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Women's Health Week - Part 1: How well do you know your body?


Happy Women’s Health week! How wonderful to have a whole week devoted to women and our health! Something I am very passionate about. Over the coming week I will be sharing some juicy information all related to you guessed it: women’s health, fertility, hormones and the importance of female connection.

As a practitioner of Chinese medicine I always strive to educate my patients the best I can. Education is one of the most empowering tools on your health journey. It’s all very well to get advice on what to eat and how to live, but when you can actually understand the why behind it all – that’s when things really fall into place and you too become passionate about taking back the drivers seat in your health and wellbeing.

In clinic the main area I see in women are lacking knowledge and understanding is around our menstrual cycles! This really should be basic stuff, but unfortunately if we don’t learn this in school or if we don’t have anyone sit us down and teach us – then it simply doesn’t happen.

When a woman truly understands her menstrual cycle, she is an empowered woman. Life just becomes easier. You know what your own personal rhythm is and you know how to read your body leading to a greater understanding and connection to yourself.

Understanding your menstrual cycle also helps you understand when you are fertile and when you are not. Once you learn to read your bodies cues, you never forget this information. This is such powerful knowledge that you can use for the whole of your reproductive years whether you are trying to fall pregnant or avoid it.

Here are some common facts on the menstrual cycle to make sure we have the basics covered:

  • A healthy menstrual cycle is around 28 days long. However, this can vary by a few days and still be perfectly healthy and problem free.

  • A menstrual cycle shorter then 25 days and longer then 35 days is considered irregular. This would indicate a hormonal imbalance that needs to be addressed.

  • The first day of full bleeding (not spotting) is counted as Day 1 of your cycle.

  • A healthy menstrual bleed will last 3-7 days. Again, anything longer or shorter then this may be indicative of a deficiency or hormonal imbalance.

  • Our periods should be pain and stress free! We were not designed to suffer. Any sign or symptom that accompanies the period like abdominal pain, back pain, acne, headaches, bloating, nausea and mood changes are the bodies way of telling us that there is a deeper imbalance going on expressing as a symptom. A healthy period should come and go with ease.

  • Clotting in the menstrual blood is an important sign to take notice of each month. This can indicate elevated levels of estrogen in the body. Ideally the blood should be free flowing with no clots.

  • Our cervical fluid changes throughout the month. The fluid that you can feel, see on your undies or see when wiping is really important information that tells us a lot about our body. It can help us understand whether we are in our fertile or non-fertile phase in our cycles. This is important for timing sex if we are trying to conceive or avoid it!

  • Although it is flattering to think of ourselves as fertile goddesses that can fall pregnant at anytime, this is not entirely accurate. When we are young and developing we are commonly scared into thinking that we can fall pregnant at the drop of a hat and are typically put on the oral contraceptive pill to prevent unwanted pregnancy. However, when we understand our cycles, we know that our fertile window is actually quite small, only 3-5 days per month. So why are we taking hormonal medication to stop our fertility completely for the entire month at times when conception wouldn’t be possible? Is this the only answer? Not necessarily. Taking the oral contraceptive pill can create a huge disconnect from our bodies, our fertility is completely shut down and ignored instead of spending the time to understand it and then work with it. Fun fact: Natural Fertility Awareness as a form of contraception (when practiced properly) is statistically just as effective if not more so then the oral contraceptive pill at preventing pregnancy. Sounds like there is more to the story here. More on this in coming posts.

So there you have it, this is just the beginning of the journey of understanding your body and your menstrual cycle. There is so much more to learn and discover however this is a good place to start from. Now see if you start noticing some changes in your body throughout the month. Is your period clotty or free flowing? Do you notice changes in your cervical fluid? Get curious about what your body is trying to tell you.

Now I’d like to hear from you.

Was there anything listed above that you didn’t already know? Were you one of the lucky ones that was sat down and taught how to understand your body? Do you have some questions about your reproductive health you want answers to? Leave your questions and comments below!

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