What do you call yours? Growing up as a teenager in the UK we called it, That Time of the Month, On the Blob, Rag Week, Having the painters in, Auntie Flo is here for a visit… Or a bit more extreme Shark Week if you live in Australia! Do you know there are over 5000 slang words for menstruation? But still we don’t like to talk about the Dreaded Curse… Or perhaps you have made peace with yours and it’s a more of a Womb Blessing, your Monthly Miracle, your Gift of Life, and maybe you even have a spiritual practice for your cycle?
Unfortunately I didn’t have such a positive first experience of my menstruation when it first started. In fact I used to get hideous cramping pain and collapse on the floor every month and vomit in pain. This seemed to further taint my relationship with my emergence into Womanhood. I lived for many years with disgust at my monthly bleed. painful periods, period pain and homeopathyI mean, I absolutely hated the sight of blood, and there was a lot of disgust around bleeding and hiding the fact I was menstruating. Not an ideal start to young womanhood.
I seemed to do a lot less physical activity after that age too; less dancing, less sport, although I was never very sporty at school… (I mean, who enjoys doing Cross Country in the mud and rain, while bleeding anyway? Or is that just me?!) As for my developing breasts, they just weighed me down with poor energy and posture. I would slouch trying to hide the fact that I looked older for my age and to distract from the unstoppable blossoming of myself. I would never want to draw attention to the fact I was clearly developing into a young woman and I found it all a bit of an inconvenience.
I mean having to wear what basically felt like a nappy every month was just not feeling very comfortable. Plus, the extra effort required to hide the womanly curves, prevent the pads from leaking, squash my breasts into an uncomfortable bra, experience excruciating pain and continue as normal was all just too much for me.
So what did I do? I went to the Doctor and was diagnosed with ‘Dysmenorrhea’, which is basically ‘painful menstruation’, and took the pain killers that were offered to me. Every month, as the cramping started, I pressed a boiling hot water bottle on to my abdomen to kill the pain. This left an interesting imprint of red marks. I would take the day off school resigning myself to a day in bed.
When I started working full time, I accepted that I had to lose one whole paid day per month due to period pain. Sometimes, I tried to go to the office and sit there with a hot water bottle stuffed down my pants. I even walked around London with a hot water bottle jammed down my jeans once on a work trip. I generally looked pale, weak, and was not living a full and healthy life. Even if I tried to plan events around my period, it would wait, lurking for days until the day came. Then there it was, and the rest of the day was ruined; the school ski trip on a coach across Europe, special birthdays, my graduation ceremony, a once in a lifetime trip to Japan, moving house. Anything, you name it.
There was never an occasion too special that my loving period didn’t want to be invited to.
In my early 20’s, I decided I didn’t want to take painkillers every month for the next several years, and I didn’t want to mess with my hormones. I wanted to find a natural way to support my body. I mean, if periods are a natural part of life, why do they have to be painful? So, I read up about natural remedies, herbs and nutrition for improving menstruation. I chatted with people working in health food shops and I changed my diet to naturally reduce the pain. Just before my period was due I would incorporate more leafy greens into my meals and broccoli spinach soup became my monthly ‘period soup’. I even used to chew on raw spinach in the morning of the first day, which helped the flow easing the pain. Overall, the intensity of the pain eased and if I stuck to my new routine I would have less excruciating cramps, but still debilitating enough for me to have to stay at home that first day of the bleed.
After 18 years of monthly pain, I was studying Naturopathy and had tried many natural remedies. At the time, I had an assignment to see a Homeopath and write up about the experience. During the consult, the Homeopath asked me about my menstrual cycle and said there are many good remedies for this. I was hopeful, but still sceptical as I felt like I had tried everything. I was sent off with a remedy to drop under my tongue when I first started to feel my period pain coming. I gave it a go, and I just felt angry. Nothing had changed with the pain. My menstrual symptoms were just worse.
I went back and explained in more detail about the pain, and received another remedy to try. This time, when I felt the cramps starting quite strongly, I took a few drops of the new remedy under my tongue and waited. I was sitting in bed with a hot water bottle and the pain was getting stronger. I was thinking, here we go… the pain is getting worse as usual. Nothing is ever going to get rid of this pain, I’m cursed for life. Then after half an hour, I felt a cooling sensation in my tummy and some bubbling. I thought, what is this weird sensation? Has some kind of alien life-form taken over my body? How can I be feeling cool inside when I have a hot water bottle burning my skin?! And since when do I have fizzy bubbles in my womb? This is all I need… and then a few seconds later, the pain dissolved completely. After a few minutes I could stand up and walk around the room. I couldn’t believe it… I was almost reluctant to get up and go out, as I was so used to being in pain and spending the whole day in bed. I had become attached to my period pain! But I did get up and go out and even went to collage that day. It was very unusual for me to be able to be active on the first day of my period. Still the sceptic in me said, it might not work next time, wait till next month and try again and see. I didn’t want to tell anyone, I wanted to to keep this to myself and prove it really worked.
So, I tried the remedy again the following month and the same thing happened. And the next month as well, and the next until I felt like I could definitely say my period pain was getting less intense each time. I was gradually able to reduce the strength of the remedy. This continued until I hardly had to take any remedy anymore, and I didn’t have any more period pain. Can I say that again? I didn’t have anymore period pain! I still couldn’t believe it. It was incredible! I thought does this mean I have to study this weird and wonderful medicine? I had already tried to remove Homeopathy from my already full timetable. I mean, it was interesting in theory but I was a lover of herbs and food, not strange little pills and drops. Now I felt I had to actually study Homeopathy and fully immerse myself in it. I had just had a life changing experience! And so, with some reluctance and scepticism… this finally led me to change my course of study from Naturopathy to Homoeopathy, become a fully qualified Homeopath and convince me for sure that this stuff blooming works!
Natural home remedies to ease menstrual cramps
Apply a hot water bottle or a heat pack
Drink plenty of water or warm liquids such as herbal tea
Have a bath in Magnesium Salts or Flakes to relax the muscles
Chew Mag-phos Tissue salts to reduce the cramping pain
Eat a healthy diet high in leafy greens rich in iron & magnesium and take a supplement if needed.
Rest, take the time to relax with no work or stress
Increase healthy fats in the diet such as Omega 3 oil
Avoid refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol and inflammatory foods
What to expect from a Homeopathic Consult for Menstrual Pain
A traditional Homeopath will ask you lots of questions about your menstrual pain, the location, the intensity, and any other sensations. They may also ask you about if the pain travels, or if it is in just one area, how regular your cycle is, if you have any clotting, what makes it feel better or worse and how you may feel emotionally. All of this information helps the Homeopath to find the best remedy to match your symptoms based on your physical, emotional, and mental state. There may be a few homeopathic remedies to try and with the guidance of the Homeopath you may find the one that gets the best response. You may need to try it for a few months to regulate your cycle, or reduce the pain. The best remedy is not always going to give an instant response. It can bring a slow reduction in symptoms over a period of time. The remedy stimulates your vital force to help heal yourself, and bring you back to balance. This is called homoeostasis. Our natural state is to be well and healthy. It is not necessarily ‘normal’ to be experiencing pain and suffering while menstruating. Symptoms are a sign from your body that there is an imbalance. It might be more complicated with a combination of many factors such hormonal imbalance and adrenal fatigue. These can all impact your energy levels and monthly cycle. Homeopathy looks at all your symptoms mentally, physically and emotionally and finds a remedy to suit you as a whole being, helping to bring you back to balance and experience complete wellness on many levels. So, if you are experiencing painful periods, why not give Homeopathy a try? It might just work.
Watercolour Illustrations by Elaine Timmer Copyright 2019. www.somewhereunderthemoon.com