As we start to clean up our diets, cleanse, get rid of our toxic cleaners and beauty products we need to look at our tampons/pads too. Monthly menstrual products are necessary for women, unless your already using menstrual cups. We spend a lot of money on them and I bet you we all have our favorite brand/style. What you don’t realize is that the technology for these products is very advanced, that might sound silly but it’s true. They are more absorbent, moisture wicking and leak proof than EVER before. Chemicals and plastics are what make these products work well. With that technology and the fact that cotton is one of the largest GMO crops, it makes sense to go organic. If that doesn’t persuade you enough, just know that most people are allergic to GMO’s and it causes all types allergic reactions that we might not associate with menstrual product use. You might not even see the effects now but after decades of use these chemicals can cause infertility and recurrent miscarriage. Studies have shown Dioxin- like agent orange (we used in war to kill trees) is found in tampons. I don’t believe this is an added chemical in production but somehow in growing/managing the crop of cotton it is present after production. Having that in these products is dangerous. They cause birth defects in babies and change the chemical balance of our very important vaginal PH. A study from 2012 was done to show the chemicals and toxins in tampons/pads cause infertility and CANCER! Why this isn’t mainstream knowledge is saddening but also just a part of our culture. Don’t take my word on it please click the link above and check out the data!
Just think about it. These products come in contact with our most private parts. If you wouldn’t eat those chemicals/toxins you really shouldn’t put it in your vagina. Your body absorbs those the same way as if it were in your mouth!!! From the packaging they are wrapped in, to the wings on pads and the tape that makes them stick, there are a lot of different toxins at play. They are all endocrine disruptors.
The good news is there are great brands of organic tampons and pads that work well. Even better, the brand CORA helps women in our country and abroad to have access to sanitary products. Every order you place, they send products to those in need. On top of that they hire at risk women in the U.S. to give them opportunities for better lives! You can even have them shipped to your house monthly to make it impossible to ever have to run to the store for the toxic brands. My favorite pads/panty liners are from L. Organic (I found them at Target) they also give to women in need with every purchase you make! Hooray for women helping women!!!! I mentioned above that there are menstrual cups that can take place of tampons and pads. I personally didn’t have luck with them because of my body shape. Please don’t let that detour you. I know many women who use them and LOVE them. The most popular is Diva Cup. They have different sizes and other companies have different shapes that might work better. There might be a day that I switch to this but for now I am happy with my chemical free tampons.
If you enjoyed this information you might like my blog on Natural Hormone Balancing through Seed Cycling or my blog about Your Menstrual Cycle. I will be putting out a blog soon about why it can be very helpful to get OFF birth control!
I often talk to women who are experiencing Amenorrhea (absence of a period) from being on birth control or from PCOS. I became aware of seed cycling when I was searching for natural hormone balance options for myself. I came back to it after my miscarriage. It is no surprise that many women suffer from hormonal imbalance. We are exposed to many toxins and environmental factors that cause hormonal imbalance. Too often we think that that a lack of a period (when avoiding pregnancy) is not harmful. I'm here to start the conversation that it is harmful to not have a regular cycle. Seed cycling can be a gradual, natural and effective way to balance your hormones back out!
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling in the simplest terms is incorporating seeds into your diet at different parts of your cycle to help balance your hormones. The idea is that seeds carry certain oils, vitamins, and nutrients that can help support the body’s production, release, and metabolism of hormones. You use ground up (for easier digestion) flax and pumpkin seeds, and sesame and sunflower seeds.
The Herbal Academy breaks down how this works with a bit more science; "Proponents of seed cycling say that lignans in sesame seeds and flax can help the body bind excess estrogen, supporting its release and that omega-3s help cellular receptor sites to remain in good condition, which in turn keeps hormones in balance. Certain seeds are high in vitamins or minerals like zinc and selenium that help support hormone release."
Essentially these seeds contain what your body needs to balance your hormones naturally. This isn't a quick process but in time it has proven effective for me and many of my clients/friends. Usually with in 3-5 months!
How to Seed Cycle:
The seeds are taken based on the follicular and luteal phases. The follicular phase of your cycle starts with “Day 1,” which is the first day of your menstrual cycle and the day that you begin to bleed. The luteal phase is from ovulation (or about day 14 or 15) to day 28.
It is important to point out that most women experience shorter or longer cycles than the “ideal” 28-day cycle. A big misconception is that everyone ovulates exactly on Day 14. My "normal cycle" is 32-35 days and it is important to know other signs and symptoms of your body like basil cell temp or cervical fluid/position, to get a better idea of your phase. For those who don't have a cycle, it is fine to start with the last NEW MOON as your "Day 1". You are just giving your body a starting point!
Follicular Phase: Day 1 to Day 14, or until ovulation:
1 tablespoon each freshly ground raw flax seeds and pumpkin seeds daily.
Luteal Phase: From Day 15 (about) to 28, or until you bleed:
1 tablespoon each freshly ground raw sunflower and sesame seeds daily.
Keep it simple!
Don't over think it. I add my seeds to my salad or into my morning smoothie. It's pretty simple! Most of my friends have a hard time just STARTING. It may feel overwhelming but its all about taking the first step. I get my seeds online, often on Amazon. I don't buy in bulk because seeds can go bad. A seed grinder is necessary for the sesame seeds but my bullet blender will blend the other seeds just fine (and much faster). I spend a few minutes grinding the seeds I need for that week, to make sure I don't waste any. That also makes it easy, day to day. to throw the seeds in whatever meal. Some days I just throw a tablespoon into my mouth as I run out the door. DON'T overthink this!
I pulled these tips below from the Herbal Academy website, they are a great reminder that our health and hormones are related to our environment.
Tips for Happy Hormones and Seed Cycling Secrets
One last thing I want to add is that I track my cycle. I talk about it in my blog Understanding Your Cycle. The reason I share this is if you are searching for hormone balance or want to have a better understanding of your cycle it is very important to start using an app or journal to track your symptoms. This gives you a great view of your overall health and when you seek medical advice this can be very helpful to show your provider (remember though most providers aren't trained in nutrition or homeopathic medicine so choose wisely when choosing providers). There are many other reasons I think women should track their cycles and know what is "normal" cycle symptoms. Too often I hear women say they have terrible bleeding or cramps and in general think PMS symptoms are normal. I want to tell you that it's NOT and that you should seek more information. My favorite book is Taking Charge of Your Fertility, check out their website for great information on where to start. I also love the podcast Fertility Friday, she has a tone of podcasts on all things related to fertility and women's health. Her website is also a great resource and you can work with her to learn how to chart!
Please reach out with questions, it helps me learn and helps me create better content!
(You need to know your body and your menstrual cycle for many reasons.
This blog is in no way to shame or make any female feel bad about her personal care/cycle knowledge. Just to be clear. This is also only for my ladies out there who want to be more intuitive with their cycles and the effects on general mood and health.
Making assumptions about daily choices and health habits creates a lot of grey areas. The best way to document that is from a study where they went out on the street, asking common people basic questions we SHOULD all know.
*They asked how many days are you actually capable of getting pregnant?
Did you know it’s only two? I am assuming you know nothing in order to write this blog.
I was moved to write this blog now because of my volunteer trip to Africa. I saw firsthand how the lack of female education can create monstrous health issues. Things that seem to be easily preventable become common. I kept thinking about how much I wasn’t able to accomplish there as far as education. Then I started thinking about how often my friends, family and in general women in the U.S. don’t know about their cycle/ how to chart and why it’s so important. I thought I would not make assumptions about what you know about your cycle, and help educate anyone I can. In hopes that this information can help you live a healthier, more empowered life. You can be educated and have access to this knowledge, unlike many in Africa! Another reason I chart is to feel empowered. You are in control, you are knowledgeable and can really grow as a person. Self-development is an amazing perk of charting. You can control PMS, you can understand your mood and creative swings in order to live to your potential. Knowledge is power, right?
First, I want to give you some good resources for furthering your knowledge. A great resource for tips and more back story on your cycle (specially with fertility), I encourage you to check out the podcast, Birth, baby and life. Kristin also has a website,www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com which covers great topics and I refer my Doula Clients/friends to her podcast often. By far my favorite blog and podcast for all things fertility is Fertility Friday’s.
There are also apps that you can use to store your cycle details. I personally use P. Tracker on my iPhone. I almost cried last year when I switched from an android phone to an iPhone because I lost all my charting info! BE WARNED!
If you want to take charting to the next level and have all your bases covered in one machine, check out the Lady Comp(get a discount) fertility monitor. Here is aYouTube video I love that breaks down how easy a lady comp monitor is (avoiding pregnancy &“family planning”). They have an updated version called The Daysy (link for another sweet discount) and it is even easier to track with! I highly recommend you read the fertility awareness method “bible” Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It changed my health and understanding of my body!
My next goal for tracking is to usethe Fertility Friend program on my computer. That way if my lady comp dies, or I lose my cell phone data(Again) I have my back up. I know there are a lot more benefits when tracking this way but need to do more research on it personally. Maybe a future blog post if you ladies like this topic!
With that out of the way here is a breakdown of your cycle. Your cycle begins with your period (Day 1) this starts your Follicular phase (Day 1- day 14). Your first day of your cycle is the day you start your period. The average cycle is 28 days. But a healthy range can be 28-35. Day one your period begins the shedding of your uterine wall because it built up a lining in hopes of conception. When that doesn’t happen (your egg being fertilized by sperm) your body breaks down and then re builds for next month. Fertility only happens in a window of a week. Three and ½ days on either side of your ovulation can you actually become pregnant. There are variables with the sperm and egg but your egg only lives for 12 to 24 hours after ovulation. To know more clearly your fertile window, you can track your basil cell temp each morning before getting out of bed.
To chart you write on a calendar or app what day you start your period. You can start to chart symptoms the day you start your period, along with your amount of flow. If you’re using a basil cell thermometer you will take your temperature before you move too much or get out of bed each morning. This resting temperature tells you a lot about your cycle. You chart this by hand or use the lady comp and it stores the info for you so you can hit the snooze button. The second phase of your cycle is the Luteal phase (Day 14-1), this is when conception happens.
The next step to charting is getting more in depth with charting your fluids in the Luteal Phase. I know this gets to the uncomfortable next level for some but it can be useful information. If your fluid is tacky you are most likely fertile/ovulating (you can compare that with your temperature) it will go from a creamy constancy to more egg whites. Dry obviously means you’re not producing eggs or don’t have the fluids to hold sperm. THUS not fertile. If your fluid is always a bit watery that can be an indication of fertility issues. I will talk more about that in a separate blog.
To break it down again…your cycle works like this….fluids build up and your temp will spike (less than 1%) when you ovulate. It sounds minor but its shows when your tracking. I promise. Then you reach your luteal phase when you ovulate. After you ovulate your fluid is dry and your temp stays consistent and hot, you’re not fertile here. Your temp goes back down after you ovulate. This takes you up to the first day of your period, everything built up and since you didn’t use your egg your body starts the break down all over again!
There is more to this whole process but I hope that starts the conversation and knowledge of this subject. I want to mention that there is a Tri-phase, its shown in a third level of your temperature (I can go more over this in another blog if you ladies are interested) Other things you need to consider in how your temperature changes; stress, medications, or a night of drinking. Also be aware that a lack of a luteal phase can indicate issues with fertility. This is part of why having a period is so important, even if you’re not wanting to get pregnant right now. Here is a bit more information on the damaging effects of long term birth control use and skipping your period.
Another topic I love is Seed Cycling to balance your hormones and get your period back if you have Amenorrhea. This is also great for fertility. Check out my blog on Seed Cycling.
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I am a Doula, Childbirth Educator and Primal Health Couch. Essentially I am a women's health nerd. I have struggled with Autoimmune issues for the last 10 years, and more recently fertility issues. This along with my birth work, has driven me to self research. I have added a blog to my site in hopes of giving resources to clients or those interested in these topics. I would love feedback and comments.
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