Few women enjoy their menstrual cycles, but it’s important know that your periods don’t have to be significantly disruptive to your life. In fact, if they are very painful, if they are heavy and long, or even unusually short or absent, it can be a good indicator of your overall health and a sign that you may need some additional support.

Your endocrine (hormonal) system operates as an integrated whole: brain health, thyroid health, adrenal health and even metabolic health are all intricately related. For example, blood sugar dysregulation can lead to a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In PCOS your metabolic health affects your ability to ovulate normally and produce healthy female hormone levels. As another example, if you have been experiencing high levels of chronic stress, your adrenal glands may not be able to produce sufficient cortisol, which could put additional strain on the thyroid gland to regulate your energy. In turn, poor thyroid function may even affect your fertility. Do you see how an imbalance in one system can lead to an imbalance in another?

Many times, our menstrual cycle can give us a clue to our overall health, so it becomes somewhat of a “vital sign”, just like blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate can tell us about the health of the overall system. Periods that are long, short, heavy, painful, absent or irregular are all signs of hormone imbalances caused by (or the cause of!) poor health in other body systems.

You don’t have to love your periods but you don’t have to suffer with your periods either. Herbal medicine, nutrient therapy, lifestyle shifts and even bio-identical hormone therapy can all improve the experience of your menstrual cycle when tailored to your specific imbalance.

Vitex agnus castus (chaste tree berry) is a great foundational herb to balance hormones because it helps to improve communication between the brain and ovaries. It tends to work best in a formula with other synergistic herbs that support the reproductive system, such as herbs that slow bleeding, reduce cramping, increase pelvic circulation or generally “tone” the uterus. There are also specific nutrients that support healthy ovulation and menstruation: zinc and magnesium, to name a few. Finally, proper nutrition and exercise are fundamental pillars of menstrual health.

Women, we have up to 450 menstrual cycles on average in our lifetimes! I think we deserve a healthier experience each month. It is also very important that we uncover the underlying cause of your menstrual irregularities together. It’s time to pay closer attention to see if your period is trying to communicate that there is room to receive additional support to improve overall health.

Please contact us at 541-210-5687 if you have further questions or would like to schedule an appointment.

By Dr. Kimani Borland