Time for another period update. I honestly think it's so important for women to speak about their cycles, it allows people to learn what might be and might not be 'normal', it allows us to learn things that we perhaps weren't taught when we were younger. It also paves a way for future generations to have a better understanding of periods and female hormones. If it was talked about more when I was younger, and if the resources that are available now were available when I was younger, I would not have gone on birth control pills and I would have a better understanding of my body. Periods are linked to every hormone we produce and it fascinates me how young women are just prescribed the pill to treat heavy, painful periods and acne. All these things are linked and the root cause needs to be addressed, not masked with synthetic hormones.
So let's talk about this cycle. This period was the least problematic period I have had in around a year! I am not 100% sure why but there were a few things that I did differently this month and that's what I want to look into in this post. This cycle, ovulation occurred on day 27, which is still outside of what is considered the normal range. Typically ovulation takes place around day 14, if your cycle is 28 days. However I have learnt that only 13% of women actually have a 28 day cycle (1)! It is also normal to have cycles that vary in length month on month. Through tracking my cycle I now know that, on average, I ovulate around day 23, my average cycle length is 34 days and my average period length is 6 days. Tracking your own cycle is so important if you want a better understanding of what is happening within your body every month. I now know not to worry if ovulation is later than 14 days as this is not normal for me. Something else I noticed this month is that I did not have an acne flare up after ovulation. I think I maybe had two deep spots but nothing compared to the last 4 cycles.
The biggest thing for me this month is the lack of cramps during my period. So why was this? If you read my September period update you will know that one thing I wanted to change this month was the amount of stress I put on my body when it comes to eating and exercising in the 'right' way. I was becoming so restrictive and that was just making me miserable. So this month I decided to let go of some of this control I was adding to my life. That meant that if Matt suggested a bottle of wine on a Saturday, I didn't spend forever deliberating it and just said yes. If I didn't feel like doing a hardcore work out despite the fact it's what I had planned, I didn't beat myself up over it and would do yoga instead. I started listening to my body instead of fighting it. I am not saying that I gave up on my healthy eating or stopped working out, I just simply stopped stressing over it. One thing I also realised while reflecting, is that a year or so ago I started eating more vegetarian meals. My breakfasts and lunches were completely vegetarian and my dinners only contained meat maybe three times a week. This month I started adding meat back to my lunches. I honestly think that this made a huge change. Maybe I wasn't getting in enough lean protein as I never tried to supplement it by taking protein shakes etc.
Also the week of my period, I was unable to bike to work due to the fall from my bike. I know exercise can aid in reducing cramps but I am wondering if the act of slowing down also helped? This I am not quite sure on yet, also the period I had in September I was off work and also not biking and that period left me in so much pain I cried. The thing is, everything I do is trial and error. It's a case of constantly making changes and looking at what works and what doesn't . It's why I like these posts so much as it gives me a way to reflect month on month and look at what I have done differently. The only other thing I did during my period this month is use essential oils.
Now, essential oils seem a bit woo woo and I am not sure of the science behind smells but at this point I am willing to try anything. So, based on feedback from others and Google searches, I went for peppermint and clary sage oils. I literally just added a few drops of each to my finger tips with a bit of coconut oil and rubbed it into my lower belly. When I was home I would then place a hot water bottle on top. The smell was lovely and very comforting. I only took Ibuprofen on one day and that was more for wrist pain than period pain.
This month I also noticed that the flow was a lot lighter than it has been for a while. It's just so odd. Every month I dread my period because I am terrified of the pain. This month was a delight and I hope that it continues! I do still have an ultrasound appointment coming up as a final check for PCOS but I have a feeling that I don't have it. If the next period is like this one I will also not look to have my coil removed, however, if I do not have PCOS but the next period is painful, getting the coil removed is definitely something I will consider.
I will keep tracking my cycles, documenting my symptoms and writing about them. I hope that there is something in these posts that can help you if you too are struggling with hormonal imbalances and painful periods.