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 never…stop…bleeding.
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.
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.
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.
- chicken liver [does anyone eat liver anymore?],
- cooked beans,
- 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.
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.
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.