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Period Health as an Indicator of Overall Wellness

By Nell Smircina /

Period Health as an Indicator of Overall Wellness

I used to hate having a period. It was this frustrating thing that happened each month that sometimes would come early and sometimes come late, sometimes be painful and sometimes make me moody (or both), almost always make me tired, and usually make me gain a ton of weight and have unusual cravings for foods I don’t usually crave. I was a person who loved my birth control that made me rarely have to deal with this “inconvenience." Sound familiar? Can you relate? Get ready for my 180…

So how did I turn into this person who now exclaims on day one of my period, “Boom! 28 days on the dot - healthy!” to my partner? Someone who celebrates each aspect of my cycle? Well, I went to school and learned Chinese medicine and saw the power of having a regular cycle on my health. I challenged myself to be healthier than I had been in the past - which wasn’t a hard thing to do. I once was a person who had Cheese-Its and Red Bull for breakfast and worked 18 hours a day…developed a thyroid condition and burnt out my adrenals…so probably any change would have been welcomed. What was interesting about that time, however, is that I looked healthy from the outside. I wasn’t overweight, I was able to work a lot, and by society’s standards was a highly functioning individual. But I had irregular and painful periods- and that was telling the true story about my health; something was going on internally.

When I started my masters program, I learned about the different phases of a cycle and how they relate to yin, yang, qi, blood…all interesting Chinese Medical concepts that you can read more about in this article. I was intrigued by this idea of going with the flow, pun intended, when it comes to women’s health. We have a cycle for a reason. There are necessary hormonal shifts which are required to keep us going as the powerful women we are. When we fight it, we fight a physiological phenomenon which helps us stay healthy and stay strong. What’s fascinating is that once I gave into each part of my cycle instead of fighting it, my cycle started to regulate and I actually recognized marked differences in other aspects of my health, just by focusing on regulating my cycle. I used herbs and acupuncture to help with this transition to a more regular cycle (and better health), and this also translated into a much more comfortable pre-menstrual and menstrual time. My weight no longer fluctuated significantly before and after my period, my cravings decreased, I didn’t have the same energy dips as before, my thyroid condition was improving, my cortisol levels were even more normal.

There’s definitely something to be said for regularity: there are countless studies done on the benefits of having a routine and how this creates efficiency. And it’s incredibly challenging to get into a routine when there’s trauma or excessive stress. Why wouldn’t it be the same for our bodies? Irregularity can be a marker for an issue but also itself creates additional stress. Allowing for a regular cycle makes room for our bodies to have a stress break, and sometimes those little changes go a long way.

Is this the year you #ownyourcycle? Join us in our Women's Challenge and experience the power of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Dr. Nell Smircina, DAOM, L.Ac., Dipl. OM is a licensed acupuncturist specializing in post-surgical rehabilitation and athletic recovery. She maintains her private practice in Beverly Hills, CA. Nell has worked extensively with the Veteran population in Los Angeles through different community acupuncture initiatives, and in her free time enjoys living a fit and active life in Southern California. Follow her on Instagram @bewellwithdrnell.

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