Menstruation is a natural process in a woman’s body every month. However, many women experience menstrual problems that can significantly impact their daily lives. From painful cramps to irregular cycles, menstrual problems can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and even debilitating.
One of the most common menstrual problems is menstrual cramps. The contractions of the uterus cause these as it sheds its lining. While some women experience mild discomfort, others may suffer severe pain lasting several days. Pain relievers and heating pads can help ease menstrual cramps, but for some women, the pain is so intense that they require medical intervention.
Another common menstrual problem is heavy bleeding, which can cause fatigue and anemia. Several factors, including fibroids, hormonal imbalances, and endometriosis, can cause heavy bleeding. Women who experience heavy bleeding may require medical treatment, such as hormonal therapy or surgery, to alleviate their symptoms.
Irregular periods are also a common menstrual problem. Women with irregular periods may have cycles that vary in length or skip periods altogether. Several factors, including stress, hormonal imbalances, and thyroid disorders, can cause this. While some irregularity is normal, women who experience significant changes in their menstrual cycle should consult an OB/GYN to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is another common menstrual problem that affects many women. PMS can cause many symptoms, including mood swings, bloating, breast tenderness, and headaches. While these symptoms are typically mild, some women may experience severe PMS that requires medical intervention.
Menstrual problems can also signify more serious medical conditions, such as PCOS, uterine fibroids, or endometriosis. These conditions can cause many symptoms, including irregular periods, heavy bleeding, and pelvic pain. Women who experience these symptoms should consult a doctor to rule out other medical conditions.
In summary, menstrual problems are a common issue that many women face. While some menstrual problems are normal and can be managed with self-care and over-the-counter medications, others may require medical intervention. Women who experience significant changes in their menstrual cycle or symptoms that interfere with their daily lives should consult a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions and receive appropriate treatment.
NourishDoc: We as women have such a fantastic health journey right from starting with puberty, we’re getting the menstruation, and then we give birth to the kids, and then, later on, we move on to the other things like perimenopause and menopause. But today’s session will focus on the younger girls with period problems. All right, so hang on for one second. I am going to have Dr. Laura, who’s from Canada, and Dr. Laura is a fertility expert as well, and she takes care of women’s problems; hi, hello Dr. Laura, how are you? Well, thank you so much for being with us to all the viewers; we are talking about women’s issues; we women have so many issues, but it’s like God made us, and we have all these issues coming through our thing. However, today we are focusing on issues of menstruation specifically for that. What causes the period problems? We have Dr. Laura Pipher, a naturopathic doctor from Canada; maybe you can tell us a little about yourself. Then we go on to the topic after that.
Dr. Laura: Yeah. So thanks for having me; as you mentioned, my name is Dr. Laura Pipher. I’m a naturopathic doctor here in Canada. The main focus in my clinical practice is treating period problems and optimizing facilities, so I’m here today. I also have created two programs. Hence, I have an online passport program that helps women navigate through the specific stages of their period problems. I have her off the monthly membership program, which helps women of all ages and stages build the foundations of hormonal balance.
NourishDoc: Oh wow, that’s amazing. So let’s talk about, I think, many women. I was reading much research; although I’m not a doctor, many women have started having issues with their menstruation as opposed to 20 years back or something like that, so what causes these problems in women?
Causes of period problems
Dr. Laura: Yeah. So I mean, there are many causes if we let’s piece them apart. Hence, the first thing we’ll put them in like little bubbles and then go each one, so the first reason why there are more period problems is that we are the first. I’m going to go ahead and say this is the first generation of women that have been on the birth control pill for this amount of time. We’re seeing I see in my clinical practice, on average, I think women are on the birth control pill for ten-plus years minimum, and so what happens is not that the birth control pill that we’ve seen so far causes these problems it causes a lot of other problems however the birth control pill covers up whatever’s going on.
So I think it’s a combination of like in utero exposures we have more environmental toxins we have a lot of stuff going on that does pose us to hormonal issues and I think we’re introducing these excess hormones in addition to all the other things that are going on and then we’re really just covering up what might be going on these imbalances.
And then 10 50 years we go off birth control and now we’re wondering why our periods are regular and heavy and all of those things and so I think that’s part of it that we’re covering it up at an early age where we’re supposed to be developing those our bodies supposed to be developing the skills of ovulation and then we have birth control because we haven’t developed that skill we’re not ready to have that skill later on and we don’t have regular periods and so the other piece of that puzzle is when they’re having children later and so children later in life means we’re probably on birth control for more extended and shut that operation for longer shutting off the communication between the brain and the over longer and so that’s causing a lot of problems.
But if we look at right now, if you have regular periods, the first one I just mentioned is ovulation; not ovulating now, first of all, is to understand that you can get a period without ovulating; you can also ovulate without getting a period, so they aren’t mutually exclusive as we often see is a condition known as a polycystic ovarian syndrome is when women are having irregular periods now you do not have to have the theories to have PCOS.
However, we often have problems with our periods because ovulation lacks healthy ovulation every single cycle; it is normal not to ovulate every single cycle. However, if we’re not ovulating more than we are, then we have a problem. So pcos, there are a couple of different causes. However, the number one cause of pcos is an imbalance in insulin regulation. So insulin regulation dysregulation instead causes us not to ovulate every single month. So that will cause us to have irregular periods; another positive story goes ahead.
Role of birth control pills
NourishDoc: No, I’m just saying these are just alarming facts, but the thing is, the funny thing is, like my grandmother, she had nine kids, so there was no concept of birth control at that time.
Dr. Laura: Yeah. No, it’s like you get pregnant, have a baby, and are breastfeeding. You’re probably not ovulating while you’re breastfeeding, and then you stop breastfeeding, you get pregnant again, and you have another baby; that’s how it was, and now women are not wanting to get pregnant, and so they’re actively engaging in forms of birth control which is fine it is ultimately your choice.
It is entirely informed consent; my problem is that with the birth control pill with the hormones, many people think if they’re on an IUD, it’s not birth control; it’s all hormones. However, I think that the problem is that we’re put on this without informed consent and lack of information. So we do not understand what we’re doing. I think many women are under the impression that they’re either on birth control or you’re pregnant, and that’s not the case; we can actively avoid pregnancy without being on birth being on birth control. It doesn’t allow us to evaluate our menstrual cycle properly, like someone will tell me, oh no, my periods are regular.
Then we get down to, and I feel, and I’m like, oh okay, you don’t have a period being on the pill; you do not have a period; you have a withdrawal bleed. So I would imagine you’re withdrawing should be regular if you’re taking a right; if they’re not, then something’s up, but really, we’re not being able to evaluate that. Menstrual cycles are vital signs, so without that information, we’re losing so much information about our health in general.
NourishDoc: So what should women do? That’s okay; we know the problem when most women work; we have a career. We don’t want to get pregnant like we always don’t want to raise nine-ten babies now, or we don’t have the time, not the research. So what should we do as women for birth control? Then the naturopathy, we go into how nature can help with period problems.
Fertility Awareness Methods
Dr. Laura: Yeah, for birth control, I typically recommend doing fertility awareness methods now; not many people know there are two distinct forms, so there is the rhythm method and the awareness method. The rhythm basically where I close my eyes, I just put in my period tracker calendar, and then it tells me when I’m fertile, and that’s it; it’s a high failure reason why is because we’re not looking at any signs and symptoms directly ovulating so we’re not pinpointing that fertile window what we’re doing is we’re assuming we’re using we’re saying okay recycle days 28 days so day 14 you’re ovulating and that might not happen, some women ovulate earlier some women later. Sperm can live up to five days if we’re tacking on a couple of these days on either end of the first fertile window. We don’t know where it is; that’s how it fails.
But the fertility awareness method is steps that walk you through looking at your body signs and symptoms, looking at cervical mucus plus tracking your cycle, and looking at your symptoms; you might be using temperature or saliva or using LH strain to pinpoint that window. So I recommend that, and then also there is a non-hormonal IUD. Hence, copper IUDs are something you could speak to your healthcare provider about. We have barrier methods, condoms, and things like that, but I think the fertility awareness method has so many benefits beyond perception; we’re going on with our bodies and getting tuned to when something’s not right.
NourishDoc: Okay, that makes sense, so we’re talking about the fertility awareness method; that’s one of the options. Now someone commented about do you have any comments on the DIM supplement.
Dr. Laura: No, DIM is something I use all the time is the active component of what we would find in like brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, that sort of thing, and that’s what I do have a comment on DIM; DIM are those with those things that help beautifully with moving our estrogen from harmful pathways to safer pathways and so if since you have elevated action and I’m running, and I see that they have they’re moving to more of those harmful pathways causing DNA damage oxidative stress demo part of my treatment plan I do caution though.
When you’re doing it and deciding to take them, you need to understand your root cause problem because, like it moves estrogen, it doesn’t increase progesterone. So many times, we assume that our estrogen is too high. We’re not looking at our testing, so I would advise getting proper testing. What can happen, especially when we give DIM for too long or to the wrong person?
You can see signs and symptoms of too-low estrogen, which throws us a whole other imbalance like symptoms of menopause, hot flashes, and night sweats because now our estrogen’s too low there; our hormones do have a dance. We need to be in coordination with one another. So I loved it as part of a therapeutic treatment plan that looks at the testing and works on treating based on the root cause. DIM is probably part of my plan if the root cause is too high of estrogen or estrogen going down the wrong pathway.
Testing & Diagnostics for period problems
NourishDoc: Wow, that’s amazing. So what are the things from a naturopathy doctor? What other things would you recommend on a framework? We talked about fertility, DIM, and what things we should load up women should load up on specific types of diets, as you talked about brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
Dr. Laura: There are things I would say first in the framework is testing and diagnostics, so we need to roll in a rule out what’s going on. I usually like to see fasting insulin if we have like a hormone panel that’ll tell us how we’re processing our hormones. However, if nothing else, I like to see blood work progesterone estrogen. We also need to rule out a thyroid issue; a thyroid issue can be a problem for an irregular period, and we can miss our period and have heavy periods.
Getting a full thyroid panel is essential to that as well. I like to throw in free testosterone free, not total, so we can see if our testosterone is elevated. Then we can see what PCOS picture we may or may not have as well. I added things like LH and FSH if we’re doing fertility, so that would be like getting the proper testing; once we have the testing, we can develop a plan that makes sense.
Hormone Healthy Foods
However, we’re looking at hormone-healthy foods from a dietary perspective. Things like broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale cabbage are kind of where I would start my foundations; look at your plate and make it half full of veggies; we want to talk about proteins we want to avoid; we know things like meats and trans fats all increase the risk of fibroids and endometriosis, we know low vitamin d levels are correlated to fibroids and endometriosis we know low vitamin d is correlated to painful periods PMS so here’s something you would get tested as well to make sure you’re getting the therapeutic dose because vitamin d is fat soluble making sure we’re focusing on healthy fats, fatty fish, chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seeds, any of those omega-3s we really because those are super anti-inflammatory.
That’s what I would say from a fundamental standpoint. Then everything else will be geared towards ensuring it supports your body and needs, so are you iron deficient? Are you have thyroid imbalance, then you might avoid soy; your gut maybe you can’t break down cauliflower brussels sprouts because your microbiome and your gut are off that you get below gassy with broccoli; you’ve got broccoli cauliflower Brussels that’s you then we should probably go back a step do some gut testing so that we can fix that problem before we dive into you eating this sort of diet.
NourishDoc: Got it. So the first step is understanding our bodies’ testing. Then once you figure out the test, as you talk about the blood test, so you talk about a lot of other tests like dutch tests like tests so many things. Then once you understand what’s going on, what’s wrong with my body or anyone else’s body then you will kind of figure out the protocol but on a high level, talk about so many different vitamins that that as women well we should not be deficient vitamin d you talk about so many different things right?
Dr. Laura: Absolutely, and I think that it’s important to note that birth control also depletes a lot of these nutrients, so understand you are continuing to stay on birth control, and that is your informed choice that is completely fine, but we need to understand the framework with which we’re going to use strategic supplementation throughout that course.
NourishDoc: Okay, so then does the exercise or anything else play a role in the menstruation, or is it just the birth control and the diet and many other things we’re ingesting?
Dr. Laura: Another reason we can lose a period is over-exercising and under-eating; we must ensure you’re clear of these 1200-calorie diets. Many women will come to my practice and say I don’t have a period; what do you eat well? I stick to under 1200 calories a day. I’d like whoever gave you that is not that doesn’t have sufficient knowledge of women’s health because this will mess up our thyroid. Our hormones cannot sustain this level of consumption.
So we need to ensure that we are nourishing our body in a way that promotes our hormonal health; we need to make sure we understand that fertility is last on our bucket list. If we are not well if we do not have enough calories or nutrition or anything else our body’s gonna say okay what can we get rid of we don’t need hair and we don’t need to reproduce so your hair is gonna start falling out your reproductive system is gonna go haywire because your body feels like that is not essential we need our brain and our heart to continue to move we need our kidneys to continue to function what do we need to stay alive and so if we are under ourselves this is where we lose a period I find a lot of times a lot of women especially with pcos we’ll start on the kids diet and when we’re getting rid we’re restricting those carbohydrates too much for too long that’s the problem and this is when I recommend working with a health care provider who can help you get the proper diet for you because you could be under eating carbohydrates we need to make sure that you’re eating healthy carbohydrates and not limiting them much because we need to think about every macronutrient has a purpose.
NourishDoc: But see that, I mean, you’re right. However, many of us, like women, go on the internet, and there’s a hole flashing everywhere or 1200 calorie diet. I’ll make you look like Gwyneth Paltrow or whatever I’m saying; everybody wants to look like Gwyneth Paltrow. I know but what I’m saying is how it is like women, so that’s the problem. Most women don’t understand what you’re talking about; the 1200-calorie diet can start harming their bodies, and to your point.
Dr. Laura: Yeah, and we need to be careful about the impact on the thyroid and how it can impact your metabolism long term many times, we see women been on a yo-yo diet, they’ve been on this side that diet, and then at the end of it, it’s like they can’t lose weight they’re now post-menopausal and have this stubborn weight loss they cannot lose because their body was so used to that Bernstein diet where they ate like I don’t know 500 calories in a b12 shot, and it’s not suitable for our body long term we need to have sustainable dietary changes we need to have progressive weight loss that is going to be maintained and eating too little.
I find one that one of my problems with my fitness pal is that my fitness pal is an excellent tool for tracking everything, but I find when we also incorporate our exercise, I find that their targets are too low; you’re either going to be creative where you don’t lose weight at all because it’s going to give you more calories for the exercise or you’re going to put your target levels too low. You’re going just to be eating too low overall because it’s not looking at you as an overall person; a lot of this research we’re looking at with fasting with keto, we look at men and women are not small men we have very hormonal processes that happen that don’t happen in men.
NourishDoc: Okay. So now, this is an educational session; please don’t treat it as medical advice; we are just helping and laying a framework on a high level. So what would be your two or three points that you would like to summarize?
Dr. Laura: Number one focuses on balancing your blood sugar; blood sugar balance will reward your long-term. How to do that? I would say fat; fiber protein is the things that throw on the brakes for blood sugar control; we want to slow down its absorption, so get rid of your refined bagel and butter, get rid of cream and cheese, get some protein with that even a banana by itself pair it with something that slows down absorption especially first thing in the morning so on the brakes balance your blood sugar.
Number two focuses on sleep; sleep will be critical for your hormonal health; try to sleep between 10 and 6, which is the optimal time for hormonal health.
So those are the two things I would say to kind of start with and then move your body in a way that feels good stop overexercising to try and lose weight, move your body to use as an intentional thing to help your mental health, and help your sleep and also, in fact, is when you move your body your blood sugar no longer needs to depend on insulin to be stored a little bit of the stress off the body to that blood sugar when you are moving your body, move your body, sleep and balance your blood sugar would be the top three things I would say you should start doing today.
NourishDoc: Amazing; this is a fantastic session for all the women to all the people. People are joining now; you can watch the replay after we are done, but we’ve been discussing women’s menstruation issues. Dr. Laura just talked about a few things that you should we should all do and anything else you’d like to add before I wrap up.
Dr. Laura: The last thing I think I would add is that there are many pieces of the puzzle. However, I think maybe you’re getting the proper diagnostic testing is the first thing because I see so many women going through Dr. Google and finding others in groups of cats and saying oh, I have PMS. I have raging periods, and what’s one thing I can do? The best thing I can say is there’s not one thing that is the thing right there; nothing is foundational; the one thing you can do you’d be given birth control, and we all know that that’s not helping; that’s just management, so I would say focus on getting someone that understands your concerns that works your concerns to get you to the bottom of what’s going on and then come up with a strategic plan for you.
NourishDoc: No, that makes sense to all the women. Let us stop experimenting; we all do that we all do well. I mean, I’m guilty of that too. I have this; oh, let me find this. I can do it by myself; we try to self-administer the health issues, which can become very serious sometimes, so seek out help that’s the thing and get to know your body by testing. So with that, I’d like to wrap up this session, Dr. Laura, a fantastic one for all the women out there; please see this and share these sessions because this is such valuable advice to all of you. Anything else I’d like to wrap up right now, Dr. Laura, before I wrap up?
Dr. Laura: Thank you for having me; it’s been a pleasure.
NourishDoc: Absolutely, and thank you so much to everyone else; take care and have a great Monday bye bye.