Note: if you are currently trying to conceive with irregular cycles and need extra help click here for a strategy session
Whether you are suffering from PCOS, Endometriosis, or inexplicable irregular or painful periods, you may have considered birth control your only option for regulating your cycle. Did you know birth control is not good for your system? It's also not your only option! Below I will suggest non-hormonal methods of regulating your cycle.
First of all, why not use birth control? Hormonal birth control is prescribed for a host of women's health issues, and often from a young age. Most pills are a combination of estrogen and progesterone and they effectively take over your body's natural rhythm of these hormones to prevent ovulation, regulate the cycle, or manage other issues that are affected by our imbalanced hormones.
Besides the common side effects of weight gain, mood swings, nausea and headaches, there are other problems with birth control. Firstly, birth control is made of synthetic hormones which overpower your body's natural cycle. When these hormones are used long-term and continuously, they can cause long-term affects like infertility, decreased bone density, migraines, increased incidence of heart attacks, strokes, and cervical and breast cancers.
For women trying to conceive, the use of birth control can add up to 9 months to the time it takes to get pregnant after you stop taking the pill. Note: you should also know that directly after you stop taking birth control for a short time period you are considered to be more fertile. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, birth control sucks the life force out of you, and is one of the most toxic ways you can treat your body. From a holistic perspective, taking these hormones, especially from a young age, prevents your body from naturally regulating itself, which is necessary for conception later in life.
Lastly, when we treat issues like PCOS, Endometriosis, and irregular periods with birth control, we are not solving the problem but merely masking it. If you suffer from one of these issues and use birth control to manage them, know that the problem is still there, you just aren't experiencing the symptoms. You will have to find other methods to manage your cycle when you are ready to conceive. Lastly, when it comes to using birth control at a young age and/or consistently, you are preventing your body from regulating itself.
Okay, we get it. Birth control is not the best option for regulating our cycles. But what are the alternatives? Truthfully, it depends on your specific needs. Women with differing issues have different needs for treatment. The best option for developing a specific plan catered to your needs would be to speak with a Fertility Coach directly. For now, check out these suggestions:
Watch what you eat
We've all heard that "you are what you eat". When it comes to your cycle, what you eat matters. Your diet is the first place you should look to regulate your cycle. A simple guideline is to eat more whole foods (grown from the earth, in as close form as possible to the natural form), eat less processed foods, and drink more water. More specifically, you need to avoid white foods, limit sweets, red meats, and sugary drinks.
Regulate eating patterns
When it comes to eating for your cycle, how you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Make sure you eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking. Next, be sure to eat every 2-3 hours, following the guidelines above. Lastly, stop eating after 7 pm. Your digestive system needs a break and your body will use the energy to recharge and heal. Never go long enough without a meal to feel jittery or desperate. Keep healthy snacks on hand to keep yourself satisfied while you're on the go.
Acupuncture is the ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine with proven health benefits for a range of issues. In simple terms, it works by stimulating energy points throughout the body which signal bodily systems to respond. Acupuncture has a great track record of managing women's reproductive issues, especially irregular cycles and the underlying reasons behind them. The key to using acupuncture is consistently. Your practitioner will give you recommendations for treatments, but know that typically it takes 3 months to see improvements in women's cycle issues. If cost is an issue, some acupuncturists offer community sessions for a reduced rate, or packages for long-term treatment.
Regulate Sleeping Patterns
You may have heard of your circadian rhythm, but have you considered how it relates to your cycle? Sleep affects basically every physiological function our body performs, your cycle included. Disruptions in sleep patterns, or irregular sleep patterns altogether, can keep your cycle irregular too. Try waking and sleeping at regular hours, and avoid bright lights (phones, computers, TVs) within an hour of sleeping.
At the very least, you should be taking a whole-food based vitamin, probiotics, and a green powder daily. I personally use and recommend Detox International's brand of vitamins and supplements because they are whole-food based rather than synthetic. I also know the owner personally and he is extremely healthy and well known yoga teacher/activist in the community. He practices what he preaches and the results are impressive. There are many other supplements you should consider depending on your specific issue. Schedule a strategy session if you need help deciding which are best for you.
Spend Time Outdoors
Spending time outdoors will increase your exposure to natural light, which is beneficial for regulating your circadian rhythm. It also helps reduce stress, inflammation, enhance mood and boosts the immune system, which indirectly affect your cycle. For added benefits, spend time under moon light!
Develop Stress Coping Skills
Stress is a fact of life. If you're trying to conceive, you've surely heard every stranger, co-worker and family member tell you to "just relax and it'll happen". Yeah, yeah, if only it was that easy! The fact is stress: is normal but it really isn't good for you and can easily throw your cycle off balance. Long term stress of racism, and/or money problems can also wreak havoc on your cycle. While you can't run away from stressors, you can manage stress by using coping methods. Exercise is great for stress reduction, as is spending time outdoors. Deep breathing exercises, like Kemetic Yoga promotes, can instantly relieve stress symptoms like shallow breathing, a racing heart, and cortisol. You can also reduce stress by examining the source of your feelings. What is it triggering your stress? Check-in with yourself when you are feeling stressed out. What do you need in that moment? You can also brainstorm the main stressors in your day and figure out how you can best prepare for them. Change what you can, and accept what you can't. Lastly, spend time with your support network to get those endorphins flowing. Laugh, sing, cry, dance, move, and vent.
Consistent exercise is a great tool for managing your cycle. You want to shoot for 30 minutes of high intensity three days a week, or 1 hour of moderate intensity cardio three days a week. You also want 2 days of muscle building activities. If you can't add it in all at once, start by adding one day of exercise to your schedule a week and build from there. If it seems like a chore, find activities you love like walking at the park, exercise classes, dance classes, yoga, video or online workouts, etc. Find a workout buddy if you can't do it alone!
9. Stop Using Toxic Hygiene Products
Most of tampons, liners, and pads on the market are toxic. Most use cotton that is laden with pesticides, and then bleached, to make their products. They are then layered with dyes, plastics, fragrances and other additives that are bad for your reproductive organs. If you are adamant about using tampons, choose an organic brand. I recommend not using tampons at all because the blood is supposed to be released from your system, not plugged up inside of you. I personally use and recommend Cherish Pads because they are highly absorbent, prevent odors, and are not toxic like most other products. The ingredients include organic cotton, charcoal, and negative ions, with no toxic additives. If you are not a fan of disposable pads you can try Thinx underwear, reusable pads, or menstrual cups (I don't recommend as highly because I believe the blood needs to flow).
So there you have it, 9 ways to regulate your cycle without hormonal birth control. I hope they come in handy as you work on regulating your cycle. For more tips and advice for reproductive issues, follow Queen Bee on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. If you need more help coming up with a personalized plan to manage irregular cycles, schedule a complimentary strategy session with me here.
Queen Bee Fertility