By CARINA WOLFF
Many women don't enjoy some of the symptoms that come with menstruation. After all, they usually include moodiness, breakouts, and cramps. Our bodies experience a natural shift of hormones during this time which can cause these symptoms, but there are a number of things you can do during your period to help balance your hormones. Although you can't completely control your body's natural hormonal fluctuations, you can engage in habits that can help make your menstrual cycle a bit easier.
"Menstruation occurs when the two major hormones from the ovaries drop after ovulation (egg release) and after there is no fertilization of the egg," gynecologist Dr. Kim Langdon from ParentingPod.com tells Bustle. "It is this lack of hormones, or rapid decline, that triggers many of the symptoms of menstruation."
This shift in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can affect everything from your mood to your energy levels and even what you crave, so you might want to do everything you can to help minimize this impact. These hormones can be affected by stress, so any habit that helps to alleviate your anxiety and worry can be beneficial to your wellbeing. Here are seven habits that help balance your hormones during your period, according to experts.
1 Sleeping Enough
Not getting enough sleep can do more than just make you feel tired or sluggish. "Getting adequate sleep is very important for a normal hormonal cycle," Jessica Vaught, MD, FACOG, director of surgery at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies, tells Bustle. "When women are chronically sleep deprived, they will have increase in their cortisol levels, which can affect their cycles." Speak with your doctor if you are having difficulties sleeping, and they can help you figure out the cause.
Exercising helps release hormones that can help with your cycle and any PMS symptoms. "Exercise can increase your sense of well-being by increasing endorphins, which are chemicals made by the body associated with 'feeling good,'” Dr. Lisa Valle, OB/GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, tells Bustle. "It can also improve your mood by improving your sleep." Avoid anything that's too high-intensity, as your energy levels will naturally be lower during this time.
3 Staying Warm
There's a reason you want to cuddle up in your bed and stay warm and cozy when you're on your period — so you should embrace it. "In Chinese Medicine, this is a 'cold' time of the month, so warm your body with hot water bottles, socks, and scarves," Alisa Vitti, functional nutrition and women's hormone expert, tells Bustle. It's worht a try.
4 Eating Complex Carbohydrates
Keeping a healthy, balanced diet is important while you're on your period. "Foods can affect various brain chemicals that can have a soothing effect, and thus decrease the effects of stress," says Dr. Valle. "Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains cause the brain to produce more serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter to the brain."
5 Eating Protein
Protein is another important nutrient to pay attention to during your period. "Your hormones are synthesized from amino acids found in protein, so it's essential to eat protein this week to compensate for these lower levels," says Vitti. Opt for foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids like salmon, suggests Dr. Valle, which can also be beneficial to help alleviate stress.
6 Eating Healthy Fat
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to lift your mood, according to Vitti. Good quality fats are essential during this time, as they can help balance your blood sugar and regulate your hormones. Good sources of healthy fat include nuts, seeds, and avocados.
7 Drinking A Lot Of Water
To avoid bloat, tender breasts, and fluid retention, make sure you stay well hydrated during your period. "Diuretic foods, beverages, and herbs can help eliminate excess fluid retention that sometimes occurs during menstruation," says Dr, Langdon. "Keep well-hydrated to prevent constipation that can lead to bloat, but usually the prostaglandin release from menstruation causes the reverse problem of loose stools. In this case, coffee may make matters worse."
Keeping up on healthy habits can help keep your hormones balanced and alleviate some of those pesky symptoms that come along with your period.