Women often have many concerns surrounding their menstrual cycle.
Many women seek interventions and guidance to avoid pregnancy.
Other women may need support conceiving.
Some women struggle with painful, long periods, while other women go months to years without a period at all.
Needless to say, there are many physiological, anatomical and biochemical factors that contribute to a healthy menstrual cycle.
Too add to the complexity, there is variability in what is considered “normal” amongst women’s menstrual cycles.
Therefore, an individualized approach to care is essential in determining what factors may be problematic- and- what type of support will create the conditions for optimal women’s health.
The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic excel in helping women understand and regulate their cycles naturally.
This is especially helpful given that with conventional medicine, options may be limited to synthetic hormonal contraceptives.
The birth control pill is an effective form of contraception, however, it may not always be in line with patient preference or address the root cause of a women’s menstrual concerns.
Common menstrual cycle concerns and why they may be happening
- Heavy period flow which may be caused by a relative excess in estrogen.
- A woman does not get her period. Lack of menstrual cycles can be the result of various mechanisms.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome. Periods are infrequent, often spaced out longer than one month apart. A combination of factors which includes elevated testosterone and high blood sugar and high insulin which reduces ovulation (egg release) and frequency of menstruation.
- Dysmenorrhea: painful periods which may be caused by a general inflamed state and a relative excess of estrogen.
Differentiating contraceptive methods
- The Oral Contraceptive Pill. Most are estrogen and progestin containing. Ovulation is inhibited because of the synthetic hormones. The pill also allows for thicker cervical mucus which makes the the uterus impenetrable to sperm. The placebo pills (at the end of the pill pack) cause uterine lining to shed due to drop in hormones in the body.
- Transdermal Patch: Same mechanism as pill. The patch is worn for 3 weeks and taken off for one week.
- Nuva Ring. Same mechanism as the oral contraceptive pill. The ring is put in for 3 weeks, removed for one week.
- Mirena IUS/ Jaydess IUD (Intaruterine Device/System). This device sits in the uterus, and a low continuous dose of progestin is secreted. Ovulation may or may not occur. The progestin thickens the cervical mucus (which makes the uterus impenetrable to sperm), and the presence of the IUD makes the uterus inhospitable to fertilization and implantation.
- Copper IUD. There are no hormones secreted by this IUD. It works by making the uterus inhospitable to fertilization and implantation.
- Barrier methods. Prevent entry or sperm.
- Fertility awareness. This involves consciously tracking the timing of the menstrual cycle combined with temperature and cervical mucous monitoring.
Factors that affect your cycle and contraceptive methods
- When cortisol, the stress hormone is high, the hypothalamus in the brain sends signals to decrease sex hormone production.
- Gastrointestinal disturbances. Estrogen is recycled back into circulation in the gut by healthy gut bacteria. When there is a significant change in gut flora- which can happen because of antibiotic use, or gastrointestinal infection- the hormone balance can shift and the menstrual cycle may to.
REMEMBER: The best contraceptive method
- Is the one you use consistently.
- Encourages enjoyable sex and reduces stress.
- Resonates with you and has minimal side affects.
For any reason you have concerns regarding your menstrual cycle, birth control methods or fertility, come see one of the NDs at our clinic.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D