A reader asked:
“I deal with pretty severe menstrual symptoms like heavy bleeding, pain, and vomiting, do you know of anything I can do to lessen these symptoms each month?”
Help for difficult/heavy periods – things to try:
First is that heavy bleeding and severe pain and cramping is not normal and should be taken seriously. Two reproductive issues that can contribute to such pain are endometriosis and fibroids, with endo being more common in younger girls and women than fibroids. Endo very often causes pain that severe due to the endometrial lining attaching to other areas of the gut. When the period begins, the other growths of endo bleed as well but have nowhere to go other than be reabsorbed into the blood stream, causing pain and nauseousness.
Eliminating junk and processed foods is key – especially sugar. Making sure to consume enough fats and saturated fats is also important as they are needed to produce hormones.
Cod Liver Oil can also help provide much-needed omegas 3’s and vitamin D and Evening Primrose Oil can also be helpful as well.
Vitamin B complex (available on Amazon) can also help a lot (many women are low in B-1 and B-6) in balancing hormones.
Using cloth pads instead of conventional can drastically reduce the amount and length a woman bleeds.
Some women with endo find a lot of relief cutting out meat and animal products due to the hormones in them and the inflammation they may cause. Sourcing meat is of utmost importance, make sure to buy grass-fed and organic meats.
Personal care products like lotions, face washes, shampoos should all be looked at as they can mess with the balance of hormones.
I have a friend who teaches Iyengar yoga and has been able to help a few women with issues like this when they practice certain yoga postures. She always recommends the book “Yoga for a Healthy Cycle” by Patricia Walden (& Linda Sparrowe) (available on Amazon) to get women started.
Foods can aggravate the reproductive system for a lot of women! Many with horrible periods find that cutting wheat and dairy can help a lot – there is a strong link between reproductive disorders and wheat sensitivities/celiac. Maybe try an elimination diet, get tested for food sensitivities, or talk with a holistic practitioner about dietary changes.
Charting your cycle is also really important! You’ll be able to figure out if there is an issue with a part of the cycle and better ‘prescribe’ herbs and such. Many herbs have estrongenic properties and could actually make things worse if you’re already to high in estrogen, but then again they could be super helpful if her body needs support in that area.
Herbs specific to cleansing the liver (which excretes excess hormones from the body) or blood can be especially important though and shouldn’t mess with hormones too much. Dandelion root for one is a great cleanser.
If she is overweight, and exercise regimen can be helpful, but every woman should always rest during the first few days of menstruation.
A lot of reproductive issues begin with the thyroid – so if you also have symptoms of low body temperature, fatigue, or weight gain check to see if your thyroid is optimal. (inversion yoga and a great diet can also help the thyroid) In the same aspect, your adrenal health is also a large part of hormone balance, so make sure you’re getting the rest you need and working on stress reduction.
Castor oil packs a few times per week (not during menstruation) along with abdominal massage could be really beneficial if she has adhesions due to endo that are causing the pain.
Vaginal steams may also be able to help direct herbs right where they are needed.
Our community answered (via the Natural Fertility and Wellness Facebook Page)
- Red raspberry leaf capsules/tea and vitex (chasteberry) capsules. Made a huge difference for me! I bought mine on Amazon.
- Does she use mama cloth or diva cup? I know when I used them, my pains lessoned and my flow was a bit lighter. I had to wait for 6 months tho for it to do that.
- I take Evening Primrose Oil. I have cramps about a week before my cycle starts that are severe to the point I just want to stay in bed all day. I started taking EPO this month and haven’t had a single cramp.
- I stopped eating grains and sugar and all signs of PMS went away, no cramping and less flow.
- Definitely Vitex (chasteberry) capsules!!
- Cut back on the sugar and dairy, and choose only organic hormone free meats.
- My cramping and flow both went down dramatically 6 or 7 years ago when i cut down (or slowly eliminated) sugar, baked goods, conventional dairy products, hydrogenated oils, HF Corn Syrup and added in a quality cod liver oil.
- Cheyenne is the age-old remedy I know of the lessen the flow – for pain and discomfort, I would recommend diet change, calcium & magnesium (usually works in an hour or less), and tracking fertility symptoms.
I quite caffeine 4 years ago and overnight, my pain decreased by 80-90%; some months I have none. Before, I’d be doubled over in pain for hours and pain killers only took the edge off.
- The homeopathic mag phos is what works for me. (available on Amazon)
- Nourishing herbal infusions- rasp leaf, red clover, NETTLE, oatstraw- are all safe and super beneficial. If you’re having fertility issues, I’d hold off on the vitex until you’ve determined specifics. Exercise as well as rest. Heat. Rose bud/petal tea or tincture. Caffeine makes cramping worse.
- Have a chiropractor adjust your psoas muscle.
- Do you eat/take a lot of flax? when I started adding flax to my diet my cramps increased massively and so did flow…stopped and they disappeared immediately. Flax is really high in phytoestrogens.
- Taking Maca really helped me!
Do you have any other tips for this reader?
*As always, consult your health care professional for a diagnosis or guidance in using natural therapies. This post is meant to inform you of options you may have, always research before trying something new.
The only thing that ever helped me is heat. I have had really bad cramps my whole life and sadly, I didn’t use a heating pad til I was 21. But, a heating pad, or they have ones that you can put inside your underwear on your belly, works wonders for me. I went from barely functional, to functioning normally. I wish I had tried it 7 years earlier, it would have prevented a lot of pain…
Changing to all natural cloth pads changed my life!! Radically and quickly! I would have never believed that I would go from having horrible bleeding, horrible cramps and PMS to periods that were barely noticeable and lasting only a few days. It is worth it to switch. Even though there is the extra hassle of washing them! One of the best choices I have ever made!
My sister swears by Nature’s Sunshine FCSII. She used to have awful periods, and after one month on FCS II, her period came and she didn’t have the slightest warning (bad warning like cramping and bloating I mean.) I am going to try it when my period comes back.
Hi! I am new to your site. I actually came across it by chance, so happy I did! Okay, I have never had problems until I started eating traditionally. I now am a hormonal wreck the whole week before my period. I never, ever use to PMS on processed foods. I thought I was just detoxing but 9 months later and my body is still in limbo. I started taking fish oil and am going to start drinking nettle tea every morning. I have intense cramping the first day only and really dark clots for the first three. I am getting concerned because I just don’t seem to be balancing out. I should be getting healthier but now I can’t stand wheat, sugar or really anything processed without exhaustion, stomach pain and — number two to following quickly after eating it. Have you heard of anything like this happening? We drink raw milk.. eat whole, organic, local foods on a daily basis. We changed our diet over the course of four months- nothing hugely sudden.. I am just lost because the change to traditional eating has affected me for the worse I feel like. My husband feels wonderful on the other hand!!!
@Mariah Ward, I have heard of this happening every once in awhile and while I don’t know the exact reason, I think sometimes our hormones base their production around what we eat. So if your diet was higher in foods that may have contained estrogens, etc, now your body may be trying to figure out what the heck to do!
Fish oils are a definite plus, as is nettle tea. I also have a recipe on here for a fertility tea that may help. (http://www.naturallyknockedup.com/fertility-tea-blend-recipe/) Another thing to look into would be a natural progesterone cream since PMS can be a symptom of estrogen dominance.
But your right – 9 months seems to long to be dealing with “detoxing”. Something is going on and your body is having a hard time figuring it out! If you can, I’d see a naturopath or acupuncturist to get individualized help.
Hi, if you are eating any animal products prior to menstruation, you need to cut them out 1 week before your period. Beef, poultry, lamb, veal, etc. and dairy all produce pain-causing prostaglandins that make cramps worse and contribute to clotting. Salmon produces pain-relieving prostaglandins, thus decreasing cramps. Also, you may need some carbs to get your serotonin level up.
Thanks for sharing! I know a few women that were very sensitive to inflammatory prostaglandins.