That time of the month …

Period pain? PMS? Naturopath Leah shares some tips to deal with it all.

leahLeah Hechtman

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

‘That time of the month’ is a common justification for many women. If you experience any of the 150 possible symptoms before the start of your period you are not alone — some studies suggest that 90 percent of women are in the same boat. Obviously the severity varies between women but most agree that a hormone imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone is the most likely hypothesis.

The reality is that no one needs to experience any discomfort before they menstruate. PMS responds really well to natural remedies. In my experience it takes at least two menstrual cycles for appropriate response, with four-six cycles the ideal to properly address the causes.

In your diet, cut out all caffeine in any form – including chocolate, coffee, cola drinks etc. The xanthines in caffeine have an effect on oestrogen receptors in the breasts contributing to breast tenderness and enlargement. Sugar, white flour and salt are notorious for aggravating fluid retention, causing swelling, bloating and mood changes. Just because you crave it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Nutrients such as B vitamins especially B6 are especially beneficial to reduce PMS symptoms such as moodiness, fluid retention, breast symptoms and acne. Magnesium can help specifically with cramping, fatigue, anxiety, chocolate cravings and weight gain. And Evening Primrose Oil is wonderfully effective as it helps regulate hormones through prostaglandin synthesis. The herb Vitex Agnus Castus is the most researched anti-PMS wonder, but remember to take it for at least two cycles before you make any changes.

UnknownPeriod pain (severe)

If you only absorb one thing from my comments here, take note – period pain is not normal and no one should have to suffer with it. Go find out why as you do not need to suffer any longer.

Let’s get one thing straight – monthly pain that is debilitating, restricts your lifestyle, causes you to be lying in bed in foetal position clutching a hot water bottle in between visits to the toilet to vomit is simply extreme. Do not put up with it for another minute and find out why. It could be a hormonal imbalance, a nutrient deficiency or an undiagnosed condition. Go and investigate.

Let’s assume you’ve seen a health professional and have nothing too sinister going on. Simple period pain – regardless of the severity – is typically eased with a few key strategies. Firstly, clean up your diet. Anything that promotes inflammation, prevents Iron absorption and reduces your stores of vital nutrients such as Magnesium, Zinc and B vitamins has to go. This may include coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar, excessive salt or trans fats. The cleaner your diet, the less likely your body will react poorly to these deficiencies and imbalances.

Move your body. Our sedentary lifestyle and limited exercise and/or activity is bound to have a negative effect. The human body is simply not designed to sit in an office chair and look at a computer screen. Some women swear by belly dancing to release stored energy in the abdomen, some women find yoga and core strength exercises such as Pilates the best approach. Whatever moves your body and increases circulation will assist.

When you have your period, respect your body. When you actually think about what the body is trying to achieve we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be running on the beach in white pants like a sanitary commercial. On your first day of bleeding, take it easy. Don’t push yourself and absolutely don’t force yourself to have sex or contort yourself in upside down positions. Allow the blood to flow out of the body.

Simple strategies, such as switching to organic sanitary pads, relieve the intensity of flow and associated pain in many women. Trial switching your sanitary products. Heat applications such as hot water bottles, rubbing peppermint oil mixed with olive oil on your stomach and wheat packs can all provide symptomatic relief.

More curative approaches will be specific to your individual health but may include Magnesium, fish oils, Evening Primrose Oil and B vitamin supplementation; herbal medicines such as Cramp Bark or Wild Yam; hot herbal teas of cinnamon and peppermint; and others. See a professional Naturopath to ascertain exactly what you need.

© Leah Hechtman

Leah Hechtman – Women’s Health
Leah is an experienced and respected clinician who specialises in fertility support and women’s health. Her primary passion is her clinical practice where she is inspired and humbled by her patients. She loves supporting people to reach their individual health goals and improve their quality of life. You can contact Leah at her clinic: .
Life Balance = Meditation. Nature. Love.