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Menstrual Cycle

Follow these simple guidelines for cosseting yourself and reducing stress both before and during your period:

  • Eat light, easily digestible food: Home-made chicken soup, fish, eggs, soaked almonds, fresh carrot and apple juice pomegranate, green vegetables, salad, potatoes, rice and pasta.
  • Take a warm shower or bath once or twice daily.
  • Drink plenty of fluid: two litres of still water daily, but avoid very cold drinks. Also, consume relaxing herbal teas; for example, fennel, mint or basil (try infusing fresh leaves, straining and drinking with honey), as well as malty drinks.
  • Relax and breathe: tension of any kind exacerbates symptoms, so rest whenever you can and keep calm. Every couple of hours, spend a minute or two breathing slowly and deeply. Breathe in, swelling your abdomen, taking three seconds; hold your breath for three seconds, and then exhale for six, gently sucking in your abdomen. Repeat ten times.
  • Ease cramps by massaging the area just above the pubic bone, using soothing peppermint balm, tiger balm or simply olive or sesame oil. Massage gently, and then increase the pressure slightly to relieve the sore tendons in the area.
  • Try the following homoeopathic remedies: Suck two tablets of Pulsatilla 30, three times a day, starting two days before your period is due and continuing for the first two days of your cycle. Do this for three or four cycles in order to get results. Or suck two tablets of Belladonna 30, every two hours while the cramps continue.

Unexpected pains:

  • If you suddenly begin to experience period pains for the first time, it may be a symptom of an infection of the womb lining, or an irritation caused by an IUD. Consult your GP or family-planning clinic immediately.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS):
Up to 75 per cent of women experience a cluster of symptoms, which strikes in the second half of the menstrual cycle and disappears when the period begins. At least 150 symptoms have been recorded; for some women they are primarily physical, while for others they can mean unpredictable and uncharacteristic behaviour. The fact that PMS disappears if the ovaries are surgically removed supports the hypothesis that the root cause is ovarian function.

Common symptoms are:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Tearfulness
  • Loss of libido
  • Memory loss
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Clumsiness
  • Water retention/bloating
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Breast tenderness
  • Pelvic pain

My personal view is that damage control and preventive measures go a long way towards mitigating the effects of PMS.

I recommend the following:

    Neck and Shoulder massage

  • Of all the treatments I recommend, this is the most beneficial. I believe that before a period begins the blood ‘depot’ shifts to the pelvic region an causes congestion, which reduces the brain’s supply of blood and thus the oxygen and glucose it needs. Ask your partner to massage your neck and shoulders once a day for ten to 15 minutes if the PMS is severe, and if possible, see a professional at least once. (Details how to do this massage are given in my book.)
  • Food

  • I usually recommend a fairly restricted diet during the time that you get PMS. Be as easy on your digestive system as possible; the better your body in general feels. I suggest you avoid fried food and citrus fruit (for indigestion), excess salt (for water retention and nervous agitation), mushrooms, cheese and yeast products (for bloating and fatigue), ginger (for nervous agitation), coffee and alcohol (for tension/irritability) and sugary foods (for cravings). Also avoid canned and preserved foods, which are often high in salt, sugar and additives and which may affect your mood.
  • Yoga

  • Regular sessions of therapeutic iyengar yoga can be a big help, and try listening to a relaxation tape/CD before going to sleep.
  • Supplements

  • Take a B-complex vitamin daily for its anti-stress effect; and drink Gokhru tea for water retention.

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