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We’re talking about flooding today. Not the kind that sent Noah to the ark, but close.

Flooding is when there is a large amount of blood, gushes, clots, and sometimes a long, slow bleed during your period. And it can be really frightening if you’ve never experienced it before. Even if you have, or even if you know about flooding, it can just be…really annoying.

It can feel like you’ll neverstopbleeding.

There can be very uncomfortable cramping as clots are passed.

And you will likely have to change your pad and/or tampon very regularly.

You can see how it would be annoying.

If you’ve never had flooding before, it can make you feel like there is something wrong. Or like you are a piece of meat, just hanging there…bleeding.

Obviously this is no fun.
Flooding sucks when you’re not in peri-menopause.
But then, if you’ve got other fun symptoms (like hot flashes, anger, or cravings) it super sucks.

Flooding happens when there is a change in progesterone levels (often not enough of it), which controls the thickness of the uterine lining during your cycle. During peri-menopause the drop in estrogen can disregulate the function of progesterone (they work very closely together), and this can lead to flooding.

Not every woman experiences flooding. But if you do, it isn’t fun.

a picture of a flooding street and subway terminal as a metaphor for menstrual flooding

I’m going to share some information about flooding, and options for dealing with it, but before I do, I need to say my caveat: I’m not a doctor, nor a nurse, nor any other type of licensed healthcare professional. If you are concerned about your flooding please see your health care person. I will also ask you to do your own research on what I offer here: make an informed decision. Because I’m not the only health educator on the block.

Ooookay! Here we go!

Increasing Iron: Dietary and Supplementation Options

So, the first thing about flooding is that it can lead to a lack of iron. When we bleed a lot, we are also losing a lot of iron. This can lead to anemia, which can make you feel like crap (fatigue, foggy brain) and can also make other peri-menopause symptoms worse.

A lack of iron can also make your blood clot less, which leads to more bleeding.
You see the vicious cycle thing happening here, right?

There are plenty of sources for iron in food.

  • Beef,
  • chicken liver [does anyone eat liver anymore?],
  • oysters,
  • cooked beans,
  • tofu,
  • pumpkin and/or squash seeds, and
  • fortified cereals

are all great sources of dietary iron.

But sometimes that is not enough and you may need to consider taking an iron supplement. Try a slow-release supplement to avoid constipation.

 

Herbal Supports

There are several herbal supports for increasing iron- so you can eat your herbs, if you prefer. These include cooked dandelion leaves (organic, please!), molasses, and yellow dock root. Steam or cook with vinegar to release their full iron stores.

Other herbs that can help decrease flooding when it starts include: lady’s mantle (tincture, 10-20 drops per day), flax seeds (soaked or ground into oil), and chaste berry (tincture or added to food).

These each work in a slightly different way. For instance, lady’s mantle and chaste berries help regulate progesterone so there is less build-up of blood in the uterus prior to the period. Flax seeds help increase prostaglandins (which control bleeding and clotting throughout the body).

Because of their different mechanisms of action, one herb may be better than another for you. Each woman is different.

Please remember that herbs, while natural, can also cause problems. If you’re going to try herbs to reduce flooding, please read more (from good sources, okay? not an online forum) and pay very close attention to your body while you’re using them.

 

Mind-Body Options

Christiane Northrup, in her book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (go get yourself a copy if you don’t already own it) states that flooding can be induced or exacerbated by stress. This seems obvious when you think about it. (Stress induces stress hormones, those hormones wreak a little havoc with your cycle…)

De-stressing on a regular basis is great, but especially during the weeks after you ovulate (when the lining of the uterus is being built up), will probably help decrease flooding.

Try my three-minute meditation.

 

The path of peri-menopause can seem like a walk in the wilderness. But don’t worry, you won’t be here for 40 years- it will come to an end. As you travel through peri-menopause, get the support you need from food, herbs, and your own (super smart!) body.

 

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The Menopause Revolution

I was messaging with the wicked smart and raw-truth-loving Renee Magnusson on Facebook last week. We were talking about women and anger and boundaries -and how our culture doesn’t really help women develop either of those things.

I started talking about how societal beauty standards tear women down and that pushing for weight loss just to meet cultural standards of beauty is useless. Only when women feel good in their bodies (whatever size) is true health achieved.

I said, “don’t get me on my soapbox!” because the issue is so near and dear to me.

And Renee replied, “GET ON YOUR SOAPBOX!”

And in that moment, all my love for this work rushed back in.

This is my soapbox:

Menopause and menopausal women are going to change the world.

Menopausal women have access to clear truths about what this world needs.

Deep down in their bones,
deep down in their heart,
deep down in their soul,
they know what is not right with this world.

Women in my practice are mad.
Mad as hell.

Because:

no more hurting girls.

no more hurting women.

no more hurting children.

no more hurting animals.

no more hurting the environment.

no more excess by men and corporations.

no more inadequate food, housing, and safety for those with the least.

“No more!” they say.

And because they have energy now (no period!) they can do something about it.

Giving time
money
personal/professional skills
support
vision
wisdom.

When a menopausal woman finds her truth, she will battle for it like no one else.

And that is so beautiful.

And so POWERFUL.

women-revolution

 

The biggest reason I do this work is because of how much power menopausal women bring to the table. I love helping my clients get clear on what they know and how to live well for the rest of their lives.

Menopausal women are fierce and wise.

It is a powerful combination.

And it will make the world a better place.

As I get off my soapbox now, I wonder: what is your soapbox?

As your hormones shift and change,
as you see the world differently,
what do you know matters?

Because your knowing will change the world.

 

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Please don’t steam your vagina.

Yeah, we’re talking about this.

Perhaps it has not reached you yet (really, I hope it hasn’t). But Gwyneth Paltrow is hyping the benefits of a practice called the vaginal steam bath.

This is a practice from Korea, wherein a woman’s naked Pink Parts are treated with steam – often including the herbs mugwort and wormwood.

Now, I am all about the herbs, okay?
They have amazing properties.
I use herbs regularly with clients.

But applying herbs to your vulva and labia, via steam, is just not something I can condone.

Here’s why:

1. Steam.

That’s boiling water pointed at your most precious, tender parts. I don’t care what kind of precautions are taken, steam pointed at your labia and vulva is just too dangerous.

How much does it hurt when you steam-burn your finger by accident (say, from the microwave)? It’s going to be 100 times worse on your lady bits.

 

2. Herbs you don’t know.

Everyone reacts differently to herbs (and medications, and food, for that matter). We each have little genetic differences that make our body handle substances differently.

Perhaps wormwood and mugwort do not agree with you and your biologic system. What then?

Well, then you have discomfort on your vulva and labia until it goes away.

I don’t think it’s worth the risk. (But that’s just me.)

a bench with a hole in the sitting area for steaming the vagina

3. The ‘delicate flower’ that is your va-jay-jay.

I’m not much into anything ‘delicate flower’ (soft femininity? yes! delicate? not so much…), but that sort of describes your vagina.

It is strong (see this great article), but all the folds and furrows of your vagina house a delicate balance of bacteria, lubrication, and pH balance that need to be maintained. (As anyone who’s had a yeast infection or UTI can tell you!)

Adding steam to your vulvar area can upset that balance. The heat, the water (is it purified?), and/or the herbs can all push your body into a state of imbalance.

Again, not worth the risk.

 

Your vagina is self-cleaning and self-regulating.

Simple.
As.
That.

Beyond regular washing with gentle cleansers (and gentle pressure), there isn’t much a vagina needs to stay healthy.

There are certainly complaints that may develop as peri-menopause and mid-life hormonal changes begin happening (different smells, lack of lubrication, painful intercourse), but steaming your vulva will not help.

 

My one caveat to this advice is this: a good long soak in the tub.

A bath is something I can go for and heartily endorse.

Why? 

Because there is no danger of burning the skin (unless your water heater is too hot).

Because if you use herbs in the bath (or even heavily processed cleansers), your vulva will stay lubricated and also naturally stay closed against water coming up into your vagina. Your skin will also often indicate if the herbs are irritating.

And because- if you’re going to get naked and spend quality time with your body, why not go all in and have a bath?

 

Here is to the wonders of our lady bits- especially the vulva. May we never cease to praise her and to revere her – as she is, for all that she is. Love your vulva- don’t steam it.

 

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Resources for hormone health.

If you’re not signed up for the newsletter, you’re missing out on some goodies every two weeks.

I make recommendations for some groovy stuff via the newsletter. I’m presenting some of things that were offered for newsletter subscribers only in this post, because I want you to join the newsletter!

Lovely pictures like this that you can pass on or use on your desktop.

at the end of the day, take a moment to breathe

 

TreeBuds-HonestWithSelf-300

 

Beauty-is-gods-handwriting-500

 

I also offer resources like these:

Five Scientifically-proven ways to increase your happiness. All in a lovely PDF. Woot!

An app to make better food choices: Fooducate. Good for both Mac and Android. Totally useful!

Recommendations like this:

Dandelion Leaf & Root by Traditional Medicinals
Dandelion tea is great for gentle de-toxing, reducing bloating, and improving your skin and hair. It can have an ‘earthy’ taste, so feel free to add lemon juice (for a lemony zing) or honey (for sweetness and antibacterial effects).

 

Joining the newsletter means you’ll not only get these fun and helpful tools, you’ll also get access to first dibs on the new program I’ll be offering in a few weeks.

If you want to join the newsletter and get these great tools and resources – plus, early access! – please sign up here.

 

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[GTFO: Get The Fuck Out.]

So, I was listening to the first episode of a new podcast – “Itsabitch” – by Marybeth Bonfiglio (who writes gorgeous things) and her husband/partner (aka Dr. Rock). It was honest, raw, and sweet- and also laugh-out-loud funny at moments.

The best part was listening to a married couple talk honestly about marriage/partnership and it’s difficulties – and talk in their own married way. (Go subscribe in FB, it’s great.)

The first question up in their queue was a woman who was wondering whether she was in menopause, asking three things: “How do I not set That Guy on fire?” “I need to re-home either my cat or my man, probably my man” and “But, I still love him. (in relationship to ‘he needs to move out.’)”

Actually, those are some statements and some questions. But they basically ask: what do I do???

The podcast got a little tangled in their answer, so I wanted to offer some ideas and answers, in order of appearance.

 

1. How do I not set That Guy on fire?

I take this to mean that her man is turned on by her, and she’s not into sex (as much) – or handling the turn on- at the moment.

(I just realized that might be the total wrong interpretation. So, if we’re talking more about actually setting your partner on fire – cuz menopause can sure put the trigger finger on angersee point 2. Also, if you’re feeling like this, is may certainly mean your estrogen levels are changing. You can fix that herbally, but dealing with anger – as it is – can also be useful.)

Here’s the deal about if your partner is turned on when you’re not: another person’s physiology is not your responsibility.

Whether it’s the barista who gives  you a little extra eye contact or the state worker who is using all the ‘fuck offs’ available in body language, someone’s physiologic response to you is not your responsibility.

Turn on is a mix of psychology, hormones, physiology, and past experiences. You may trigger feelings of sexual interest, but that is not yours to manage.

It’s an old feminist tenet that can be helpful to remember:
No one is responsible for someone else’s turn on.

This woman is not responsible for That Guy’s turn on.
He’s responsible for it.

Do women get told otherwise pretty much all our lives? Yes.
Especially that we are going to have to Deal with the Consequences if we don’t respond to sexual invitations.

But if I’m responsible for my own orgasm, so are you (even in LT relationships).

That said, you can keep the connection open – the love flowing – by accepting the compliment of his attraction to you. This is not something I’d recommend in a casual or short-term encounter. But if you want to stay connected, a great way to do so is notice his ardor and accept what it means (he thinks you’re hot).

Acknowledging his feelings – without taking on his needs – is going to keep you connected. 

Lastly on this point – sensuality might be common ground to explore. Men are so used to having their sensuality tied directly to their sexuality that exploring non-sexual sensuality might be a place you can both find deeper enjoyment of each other.

Feel free to explicitly describe the physical and emotional spaces you require for sensual exploration to happen. Most men/partners rise to the occasion when things are clearly requested – especially if it means connecting to their beloved.

girl-150

2. Needing to ‘re-home’ your partner.

As I have written about before, the Path of No Sex is a common experience for women going through peri-menopause. At this point in life, most folks are getting androgynous and sex (orgasm and climax) are less a priority.

What becomes a big priority for many women in peri-menopause is space for themselves.

A lady cave (palace? wisdom cocoon?) for their own purposes.
A room of one’s own.

Often this gets sent out in the physical world, and relationships, as “you are driving me crazy!”
Or sleeping in another bedroom.
Or repeated choruses of “Leave me alone!”
(And, seriously, not a few clients who have said, “fuck off, you’re annoying.”)

I deeply believe (and many writers on the subject of menopausal transformation agree) that safe, separate space for women is a part of healthy menopause.

It is incredibly important that a woman have the space she needs.
She is becoming something new- and that takes space and time.

Loss of estrogen means she’s also likely to get very clear and focused on having that time.
Don’t stand in the way.

Get yourself space.

Use an extra bedroom for your space only.
If you work from a home office, consider getting an outside office.
Schedule regular retreats so you know you will have time to yourself.

This is not about absence making the heart grow fonder.
This is about getting your needs met.

Because when a woman’s needs are met, she has a much greater capacity to negotiate meeting other’s needs.

woman standing near the ocean with her back to us, pondering

3. I still love him (even though I wish he would go away).

I’m going to get all cliche, but it’s true: all relationships are a series of phases where we spin towards each other and phases where we spin away.

This is the nature of long-term relationships. And the couple who can recognize these “away” phases as just phases will reap the rewards.

Menopause and peri-menopause are often ‘away’ phases.
Again, the need for personal space impacts this (so does your estrogen levels).
Sometimes both partners need to remember that love does not always mean close proximity.

If you love your partner and want to stay together long-term, be prepared to figure out how some short-term changes might support that greater goal.

Keep connecting in all your best, favorite, and usual ways.
Consider exploring other ways to connect and share love.

Relationships are so fluid and creative these days – find a path (probably not something you’ve heard of before) that works for you.

Imagine crazy possibilities (Tuesdays and Thursdays at his ‘house;’ weekends apart; monthly retreats for you). Test them and see what works for your goals.

It is possible to remain in a healthy, positive, supportive relationship during and after peri-menopause. If that is your goal, stick to it- acknowledge your needs and find creative ways to make them happen. And keep your heart open – wanting to stay in love during menopause is a gift.

 

 

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