Happy Valentine’s Day… and, oh well, might as well talk about periods anyway. Menstruation Part III

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This post will feature Valentine’s touches we’ve had in our home over the past week or so… here, some roses from my husband in my work space

This might be a weird coincidence, but heck, on some level it is fitting. I mean, Valentine’s Day is a day of love and romance… and we all know there is a fair chance our reproductive system will be involved in that in some way.

So what a better tribute to our female power and feminine allure then to conclude our three part series on Menstruation on Valentines Day.

If you missed the first two posts, the first one was on why I believe menstruation equals creative power… the second was on healthy (both for us and for the planet) alternatives to dealing with menstruation… and this last one will be all about hormones, menstrual symptoms, and how to support those best through natural supplements.

Hot chocolate with whipped cream and Peep hearts… ultra yum!

To do this, I have interviewed someone much more knowledgeable then myself about the entire hormone pathway and natural medicine in general, my dear husband, Dr. Craig Koniver of Organic Medicine Now.
He is not only the sweetest guy I know, the best Daddy in the world, and the only man I want to spend another 50 + years with… but he happens to be a leader in the world of medicine, a forerunner in natural medicine, and the first guy to coin the term “Organic Medicine.”

Folks fly in from all over the country to get his specialized approach to natural well being… and I am super lucky to benefit from his wisdom every day.
So on that note, I’ve asked him a few questions about PMS and menopause and what types of natural supplements support woman best when they experience symptoms related to fluctuating hormones. Here are his thoughts:

1. What are the hormones responsible for PMS symptoms?

Both Estrogen and Progesterone. I think the antiquated thinking gives more significance to Estrogen than Progesterone, but newer data and my experience has shown that the real culprit is Progesterone.

Progesterone is the feel-good, calming, relaxing hormone for women. As women get older, Progesterone starts to decline and this manifests, usually, in the time leading up to menstrual bleeding. So the bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, emotional lability, irritability is generally from a lack of Progesterone.

2. What are some simple things woman can do to help alleviate PMS symptoms at home, without seeing a physician?

Definitely eat more healthy fat.

Progesterone is a fat soluble hormone, meaning that there has to be sufficient fat in order to make Progesterone. So incorporating things like Whole Fat Dairy, Avocados, Coconut Oil, nuts, animal meat, fish oil will help tremendously…. by eating more fat, you will have a better chance of making more Progesterone which directly will help prevent PMS symptoms.

3. What supplements would best support a woman experiencing mood swings or irritability during her period?

CHOCOLATE…wait, that’s not a true supplement, although it has been proven to help!

GABA is good as it helps relax and calm as does Theanine. Other good ones include more Calcium and Magnesium, especially before bed.

4. How do you know if you are entering perimenopause/menopause?

Usually PMS symptoms becomes more pronounced and happen more often –occurring at intervals before they normally do.

So women start getting PMS symptoms all month long.

Another way for a woman to tell is when periods start to become irregular–going 32 days instead of 28, skipping around lengths….

5. What foods help women who are in menopause or post menopausal strengthen their bone density?

Dark green vegetables and whole fat dairy contain the highest quantity of calcium, so those are the best.

6. What lifestyle recommendations would you have for post menopausal women?

Try to exercise early in the morning and try to go to bed earlier. A lot of the post menopausal women I see struggle with sleep and both exercise and early bedtimes can help.

Also making sure they get outside everyday.

7. What nutritional supplements would you recommend to ease menopausal symptoms?

I think menopausal symptoms are best aided by supporting the adrenal glands.

As women transition into menopause, their ovaries stop making their hormones and that role is taken over by the adrenals. So the best adrenal supplements include the Adaptogens: Rhodiola, Cordyceps, Ginseng, Ashwagandha as well as B-complex vitamins, Adrenal glandulars

8. Why would bio-identical hormones be different from other hormone therapies?

Bio-identical hormones are different because they are the exact same hormones circulating in humans.

Unlike synthetic hormones or birth control that contains molecules of hormones that are foreign to us, bioidentical hormones are the exact same hormones.

This includes Progesterone, Estrogens, Testosterone…..as they are bioidentical they are just replacing what is not there. So the analogy I think of is that the hormone “tank” is low or empty and you take the bioidentical hormones to fill the tank back up….

9. What is the case for using bio-identical hormones, instead of accepting the eb and flow of hormones as a natural progression? Isn’t it okay to actually age and become post-menopausal?

Yes, it is certainly okay to eb and flow and let nature happen and not replace the hormones with bioidentical hormones.

On the flip side, there are also many advantages to BHRT: in the short term, women who use BHRT generally say they feel better–have more energy, more sexual energy, sleep better, have better memory, help maintain healthy weight…and the long term: prevention of heart disease, some cancers and dementia

10. What would you recommend for a patient who is on traditional estrogen replacement, who is interested in switching to bio-identical hormones? Is it worth switching? Is the transition hard?

The transition is not hard, no…it involves substituting a bioidentical estrogen for the synthetic and adding bioidentical progesterone (estrogen and progesterone should be taken together)…the tricky part, sometimes, can be getting the exact dosage correct–the synthetic estrogens tend to be VERY potent and so sometimes when switching to bioidenticals, there can be a brief time period of symptoms returning….

I think it is definitely worth switching to as bioidenticals are much, much safer and women state they feel so much better on them.

11. What is your one hope for your daughter as she nears the onset of her period? What is the one piece of advice you would give her?

That she celebrates being a woman, because women are vastly different from men and I hope that she relishes this knowledge of who she is every menstrual cycle that occurs in the future.

There you have it, folks! Do you have any specific questions for him that I didn’t address? If so, comment below and I’ll reply so that everyone can benefit from the extra info. I sort of have an *in* with this doc… so I’ll be able to get the scoop for ya 😉

Are you ready for the winners of my Moon Artwork give-a-way? I let each of my kids pick a name, and the two winners are… drumroll…. Megan Cliff and Michelle Ryan! You should have received an email from me requesting your shipping info! I’m excited to send you your free Giclee print, and thank you so much to everyone who left a comment on my blog.

Come back on Wed to see an exciting new way to bring goddess power and soul energy into your work space… and I’ll see you on Friday to reveal two more pieces of Heartsong Jewelery! xoxox