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When looking for resources about women's health and fertility, the sheer amount of information available can be overwhelming. There are countless books, blogs, magazines, websites devoted to the topic, some of which offer conflicting advice. I'd like to start writing some reviews about resources that I've found to be informative, research-based and useful. The first one I'd like to share with you was easy to pick - I use this book as a reference on at least a weekly basis! It's called Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition by Marilyn M. Shannon, M.A., and it is by far my favorite book on menstrual health that I've ever read. The author holds a master's degree in human physiology and biochemistry, and she has a special interest in nutrition and reproductive health. She is also a natural family planning instructor with decades of experience.
Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition could be read through from cover to cover, but it may be more suitable as a reference guide for everything related to nutrition and menstrual health.
Part One of the book consists of basic nutritional advice - useful for everyone, not just women! Chapter titles include Twelve Rules for Better Nutrition, Obtaining and Preparing Nutritious Food, and Basic Supplements to Consider.
Part Two, which encompasses the majority of the volume, is titled Overcoming Reproductive Problems and Challenges. Shannon describes a number of ways that nutritional deficiencies can lead to or exaggerate reproductive issues, and how proper nutrition, supplementation, and other natural remedies can provide significant improvement. This section deals with a variety of topics including PMS, painful periods, thyroid function, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, luteal phase deficiency, yeast and vaginal infections, low sexual desire, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage, and more. There are also sections focusing on optimal health for pre-conception, pregnancy, postpartum and breastfeeding.
Throughout her book, Shannon gives specific vitamin recommendations, including dosage, to support various conditions. Her advice is clear, practical and easy to implement.
Best of all, Shannon's background as a natural family planning instructor means that she readily understands and describes how charting fertility signs and interpreting that chart can provide valuable clues to a woman's overall health.
I highly recommend this book to any woman of reproductive age, whether avoiding pregnancy, trying to conceive, or simply looking to improve her menstrual cycles and general well-being.
The latest edition can be found here.
Ah, periods; those lovely monthly visitors that all women have to deal with but few of us want to talk about. Many of us have negative feelings about our periods, whether we dread them, resent them, are mildly annoyed by them, or simply find them embarrassing. This is unfortunate, because a period is actually a truly incredible thing. Here are four facts about your period that might just help you feel a little more warm and fuzzy about that time of the month.
1. A period isn’t just a period
Menses, which is a woman’s monthly bleeding, is actually only a small part of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The menstrual cycle encompasses everything that happens between the start of one period and the next. The 3-7 days of bleeding that happens in the beginning is clearly the most recognizable part of this cycle, but it is certainly not the only part nor the most important.
Most women know that a period is when your uterus sheds the lining that it has been building up throughout the month. This lining is meant to sustain and nourish a baby; and if conception doesn’t occur and this lining isn’t needed, it simply sheds away and a new period begins.
Between two periods, however, an incredible cycle takes place. Your brain and your reproductive organs communicate using chemical messengers called hormones, which have varying effects on your body. Your uterine lining grows and changes. A follicle in your ovary prepares and then releases an egg. Estrogen rises and falls. Progesterone appears. Your cervix alters shape and secretes a special fluid, which changes in consistency and chemical makeup as the weeks go on. Your body temperature fluctuates. All of these processes are connected to each other, depend on each other, and have a specific purpose in your body. And when it’s all over, your period comes and everything starts anew. This vibrant and delicate balance is what dictates your fertility, and the bleeding you see every month is only a very small part of the incredible work your body is doing. Pretty neat, huh?
2. Your period is good for you
All of the hormonal changes associated with your cycle affect your reproductive system, but they have an influence on other bodily symptoms as well. Ovulation (the release of an egg) has been linked to bone health. Your hormone levels influence everything from mood, sleep, energy, metabolism, to creativity. Your period itself is part of your reproductive organs’ self-cleansing system, taking care of any built up tissue or bacteria that may have accumulated throughout the month. Allowing your body to cycle naturally, without being deterred or suppressed by the presence of hormone-mimicking chemicals or devises, is a wonderful to way to encourage optimal health.
The Benefits of Real Periods
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One of the most common reasons I hear women give for taking birth control pills is to 'regulate their periods' or 'balance their hormones'. Anyone who wishes for a more convenient period experience can take this magic pill. If you are someone who has struggled with irregular cycles, painful periods, or heavy bleeding, chances are your doctor has suggested that you try oral contraceptives. But does the Pill actually 'cure' these conditions?
What's so special about a period, anyway?
Believe it or not, that regular monthly bleeding that occurs when someone is taking the Pill is not actually a period. I know that sounds strange, but listen: true menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining (the endometrium) that occurs after the final, progesterone-influenced phase of a woman's cycle that follows ovulation. If conception does not occur, the endometrium is not needed to nourish a new life and so it is shed, beginning the next cycle.
The 'period' associated with taking the Pill is not actually menstruation, but rather withdrawal bleeding, caused when the artificial hormones are suddenly taken away during the sugar pill or off week of your pill-taking.
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You may be familiar with raspberries as a favorite summertime treat. But you may not know that the red raspberry plant (rubus idaeus), particularly its leaves, has long been celebrated for its reported health benefits. Naturally full of nutrients such as vitamins A, B, C and E, this versatile plant is especially appreciated as an effective support for many aspects of women’s health. This plant is considered to be safe for women of childbearing age, including pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Here are just a few of the ways that red raspberry leaf has traditionally been used:
Thyroid disease can have significant effects on a woman’s reproductive health and screening for women presenting with fertility problems and recurrent early pregnancy loss should be considered, suggests a new review published today in The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist (TOG).
(Original article here)
Our modern environment is full of toxins, chemicals and substances that can mess with your hormones. If you struggle with irregular cycles, endometriosis, infertility, thyroid problems, etc., you might want to check what you are eating. Our modern diets often contain huge amounts of estrogen! Here are the top 5 high estrogen foods to avoid.
Own Your Body's Data
Here is a fantastic video discussing your body's 'data', and the empowerment that comes from becoming an expert in yourself! In the video, Talithia Williams touches on fertility awareness briefly, but the scope is much broader than that. This is a wonderful reminder of the many benefits of becoming in tune with your own body (and cycle!) besides simply pregnancy avoidance or achievement.
.....“[The doctor] started to tell me, you have multiple pulmonary embolisms in both lungs,” said Megan Henry. “They’re sending an ambulance, they’re going to come and they’re going to rush you to the emergency room … it just really took me by surprise and you know I knew it was something bad but I never imagined it would be something like that.”
According to her hospital discharge papers, the NuvaRing Henry was using “was probably the risk factor” for her pulmonary embolisms.
Henry went from peak physical condition to using a breathing machine. She was put on blood thinners, too. Her doctors told her it’s too risky to use hormonal birth control again.
(Read the entire article here)
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