*** Disclaimer: This post is related to PMS symptoms, not preventing pregnancy. I am not a healthcare professional or nutritionist. Healthy living and nutrition are hobbies of mine and this blog is my own personal experience. For more information, please see my blog disclaimer.
So many women struggle with terrible, debilitating PMS symptoms every month. I used to be one of them until a couple years ago. I dove into research on what contributes to horrible periods, how to get rid of cramps, and regulate hormones naturally. I’ve pieced it all together and I no longer suffer from horrible periods cramps or symptoms anymore!
Let me give a little back story so you have a point of reference before I get to my solution…
I got my period when I was 13, on the second day of school in 8th grade. It was light and it was short. Then, I didn’t get it again until New Year’s Eve, which was almost 4 months later. I remember this because I was at a sleepover with a bunch of girls from school and my period was HEAVY. I leaked through 2 pairs of pants that night, and I was super uncomfortable and embarrassed. (At 13 years old, I was new to periods, and half the girls there hadn’t even started theirs yet.)
But after that traumatic month, my periods became pretty regular very quickly and I didn’t have any issues for YEARS!
It wasn’t until summer, before my senior year of high school that I even had period cramps. I remember my first time having cramps, I took off work because I thought I was sick. I was beyond nauseous and my lower back hurt really badly too. It lasted about 24 hours, so I thought I just happened to get a stomach bug the same day I got my period. But then this “stomach bug” came the next month I got my period and I realized those were cramps…
Over the next 2 years or so, my cramps got worse and worse every month.
I’d skip school because I was in so much pain, I’d show up hours late to work too. The pain even went into my legs, and one morning on my way to school in college, I literally had to pull over because my legs ached so bad I was struggling to drive.
Then, one morning in summer 2011, I woke up with such horrible period cramps I was vomiting, I couldn’t walk, I literally crawled to the bathroom…I was crying, I was in THE WORST pain I’ve ever experienced. One minute I was sweating and the next minute, shivering. I thought “there’s no way child birth is worse than this.” (Obviously I’ve never given birth so I don’t know if it was as bad or not, but that’s how much pain I was in.)
After that experience, I was like, “That’s it! I can’t deal with this every month…I’m going on birth control.” I started researching different options and one after another was not for me. I was also struggling with terrible cystic acne at the time. While some people experience clear skin from birth control, other’s skin got wayyy worse. The thought of my skin getting worse was terrifying. Along with the other potential birth control side effects, I thought there has to be a better way. (On top of that, in my mind, consuming hormones to stop your body from ovulating and causing a fake period or no period at all, is anything but natural and not something I would want to do to my body.)
But there was a better way!
I researched the heck out of naturally getting rid of period cramps and of course, I found the typical heating pads, pressure points, stuff like that. But then I came across one women who had cramps like mine and once she cleaned up her diet, they went away!
So I started eating healthier, ate more fruits and vegetables and less refined sugar. That definitely helped A TON! (Check out this post for tips on a clean diet.)
On top of that, when I went gluten free for my skin, that kicked off a huge lifestyle overhaul. I learned about how having a healthy gut effects everything (including your hormones), and how a lot of ingredients in personal care products and cosmetics are hormone disruptors! (Check out this post for help swapping out products!)
Once I cleaned up my diet, worked on healing my gut, and swapped out a lot of my products for toxin-free versions, my hormones got more under control (naturally.) Now I have very minimal issues during my period.
A lot of my friends went on birth control to get periods like mine are now. I went from having vomit inducing cramps and long, heavy periods (I’m talking a solid 7 days, soaking through supers every 2 hours for the first couple days,) to now, barely having cramps. My periods are also light and short, (2 or 3 supers for 1 day, 2 or 3 regulars for 1 day, and a panty liner for the next couple days…my entire period is about 4 days now.)
Another (big) switch I made which I believe has made a HUGE difference…
Switching to Organic tampons and pads. Synthetic pads and tampons (like Always, Tampax, Kotex, etc.) are made out of rayon, soaked in dioxin (a hormone disrupting chemical), and they completely throw off your PH balance. A few of these companies have made an organic version though so look out for those! Some pads and tampons have added fragrance which throws off the PH balance even more. (Ironically, fragrance makes you more likely to smell funky.) The ingredients in “fragrance” are undisclosed, so Lord only knows what other toxic chemicals you’re exposing yourself to.
Also, because rayon is so drying, it increases your risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Rayon is doused in pesticides and dioxin bleaches the rayon and you’re sticking that up extremely absorbent tissue! No wonder so many women struggle with PCOS, endometriosis, fertility issues, reproductive cancers, and overall really difficult periods!
Organic pads and tampons are made out of Organic cotton and are free from dyes, fragrance, pesticides, and hormone disrupting chemicals. Organic cotton isn’t nearly as drying as rayon, so switching to Organic feminine products lowers the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome. You’re also not putting cancerous chemicals in your body.
Periods are a good way for our bodies to rid itself of toxins.
The less toxins in your system, the less it needs to rid itself of. I believe organic products make my period much lighter and shorter with very minimal cramps. (I’ve heard menstrual cups are a great option too and they’re less wasteful. I haven’t tried them yet, but once I do, I’ll share that experience.)
Also, about a week before my period starts, I drink raspberry leaf tea at least once a day. I continue to drink it through about the second day of my period. Raspberry leaf tea is great because it’s got potassium, magnesium, and iron which we all need more of during that time of the month. It boosts your reproductive health and results is less painful periods! It’s high in antioxidants too. Some brands even label their raspberry leaf tea with a women’s health label.
I know everyone is different and some girls are completely happy being on birth control. I just wanted to share my experience dealing with period issues naturally, because it’s an option most women have never thought of.