Care for Your Menstrual Health

As seen on Live The Process

A woman’s hormonal system is very delicate by nature.

Everything we do, say, eat and feel changes the entire chemistry of our bodies and hormonal balance. At times, this can be challenging because we have to be very aware, listening to our bodies to identify what will balance each of our own unique systems.

Fortunately, this delicacy also means that the smallest changes can be healing. With gentle lifestyle shifts, we can bring our hormonal systems back into balance. Each woman has a very unique experience of her body and of herself. Each of us finds our real power in knowing our uniqueness and being able to trust our bodies to tell us what we need.

Here are foundational steps to begin re-aligning with your cycle:

1. Observe Your Cycle

One of the most effective and tangible ways to navigate hormonal shifts is to observe physical sensations and emotional fluctuations. Our hormones are always changing, impacting the way we feel and see the world, but there is also a steadiness as we connect to those rhythms. The more we begin to feel rooted in the cyclical rhythms of our hormonal shifts, the more we can appreciate ourselves rather than act unconsciously.

When we observe each phase of our cycle—the emotional, cognitive and physical changes—we can move with them and consciously come into synch with our bodies and psyches. For me and my clients, speaking the language of hormones helps us to know ourselves. We can shift our lifestyle and food choices appropriately, instead of fighting, pushing and resisting where we are.

2. Neutralize Stress

When a woman feels stressed or unsafe, the tension goes right to her ovaries before the pituitary. This physical feedback helps us protect our womb and eggs. Therefore, stress is unique for a woman. Upon waking up in the morning, I advise my clients to massage their ovaries as a hormonal signal for relaxation. This helps to decrease cortisol and encourages the glandular system to unwind.

Making our emotional, physical and spiritual health the most important part of our lives can help us choose nurturance over stress. It places us above the extras. Making a list of pleasurable and relaxing activities is a precursor to hormonal health. Often, when women are overworked and feeling exhausted, we gravitate towards unhealthy ways to soothe ourselves like shopping sprees, ice cream, wine and coffee. By making a list, we can begin to add more beneficial habits into our daily lives.

Investigating what we do or don’t enjoy, and then taking responsibility for integrating these moments into our lives, can calm our nervous systems and regulate our hormones. For example, I love starting my day with organic facial products that smell like flowers. The smell is so centering. That makes me feel good and it’s healthy.

3. Consume Nutrient-Rich Foods

The way we eat is a great reflection of our relationship with our body. Food offers an opportunity to come into a place of more self-love, care and nurturance, to take the time to think about what our unique bodies need (especially when it comes to hormonal regulation).

When our systems are relaxed, we can absorb the vitamins and minerals from our meals. A general and foundational place to start at every meal is to include healthy fats, proteins and low-glycemic carbohydrates. Each person must experiment to see what’s best, but research has revealed an ideal ratio estimation for each plate: 45% of low-glycemic carbohydrates (especially green leafy vegetables!) 30% healthy fats (love coconut butter right now!) and 25% protein.

When we nurture our physical and psychic health, we become awake to the connections when we, for instance, stray off track. This provides us power, rather than giving hormonal imbalances power over us. This is the journey.

Women’s Health Changing Patriarchal System Series: The Landscape

It’s shame, not rage that destroys us. I have noticed in my work and personal life, what neuroscientist Antonio Damasio discusses as a split between emotion from reason and mind over body, can prevent us from registering our own experiences which leads us to lose touch with our own voice to then become influenced by a false authority. This occurs through shame. When a false authority, such as our healthcare system, challenges the personal experience we know to be true, such as disregarding bleeding and pain during ovulation, we are injected with shame and disconnect from trusting ourselves. Women are now beginning to follow our hearts more than societies terms of a good women and, in my work, I’m observing more women standing up for their hormonal health by questioning the pill and demanding better care for their hormonal health. As a woman and educator for women’s health, I want to highlight the importance of women’s healthcare, including the lack of research, supportive endocrinology lifestyle, and education (most women don’t know what the follicular phase is, which is pointing to were we are in relationship with our bodies!) I believe shame is one root case of our silence.  To me, our shame roots in a patriarchy landscape. The current shifts in political and social climate define movements in varies ways. It’s dependent on who is speaking and to whom. In this essay, I speak of feminism as the framework that separates democracy (ideals and values) from patriarchy (privilege and power.)  I am not implying that matriarchy is an answer since it is a hierarchy that places women on top of men. However, a democracy that places everyone as equal.

I’ve come to notice that the initiations of silence that we personally experience are the social “rules” we become habituated towards in our public lives. We silence our voices in order to have relationships. This act then creates a traumatized split in our psyche by categorizing us into good girls or bad girls verses a woman with healthy resistance to dishonesty, and with a voice to freely state her experience, trust herself and have the capacity to join reason with emotion. Patriarchy’s division between mind and body, and reason and emotion has created an unsafe space for a woman to trust her body, to be relaxed and to heal. We don’t have the proper medical care for women’s hormonal health. Countless of ladies tell me that they come see me and don’t want to go to an OB/GYN because the only remedy is birth control. It is becoming more ethically important to create a way to resist this injury that has impaired our ability to love and engage in relationship with our bodies, and medical professionals.

I speak with women that do not want to go to an OB/GYN due to the fear of this split – the split of body and mind. We go to the physicians office with the hope of advice and encouragement. But, we are left with the false remedy of birth control pill that only cover-up are health imbalances, and told that our symptoms are in our head, as if we are not allowed to trust our bodies. Another human-being can be grown within us, and they tell us not to trust the messages we are receiving from our bodies. Research has only begun to include women’s bodies. Our cyclic cycle was too challenging and mysterious for researchers and physicians to quantitatively analyze in the models they claimed as norms which were tested on by white male research participants. Most OB/GYN’s do not provide sound advice for hormonal imbalances. It’s scary to know T3/T4 (thyroid hormones) are not routine testing for hormonal imbalances since they can a root cause for many dysregulations in hormones. Physicians can passively and lazily blame it on insurance companies, or they can take an ethics of care route by use their authoritative voice to help clients and feminism. If you aren’t pushing back with the insurance companies, at least recommend your patients to women’s food, herb and relaxation specialists before prescribing the pill or surgery. We are here to join forces and work with you to support women’s endocrine system. We give life and would like to make it a successful and healthy experience for each woman, child and family.

As, we, women are un-silencing ourselves, patriarchy is being uncovered.  As women, our silence is the initiation and compromise towards patriarchy. We act as if we do not know what we know. We see this rampart as clients at the OB/GYN. We go in timidly, knowing that our hormones and emotions are off, but compromising our needs that allows for the neglect of OB/GYN. We are left with taking a pill that covers our symptoms, as it covers our voice, and doesn’t get to the root cause. Further, it messes up our hormones, ovary’s and can complicate later-on pregnancy.

There has been a shattering of trust from a patriarchy system of healthcare. Our hormonal health is a high stakes situation. Not only are our hormones sensitive to external and internal stimulus (food, conversation and exercise) but we contain life within us so our endocrine system reacts accordingly, not like men. The survival of our species is dependent in a woman’s mental, physical and spiritual health. This makes our health as a high stakes situation. When our rights are betrayed then we stop trusting ourselves. When the stakes are high, betrayal is authorized by someone in authority. Culturally, authority is doctors. By providing this false authority of our bodies over to the medical system, we have lost trust within our bodies. Women are less frequently able to state what they know. We don’t trust what we know. We lose connection with ourselves, thus instilling the responsibility of our health onto the doctors. I’m not proposing that we are our own doctors. Rather, we get back into connection with the sensations within our bodies, know how hormones work and be in an equal conversation with doctors. You know your body better than the doctor. If your doctor doesn’t want to have a conversation, then find one that does. Learn what is going on in each stage of your cycle, put away the app so you can feel the hormone fluctuations in each stage of your cycle, and learn to eat and exercise to maintain hormonal health.  When we experience betrayal in relationships, then we experience it as a moral betrayal of what is right. The way our hormones and bodies are being treated in the medical field is a betrayal – and it’s wrong. We don’t have to accept it. In this high stakes situation, don’t be selfless. The doctors aren’t the authority of your body. We can turn our healthcare into a democracy of care – where we, as women, trust our bodies. We can have a relationship with doctors that includes mutual sharing of knowledge. I work with countless women that are main work is to slowly have them trust their bodies. This is the work of healing our hormones. This is the work of being more relaxed and centered. This is healing. We have erased what we have once known. Sorry – let me re-write that ‘we have barried deep inside what we have once know.’ We can’t erase what is the innate part of us. We were asked to not know what we had loved, our bodies. We have muted the voice of our own experience. We had to rewrite history by giving the responsibility and care of our bodies to the medical field. This was an initiation we all compromised and it has become like nature.

Once I start working with women, self-love becomes the driving force. The mention of the silences that we have compromised strikes a match in women I work with. I never have to mention much about this patriarchy framework, since it resonates so deeply in women. Once a woman has permission to love and trust herself in this manner, hierarchy has no chance. Love is the base of equality and freedom. It’s the ethics of care we treat ourselves and others with.

Questions do remain. How do we resist our splits so we can speak about the our bodies at the OB/GYN office? How will we care for our hormones? What is a democratic healthcare for women? How do we resist?

This essay is my first attempted drop in the ocean. There is a lot to share in this topic. Please email me your thoughts and look out for mor

Returning to Your Natural Flow

The term feminine can be very confusing and often implies that a certain criterion needs to be fulfilled, such as attending goddess circles and wearing flowing boho clothing. In gender studies, it’s having qualities associated with delicacy and prettiness. In reality, feminine and masculine mean different things to different people. And, the qualities live in both genders.

In simplistic terms, I like to think of masculine aspect in us as the part of us that likes to get things done. It’s the part of us that organizes, strives and does. Our feminine is our creativity. Both need to be present to live a relaxed and relational life.

The demands of our daily life leave us mostly centered around our masculine expression so we can be efficient and assertive. But, these are not useful when we want to relax, feel and flow with life. When we are constantly in our masculine, we can feel this state of chronic stress that increases our cortisol leading to a cascade of hormonal havoc. The feminine aspect of relaxing, pleasure, beauty and feeling can offset the stress response. We must accept and cultivate both aspects. This integration places a fuller you into the world.

When we come back to our feminine and integrate it with our masculine, we strip away layers of behaviors, masks and coping. We begin to feel who we really are underneath it all. We re-calibrate our hormones, our nervous system resets, our intuition comes back online and creativity soares. We return to feeling through the body and trusting what we felt. We realize the moments we ‘push’ or ‘don’t feel good enough’ so we can re-calibrate to a more natural state of relaxation and release so we can be ourselves.

Through the body, feminine tools can balance the nervous system. Feminine skills for the body need to be practiced and cultivated to enhance sensitivity, feeling, creativity and expression. We each have a unique natural inclination in how we feel the happiest and most expressed. Finding your authentic expression is more important than fitting in with the way we image a feminine expression looks like. One’s expression does not fit all. The feminine expression comes from an authentic, heartfelt, embodied wisdom expressed by your uniqueness. It’s not on a strip pole, a feather boa or lingerie, though it can be!  

By attending to the body, we can become aware of relaxation and feelings. Here is an easy way to become aware of the sensations in your body. Take a moment to notice your body. Are you relaxed and comfortable or do you feel tension somewhere? If you are sitting, begin feeling your body in the chair. Begin subtly moving, wiggle your toes and stretch your feet. Begin moving your spine wherever you are feeling. Primarily focus on areas that feel good, expanding the pleasurable sensations through your movement. Allow yourself to take this movement to just be with the sensations in your body. Dance by listening to the way your body wants to move to feel pleasure.

Another feminine relaxation tool is to use present-moment awareness. Take a moment to define pleasurable activities for each of your five senses. Begin incorporating sensory enjoyment into your life. As you consciously engage in your senses, you can gradually notice subtle shifts in your body and energy levels. For example, wherever you are find things of beauty to observe. In your office and home, create displays that give you pleasure and positive sensations in your body when you look at them. The key is to look at something you enjoy rather than something that disturbs your nervous system.

I hope these practices inspire and encourage you while reconnecting to your body, beauty within you and returning to your natural flow.

Art by Marie Sophie Lockhart

San Francisco The Art Gallery (May 2017)

by Devora Ohebshalom

Indigenous Reclamation    An exploration of Persian Jewish women artwork, which is the artist’s lineage, at a time when all three identities are being isolated and highlighted in the global culture. The artist uses ancient Judeo-Persian style and stages Vulva as a power and mystery women hold to piece together fragmentations of her history of diasporas, persecutions and colonization. As she is reclaiming, there is a belonging, not as souvenirs collected through common travels of scattered displacement, but as an inheritance passed down from Israel yesteryear to herself.

Indigenous Reclamation

An exploration of Persian Jewish women artwork, which is the artist’s lineage, at a time when all three identities are being isolated and highlighted in the global culture. The artist uses ancient Judeo-Persian style and stages Vulva as a power and mystery women hold to piece together fragmentations of her history of diasporas, persecutions and colonization. As she is reclaiming, there is a belonging, not as souvenirs collected through common travels of scattered displacement, but as an inheritance passed down from Israel yesteryear to herself.


Mizrachi in the Exploration of The Nameless    Exploring an Israeli-Persian woman’s movable identity as a political statement in tribalism, honour, and individuality. Destroying the idea of collective identity because creating collectivities is dangerous in these communities. Once a person and community experiences colonism, fragmentation, and patriarchy then they can’t go back to the origin. They can’t go back to authenticity of the past. Once it is gone, it is gone. It is not traditional anymore so only something new is created. The two women and their vast raw power are the birth of new. This is a confrontation of dismantling collective identity. The bold outline of the body is stating something is being born anew in her vulnerability at that moment.

Mizrachi in the Exploration of The Nameless

Exploring an Israeli-Persian woman’s movable identity as a political statement in tribalism, honour, and individuality. Destroying the idea of collective identity because creating collectivities is dangerous in these communities. Once a person and community experiences colonism, fragmentation, and patriarchy then they can’t go back to the origin. They can’t go back to authenticity of the past. Once it is gone, it is gone. It is not traditional anymore so only something new is created. The two women and their vast raw power are the birth of new. This is a confrontation of dismantling collective identity. The bold outline of the body is stating something is being born anew in her vulnerability at that moment.

Trauma’s Affect on Our Hormones

As women, our hormones are sensitive to the most subtle changes. This can be from food, environments and much more. When we experience emotional shock, such as a trauma, then it can directly make stressful changes in our hormonal system. Many of my clients have reported a longer cycle or other changes in their cycle due to the stress of working towards work deadlines. That one stressful week can cause physical changes in their cycle. Working with clients, I've seen shifts in hormonal imbalances once they start healing deeper childhood traumas. Healing from stress and trauma can have you flow better in life and with your menstrual cycle.  Research is currently finding that if we experience a traumatic situation during our luteal phases (the two weeks before you bleed) verses our follicular phase (two weeks after you bleed) can have a very different affect in our psychobiological response.

The levels of our hormones are cyclical throughout our monthly menstrual cycle. When estrogen levels are raised, they can have the ability to protect a woman from a mood disorder, while a lower level of estrogen can make a woman more susceptible to trauma. Research is suggesting that women are most at risk for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when their estrogen is low  during the menstrual cycle.

Men may be less susceptible to mood disorders since testosterone is regularly converted into estrogen in the male brain, resulting in a more steady flow of estrogen. Overall, research is showing women show less fear to neutral stimulus when their estrogen levels are high rather than low. This might be a reason women’s PTSD symptoms last on average four times as long in women as in men after trauma.

Recent research has shown a solid correlation between endometriosis and childhood trauma. This study in the Journal of Human Reproduction, funded by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development among other organizations, is the largest of its kind. Researchers found that among the 60,595 premenopausal women with endometriosis, 31 percent reported they had experienced some form of physical abuse as children. Another 12 percent reported being sexually violated, while 21 percent disclosed both types of abuse. These numbers are far too high and bring awareness to the link of needing psychological support with endometriosis. My psychotherapeutic work is highlighted in my work, but I know hormones are rarely discussed in therapeutic sessions. It’s time for change!

Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus instead grows outside, sometimes causing pelvic pain and in some cases, infertility. Researchers already knew the association between chronic pelvic pain and abuse, but this research finding gives more insight into women’s hormonal health care; however, there needs to be more research to understand the biological connection between trauma and physiological symptoms. What does happen is there is a stress response to the trauma that activates these systems and causes women to be more sensitive to pain. in this study, researchers found that women that have had chronic or severe abuse can have a 79 percent increase risk of being diagnosed with endometriosis compared to women who hadn’t been abused. This does not mean that women who were abused have a 79 percent chance of developing endometriosis or that all women with endometriosis experienced abuse.

These new research findings are so vital for women’s health-care. People are afraid to look into the influences of sex hormones because it’s such a complex system. Females add more variance so scientists tended to avoid studying them. Studies of human brain (and endocrinology research) tend to combine men and women, assuming that neurological gender differences were minimal. But this attitude is changing. Freud was beginning to find concrete evidence that women were not ‘hysteria’ but the complex variables made him step away from understanding the women’s psyche. It was decades later when, my professor, Carol Gilligan, questioned the psychologist used male model of human development. She started researching women’s voice and development incorporating psychoanalysis. She changed the language of psychology and feminism.  

Too many women live with unexplained hormonal, emotional and physical symptoms. We are left feeling silenced and shamed, leading us to not trust our body and core knowingness. Most of the time, the answer we receive is “it’s all in our head.” This is because physicians are not trained to see the psychological, food and lifestyle connections. Our health care system compartmentalizes each body part while hormonal health is dependent on the health of our gut, liver, thyroid and more. And, research has only begun to research women’s hormones and psychology.

It is now time to start listening to the innate cyclical nature of our body and take responsible by educating ourselves on our body and hormonal system.  I think the feminist movement of truth to power has to include taking responsibility for our own health and educating ourselves rather than depending on the system.

HORMONE HEALTH 101: THE IMPACT OF STRESS

This post was written for Harness Magazine.

It seems stress has become a norm in everyone’s daily basis. I am always asking myself how I can be more physically and mentally healthy so I feel more relaxed instead of stressed. Working with women in helping them with hormonal issues, I know that we are all trying to tackle this issue. When you are experiencing a stressful time in your life, it’s time to focus on your physical health which will impact your mental health.

Research has shown that women are more likely to feel anxiety than men. Also, 18.1% of the American population report times of anxiety. Conventionally treatment has lead physicians to prescribe medication that come with a host of side effects. However, there are many natural ways to alleviate anxiety. Unchecked stress can inhibit you from reaching your goals. There are ways to help yourself.

 

Stress on A Woman’s Body

When a woman’s body is triggered by every day stressors, her hormones are affected. Here are a few ways stress affects your hormones and health.

  1. It causes vitamin and mineral deficiency. When you have too much cortisol, it will strip your body of essential nutrients, which impacts your thyroid and blood sugar regulation. The key nutrients that is depleted but needed during this time are b-vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium.
  2. It messes up your blood sugar levels. Your adrenals go on a rollercoaster when you have too much sugar, coffee, carbs and alcohol. This produces cortisol, which then affects the cascade and levels of your hormones. For example, your luteal phase lengthens, progesterone levels decrease, and PMS symptoms increase.
  3. A disrupted gut flora. Your gut has harder time metabolizing hormones such as estrogen. Additionally, it does not have the proper flora to eliminate toxins and hormones out of your body, leaving you bloated, gases, brain fogged, and much more.

 

Supplements Needed to Combat Stress

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acid. Research has shown that omega-3 are part of the building blocks of hormones. When you are under stress, hormones are depleted so nourish your body by providing more essential fatty acids. They can also be mood-boosting!
  2. Magnesium prevents extra cortisol and calms the nervous system. This mineral can also help control insulin production which reduces blood sugar spikes and sugar cravings.
  3. Vitamin B5 helps regulate the body’s stress response by directly stimulating adrenal cells.

 

Stress affect on our hormonal health is serious stuff. A variety of factors can help like de-stressing lifestyle techniques, eating nutrient-rich whole foods, and prioritizing sleep and activity. It’s right to feel and radiate health and happiness.

 

HOW TO TREAT CRAMPS, BLOATING, AND OTHER PHYSICAL PMS SYMPTOMS

Orginal article on CORA's Blood + Milk

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is common but does not have to be a normal occurrence in your monthly schedule. It doesn’t have to be an uphill battle and it can even become a thing of the past. Often, clients want me to tell them how to ‘fix’ their body. There’s no quick fix for hormonal issues (and more likely other undercurrent issues you are experiencing like food sensitivity and adrenal fatigue), but we can assist our bodies in their natural cycle.

Eighty percent of women report some emotional and physical fluctuations in the luteal phase (second half of their cycle). Twenty percent of women experience symptoms severe enough to seek medical help. The good news is that PMS responds quickly and well to natural treatment. You can learn more about improving your emotional symptoms and PMS mood swings here, and below I’ll share tips for reducing pain and physical PMS symptoms.

CURCUMIN

Curcumin is a powerful ingredient in turmeric. It is not only an impactful brain booster but also an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. In the luteal phase, your liver is working on detoxifying estrogen; however, chronic inflammation can impair estrogen detoxification. When estrogen lingers in your bloodstream, it builds up and throws off the balance your endocrine system is trying to maintain. This congestion and estrogen dominance lead to many PMS symptoms.

Additionally, inflammation impairs the manufacturing of progesterone. Progesterone counterbalances estrogen. One way it does this is that progesterone thins your uterine lining while estrogen thickens it. Progesterone also calms your nervous system, so you can feel relaxed during stressful times. Therefore, more progesterone during your luteal phase will have a relaxing effect on your body and mood. Curcumin is a golden ingredient to help your body’s natural estrogen detoxification system. I recommend making a turmeric paste and begin adding it to soups, rice, and chicken (and really, any meal) one week before your period, and every day during. The paste includes black pepper and coconut oil to make the curcumin more effective.

Curcumin Paste Recipe:

  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of organic turmeric root powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil
  1. Mix and stir the turmeric powder with the cup of water in a pot on very low heat for about five minutes or until it forms a thick paste.
  2. Once it turns into a paste, add freshly ground black pepper and coconut oil and mix well.
  3. Cool and store in a mason jar and store in your fridge.

It should last in your refrigerator for two weeks.

YOGA POSE

Since women are the protectors of life, our ovaries are the first area in our bodies that feel and react to stress. This can lead to many hormonal issues. Here is a wonderful yoga pose to practice when experiencing cramping, bloating, and other physical PMS symptoms. Breathe deeply as you gently move through this pose.

 

Sit on the heels. Extend the left leg straight back along the ground. Bend forward and place the forehead on the ground. Put both arms back along the sides, palms up. Relax all the muscles and relax the breath. Hold for three minutes. Then slowly rise up on the inhale. Bring both legs under, sitting on the heels. Repeat on the other side also for three minutes.

FENNEL TEA

When you have PMS cramps, drink fennel seeds after a meal. This tea gets your digestive fire going! Fennel is known to ease and regulate menstruation by properly regulating hormonal action in the body. The antispasmodic properties help to relax the muscles in the uterus, relieving cramping, releasing muscle tension, and soothing inflammation.

To make fennel tea, add one teaspoon of fennel seeds to a cup of water. Let the pot simmer for about five minutes. Turn it off and then strain the tea.  

It’s also fun to chew on a few fennel seeds after a meal. It warms the digestive tract. If you experience any burping, acid reflux, or discomfort then please stop using.

PMS DURING OVULATION

Ovulation occurs when estrogen peaks. Since estrogen is surging, you’ll want to make sure your body is efficiently metabolizing and eliminating the surplus of estrogen. Three days before ovulation and during PMS, add foods with high levels of the antioxidant glutathione to support a first stage liver detox. These foods will help in detoxing estrogen from your liver. Having PMS symptoms such as bloating, a rise in temperature, headaches, and mood swings around ovulation is usually an indicator that estrogen is dominant in relation to progesterone.

If this is the case, start filling up on organic brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and kale. Keep them cooked and you can add the curcumin paste recipe from tip #1!

PMS DURING THE LUTEAL PHASE

Progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone rise and then drop throughout this phase. Estrogen and serotonin are your normal appetite suppressants so when they drop, it’s normal to become extra hungry closer to your bleed. Additionally, progesterone is a natural appetite stimulant so get ready to eat! But, no worries because progesterone also speeds up your metabolism. Sugar cravings are hard to beat at this stage of your cycle. Focus on clean and organic forms of protein to feel full without hurting your health. When sugar cravings show up during PMS, you can start supplementing with B6 and magnesium. Together they calm inflammation, regulate stress, enhance GABA activity, detoxify estrogen, and relieve histamine intolerance. They are the best gift any woman experiencing PMS can ask for! My favorite brands are Thorne, Gaia and Pure Encapsulations.

Every woman has the power to heal all PMS and hormonal symptoms by creating a lifestyle that includes the correct nutrient-dense foods that are hormonally balancing, to calm the mind, and to create an authentic lifestyle.  By adding simple, hormonally healthy habits, the unbalancing habits will naturally drop. Have fun exploring foods and lifestyle tools that bring you into balance!

Turmeric Ginger Lemonade with Fresh Mint

This delicious drink is great for reducing inflammation, supporting gut health and metabolism, alkalizing and fights infection.

 

INGREDIANTS

·         4 to 5 cups of water

·         1 to 2 teaspoon turmeric powder

·         A pinch black pepper to activate curcumin in turmeric

·         1 tbsp fresh ginger root or 1 to 2 teaspoon of ginger

·         Lemon slices

·         Maple syrup or raw honey (adjust to desired sweetness)

·         Fresh mint leaves

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1.       Bring water to a light boil

2.       Add in spices and let it boil for a minute

3.       Reduce boil and add simmer turmeric for ten minutes

4.       Remove from stove and let it cool

5.       Strain excess spices

6.       Pour the rest of the liquid into a pitcher

7.       Add sweetener and extracts of choice

8.       Mix to combine all ingredients

9.       Garnish with lemon and fresh mint

10.   Store in fridge

De-Stressing Tips to Heal Your Menstruation

It’s really normal for us to experience stress in our daily lives. Did you know the subtle and not-so-subtle fluctuations of stress affects menstruation?

The monthly ovarian cycle is driven by a well-tuned, tightly run system by the hypothalamus.  It receives input from many different parts of one’s body and from the environment surrounding the body. This gland tells the body how to respond to all the subtle stimuli with the goal of keeping the endocrine system stable, safe and healthy. If there is a perception that a woman is not physically or emotionally capable to sustain a pregnancy and care for a dependent child, the hypothalamus will shutdown the ovulation cycle. When you are stressed, your hypothalamus will get a signal that cortisol is high, and your sex hormones will decrease so then you can survive rather than reproduce.

Many women notice changes in their menstrual cycles when they encounter a difficult time, stressful work deadlines, strenuous exercise regiment, or excessive weight loss. Our hormones can be affected by watching a scary movie. That’s how sensitive we are! Our ovaries respond to stressors encountered in our lives. This is when you can see an alteration in your menstrual cycle. It can be erratic, heavy or light, shorten or lengthen or you can stop bleeding.  Luckily, when the stress is removed, we can return to normal ovulatory function and our health returns to baseline.

 

De-Stressing Techniques

1.       Say No!

Many of us are blessed with having a positive outlook with a passion to be involved with activities or to help someone out. Other times, the perfectionist in us comes out and we feel obligated to do and be everything in order to succeed and get some external approval. By saying no, we only feel focus on the priorities and activities that are most meaningful to us and make us happy.

 

2.       Laugh with your best girlfriends

Sharing laughter with friends you feel closes with will reduce your production of cortisol and increase dopamine, serotonin and other mood-boosting neurotransmitters.

 

3.       Dance Breaks!

I love this tool! I use it a lot – from waking up and moving my body to some good tunes or going to the bathroom to dance before a meeting. Dancing makes everyone feel good! And you can really do it anywhere. My friends nickname my car: the dance house.

 

4.       Deep Breathing

Feeling centered in yourself can immediately shift your focus, oxygenate your blood and reduce tension. Try to let go of any force or trying to deep breath the right way. There is no right way. Be aware of how you are breathing and then notice subtle changes throughout and after.

a)       Breath in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air. Imagine that the air is filled with a sense of peace and calm. Allow yourself to feel it throughout your body.

b)      Breath out through your nose. Feel your belly lower.  Imagine that the air leaves with your stress and tension.

 

5.       Send yourself flowers

Humans are comforted by vegetation. Keep a plant at your work desk and flowers around your home. A research study at Harvard University, delivered candles to one group of women and flowers to another group of women. The scientists found that the women with flowers had less anxiety and depression.

 

6.       Desk Nap

Take a refreshing nap at your desk. After doing this, you will feel rejuvenated!

a)       Keep both feet on the floor with your forearms stacked on the edge of the table

b)      Extend your spine by scooting back in your chair

c)       Rest your forehead on your arms

d)      Deeply breath and/or focus on your heartbeat.

e)      Visualize your tasks going well

f)        Mentally repeat “Victory!”

 

7.       Sunlight Exposure

Stress can trigger an offset in the circadian rhythm. Exposing the retina to sunlight can reset your rhythm so your brain is back on schedule. Take a walk outside without sunglasses for twenty minutes a day, three times a week.

 

8.       Walk in Nature Barefooted

Research has shown that electrons form the Earth have antioxidant effects that can protect your body from inflammation and calm your nervous system. Further, the earth’s surface maintains a negative electrical potential. When you are barefoot, in direct contact, with the ground the earth’s electrons bring you to the same electrical potential. You will leave feeling grounded and relaxed.

Using DIM and SGS

Your liver plays a large role in hormone metabolization and levels. The liver detoxifies from the body all the chemicals and toxins found in food and the environment. The liver has a two-part natural detoxification that occurs on a daily basis. For most, phase one works well, but phase two is slower and not breaking down the toxins properly so the toxins come back into your system and makes your liver more sluggish.

One of the most important tasks your liver has is to remove excess hormones from your body, particularly estrogen. Estrogen builds the uterine lining, can help your mood stay high and keeps your vagina lubricated. When your liver is blocked-up from excess toxins it is reabsorbed into the body, cannot remove estrogen and unable to keep estrogen at normal levels.

If your chronically constipated then the liver sends the broken down estrogen to your colon. If you do not have enough fiber for the bowels to move estrogen then it get reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.

The results of estrogen build-up in your bloodstream is called estrogen dominance. This means you have more estrogen in your body in relation to progesterone.

 

Indole 3 Carbinol (I3C) is a compound found in cruciferous vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and broccoli. I3C breaks down into the metabolites Diindolylmethane (DIM) and Sulforaphane Glucosinolate (SGS). DIM is more popular than SGS because it has been studied more. I3C is not taken because it has been shown to promote tumor growth in studies on mammals and other undesirable side effects in human clinical trials.

DIM and SGS can be helpful for estrogen dominance. Please see your medical provider for diagnosis, herbal suggestions, and before taking either of these supplements. There can always be a risk of an interaction with other medications or supplements, especially with toxins including medication broken down by the liver.  Consult a healthcare provider.

 What’s the difference between DIM and SGS?

DIM

DIM is supportive of phase one of the liver detoxification process. It improves the breakdown of estrogen by the liver to good metabolites rather harmful ones. Another role, it prevents testosterone to convert to estrogen. It also blocks the effects of testosterone such as acne and hair loss.

 

SGS

SGS is supportive of phase 2 of the liver detoxification. When there is a backlog of byproducts of phase one for phase two to keep up, it can cause significant harm to the body. When a person is overexposed to harmful toxins, such as caffeine, pesticides, radiation, heavy metals and alcohol, it can cause phase two to not work properly. SGS can help harmful toxins to detoxify out of the system in phase two.

 

Recommendation

It’s suggested to start with SGS for 30 days. As we learned in this article, most people have a slower phase two liver detoxification. If you don’t have the desired results, then move onto DIM.

SGS: I recommend Thorne Research Crucera SGS

DIM: Designs for Health DIM or BioResponse DIM 75

A Guide to Histamines and Your Hormones

What are Histamines?

Histamines are compounds found in various parts of the body. From the brain to the gut, histamine has a variety of actions. It is both a neurotransmitter as well as an immunomodulator. Depending on where it is found in the body, and what receptor it interacts with, histamine can elicit a multitude of reactions. There are different types and each are found in different parts of the body and when activated have distinctly different effects on the body.

H1 are found in the smooth muscles causing reactions like hives, difficulty breathing and asthma. H4 also leads to allergies and asthma but have a different cause.

H2 are found in the gut. An increase of histamines causes an increase in gastric acid secretion.  

H3 are known as inhibitory receptors. They can inhibit neurotransmitters like dopamine, GABA and serotonin. When H3 is blocked, histamines increase, which is a reason many believe histamines are related to anxiety and ADD.

Histamines are usually metabolized in the liver and intestines. Some people have low levels of the enzymes to metabolize histamines causing them to have more circulating histamines in their body. Histamine can inhibit almost every neurotransmitter in the body causing a chemical imbalance starting in the brain. This can cause brain fog, anxiety, fatigue and wreaking havoc on your sleep cycle by stimulating your body to stay awake.

The body is also affected. An increase amount of histamine in your body can lead to irritable bowl syndrome, ulcers, nasal congestion, hives and itchiness. These symptoms are largely modulated by the adrenal glands and can lead to adrenal fatigue.

 

Histamines and Food

When histamine levels are beyond what the body can handle, food sensitivity is common.  Histamine is typically found in foods that have been highly processed or fermented. Dairy products like yogurt and fermented cheese such as Gouda and cheddar. Gluten can cause a histamine intolerance. Sausage, pepperoni and other processed meat are high in histamine. Tomatoes, spinach, sauerkraut and eggplant are higher in histamines compared to other vegetables. Chocolate and red wine also are high in histamine. Histamine levels can increase by intestinal dysbiosis and estrogen excess.

 

Histamine and Estrogen

Estrogen and histamine reinforce each other. Estrogen triggers histamine release and histamine causes increased estrogen production. Many studies have found that estrogen can down-regulate the enzymes that break down histamine: diamine oxidase (DAO) and monoamine oxidase (MAO). This can explain why symptoms of histamine intolerance are common from ovulation to just before your period starts.

 

Histamine can stimulate the ovaries to produce more estrogen. The histamine compound stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone (LH) which, in turn, leads to more estrogen produced at ovulation. Eating foods with more histamine can put women on a hormonal roller coaster due to an increased estrogen levels, possibly causing estrogen dominance.

 

Recommendations:

1.       Reduce histamine-containing foods

Dependent on your symptoms from these foods, restrict your intake from two weeks to one month. Then introduce a food group for a few days and observe your body’s reaction. Then, introduce another food. This will give you information in how much your body can handle of the food group. You might need to eliminate these foods from your diet for a few weeks or months.

High histamine foods

Dairy is usually the culprit

Gluten

Red wine

Cured processed meat

Aged fermented cheese

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut

chocolate

2.       Supplement with B6

B6 upregulates DAO, which is an enzyme that metabolizes histamines out of the body. Food sources include chicken, meat and sunflower seeds.  

3.       Decrease DAO-Blocking Foods

-          Alcohol

-          Energy drinks

-          Black tea

-          Mate tea

-          Green tea

 

4.       Add Low-Histamine Foods

-          Fresh vegetables (except tomatoes, spinach, avocado and eggplant)

-          Pure nut butters

-          Freshly cooked meat or poultry

-          Freshly caught fish

-          Gluten-free grains: rice, quinoa, corn, millet, amaranth

-          Fresh fruits: mango, pear, watermelon, apple, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapes

-          Dairy substitutes: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk

-          Cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil

-          Herbal teas

 

5.       Improve Gut Health

-          Include a probiotic that has  Bifidobacterium infantis and B. longum. These strains can interfere with the histamine pathway and reduce levels of histamine.

-           When a histamine moves past the intestinal wall, it goes to the liver. One liver supporting herb is milk thistle.

Book Review: Orgasm in Contemporary Western Culture

Scholarly Book Review published in Feminism and Psychology journal (2018)

Firth, Hannah. Orgasmic bodies: the orgasm in contemporary Western Culture. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015; (192pp). ISBN 9781137304377 1137304375. Reviewed by Nicole Ohebshalom,, RN, PCCI Tel Aviv University

Hannah Frith’s Orgasmic Bodies: The Orgasm in Contemporary Western Culture is an accessible text within the growing scholarship of critical sexuality studies. It provides a concise and comprehensive examination of the historical and pop culture assumptions of heterosexual orgasm which is oen interpreted as purely biological. Building upon her previous published essays, Frith critically analyses representations of orgasm in sex education and sociology literatures and two popular lifestyle magazines - Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health . From her analyses, Frith focuses on orgasm not as a natural or pre-social act, but as an experience that is formulated by highly structured social arrangements which maintain the rules, norms and rituals that underpin gender relations and social inequalities. Frith draws on myriad theories in the book to investigate the meanings given to orgasm in Western culture and to probe ‘why orgasm maers.’ In contrast to the considerable number of scholars who make assumptions about ‘knowing’ the orgasmic body, especially the female body, Frith seeks to show how the embodied experience remains ambiguous and ineffable even as scienfic and lay discourses seek to make it concrete and unmistakable.

Frith’s historical look into different approaches that have informed Western comprehension of orgasm offers us ways to answer the queson: ‘what is an orgasm?’ In the first chapter, she fastidiously reviews four key theoretical positions, which she then uses to critique constructions of orgasm throughout the following eight chapters of the book. The first of these theoretical positions is a biomedical frame that is characterized by an objective ‘clinical gaze.’ The meanings of orgasm within this frame reflect a focus on isolating the exact physiological location of orgasm, which is positioned as the peak of sexual experience. Thus, a biomedical frame categorizes and measures orgasm as healthy or dysfunctional and constructs men and women as having similar sexual responses. The second theoretical position Frith presents is a behavioral one which constructs the nature of male orgasm as indubitable but places importance upon the number of orgasms a male produces. Underpinned by medical discourse, this concept permeates discussion in Chapters 2 and 3 about the way in which the absence of orgasm is constructed as a female problem, one so widespread as to become an ‘epidemic’ of female dysfunction that can only be ‘fixed’ by medical interventions. This pathologisaon of orgasm’s assumed absence in women, and its implications for treatment, are evident in Masters and Johnson’s influenal account of sexual dysfunction as well as the DSM model of sexual response in which orgasm is key to the diagnosis of dysfunction. Frith outlines an experiential frame as a third theoretical position. This frame is concerned with the lived experience of orgasm and what orgasm feels like, but, like the biomedical frame, also constructs orgasm as the pinnacle of sexual intimacy. Frith describes a fourth position as ‘contemporary shifts,’ a theoretical frame of more recent mes which is characterized by an ethic of reciprocity in heterosexual relationships. In Chapter 2 Frith contextualizes this position within the emergence of a post-feminist neoliberalist discourse that constructs orgasm as a self-actualizing and individualistic goal, one that requires the acquisition of knowledge in order to improve sexual performance and to achieve ‘liberation’ through sexual pleasure.

The four heterogeneous frameworks function to construct female orgasm as necessary but at the same me elusive. Lack of experiential information about the presence of female orgasm in the literature Frith analyses, leads her to inquire: ‘When do women who experience orgasm infrequently feel that they have been unjustly treated and when do they feel that they are simply inadequate?’ ‘How long does the average person take to have an orgasm?’ and do clock me and subjective me coincide? If a woman is told that she is experiencing orgasm due to her brain lighting up on a PET scan -how likely is she to be convinced she is experiencing an orgasm unless it looks, feels and sounds like she culturally expects it to? Does she require an interpretive process or does she know by her body alone? ‘How do individuals, couples or partners make sense of bodies which do or don’t live up to expectations?’ This book is as ambitious as it is successful in helping us think about those questions.

The central focus of Frith’s book is the idenficaon of orgasm norms, rules and rituals embedded in biomedical, science and media discourses that shape ways sexual subjects are constituted. Within this focus she highlights the gendered power relations that flow through these discourses of orgasm. In Chapter 3, where Frith discusses ways the subjective orgasmic experience is not taken into consideration, for example, biomedical and media discourses construct women’s absence of orgasm as deficiency rather than men’s poor sexual technique. Further, she also underlines how, despite a postfeminist media construction of orgasm as mandatory for the sexually desiring, always being ‘up for it’ young woman, women’s subjective experience is all missing, their orgasm represented as merely a response to, and responsibility for, male orgasm.

Moving on from her discussion of subjective orgasmic experience, in Chapter 4, Frith discusses the discrepancies and implications that the ming of orgasm has, together and alone, for men and women. She documents how ming norms, have been created from the Masters and Johnson’s model and subsequently popularized through Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health advice columns. The gendered narrative of orgasmic ming in these magazines focuses on the ‘fast’ male sexual response as the benchmark to monitor performance of both genders. Frith argues this narrave reinforces a gendered cultural model which focuses on disciplining the body in a gendered fashion, requiring women to adjust their own sexual ming to fit men’s needs.

In Chapters 5 and 6, Frith adds further layers to the meanings of orgasm by challenging the idea that ‘faking’ orgasm is rooted in the insecurities and inadequacies of individual women. Instead, she describes the meaning of ‘fake’ orgasm as a socio-cultural condition in which women’s access to pleasure is being negotiated because the gender of women have ‘more at stake.’ She states, pointedly (p.111-112):

(women fake in order) to avoid hurng their partner’s feelings…to avoid problems in the relationship…wanted to end sexual encounter…avoid feeling abnormal.

Frith argues that cultural constructions of femininity make women accountable for performing and managing emotions (their own and others) in relationships and shows how this idea informs women’s participation in faking orgasm: if women’s “orgasm is absent, it is accountable and has to be explained” (Frith, 2013a). Therefore, women’s ‘faking’ of orgasm is an anecdote to the “position of orgasm as an obligation in a cultural context in which they have unequal access

to sexual pleasure, (p.125)” which is further embedded in ideologies of love and intimacy. Breanne Fahs (2011) similarly makes the distinction that faking orgasm may symbolize a paradox: an effect of deeply internalized cultural oppression but also a gesture of care, affecon, love and nurturance. Frith discusses how men, on the other hand, may be questioned if their investment in women’s pleasure appears to be more about their own performance than pleasing women. In this way, Frith discusses ‘faking’ orgasm favoring the complexity of heteropatriarchy; it maintains a reciprocal exchange of caring. Men are rewarded in ‘providing’ an orgasm whereas women are solely responsible for men’s pleasure.

The final chapter concludes with the uncertainty of women’s orgasmic experience - men are assured of the presence of their orgasm by visible ejaculaon while women’s orgasmic experiences are ‘mysterious’ thus leading them to question their own bodily sensations. In this closing chapter of the book, Frith addresses possibilities of intervention through challenging the key discourses which structure the meanings around embodied sexual desire and orgasm . In particular, she explores whether or not there are processes that might facilitate learning about how to make sense of physical sensations and to understand them as sexual and pleasurable or not. Frith suggests that women's magazines and social media may offer this kind of information about sexual experiences which is missing from school-based sexuality education. On the other hand, Frith more critically argues that the neoliberal poseminist tools that the two particular ‘expert’ media outlets (Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health) she analyses offer influenal information about the body, but little in the way of understanding how the body subjectively feels.

One of the great strengths of this book (and there are many) is the way that Frith draws upon, traces, and maps out the cultural context surrounding absences and subjective experience, in particular the educational formats through which sexual values and norms are taught. However, the main disappointing feature of Orgasmic Bodies: The Orgasm in Contemporary Western Culture is its sole focus on white Western cultural experiences. Although, the text references contemporary Western culture, the volume does not include any case studies or examples that examine various experiences of others, such as Asian-American, Hispanic-American or Middle Eastern-American, who live within Western cultures. As such, it seems one dimensional and heavily weighted on an Anglophone narrave. At a me when the West is becoming more multicultural, it is important to include more cultural and ethnic narratives in research. Without these narratives, the book could potentially alienate culturally hyphenated readers for whom the content might not speak to their own culturally informed experiences. These readers might therefore find it difficult to engage with the text and the concepts it presents.

However, Orgasmic Bodies: The Orgasm in Contemporary Western Culture is a powerful and encouraging read. It highlights the challenges concerning the gendering of heterosex that still have to be overcome. Frith writes well-researched chapters that continuously challenge assumptions about orgasm, particularly in relation to commonly held ideas about gender idenes and authentic bodily experiences. She provides a spirited account of the complex meanings of orgasm within the Western culture. Frith’s book would interest a wide range of readers from feminist academics, to sexuality educators and psychologists who are seeking a concise and keenly critique introduction to an interdisciplinary history of orgasm and the changing narratives and gender norms through which it is expressed and understood,

References Fahs, B. (2014). Coming to power: Women’s fake orgasms and best orgasm experiences illuminate the failures of (hetero)sex and the pleasures of connecon. Culture, Health & Sexuality,16 (8), 974-988.

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

           

                       

                                               

Self Defining Your Sexual Health and Natural Ways to Boost Libido

Listen to blog at the WMN'S Flow and Ritual Podcast!

REDEFINE SEXUALITY

I love how we women always want more – that energy of desire for change creates everything. It brings you here and will use what you learn to take steps forward. This blog is a holistic view of restoring and maintaining your sex drive. It isn’t just about being able to have an orgasm. It’s about being able to have enough energy to enjoy your life. This starts with expanding your understanding of our sexual response beyond what you see from magazines and pornography.

When you look at many women’s assumptions about what their sexual experience should be like, it’s less expansive than it actually is. These assumptions reflect a lack of understanding about what the sexual response is and how it works – that a women’s body should perform in a certain way every single day throughout her life, which is a static view. We are going to put some of these misconceptions to rest.

Before we dive in, I want to say that this information applies no matter what relationship you’re in, or not in. This is about you and your enjoyment with your body. You can enjoy being with someone elses body only if you’ve been practicing how to enjoy being in your own. There is a big distinction, because women look at sex as a way to please our partners. But if you want to have a healthy libido (and not just a libido used for sex) you won’t be thinking about pleasing anyone but yourself. Everyone will have a richer experience because of that. You play a huge role and responsible in how you experience your sex drive.  

Before we discuss the reasons that libido takes a nosedive, I want to create a framework for each of us exploring what is a normal libido for ourselves because our culture is known to be highly sexualized and telling us how we are supposed to feel and act during sex. So, we need to know what actually feels right for ourselves.

There are many factors and we can’t cover everything today but I want to highlight that libido changes with our life cycle, our monthly cycle, medications that we are taking including birth control, never really recovering from pregnancy and much more. Also, women believe that once they are having sex, they think they should be able to orgasm easily and if they don’t climax at a culturally instilled appropriate time then they feel they disappointed their partner. So we shift our attention on our partner’s pleasure, abandoning our own. And let me tell you, when you focus only on your pleasure, it’s so much more of a turn on for him.

Libido is on a spectrum. I think the perception of what is considered a normal/high/low libido is heavily influenced by the culture we live in. I think some cultures are more sexual than others. Would you agree?

This can impact the way we expect and feel shame or pleasure from sexual responses and other factors. That is why we have to decide what is normal for ourselves. Minus any hormonal imbalances that could be causing problems. Because there are a whole bunch of people telling us what is normal and what is not.

For me, my libido changes throughout the cycle and when my DHEA, estrogen and testosterone is on the higher level then my sex drive is noticeably more dominant in my daily lifestyle. I have more vitality, creativity and I feel really grounded and embodied. My self expression is also on a spectrum, one moment I love to move slow and sensual and feel myself in this way. Another moment, I’m highly expressive in sharing ideas and flirting with everyone which is a ton of fun. Other times, I want to put that energy into putting new ideas that usually came from the first week of my period into a creative construct.

I also think libido changes throughout our life cycle. Libido is typically higher in our teens and 20s (from a purely physiological standpoint) than it is our 30’s and 40’s.

If someone takes the pill then they usually have lower levels of DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone. This can mess up the libido. 

Assignment to do with a friend or alone

We are going to choose a partner and everyone spend 5 minutes to discuss how you feel when you feel that aliveness. Many of us are or were recently on birth control or this is a new way to think about sexuality so think back to your childhood and when you felt this flirty turn out and vitality without cultural expectations.

 

Turning Yourself On

Another viewpoint of libido is the ability to give and receive pleasure, enjoyment and acknowledgement. In order for you to feel turned on in the bedroom, you need to feel turned on in your daily life. By pleasure, I mean pleasing your senses all day. It’s challenging to fully surrender to pleasure during sex if the pleasure in your life is dry. If you are overextended, tired or burned out. Your energy and libido is directly related. As we talked about a second ago, it begins with your frame of mind. You don’t have to change anything of what you need to do, but only alter only your approach to what you’re already doing. It’s a more vitality mind-set. How can you find enjoyment in every day things and interactions within yourself? The focus is on your pleasure no matter the external circumstances.

Enhancing the quality of each day is about cultivating beauty and pleasure in your daily life. These tiny shifts can cause of significant transformation in how you live your life and how you experience your libido in mundane activities. When you come home and have to answer tons of email. Instead of putting your nose to the grind, and feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. Put some music, change to something comfortable, have some tea and put some candles on. Every time you experience pleasure in your day, your neurochemicals that we spoke about before will be affected and you will infuse your libido with more vitality and relaxation. Give yourself a multisensory experience by finding the pleasure in the moment not only in the end result. You will find yourself more relaxed and happy. You will be able to give and receive pleasure from a more authentic place. Women don’t feel comfortable receiving. If we can’t receive in social situations then it’s more likely we can have some challenges to receive and let go with our clothes off. Receiving is part of feeling full and us women really need to feel full.

Partner Work

Come back to your partner. Lay down. For 2 minutes we will receive touch. The giver will stroke your arm. Moving slowly. The giver will be feeling and enjoying this touch. This touching is for you and your pleasure. The receiving will relax and feel the touch, observe each moment how it feels – being mindful.

At the end: say thank you. Describe the physical sensation. No story or emotion.

 

YOUR BRAIN ON SEX

Lets take a look at how sex hormones affect libido, and some of the causes of low sex drive.

When estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are out of balance, you lack the ideal ratio of neurochemicals essential for robust sexual response. For decades, scientists believed that testosterone was the controller of sex drive but now they are learning that estrogen and progesterone play a huge role too.

1.       Testosterone is a sex hormone that effects libido and necessary for a normal sex drive for men and women. Women’s adrenal glands and ovaries produce testosterone by converting DHEA, DHEA-S and androstenedione into testosterone. To experience normal sexual desire, arousal and orgasm, Testosterone levels should have a balance, of not being too high or too low.  Low and high testosterone levels can cause low libido and difficulty achieving orgasm. High testosterone is associate with an increase in aggressiveness and anger. Also, some women report a preference of masturbating rather than intercourse.

2.       Estrogen keeps the vulva and vagina lubricated and elastic. It keeps the clitoris sensitive. Estrogen is linked to clitoral stimulation while testosterone is linked to sexual desire. An important factor is that too much estrogen can block testosterone so there needs to be a balance between estrogen and testosterone. Estrogen dominance is a leading cause of low sex drive.

3.       Progesterone is a feel-good sex hormone that helps women feel relaxed and vital. It impacts sleep, sexual desire, mindfulness and mood. This can be a catalyst for how you feel about your relationships. When progesterone is low then your mood is low, it effects your sleep and harder to keep your cool.

Since our hormones are cyclical and the concentrations vary throughout our menstrual cycle, sex doesn’t feel the same each and every time for women as it does more typically for men. You’re hardwired to have an abundance of experiences. She cTncentrations of hormones in each phase determines your sexual response, this includes both mental urge and physical ability to be aroused. In addition to the three hormones I mentioned, your libido is also governed by 4 groups of neurochemicals, which are neurotransmitters that target the pleasure areas of your brain.

1.       Serotonin and Dopamine target the feel-good regions of your brain.  They boost your experience of pleasure and then have you want to do it over and over again. This is why certain antidepressant medications such as SSRIs dampen sex drive. They block serotonin’s ability to bind with receptors in the brain. When serotonin levels are lower than normal then we become obsessive and angst when we meet a new guy and fall in love. When serotonin is high then we have a sense of satiety and it can be hard to climax. SSRI creates artificial high serotonin levels so it decreases impulsivity and dopamine levels. Oral contraceptives have the same effect – dampening dopamine and increasing serotonin so it’s not helpful when dating and your libido.

2.       Sexual activity increases nitric oxide release, which causes the blood vessels to relax enabling blood to flow more efficiently through them. This causes sex organs to become more engorged. This can increase oxygenation to your heart and brain and lower blood pressure.

3.       Oxytocin is released which is a bonding hormone that can make you feel more connected to your partner, leads to desire and facilitates climax.

4.       Sex can decrease cortisol levels because experiencing orgasm is like a cortisol flush - getting it out of your system. But too much cortisol in the body can decrease arousal so it’s crucial to control cortisol levels. Cortisol curbs all bodily functions that are not essential to your survival when you are under threat.

Now that you know the hormones and neurochemicals involves with libido, you can depend on them as a baseline for each stage of your menstrual cycle.

Follicular Phase

This last usually 2 weeks right after menses. When you get your period, the levels of estrogen, testosterone and progesterone start at their lowest point in your cycle and then increase towards ovulation. You can have a low sex drive, dependent where you are. When your hormones are at a low, you need to put more attention in the arousal stage of your sexual response. This will assist in bringing your physical sensations such as lubrication and mental desire for sex. In the follicular phase we are open to try new things, so experiment with foreplay in the bedroom with touching, massaging and nonpenetrating foreplay. Research more about your own pleasure with using your sensations. Try new creams and take your time to put it on. Observe how it feels for you. Take more time eating and decorating your plate. Enjoy your sensual sensations to keep you in your pleasure.

Ovulatory Phase

In ovulation, you are most fertile and don’t need much help with stimulation to feel aroused. Your body is primed to crave and seek out sex. The cervical secretion in this phase keeps you lubricated which is different from sex related secretion so in this phase you can move from arousal to plateau phase more effortlessly.  Since you have more desire for sex and the naturally high energy from the hormonal surge, it’s time to have more passionate intense sex. It’s also a great time to focus on creative ideas for your projects.

Other important things happens midcycle. Oxytocin peaks, which also increases rates of orgasm and wanting to bond with another.

What happens when you are on oral contraceptives and in the fertile stage? Since the hormones are static, there is no midcycle peak in oxytocin to push bonding and orgasm. Additionally, there is no serge in estrogen and testosterone to stroke our desire and creativity. Our brains also think that we are pregnant at this time so women on the pill act like women that are pregnant so the focus to attract someone for sex and reproducing is not as vital. A research study has shown that women on the pill show weaker or no preference for facial and vocal masculinity.

Luteal Phase

In the first half which is usually a week after ovulation, testosterone is steady from the ovulatory phase. However, estrogen and progesterone climb to their peak. in this first half, you still could feel hot and ready for sex, but you might need more stimulation to climax when you want to orgasm. In the second half which is a weak before menstruation, testosterone, progesterone and estrogen dips. At this time, you might not feel in the mood for sex. Instead, look for ways to initiate arousal. New experience can trigger dopamine in the brain and dopamine can trigger testosterone release. Also, when you focus on just feeling turned on, then you will feel juicier. Once you get going, some of the brain changes will kick in and before you know it, you’ll feel more in your center and pleasure.

Menstruation

Hormones are at there lowest levels. If you have a shorter cycle and bleed heavily the first few days then your hormones immediately are at their lowest point. If you have a longer cycle with spotting in the beginning, estrogen may be a little higher and progesterone lower in the beginning of your period before dropping off so you might feel more symptomatic.

For women with symptomatic cycles, the unbalanced hormones might make you feel uninterested in sex. It’s okay to abstain from sex for a few days just as it is to take a break from other physical activities. If you have yeast infections or urinary tract infections, you may always want to stay away from sex when you have your period. The low pH levels in your vagina at this time can make you more susceptible to bacteria. For women that sex relieves menstrual cramps, migraines and enjoy the different sensations they feel during sex then enjoy.

 

REASONS FOR LOW LIBIDO

1.       Birth Control and Libido

Birth control decreases circulating testosterone and cause estrogen dominance. Birth control pills are the leading cause of estrogen dominance in women because they contain a synthetic estrogen that prevents the body from producing its own estrogen. We already mentioned that when estrogen is high it will cause testosterone to be low in ratio.

Additionally, birth control increasing SHBG sex hormone binding globulin. SHBG binds to testosterone so it becomes unavailable for use by the body. When SHBG goes up, then active testosterone will go down. It can take up to 6 months and sometimes longer, for the body to normalize SHBG levels after stopping birth control and impact the libido.

2.       Stress

There are physical and emotional reasons related to stress that can bring libido down. When the body overproduces cortisol, which is does in our societies chronic state of stress, this interferes with sex hormone production and balance. Oxytocin release during sexual activity (with self or another or just being in your pleasure on a daily basis) can flush out increased cortisol.

3.       Systemic inflammation

When we have inflammation throughout the body then your body puts it’s priority on healing rather than reproduction. It does this because if your body is in poor health then you can’t have a healthy pregnancy. Thus, your body wants to conserve energy so your sex drive will go down.

Additionally, cortisol increases when inflammation is in the body, which effects the production of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Additionally, excessive cortisol will directly decrease the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. This leads to low libido and results in depression and anxiety.

Inflammation usually involves leaky gut. If you have hormone issues then you have a leaky gut. The gut releases lipopolysaccharides which have a direct and toxic effect that causes brain fog, tiredness and low libido.

Cleansing and balancing your hormones begins with gut health, sugar balance, nutrients, and much more. It’s bio-individual which is how I work individually with women.

A great way to start at home is to reduce dairy, wheat, ---- from your diet for 2 weeks or more, dependent on your symptoms and then slowly introduce those foods to see how your body reacts. In addition, start adding bone broth which is healing to the gut lining, and prebiotic foods which go directly to the colon and becomes food for your intestine to strengthen the lining.

4.       Eating fat is key

The body feels like it is starving when we have low body fat, over-exercise or eat low fat diets. When it’s in this stressed out zone, then your body doesn’t want to have sex. Its priority is survival and conserving energy, not reproduction.   

a)       When the body fat is below 15% then sex hormone production decreases, especially testosterone. This occurs because cholesterol is broken down from fat. Cholesterol is the backbone of all sex hormones. You need body fat to produce sex hormones.

b)      We need about 30grams of fat a day to produce an optimal range of sex hormones.

c)       When we over-exercise then our body fat levels can become low. Also, over-exercising causes stress on the body which increases cortisol levels so it keeps the body from producing enough sex hormones.

5.       There are some medical conditions that are linked to low libido.

There are many medications and medical conditions which can take time to discuss. Today, we will mention PCOS. PCOS is associated with high levels of testosterone, low progesterone and insulin resistance. The high levels of testosterone can create a challenge in achieving arousal and orgasm. Sometimes, it can cause decreasing sensation and ability to lubricate and have an orgasm because estrogen can be decreased.

6.       As women approach menopause, sex drive can also decrease.

This is due to low estrogen which is associated with decreased clitoral sensitivity, dryness and less blood flow to the vagina.

7.       After a baby, you may be nursing for an extended period of time so your sex drive might be minimal. Prolactin levels are up which suppresses testosterone section. Also, when nursing women have less vaginal lubrication due to less estrogen levels. Most importantly, you may not be ovulating yet so you don’t have these surge of sex hormones. When your period comes back then your libido will come back too. Mothers of young children can also have an increase of oxytocin which is the cuddle hormone, which decreases testosterone. Also, married women have less testosterone than single women. You get it. Oxytocin up, testosterone down. More warmth and cuddles and security, then less testosterone.

 

8.       I do want to mention, if your libido is low then you might want to have your thyroid checked. Now, doctors just measure TSH but that isn’t informing you of your hormones. You need to have T3 and T4 checked as well. This is an entire lecture on its own so I can’t go into it now but keep it in the back of your mind.

 

Foods to Boost Libido. The focus is to have foods that decrease inflammation, improve vascular tone and are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients.

1.       Almonds, brazil nuts and pine nuts contain zinc and selenium. This helps reduce inflammation and improve circulation and provide a lot of energy.

2.       Pomegranates raise testosterone and are loaded with antioxidants that improve blood circulation. The increased blood flow at the vaginal wall can enhance lubrication.

3.       Watermelon also helps relax the blood vessels and might have an affect on libido.

4.       Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, antioxidants and B vitamins. Magnesium is essential to the production of sex hormones. B vitamins and antioxidants helps the body decrease inflammation and improve circulation. Dark raw chocolate has a compound called phenylethylamine which triggers the same endorphins that are produced from having sex.

5.       Asparagus is b vitamins and in particular folate that aids in increasing the production of histamines. Histamines is a vital part of inflammation in your body so it is important for libido.

6.       Coconut water contains the same electrolytes as your blood so it can improve blood flow and possibly increase your libido.

7.       Avocado contains b6, folic acid, potassium and essential fatty acids and antioxidants. This increases blood flow and is a building block for sex hormone production.

8.       Nuts, seeds and omega-3 rich fish like salmon, herring, and mackerel are also fats that help build healthy sex hormones.

I want to end with emphasizing sleep! Most of my clients were certainly not getting enough sleep but it’s a huge game changer. It is essential for libido and hormonal health. Sleep keeps your body in line with your bodies natural detoxification system and circadian cycle that controls the natural daily ups and downs of each cycle. Tips for a restful sleep that will balance your hormones is removing anything that emits light such as TV, phone and other electronics. If you can, have a comfortable mattress, you can diffuse essential oils such as ylang ylang or neroli. And candles which set a relaxing and sensual mood.

How To Reduce Your PMS Mood Swings

As seen on CORA'S Blood + Milk

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) can cause wild, emotional mood swings for some women. In one day we can go from an angry outburst to a crying spell, followed by an anxiety attack. These emotional rises and falls are usually due to our fluctuating hormones. The good news is, we can become more strategic in how we heal the underlying causes of these symptoms in order to live without mood swings, depression, and anxiety. For most women, successfully healing PMS can occur with changes to lifestyle and diet. Here are some ways to begin addressing underlying causes and access your healing.

EROTIC WELLNESS

Sex and self-pleasure not only have you feeling great but also have hormonal health benefits. If you’re feeling cramping and/or bloated, sex or self-pleasure can improve circulation to organs in the pelvic cavity, promote healthier estrogen levels, and provide relaxation by boosting estrogen levels and flushing out cortisol. Sex also increases levels of oxytocin, the hormone of bonding and success, which is linked to passion, intuition, and social skills. If you’re experiencing PMS during your ovulation phase, sex can be the estrogen detoxing ticket. If you are in the second half of your luteal phase, you may need more lube to help stimulate your connection with your sensations. But you’ll soon feel connected to yourself, juiced, and relaxed.

GET YOUR HERBS

Rhodiola rosea is an herbal medicine that regulates your stress response, reduces anxiety, and give our adrenals much-needed TLC! Rhodiola will shelter your brain from cortisol. Take this herb right when you have signs of depression and anxiety during PMS; however, it’s most effective to take daily for three months. The recommendation is 150-300 mg per day with 2 percent of the active constituent rosavin.

SELF INQUIRY

Each month, through menstruation, we go through an internal transformational process of letting go and being reborn. Our uterus sheds its lining and we release from the past and set free into the future. It is a time when deeply repressed and ignored emotions from the past month are brought to the surface, and into consciousness so we can acknowledge them, seek expression, and let them go. When we disregard or ignore our feelings or simply don’t give ourselves enough time to switch off and reconnect, PMS is likely to surface. When you feel anxious, angry or depressed, remember your greatest wisdom is already within you. Stop and listen. Have a conversation with your mental and physical sensations. Say, “Thank you for showing up so I can live a better life. Now, what do you want to tell me?” Also look at your relationships and creative outlets. Where are you silencing your authentic self? Find time to admire your uniqueness, follow your heart, and do things your way. Your unique opinions and authentic self is the reason you are here and loved.

MEDITATION TO MASTER YOUR MOODS

Kirtan Kriya is a meditation chant that comes from Kundalini yoga. The practice uses repetitive finger movements to help break habits and assist you in going through any life changes. It can also help heal negative sexual memories and traumas. Kirtan Kriya is believed to stimulate your pituitary and pineal glands, which allows you to become more active and balanced. It’s very helpful in connecting and balancing your menstrual cycle and the moon energy centers.

Here’s how you can try Kirtan Kriya for yourself.

The mantra includes primal sounds that reflect the wheel of life. The mantra is Saa (birth) Taa (life) Naa (death) Maa (rebirth).

Lie on your stomach and place your chin on the floor. Keep your head straight. Place your arms alongside your body, with the palms of your hands facing upward. Begin mentally chanting Saa Taa Naa Maa. Focus your eyes on your brow point. Imagine the sound current passing through your head in an L shape, entering the top of your head and flowing out through the center of your forehead. As you chant Saa, press your index finger to the tip of your thumb; on the Taa, press your middle finger to your thumb; on Naa, press your ring finger to your thumb; and on Maa, press your little finger to your thumb. Continue for 3 to 31 minutes. You can do this meditation when you want relief and insight from the emotional swings of PMS, and it can be done as a 40 day meditation practice. Observe how you feel before and after your practice. There are great insights when you stay still for a minute after the practice.

UPPING YOUR SEROTONIN

Certain foods can affect the balance of our biochemistry. When we eat foods high in sugar, insulin is quickly released out of the bloodstream. At that time, insulin removes all of the amino acids except for one, tryptophan. Tryptophan is the precursor for our pleasure and happiness hormone, serotonin. Sugar cravings during PMS can then lead to increased amounts of serotonin in the brain. Our bodies seek out substances that balance us out biochemically. If we have low serotonin, we will seek out substances that raise serotonin levels. Foods that are high in sugar are a way for us to do this. When you experience mood swings, try eating complex carbohydrates to stabilize your serotonin levels. Apples, avocado, cucumbers, and carrots are great pick me ups when you are on the go and feel the sudden sugar cravings! My favorite is roasted sweet potatoes, which remind me of my childhood. When you’re PMS, nothing beats the cozy feeling of home and comfort.  

ESSENTIAL SLEEP

Since serotonin is critical to mood, low levels of serotonin can be directly linked to the depression, irritability, and mood changes experienced by women with PMS.

In addition, serotonin is important to sleep regulation. Low serotonin levels may affect the onset and quality of sleep. In addition, low serotonin levels also mean low melatonin levels. Melatonin is key for our sleep cycle, which has a direct impact on our hormonal balance, so when we don’t have enough of it, we might experience a significant disruption to the sleep-wake cycle.

It’s essential to have a night time ritual so your serotonin and melatonin can work properly. This might include  a calming and relaxing activity before bed like reading a book or taking a bath. You should also keep electronics out of your bedroom and try using blue light technology in front of electronic devices.

GO GET STARTED

You have undoubtedly fought a monthly uphill battle. With these simple tips and becoming more aware of your PMS symptoms, your hormones will respond to help your body get balanced. When you feed and move your body in ways that work with its natural rhythms and use your body as a resource, you will tap into your personal best self and live the life you want to live.

 

Your Breakfast Can Turn Your Hormonal Health Around

It can be hard to imagine but breakfast can be instrumental to rebalancing your hormones. In this post, why will discuss why and what kinds of breakfasts can make the difference.

Many of us grew up eating breakfasts filled with carbs and sugar, such as croissants, jams, cereal, and yogurt. When we consume carbs and sugar in the morning then a few hours later we experience a sugar dip. At this time, you might feel moody, shaky and hungry. This is the time we reach out for more sugar, carbs and coffee in order to boost our energy.

Sugar is pilling on into your diet throughout the day so you can stay in this drop and rise energy cycle. You become dependent on sugar.

Sugar dips and sugar addiction contribute stress to the body. When the body is in any form of stress, cortisol is released by the adrenal glands. Adrenal gland exhaustion causes moodiness, exhaustion, sickness and wreaks havoc on the sex hormones.  

So what can you do for breakfast?

1.       Eat real foods!

That means, sorry to say this, but no protein bars. They are filled with, drum-roll please – sugar! The focus is on real and fresh foods. Our bodies need to digest and metabolize fresh food that are nutrient-filled and taste delicious.  

2.       Load up your breakfast with protein, fat and fiber!

 Staring your breakfast this way will prevent the effects of sugar crashes and adrenal fatigue. Your sugar levels will be sustained so you will feel more focused and grounded in your day. Many people report weight loss, high energy, clear skin, better sleep and no PMS. This is just from changing your breakfast because it balances many hormonal systems in your body.

 

RECIPE

Mornings are busy so here is an easy meal for you to put together. Cook ground lamb, beef or chicken using ghee or coconut oil.  In a separate dish, mustard green salad, almonds, avocado and sauerkraut.

The ghee and coconut oil are a precursor to the precursors for steroid hormones.

Sauerkraut are a great probiotic that will help with estrogen regulation.

Mustard Greens are nutrient-packed and estrogen regulators

Avocado are anti-inflammatory, sugar balancing and nutrient dense.

 

Healing Tool for After an Abortion

Healing Tool for After an Abortion

Please click here to listen to the podcast

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot about abortion from friends and clients. Women are definitely becoming more vulnerable and vocal about their experiences. Since it’s such an important experience that so many women have, I wanted to step away from discussing menstrual health and focus on this. I’ve been talking to so many women that experience abortion so I want you to know that you aren’t alone. Having an abortion is much more common than our culture realizes. There is a lot of silence and shame in having an abortion. Parent Plannethood has stated that 1 in 3 women have had an abortion.

I want you wherever you are right now to take a few deep breaths. Just into your nose and out through your nose or mouth. If you are driving then keep your eyes open but if you are somewhere where you can close your eyes then close your eyes. Really feel that rhythm of your breath. You don’t have to do anything special. Gentle inhale and blow out any tension you are carrying with you right now that already met you at your day so that this is a sacred space together. As we create this sacred space in this call we all leave something uplifting and transformational for us and we give this to one another.

There is so much attention in obtaining abortions. Which obviously needs much more funding, and problem solvers so women around the world can have safe abortions. I can go on about this. I am very passionate about this but Today I want to focus on healing after abortion. We will focus on food, self-inquiry and self-care techniques to support your health after an abortion. Abortion can effect your menstrual health. It stays in your body so I want you to have the best support to relax, feel safe and nurtured. This podcast is an invitation for you to give yourself that. I suggest contacting professionals.

Women need abortions for a number of reasons. Some main reasons are abnormal fetus, rape, financial challenges or other personal reasons.

Abortions can be taken up to 24 weeks but it’s better to terminate up to 12 weeks. Gynecologists recommend abstaining from sex at least three weeks after an abortion because your body needs to physically recover. Emotional recovery can take much longer.

After an abortion, light bleeding is normal. Contact your gynecologist if you have heavy period bleeding, abdominal pain, excessive vaginal discharge, and vomiting. 

Since you loose blood during an abortion, it’s important to increase levels of iron and vitamin B12, B9 and B2 (riboflavin).

Here are some natural foods to help your body recover the first three weeks after an abortion:

1.       Excessive blood loss after abortion makes your body and immune system weak. A high protein natural food not only improves your immune system, it also make new blood cells. Three ounces of fish, shellfish, beef, chicken, lamb and turkey….and cooked beans…provide high protein and significant amounts of iron and B vitamins. Eat one to two servings a day.

a.       Turmeric and Milk is a great protein drink and very strengthening. Cook turmeric with black pepper and coconut oil or ghee. Then add crushed almonds, walnut, dry dates and pistachio. Then you can add any type of milk you want. Whole milk, almond, cashew, etc. Drink this 2-3 times daily for easier recovery. This will give you energy.

 

2.       Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties so it’s really great with easing pain and swelling. Add to everything. Making a paste is the best way! You cook it with black pepper and coconut oil or ghee and then place it in a glass container and in the fridge.

3.       Saffron can be added to meals and drinks. It has a lot of vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium. This herb will help your body nourish and restore.

4.       Dates are rich in iron and help boost the production of red blood cells and reverse blood loss. They are really calming and rejuvenating to the organs and nervous system.

5.       Ginger has healing properties that strengthen the immune system and prevent further infection.

6.       Flax seed are really good for the uterus, provide strength to your immune system and help your digestion.

7.       Dark leafy greens are wonderful to eat for many reason. Fibroids are common after an abortion which may cause you pain. The excessive blood loss can lead to anemia so you need to increase your iron which dark leafy greens have. Dark leafy greens include: turnip, watercress, mustard greens, kale, collard greens and romaine lettuce. These can help your fibroids.

8.       Water! You have a lot of blood loss and it’s common to sweat after an abortion so drink a lot of water.

 

Deciding to end a pregnancy is never easy and can leave women feeling a range of feelings, such as: relief, sadness, grief and guilt. These emotions change from woman to woman. In addition, the natural hormonal changes that occur when pregnant affect abortion and can make you feel more emotional than usual. It is normal to go through a grieving process, regardless of the reasons for abortion. Most women recover in a fairly short time. If you have lasting symptoms it requires professional attention. Whatever your experience: be sure to talk about your feelings with a supportive family member or friend or professional counselor.

Abortion can create a feeling of disenfranchised grief which is a grief that is not openly acknowledged, socially validated or publicly observed. The loss experienced is real but women are not given the right to grieve by others around them and they don’t give the permission to themselves. This can lead to depression. Unprocessed grief can also cause people to stay stuck in anger without realizing the source of their anger, which is not connecting the depression with the unprocessed grief surrounding abortion. In this tension of emotion between sadness and relief, this can disrupt a woman’s life and health. Unless she finds a safe place to talk, process and cry she will live her life with a mask on and keeping this secret tucked away out of her fear.

We don’t need to stay in silence and we can have closure. Here are some steps:

1.       Find a safe place to talk, share your story and cry if you want. There are people that can understand your need to process the grief around the abortion. First, be aware to share your experience with a safe and caring person. You can have people that will validate your choice, but not your grief so speak with something that can validate and hold space for your choice and grief.

2.       Be honest with yourself and admit you can’t keep the secret anymore. Give yourself permission to speak and realize that keeping the secret takes much more energy than you have to give it to anymore.

3.       Don’t confuse the legal, political and religious debates with your own personal journey. Know that going through the healing journey will free up space in your mind and heart to put towards positive outcomes in your life.

Healing after an abortion can be complicated. There are many external and internal factors to help you heal and recover both physically and psychologically. There is no one-size-fits-all. I hope these suggestions are helpful for you and please contact a professional for help if you need it.

 

Womb to Womb for Feminist.com

Read posting on Feminist.com

The young me was a force of nature.

Just like you.

As a child, we were constantly flirting with others from our strollers and playing in the sandbox with other kids. Connection is in our genetic coding. When I say our genetic coding, I’m referring to females. Intuition, creativity, emotions and access to pleasure are the inner-tools that make us female creatures and create community. We can hear the meaning behind words that are not spoken and pick up the emotional tones in other people’s voices. These skills allow us to relate, harmonize and support one another.

I remember when the young me would welcome each day, each person, and each experience with the full enthusiasm of my heart. There was no doubt about how I felt, what I desired or how I expressed it. I would feel whole and righteous because I felt divinity.

Once breast began to blossom and the surge of estrogen-progesterone began to vary daily and weekly, the bond for connection and sensitivity to emotional nuances became stronger. During this hormonal change, many girls begin to perceive that their thoughts and feelings did not fit in with the people around them. This is also the time when the body becomes decidedly feminine, departing from the ideal body shape of a boy: flat, slim hips, and toned stomach. To cover up their emotions and femininity, many girls begin to emotionally and compulsively eat, yo-yo diet, and some, like myself, develop disordered eating. As we want to fit in, we dim our feminine lights that were shining so bright.

Pounds were agonized over to cover-up deeper pain. I feared the essence of myself- my feminine creature. My light was replaced with self-doubt and low self-esteem. I forgot how to cry, how to move my body with creativity, feel pleasure from my senses, and how to trust the wisdom within myself.

I believe each woman has a relationship with eating that provides information on her feelings, needs, and desires. We become emotionally and spiritually hungry. The way we eat can guide us on how we feel about our femininity and our life.

Part of awakening the femininity and healing the relationship with food is to become conscious of what’s going on. When you begin to listen to yourself, it’s important to let go of self-judgment, bring compassion to yourself and become a researcher. I had to become my own science experiment. When a mixture of different formulas didn’t get the reaction I desire, I trained myself to think: “How interesting. What makes it react this way?” Each formula is one step closer to the desire you crave and long for. Your food can become your friend and co-researcher, instead of a rival.

I went to a feminine village. And was renewed.

The door is open for you.

I joined a community of women that allowed me to feel safe and supportive in expressing my authenticity, creativity and to explore my pleasures. Being part of a community of women to reflect your light while doing the same for them is not only a great amount of fun but awakens you to something bigger than yourself. This is what I see as a place for healing and celebration for women. When women come together and recognize the intrinsic wisdom in each other and allow the body to be the teacher they begin to regain trust in the wisdom of their deepest longing, emotions, and staying true to their heart.

Living from our truth and healing our eating styles also means being there for other people. As we each allow ourselves to be models then we notice alternative ways and choices about how to be a woman in this world.

Is Your Adrenals Messing with Your Hormonal Health? Get Cortisol back into Circadian Rhythm!

In episode 1 of our WMN’s Flow + Ritual podcast, we discussed adrenal fatigue and cortisol dysregulations effect on our hormonal system. You can listen to more details along with easy and adaptable tips here.

Throughout the day, each glad in your body maintains its own circadian rhythm. You might barely notice the changes until your adrenal glands are off. Then you can feel more intensely when your hormones are active and when they are at rest. Cortisol is a part of the circadian connection and meant to secrete throughout the day in a rhythm fashion. There is a natural high surge of cortisol in the morning, called cortisol awaking response. This is to help you wake up and get going. As the day progresses, your cortisol tapers. At about midnight, your cortisol reaches a point where your body innately can restore, detox, and repair while you are asleep.

However, with chronic stress, our adrenals can be secreting cortisol during parts of the day when it would normally be dropping off. Your brain and body can get stuck in survival mode. Cortisol takes priority over all other functions in your body because your body wants to survive before anything else, even reproduction. Your body adapts and, over time, your cortisol surges come later and later. This is when you might see yourself becoming a night-owl and can’t fall asleep without medicated help. Being aware of cortisol rhythms and effects is essential for hormonal and mental health.

Join the podcast to learn more about adrenal health and your hormones, including life-changing tips to be in charge of your own hormonal health today!

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MYTHS OF PMS + EASY-DOABLE CHANGES YOU CAN DO NOW

Over 80% of women suffer from uncomfortable symptoms before and during their periods.

Wow! It’s not a surprise the medical community has been responding with “that’s just part of being a woman, deal with it.” As woman, we are starting a new conversation about our menstrual cycle and PMS (premenstrual syndrome.) Periods without PMS is possible.

PMS and cramps are not part of being a woman and you can pop something except drugs.

PMS MYTHS

I have heard so many unbelievable myths about periods— it effects all woman and every month, it only refers to hormonal mood swings, nothing can be done about it. I would say most of the women I talk to believe one period myth and it’s because we are not talking about periods enough, or have the right education.

The biggest myth of all: PMS and cramping are normal, and there’s nothing you can do about it. More than 80-percent of women report significant PMS and menstrual cramping, which makes those conditions incredibly common, but they are NOT normal. You’re probably thinking, “not my cramps!” Yeah girl, your cramps too. Every aspect of your menstrual cycle—the length, volume of blood, color of blood, timing of ovulation, basal body temperatures, PMS, and cramping—gives you important information about your health and provides a valuable feedback mechanism to measure your progress in getting healthier.

WHAT IS PMS

First off, it’s important we talk about what PMS is and what it isn’t. PMS is a cluster of symptoms that can occur from ovulation, usually about two weeks after your period, until your period starts again. It relates to your body’s response to hormonal fluctuations, which can involve breast tenderness, bloating, constipation or diarrhea, mood changes, irritability, migraines, fatigue, cravings, anxiety, and insomnia. During the end of your cycle, your body does some heavy lifting to break down extra hormones still floating around the bloodstream. If everything is working ideally, these hormones are processed by the liver and cleared efficiently, resulting in a PMS-free cycle. Therefore, you can gain benefits from take medication (which toxify the liver more) or herbs but they don’t get to the root of PMS-free cycle.                                                                        

FOOD IMBALANCERS + SOLUTIONS

Food absolutely can affect your reproductive health, but it’s not just what you put in your mouth that matters, you are what you digest.  A strong digestive system means that your body is efficient at breaking food down into components that it can actually use. If you tend to have digestive issues or have a lot of food sensitivities, it’s important to address these first to make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need. After you’ve made sure your gut is in check, you’ll want to be sure you are eating a wide range of seasonal, organic foods as the foundation for a healthy cycle.

It’s impossible to always make the right choice, especially when we are PMS-ing, but here are a few foods that PMS and cramp sufferers might want to especially avoid:

Caffeine                                                                                                                                                                         I know that getting out of bed on your period is hard enough, but it’s been shown that caffeine can make PMS worse. Caffeine causes your blood vessels to constrict, including the ones that supply blood to the uterus, which can make cramps even more killer. Caffeine may also increase irritability, which is usually the last thing you need this time of the month.

 

Alcohol                                                                                                                                                                 When it comes to your period problems, alcohol is on the no-no list. Alcohol inhibits hormone regulation, so it can intensify both PMS and cramping. It also slows the emptying of the stomach, potentially increasing bloating. Worse, alcohol is dehydrating, so it can cause you to retain even more water, and you could end up with a hangover and PMS.

 

Salt                                                                                                                                                                              Salty foods only exacerbates bloating, by increasing water retention.

 

Red meat and dairy                                                                                                                                            They contain arachidonic acids that stimulate prostaglandins and intensify cramps. It is common for women to crave iron-rich foods premenstrually, but you can get your fix from veggie-based sources like chickpeas, beans, and lentils.

 

Sugar and refined carbohydrates                                                                                                                     All inflammatory foods will make your PMS and cramping worse, but perhaps the biggest red flags are sugar and refined carbohydrates. They contribute to fatigue and bloating, and can impact estrogen, testosterone, and serotonin levels. Because they also impact blood sugar regulation, carbs can worsen the highs and lows of your PMS mood swings. Step away from the cupcake and no one gets hurt.

 

I promise I’m not here to make your life miserable, though. There are a few healing indulgences that can legitimately make PMS and your period more bearable:

Avocado                                                                                                                                                                        I know that I always crave something fatty like ice cream on my period. Avocado is great for satisfying those fat cravings in a totally healthy way. Plus, avocado contains plenty of potassium (more than a banana) which can help reduce cramping.

 

Chocolate                                                                                                                                                                Yes, dark chocolate is totally good for you (in moderation). Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which is a great mineral for helping to decrease cramps. Eating chocolate can also release serotonin, which increases feelings of wellbeing. Here are three words that will change your life: avocado chocolate mousse. It’s easy to make, feels indulgent, and is perfect for combating period blues.

 

Almonds                                                                                                                                                                  Soak them overnight. Eat them a few days before your period and three days into your menstruation. This will add Vitamin E and magnesium.     

 

NSAID TO INFLUENCE PMS PAIN + ALTERNATIVE

NSAID (a group of medicines that include aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, and mefenamic acid) is a go to for period pain that can be reasonably effective.

There has been recent scholarly literature showing food - such as, cinnamon and fish oil - had a larger reduction in PMS symptoms in comparison to NSAIDS. Also, long term use of NSAIDS can worsen the problem by putting strain on your liver and exacerbate hormonal imbalances.

I believe that women deserve effective pain relief—without the risk of severe side effects.

Here are two picks for healthy, pain-free PMS.

Clary Sage essential oil                                                                                                                      Rub above the pubic bone and below the belly button (where your uterus is.) You can also put some drops in your bath. This helps relieve cramps.                                                                                                    

Hot Water Bottle                                                                                                                              Wrap it with an oversized scarf and you can massage castor oil in those cramping areas.       

Womb Meditation for Fertility

Womb Connection Meditation for Fertility

We will begin with breathing in and then letting go and relaxing on the out breath. And then take another deep breath in right from the bottom of your belly and relaxing and letting go of any tensions and concerns with the out breath. And let’s take one more deep breath in together and relaxing on the out breath. So, I invite you to breath fully and deeply in your own time. Be aware of any sensations that you notice without judgement and bring yourself right here, right now. There is nothing you need to do. Except relax and receive this gift. So now imagine the earth beneath you, so solid and grounded. The earth is so stable, nurturing and fertile. Imagine the different layers of soil, rocks and boulders. Dark and moist, a strong foundation underneath you. Imagine connecting with that rich grounded earth energy and breath it up. Have a sense of being held by the earth. Allow yourself to breath in that nourishing, calming, earthly energy, which is really grounding and connecting. Lets breath that in – deeply now.

Move your awareness to the very top of your head, to the crown of the head. Feel an expansion and opening to the sky. Having a real experience of that expansion around you – the openness and lightness all around you.  Opening up to that connection that is all around us and knowing when we are in our stillness, we can feel all around us and receive guidance that can flow through.

Now, I invite you to put one or two hands on your womb. With your next breath in, breath really deeply down into your pelvic bowl filling up your womb space with fresh air and fresh energy and releasing. Then again, breathing deeply into your womb space and letting go. As you breath, you bring your awareness into your womb area. Just allow yourself to feel what arises and have a sense: What does it feel like in your womb? Do you feel anything? Do you feel a sense of warmth or coolness? Or any color? It’s okay if it’s not clear. Just bring your attention to your womb. Just come into presence and keep breathing deep, connecting with your womb space. Imagine any memories and stories that your womb holds. Any feelings, any emotions. Knowing that your womb is alive and receptive. That womb receives energy. That womb holds memories. Imagine where you are in your cycle right now. Is your womb feeling full. Is your womb feeling empty. Is she somewhere in-between. Feel what is true for you and allow yourself to feel whatever arises. Did you want to ask of anything of your womb? What is your womb needing? Knowing that she is intimately connected with your feminine power. What are you needing as a woman? And be quiet and allow what comes. Trust any messages or feelings that come to you from your womb. Ground in your womb area, feeling the connection between your womb and the earth. There is a resonance between your womb and the earth below you.

In your daily life, you can bring your awareness into your womb to ground you more deeply in your body and more deeply in your feminine energy. Giving thanks to your womb. Allow yourself to receive wisdom or messages that your womb has shared with you today. Bring your awareness back into the space that you are in.