many pads/tampons would you use a day? What is the length of the bleed? What colour is the blood? Any clots?
The cycle: Is it regular? What is the period of time from the start of one bleed to the start of the next bleed?
PMS: Do you suffer premenstrual tension, headaches, cravings, bloating, sore breasts, fluid retention and/or pain, irritability/anxiety? Does the pain interrupt your day-to-day activities?
Contraception: Are you taking an oral contraceptive pill? For how long? Are you experiencing any symptoms from this?
Our diet and lifestyle can have a profound effect on the way our hormones are produced and the way that they function. Below are some of the issues which can cause hormonal imbalance and some dietary strategies to adopt for each:
Inflammation: hormones are like chemical messengers in your body and if inflammation is present, other inflammatory chemicals, called cytokines, can interrupt our hormonal messengers doing their job. The following foods are anti-inflammatory:
High cortisol: as with most other health conditions stress has a profound impact on our hormone health. Hypothalamic-amenorrhea (HA) is a condition that can be caused by a range of stressors on the body including physical, nutritional, or extreme emotional stress. Managing our stress levels is an important part of keeping our hormones balanced. Some stress busting techniques to try:
For a personalized consultation on your hormonal health, please book an appointment with our resident clinical nutritionist, Leanne Myliotis. Small changes to your overall diet can have a profound impact on your overall health and wellbeing. If you would like to know more about anything you have read here or are experiencing difficulties with your menstrual cycle, Leanne would love to speak to you.