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Category: Menstrual Health

Period Story Podcast, Episode 14: Molly Fenton, Love Your Period

On the latest episode of Period Story podcast, I was so pleased to speak to Molly Fenton, the 17 year old Welsh campaigner who started a movement to help people love periods, called aptly, the Love Your Period campaign.

Molly shares the story of her first period at just 8 years old in year 4. She said because she was so young, she didn’t really understand what was happening and wasn’t prepared.

Molly says that starting the Love Your Period campaign motivated her to better educate herself about periods and menstrual health. Listen to hear what Molly was surprised to learn is and isn’t normal.

Molly talks about the work she’s been in doing in schools in Cardiff to educate different year groups on menstrual health. Molly also shares how she been campaigning the Welsh government to improve menstrual health education in schools across Wales.

Inspired by the work of Amika George, who has been campaigning for free periods in England, we talked about how Molly started a campaign  asking menstrual product companies to remove the plastic in their products. Go to the link in my profile to sign the petition!

Molly talks about the change in her periods after she switched to plastic free products from brands like TOTM and Hey Girls. She says that her allergic reactions stopped and her period pain drastically reduced.

Molly says everyone should know that periods are normal and that no matter how much we try to ignore them, they are always going to be there, so the best thing that we can do is accept them and learn to love them. I completely agree!

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MOLLY’S BIO

After coming across the work of Amika George, campaigning for free periods in England, Molly started talking to people around her about period poverty and stigma, something she’d never thought about before. People called the topics inappropriate and disgusting, and she felt that she couldn’t sit back and let this happen. At just 17 years old, Molly started a social media movement to aid everyone to help love periods called the Love Your Period campaign. Today, the campaign has over 5000 followers across social media pages and is nationally recognised.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPTION

Le’Nise: On today’s episode we have Molly Fenton. After coming across the work of Amika George, campaigning for free periods in England, Molly started talking to people around her about period poverty and stigma, something she’d never thought about before. People called the topics inappropriate and disgusting, and she felt that she couldn’t sit back and let this happen. At just 17 years old, Molly started a social media movement to aid everyone to help love periods called the Love Your Period campaign. Today, the campaign has over 5000 followers across social media pages and is nationally recognised. Welcome to the show.

Molly: Thank you very much.

Le’Nise: So, let’s start off with a question that I ask all of my guests. Tell me the story of your first period.

Molly: So, I was eight years old when I had my first period. So, I was in Year 4 when I was in primary school and it was my break time. So, I was out in the playground and something didn’t feel right. I felt I’d wet myself, which, you know, that’s not cool when you’re 8, you’re pass that. So, I went to the bathroom and when I wiped, I had blood and I didn’t quite understand. It was quite scary, but I wasn’t going to tell anyone about it because I have no clue what it was. And I was scared they were either going to send me home or to the hospital. So, I had to go about the rest of the day with this uncomfortable feeling. And I was very lucky because when I got home my mum was brilliant. And I was able to show her, and she explained to me what it was and that it was a period and showed me how to use a sanitary towel and I could get on with my day like that. So, it didn’t start great, but I was lucky that my mum was really good with me afterwards.

Le’Nise: You were eight years old. Wow. So that’s very young. I think that’s the youngest that any of my guests have started their period, we had someone who started at 9 in the last season. That’s very young. You’re 17 now? Knowing what you know now. Do you think you were ready? Was it overwhelming? You said you were scared and uncomfortable. Just talk me through what was going through your mind when you first discovered you had it.

Molly: Well, ultimately, I didn’t have a clue what it was. I haven’t actually come across periods before because it’s not something that’s ever bought up in school briefly, until the last year of primary school. So that’s 11-12 year olds and it hadn’t been touched upon. My mum hadn’t spoken to me about it because I was still at quite a young age for it to come about, really. And you know, all I had was this association of blood and death really or blood and something very, very wrong and something isn’t right with my body. So, it was really scary. And so, I definitely wasn’t ready, and I wasn’t prepared whatsoever. And that’s I think that’s why I like to do what I do, because I don’t want anyone to be in that position because it wasn’t nice. It was scary. And I could have definitely been a lot more prepared for my first periods. And I wish I was.

Le’Nise: When you had it, did you eventually start talking to your friends about what was going on with you?

Molly: Not at all. I’ve never spoken about my periods about my friends until I started this campaign at all. It’s never been a topic of conversation in my friendship group.

Le’Nise: Even as they started getting their periods?

Molly: Yes, which is surprising. And now I look back on it and now we speak about it. And I think, why didn’t we? But I guess that’s how the stigma must’ve affected us. So many of us feel that we should no matter how close we were, it was one thing that we just never spoke about.

Le’Nise: Getting it at 8 and then not really getting any education at school until you were 11-12 years old. You said your mum was really supportive and she helped you get menstrual towels and all of that. How else did you start to try to educate yourself?

Molly: I kind of let my mum tell me what to do. I could have come across this a bit better. I know my mum bought a book, one of those, your body is changing books. So, I spent a lot of time reading through that with my mum. I remember the book very well and it didn’t make a lot of sense to me. You know, there were these diagrams and pictures and all sorts. But it really it didn’t come across to me the way that it would have now. So, I don’t think it was really until I got to high school maybe, I was about 12, 13 that I really started trying to look into it. So of course, you start learning about it a little bit more in science lessons. But I’d say my education properly really didn’t start until I had to, which is when I started this campaign because people have to trust me, and they have to know they can trust me. I feel like I took a degree in menstrual health before I started this company. And I learned so much that I didn’t know that I should have known. Considering I have periods for almost 10 years, and I surprise myself with learning what’s normal, what isn’t, what I should be concerned about and what I shouldn’t. And all these different things that really everyone should know but we don’t ever get taught.

Le’Nise: What was surprising to you?

Molly: That we don’t actually lose that much blood, considering it looks like an awful lot and that your cycle doesn’t always have to be every month. If it comes a little bit earlier or less a bit late, it doesn’t mean something is drastically wrong. And I learnt also as well, which really did help, stomach cramps being a little bit more than just discomfort isn’t right. So I went to my doctor because my cramps would keep me off school and I thought this was normal, I couldn’t get out of bed, they were making me throw up and now I’ve got the right medication, I’m able to do my exams and things normally. Whereas before, I know so many of my GCSE exams were affected by my period because I thought it was normal and that every single person in the hall around me that was on their period had to deal with the same thing. And then I learnt through my research that really, I shouldn’t be experiencing the pain that I was. So that was the biggest shock that I had. But I’m glad I had it because I was able to get it under control and get the help that I needed with it.

Le’Nise: Why did you think the cramps were normal?

Molly: I don’t know. I’m guessing because I was still functioning, and I’ve had a period every month for so many years that I thought this is the way that my body works. And because I knew everyone’s period was unique. Then this is just how my body does it. And I assumed that it was the right way because I was still alive and still going despite, you know, now I look back and see that that totally wasn’t normal, and I shouldn’t have left it like that. But it was something that myself, my sister and my mum just thought was part of it for me.

Le’Nise: So, your sister and your mum also have period pain, period cramps?

Molly: My mum used to yeah, really badly. So, she put it down to, “Oh, yeah, that’s something I had”, and my sister does suffer really badly as well. She’s younger than me but we’ve managed to find natural ways that relieve them for her, but she has exactly the same symptoms as I had. So, she can’t get out of bed, makes her physically sick sometimes. It’s something that’s been in the family unfortunately.

Le’Nise: That’s really interesting that all three of you thought that it was normal and that, you know, you just accepted that that was your normal. I hear this a lot. I hear that period pain is normal, just part of having a period. And I really love the fact that you’ve educated yourself and you learned that it isn’t normal. So, what were the tools that you used to educate yourself about your period and about menstrual health?

Molly: So, I first started with my biology teacher. I approached my teacher in school who is good friends with my mum. So, I felt fine speaking to her, and I said, “Look, I’ve learnt all about period poverty. Looking at this online, I cannot sit still about it anymore. What can you tell me about it?” And so, she basically taught me about periods, which I felt like it was exactly what I needed to know when I was 11 years or well, younger for me. But when I was in year 6 and we were having that education as a class, that 15 minute whistle-stop talk. It would have been really useful to have that lesson. And I then took that on in a debating competition to speak about period poverty and through education and my research for that, I spoke to different organic pad companies, so, Hey Girls, Luck Store Organic and TOTM about how products affect periods as well. So that way I was able to learn about the obvious things like I didn’t think the products we use are absorbed into our bodies and I didn’t think that before. But now it’s such an obvious thing to think about.

And more books, I’ve got Natalie Byrne’s Period book, which was possibly one of the best books I ever got. She gave it to me herself when I met her, which was really kind of her. And after reading it, it just simplified everything and it’s friendly for everyone. So, anyone that needs to learn about periods, it’s definitely the book to read. So, I kind of just accumulated knowledge from every corner that I could. And even today I’m still learning things. Every day I’ll ask a question that I won’t know the answer to. So, I’ll have to pass them on to someone but as I’m passing them on, I’ll be going, “Oh, can you tell me the answer too please,” so that next time I’m able to help that person? Because there are so many things we don’t know. And I feel like we all have to learn together, we all have to educate ourselves, but work as a team to do that. And I think that’s the way to start this education off properly.

Le’Nise: Do you say you get asked a lot of questions? Is it typically from other girls or do boys ask you questions as well?

Molly: Boys, girls, mothers, lots of people from the LGBTQ+ community who feel they can’t ask questions to anyone else and wants an anonymous space. We really have a broad range of people that message us on Instagram daily asking questions, which is lovely to see.

Le’Nise: And can you share the types of questions that you get asked?

Molly: Sometimes it’s little things that I laugh at and I think I actually feel really sorry because I would’ve asked the same question. So, I remember I’ve had some like, “why is my period clear?” That’s not a period, that’s discharge and it’s something like no and or “my period’s been going on for two months and it’s clear” and they thought it’s their periods. And of course, haven’t seen that that’s what it is. But that’s completely understandable because I didn’t have a clue what discharge was, I didn’t know the name up until about six months ago, if I’m perfectly honest with you. So we have a lot of things like that from younger people and we have a lot, unfortunately, of people going, I’ve been following your page for a while and I think I’ve just started my first period but I can’t tell my mum or my mum’s not around and I live with my dad and my brothers, I can’t tell them. Or people at break time and lunch time in school who even go to my school and they message me or go through their period and say, can you come to the toilets with products, please? I started my period. Can you come help me? I don’t know what to do.

So sometimes it’s really upsetting to see the questions or the things that people ask me to do. But unfortunately, the taboo around menstruation has kind is been implanted in everyone’s brains, so some of us have really got to go over the top to try and remove it. You know, sometimes we have some great questions that make me think, like I said, I’ve got to pass people on and they’re like, right, so if my period blood is this colour, what does this mean? And I’m like, oh, brilliant, I don’t know. So, I’ll like, start a group with someone else that I know so it’s the three of us and I’ll ask the question and I’ve been educated as well as the person that’s asked the question. So, we have once again, a really broad range of different scenarios to deal with every day.

Le’Nise: So, based on the questions that you’re getting asked and the experiences that you’ve been having, so friends in school, people in school messaging you and asking you to come to the loos with them. What do you think needs to change about menstrual health education in schools?

Molly: Firstly, we need to have it properly. Menstrual health education cannot be defined as five minutes with a random teacher that was unlucky and drew the short straw. It cannot work that way. We need proper menstrual education, whether that be through PSHE lessons, whether that be through talks or assemblies, which I’ll be doing in my school now, I’m going to be doing groups with all the year groups, with packs of what periods are and we’ve got leaflets explaining what discharge is, what a period is, the different changes, how to check their boobs, different things that they need to know. It really needs to be implemented into the curriculum because it’s not properly and it’s something I keep pushing with the Welsh government. And so many people are. And I think they’re coming around to listening. They definitely are. We’ve just got to keep pushing them because until it’s actually stuck in the curriculum, there’s not a lot we can do about it. And when it is when it’s got its place, then we can build on it and say, right, these are the points we need to cover and it’s really important that we do.

Le’Nise: Tell me more about your campaigning with the Welsh government. So, you’re based in Wales and for our listeners who aren’t in the UK, different countries in the UK have different education systems. So, there’s England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So, tell me about what you’re doing in terms of campaigning with the Welsh government or to the Welsh government.

Molly: So, with education, I’ve seen a lot of the ministers with Welsh government since I’ve started the campaign and local MPs and assembly members and things like that about various different things. But every time I’m there, I kind of bring in the comment, “oh, well, you know, we need to bring in the education about this.” I came along across a group and I know they’ve got a petition, I think it’s on change.org, I can’t remember the name exactly, who are trying to get it into the curriculum. And I know there was talks saying right, by 2022, menstruation education is going to be a thing. I love that menstruation education, it’s brilliant, brilliant words.

I’m still trying to work out with my team whether we can start a full-blown petitioning campaign on the side with it, because I think it needs to be done. What I’m doing it at the moment is I’m in the experimenting stage by doing it myself, my own school, like I said. So, we’ve been sent by Always, these packs and they’re be like a girl packs and they’ve got pads and tampons inside. And then like I said, they put the leaflets with all the information possibly need to know. So, we’re going to do these assemblies and I’m going to hand out this education, as I’ve done in primary schools across Cardiff. And we’re going to see how that goes. And if it goes well, I’m going to take the evidence and then say, right, this is how it works. This is the feedback I’ve had. These are my suggestions to say, well, I’ve basically done half the work for you now I need you to implement it. So, at the moment, I’m doing more of the practical side because of course, there are a lot of petitions, there are lots of campaigners. So I’m trying to go a different way about it to try and prove the point that it is needed and get the feedback on girls aged 11 to 18 saying that, yes, I think this needs to be implemented in within education and I need to be taught about this. So, yes, definitely at the practical stage at the moment and then hoping to really take it back to the Welsh government again then and present them with my findings.

Le’Nise: So, you’re doing that, and you also have your other campaign, which is about removing plastic from menstrual products. So, you’re very busy and you go to school, you’re 17, you’re doing your A-levels. So, tell me how you started looking into the plastic in menstrual products. So, tell me about that campaign.

Molly: So, when I was having my bad period cramps and before I went to the doctors, because of course if you book an appointment it takes about 6 weeks until you can get one. So, during that time I was trying to actively research myself what the issue could be. So, I spoke to lots of different people and I went back to people that I’d spoken to before and had a great phone call with the founder of Luck Store Organic, an organic cotton sanitary product company based in London, husband and wife, they’re really lovely. And they spoke to me, said, “Right, so what products do you use?” And I was like, “Oh well the cheapest ones I can find in the shop.” So, I got them out and she said, “Well, do they have ingredients on?” I said no, and she went, “So how do you know what’s in them?” And I said “I don’t know.” And so, she spoke to me, said, “Well, you know, try and look into what’s in there, maybe, because that’s causing.” So, I was always having the allergic reactions to products as well and they were really bad. And they would make me really uncomfortable and sore. And it was just a really uncomfortable time, possibly one of the worst places you could have an allergic reaction to something. And I was looking into the research and found that I couldn’t find these ingredients anyway, no matter how deeply I looked, all I found was that it may contain rayon and that was it. Couldn’t find anything else, so I went back to the woman and then spoke to Hey Girls UK as well. And back to Time of The Month, and then approached lots of different organic cotton companies globally. I even spoke to one from Australia and said, “So what is it about this organic cotton that makes it different?” Everyone was explaining, right, so we don’t have plastic in our products, and I was like, “What do you mean plastic?” And they said, “Well your pads are 90% plastic.” I was completely shocked. I didn’t know. One of the companies, like said, “Right, we’ll send you two of our boxes, try them out, tell us what you think.”

So, they sent them to me, and I tried them. My rash completely cleared up; my stomach cramps weren’t gone but they were very slightly better. And then, of course, looking into these products, I saw they had ingredients on the back, there wasn’t all this plastic in. They clearly saw what I was using and what was being absorbed into my body. So, as I used these products more and more, my allergic reaction completely cleared up and now I don’t have one at all. And alongside the medication I was on, I’ve been able to almost completely eradicate my period pain. So, I use the same with my sister who was also having allergic reactions and her rashes completely cleared up as well. And so then, of course, I recommended to other people and 100% I’ve had the same feedback from them, of course it won’t be the same for everyone, but from the people that I’ve recommended it to and have tried it for reusable period pads and pants or menstrual cups, have all said I’m not having the allergic reaction I’ve had before. So, I was thinking, why aren’t these companies telling us that they’re full of these chemicals or plastics if they are potentially harmful and clearly harmful to our body?

So, I was aiming towards the, you need to tell us the ingredients so we can make an informed decision because there are lots of campaigners, one amazing one in Cardiff is Ella [Daish] and she does the End Period Plastic campaign, which is huge now. And she’s really fighting for that. And she meets with the companies themselves, properly campaigning, and she’s an inspiration in this campaign, definitely in all the work that I do. So we’re looking at the, we want you to tell us the ingredients and we want it to be a legal requirement that these ingredients are on the packaging because we have every right to know what is in these products so we can make our own informed decisions about what we are using and work out what’s possibly making such an issue for our bodies. Because, you know, we use shampoo and conditioner and everything, they’ve all got the ingredients on. And sometimes if we’re looking for ingredients that we don’t want to use for our bodies or for our scalp, we don’t use them. So why shouldn’t it be the same for such an intimate area of our body?

Le’Nise: Amazing. What you’re doing is so amazing. And, you know, certainly I see it in my practice where as soon as the woman that I work with, they change the menstrual products that they’re using, whether they switch to organic tampons or they make a switch to a different type of menstrual pad, they see a change in their period, generally their period pain reduces and they see other benefits. So, the campaign is primarily about that menstrual product manufacturers need to show the ingredients in their products. So, transparency, which is super, super important. Have you spoken to any of these kind of big menstrual product manufacturers?

Molly: At the moment I’m aiming to get 10,000 signatures on my petition. Unfortunately, I became ill just after the summer holiday, so I had to kind of put it on pause. But now I’ve picked it back up again as I’ve finally gotten everything back on track with the campaign. And I’m really pushing now, on paper and online we’ve got over 2,000 and we got that really quickly in like a month. So, I’m going to push that again and get even more, which I know we will. And I’ve emailed and the best way to get through to these people sometimes is messaging them on social media because they reply easier. So, I’ve spoken Lil-lets and Always and I’ve said, “Why aren’t these ingredients on your packaging?” And the most interesting response I have was that of Bodyform UK who came back and said, “Hi, Molly,” and I did it off my personal account so they wouldn’t make an association with Love Your Period and said “Unfortunately, we do not have enough room on our products packaging to be able to list the ingredients.” And I was thinking, “how many ingredients do you have to not be able to fit them on that packaging?” So, it was crazy. So, I’ve done that much. And then when I’ve got the petition, I will be booking in meetings and all sorts, I’ll be going all the way. I’m not going to be dropping this one until it’ properly set in place.

Le’Nise: What’s really interesting is that you’d think that they would have started to respond to this because there are so many new companies coming up in this kind of menstrual health fem tech space. So, you’ve got the brands that you’ve mentioned, you’ve got the likes of OHNE, DAME, Daye, who are all really proudly talking about no plastic, organic cotton. You’ve got all the different menstrual cup companies, period underwear. So, you’d think that, you know, these companies would respond because they’re losing sales from people, switching from, you know, always using Tampax or Always or Bodyform to these other products. So, I think the work that you’re doing is absolutely amazing. How has all the campaigning that you’ve done, and all the educating that you’ve done, changed your relationship with your period?

Molly: I found that I’ve learned an awful lot about my period, my whole body through the work that I’ve done, whether it be learning about periods themselves in the first place, learning about other people’s periods, finding about other people’s experiences. I feel also as well, the thing that’s really made a difference in my life is, I’ve learnt the proper ways to cope and manage with my periods. So, yes, I did have to have intervention when it came to the pain I was having because I couldn’t function normally with it. However, I was able to find ways that I almost have been able to work with my period instead of against it, which is something I would have laughed out about a year ago. And I remember it sometimes and it makes me laugh. And I think, how does that work? I don’t understand. But now I do understand, I’ve learnt the right way, So I increased the right food, so I make sure I’d stick spinach in every meal when I’m on my period and I eat dark chocolate in the evening and I find that really actually helps my energy levels and changing my products, using different oils and things and essential oils in order to keep me calm and mood swings and also with any discomfort I do get, I found that I managed to finally find a way that works for me after so long of trying to find something that helps through recommending and hearing so many different suggestions of how people cope with theirs. I finally found my personalised way to work with my period and now, whereas before it was a burden, I really kind of hated it more. I’ve now managed to love it. Hence the campaign, because now that I found the right way to work with it, it works, and it makes sense because it’s your body. It’s part of you. You need to work with your body. So, it makes sense that by working with it, things will become a lot easier. So, I think I have the campaign definitely to thank for that. I finally found a way to live life normally and be thankful for my periods and realise that it’s a gift.

Le’Nise: So, having said all of that, you know, working with your period, seeing it as a gift, seeing loving your period now. What would you say to someone similar to you who got her period early and knowing what you know now, what would you say to her about her period?

Molly: Keep going with it. Of course, you have to just keep trying all the different alternatives you can. Don’t give up on it. Don’t let your periods take a week of your life away from you. So many of us for so long go well, that’s it, I’ve started this week, I don’t care, I’m going to be self-destructive, I’m going to eat everything I want, I’m not going to do any work. I did that so long, my excuse for not studying was I’m on my period this week. I kid you not. I did not study for a week. And that was my excuse because the discomfort of sitting there for so long and you felt like you could feel you’re on your period and I just let the mood swings without doing anything and them really control my life almost. So really, you’ve just got to try and find the best way that you can to continue your life the best way that you can and to the best quality that you can whilst you’re on your period and realise that your body doesn’t hate you. It’s not doing this because it’s trying to punish you, it’s doing this because it’s giving you a gift. Isn’t it amazing that we have these periods and what they’re able to do? We were able to bring life into this world. How incredible is that? I took A level of biology and it’s my favourite, I’m a real science girl. The fact that the human body can do something like that, it completely fascinates me. So really do see it as a gift. Do see it is something you should be really lucky to have and stick with it because it will get easier, definitely.

Le’Nise: So, what’s next for you? So, you’re in the middle of your A-levels, do you have any thought about what’s next with the campaign and where you personally?

Molly: So, I’m hoping to get my A-levels and then I want to go off to university. And I think I want to do nursing. Something period related. For the campaign, I’m definitely going to look into this education now as I’m starting the practical stages with the Welsh government and fight more with this ingredients petition and really just building up on this stigma as well. So, on the social media pages, we have a Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and you know, we’re starting a Tik Tok account just because so many people use that. And you know, if it’s going to help people, then I’ve got some girls in my team who want to start that. We’re going to be starting a Snapchat account as well. We’re really trying to go through ways that people see as normal everyday life in order to talk about periods, if that makes sense. So, we’re trying to incorporate it into aspects of everyone’s lives. So social media at the moment is the way that we’re going. I’m leaving that to the rest of the team because I can work Instagram, but that’s about it. I’m not very good with anything else, which is quite funny considering I’m a teenager. But yes, so they’re doing all that. So really, it’s just our main focus will always be spreading the word and just getting as many people as possible to, even if it’s not love their periods, just accept their periods.

Le’Nise: Brilliant. I think you are amazing and what you’re doing is amazing. Where can people find out more about the campaign? And where can they sign the petition?

Molly: So, our Instagram page is @loveyourperiod. Both petitions are in the link in the bio and they can be signed from anyone all over the world. We have a Twitter page, @loveyourperiod1 and then our Facebook page is The Love Your Period Campaign. But whichever one you go on to, you’ll be able to branch out to any of the other pages from there.

Le’Nise: Brilliant. So, if listeners take one thing away from everything you’ve said, what would you want that to be?

Molly: Periods are 100% normal, and no matter how much we try to ignore them, they are always going to be there, so the best thing that we can do is accept them and learn to love them.

Le’Nise: Brilliant, wise words from a very wise lady. Thank you so much for coming on to the show, Molly. All of the details about the campaign will be in the show notes, including a link to the petition. I really encourage you to sign what Molly is doing and what her team are doing is so, so important.

Period Story Podcast, Episode 13: Jasmin Harsono, Honour and Embrace Your Period

Period Story Podcast Episode 13 Jasmin Harsono

It’s Endometriosis Awareness Month and for the 13th episode of Period Story, I was so pleased to speak to Jasmin Harsono, a reiki master and teacher, sonic artist, intuitive wellbeing guide and founder of Emerald and Tiger. Jasmin shares her 20 year journey to getting an endometriosis diagnosis.

Jasmin talked about feeling like her first period was very strange and unnatural. She said that she was able to piece together what was happening to her from conversations with friends and then just got on with it.

Jasmin shares the journey she’s been on with her period, menstrual health and wellbeing. She says that she now feels very empowered by her period and feels the wisdom and power in it.

Jasmin says that it took her over 20 years of tests, back and forth with her doctors and a trip to A&E to get a formal endometriosis diagnosis. She says this has empowered her to share her period story so that others don’t have to go through what she did.

She says that sharing her story has helped others, when they’ve discovered their symptoms are similar to hers, to reach out to their GP and get help. Jasmin says that anyone with period problems needs to keep going back to their GPs until they get referred or the support they deserve.

Finally, Jasmin talks about her work as a reiki master and how this has affected her relationship with her period. She says that having awareness of universal energy within has helped her get unstuck emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally.  Listen to hear the beautiful reiki treatments Jasmin gives herself everyday.

Jasmin says that we should share our period stories to help empower others and help break taboos around menstrual health and I completely agree!

Get in touch with Jasmin:

Website

Instagram

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JASMIN’S BIO

Jasmin Harsono is an Author, Reiki Master Teacher, Sonic Artist, and Intuitive Wellbeing Guide. Jasmin shares a wealth of healing experience offering transformational tools that can be used in everyday life. She is the founder of Emerald and Tiger, a conscious lifestyle brand promoting positive awareness through vibrant connection to the body, mind and spirit. Jasmin has collaborated with brands such as Goop, Selfridges, and Crabtree & Evelyn and has featured in Women’s Health, Vogue, and Forbes publications. Jasmin’s practise is based in London, where she offers one-to-one treatments, training, wellbeing guidance, creative consultancy, group and corporate workshops and retreats.

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise: On today’s episode, we have Jasmin Harsono. Jasmin is a reiki master and teacher, sonic artist, and intuitive wellbeing guide. She is the founder of Emerald and Tiger, a conscious lifestyle brand promoting positive awareness through vibrant connection to body, mind, and spirit. Led to reiki through her own experiences of ill health, Jasmin now supports others, guiding them to tap into their true self and to understand they have everything they need in order to live well and feel whole from the inside out.

Welcome to the show.

Jasmin: Thank you so much for having me.

Le’Nise: This is a question I always start every podcast off with. Tell me the story. Tell me about the story of your very first period.

Jasmin: Well, I remember it was my first year in secondary school. I was aged 11, and I remember that morning before going to school, feeling a little bit off, had pains and sensations that I hadn’t really felt before. And yeah, I guess my mood was a little bit … I was feeling a bit low. And then I went to school. And then after school, I remember rushing all the way to home and dying to go to the toilet. And I thought, “Oh, what’s going on,” had these cramps and stuff. And I went to the toilet. I went to my grandma’s house, my nana, and I went to the bathroom and it was my first bleed, discovered my first bleed.

I remember it quite vividly and very instantly feeling a kind of a shame attached to it. I don’t know why, but it was just like, “What’s going on? I’m bleeding.” It just felt very unnatural, my first bleed. And I felt very shy about it and I didn’t really discuss it with my family, as such, not that I can recall. And we didn’t really have talks about it that much before, either. It was just kind of a weird thing to happen. But yeah, that’s what I recall from my first period.

Le’Nise: If you didn’t discuss it with your family beforehand, how did you know what it was?

Jasmin: I’d heard about it through conversation. I’ve got two sisters who are older than me. It’s not that it wasn’t unheard of, but when you just don’t know that knowing or feeling of what it’s going to be like yourself and it wasn’t a conversation that we had had in the house, like a sit down conversation. But obviously, it was going on and I’d seen sanitary wear and stuff like that around the house, so I was aware of what I had to wear for my period and those kind of things. But it was just not something that we would sit down and discuss as a family. And at school, there was a little bit of education in school and conversations within friendship circles. It was kind of that’s how I knew about it.

Le’Nise: When you had your first period, did you go to your sisters and say, “I need a tampon” or “I need a pad”?

Jasmin: No, I can’t actually remember where I got my sanitary wear from, but I don’t recall going to anyone. Maybe we had some around the house, I would imagine, because I had my mom, my two sisters. And so I’m pretty sure there would probably be some sanitary wear around the house.

Le’Nise: Okay. And so you went and you figured it out on your own. And at what point did your mom or your sisters discover that you had had your first period?

Jasmin: I actually don’t remember the conversation I had probably because it may have been a passing conversation. My mom had five children, so it was probably not something that I felt called to discuss. As I said, I was feeling a little bit strange about it as well. I probably internalized a lot of that and just got on with things. And that’s the kind of thought I remember with my period, just getting on with things and just dealing with it on a monthly basis.

Le’Nise: Why do you think that … You’ve mentioned a couple of words that are quite interesting and actually thread through a lot of the conversations I’ve had on this podcast. You’ve mentioned shame, shyness, feeling strange. If you think back now, where do you think those feelings came from?

Jasmin: I think through conversations in school with friends and the conversations that we had around periods was always … It was periods were gross almost. It was like, “Oh, no. You’ve got your period.” There wasn’t really an empowered message behind having a period. It was more like blood is yucky. It was that kind of thing, your smell, those kind of things. And I had that kind of connection to it. And I suppose I attached to that trail of thought for so long and that’s what I thought about periods. Every time that it would come, it was like, “Oh, no. Here’s my period and here’s a couple of days of really embarrassing moments to come,” almost. That’s how I felt about it.

Le’Nise: You think all of your friends at school felt embarrassed about their period?

Jasmin: Pretty much the conversations that I had. And embarrassment or that it just wasn’t … When you’re on your period, it’s not the great few days. No one would tend to enjoy their period or embrace it.

Le’Nise: Do you think that’s changed for you?

Jasmin: 100%. That was a very long time ago. I’m 38 now. I’ve been on such a journey with my periods, my menstrual health and wellbeing. And I’ve come around full circle. I talk about my period a lot to people and have discovered the reasons why I had so many awful symptoms for many years and suffered. And I am now feeling very empowered by my period. I honour my period, and every month I feel that I see the power and wisdom in it. And I use that time when my period comes as a time for reflection, connection, and self-love and healing. For me, it’s completely different. Before, I used to absolutely avoid any period talk or really feel disconnected from it, and now it’s a time to honour and embrace.

Le’Nise: What created that shift in you to go from almost this embarrassment and shame to the other end of the spectrum, feeling really empowered and honoring your period?

Jasmin: Definitely through knowledge and education, my own curiosity. I suffered with chronic pain from my periods. It would last pre, during, and post. I had severe heavy bleeding. I would flood. I would bleed all the way through my sanitary wear, my pants. That would happen to me every month. I used to go to the GP regularly, inform them of all these symptoms I was having, and it came to a point where I really wanted to know why this was happening to me because the more conversations I was having with other people, I realized that actually my period wasn’t the same as other people. Theirs were shorter. Mine were longer. My periods were heavier. Theirs weren’t so heavy. There was lots of things I was like, “Okay. Mine’s not the same.” And I think through my own curiosity, I began to really learn about myself, and that was in itself kind of empowering.

Le’Nise: How long do you think this journey took for you?

Jasmin: Yes. Yes. I went back and forth. I got my period at 11. I pretty much got the symptoms of heavy bleeds, chronic pain straightaway, and I lived through that for years until I was in my late 20s. I couldn’t go on the pill or anything like that because it caused me severe migraines. I had to really go through this cycle every month. And I had very long periods. They would be around 10 days of bleed, heavy bleeding. And I couldn’t get any answers. I had tests done, and it was kind of like, this is what periods are like. That’s what I was told. And I kept thinking, “This is not it. This is not it.”

But I had an incident where I had a cyst rupture. I didn’t know it was that at the time. But I had this. I went to emergency A&E, and then I had some other tests done, scans. And I was told … I was diagnosed with endometriosis. By that time, I understood. I had a level of understanding that my whole life, all these experiences with my period were because I had endometriosis. Then I had a link to that and the more knowledge I had, the more power I had and the less blame I had on my period. It was like, “Oh, I actually had something wrong with me all this time. I had this condition.” And then I wanted to support myself in getting well. That’s how it became full circle in the end.

Le’Nise: How long did it take for you to get your endometriosis diagnosis? So that-

Jasmin: Over 20 years.

Le’Nise: 20 years. Oh my gosh. And you said that at one point you were told, “This is what periods are like.”

Jasmin: Yeah, the norm.

Le’Nise: And how do you feel about that, knowing what you know now and your experience of your period now?

Jasmin: Now, as I said, I share my period story a lot. I really want the next generation, our youth to be empowered by their period, talk about it, don’t be ashamed by it. And so really now I’m not angry or anything about my life or what happened because I can’t really do anything about that. But what I can do is bring my story to the forefront and like other women, just share my story and hope and enable that that helps to start to strengthen the education system because sexual menstrual health needs to be so much better. It’s more pointed towards men than women. And yet women have our periods every month. That’s something that I think needs to change still.

And then, really, I really honor my period now, as I said. I feel completely different to how I did before. There’s a whole change in me physically, mentally, and emotionally towards my period because now I have the awareness. That’s really powerful.

Le’Nise: What do you do to honor your period?

Jasmin: I use an app so I can really focus on my cycle, my moods. And so I know when I’m due. And so I use that time to reflect and connect to myself. I know that I need to slow down. As I said, I have endometriosis and so I don’t have a normal period as such. I still have symptoms, although I manage them much better. I have to use that time to slow down and rest. And so I use that time to tap into my creativity and really just look after myself. It’s all about tapping into self-care and self-love during that time.

Le’Nise: You’ve really taken a lot of learnings from what’s best for your body during this time. And what do you find that your period is different? If you notice that throughout your menstrual cycle, you’re pushing yourself a lot more, do you see the effects of that in your next period or maybe the one after that?

Jasmin: Yes. For example, last week, my period was late and I very rarely have a late period. And I know that the month before, I was under a lot of stress and I put a lot of stress on myself because I was very busy with my work schedule. I worked through quite heavily through when I had my period, which works against me and can cause fatigue in my body that can be long-lasting. My period came late, and I had a feeling this would happen. Period came late and then I had really heavy bleed on Friday, last Friday gone so that I couldn’t even walk down the road for a few minutes. I kept bleeding through and flooding, and it was just very awful experience.

And that’s the learning in it because I know next month I have to really schedule my work so I’m not doing so much during that time. I need to really honour, embrace that time to slow down. That is the part of the month for me, personally, that I need to slow down and not do so much so that I can honor the bleed that’s happening and just allow myself to take some time out. Yeah. There’s always learning in every month. Every period, there’s something to take from.

Le’Nise: And it’s almost a counter-cultural message where this idea of slowing down for however long your period is and connecting and resting and reflecting because I’ve talked about this before, but I know you have your own business and we get told as being entrepreneurs, it’s this hustle, go go go all the time. But this idea of taking a step back, just even a tiny step back, just you almost feel … Sometimes, for me, certainly, I feel a sense of, “Maybe I shouldn’t be doing it” even though I know it’s the best thing for my body.

Jasmin: Yeah. There’s shame attached to that as well, I think. All of these things like, “Oh, we shouldn’t take a break. We need to work really hard.” I think that’s the system that we work on, definitely in the Western world. It’s like go go go. The harder you work, the more that you achieve and more success you’ll get. It’s that mentality. But I do work for myself and I work seven days a week. But I know that in my body if I don’t take a rest, the consequences are much more, the knock-on effects means that I could then be out, have this chronic fatigue for weeks and weeks and weeks, which means I can’t really function 100%. And so then my work is not … I’m not really doing my work to the best.

I think it’s really good that if you really honor what’s happening with you during your cycle every month, you can see and be aware of how you personally function, to be aware of that, and then work around that. It really benefits you much more. And so the time that you can put into work where you’re energized and you can put 100% into that time and then know that that works for you. I think that’s the best way in terms for me, that’s the best way that I work. Now, that feels very powerful to do that. I don’t have anyone to answer to, so for me, it’s a little bit different.

If you’re in a workplace, I definitely think more and more now with their having discussions within work about period health and so hopefully, you can go to someone in HR and say, “Look, this is what happens during my period. And so can I take a few days to work from home or can I work shorter days so I’m not traveling during busy hours, the commute hours?” and stuff. That’s why sharing and having the conversations are really important. I definitely would be having those if I was working for someone else.

Le’Nise: And March is endometriosis awareness month and you said that you’ve been sharing your stories a lot, your story of endometriosis diagnosis and you symptoms. Have you heard any feedback about the impact that your story has had on others?

Jasmin: Yeah. I think through several talks that I’ve given, lots of people have felt more empowered to share their own story. And also, have discovered that their symptoms are very similar to mine, and then have gone and reached out to their GP and got some help and really gone in there and said, “Look, I’m not leaving until I get seen by a specialist.” They have this information now where they feel like, “Well, she did that, so I’m going to do that” kind of thing. And I have a Facebook group I started a couple of years ago, a community group that’s now grown to 6,000 women across the world. And I know that my message in a subtle way has empowered other people to get their story out. And in my heart, I feel like that they’re sharing their story, that they’re helping someone else, too. Even if it’s one person, you feel like you’re spreading the word. Word of mouth is really strong in this kind of area where women don’t have a strong platform. If we can just do a little bit each, I think that will make a difference.

Le’Nise: Absolutely. One story has the power to change so many other people’s lives, absolutely.

Jasmin: And I’ve also connected with so many people that are studying endometriosis, studying the pain, the science, incredible people that are doing so much work behind it and haven’t got much funding and are just so passionate about really helping people because endometriosis, adenomyosis, lots of PCOS, these conditions are relatively high. There’s lots of people, there’s one in 10 people have endometriosis. It’s something that we should all be talking about anyway, but yet, there’s still a lack of information, a lack of knowledge. People are being diagnosed every 10 years or something like that. It takes 10 years to get diagnosed.

I think it’s really important that we just keep sharing our story. And that, for me, starts an opening where hopefully you’ll get to the point where in the UK, the government will listen to this more and realize that women’s stories need to be heard, whether it’s endometriosis or a mental health condition or something else. Yeah.

Le’Nise: What would you say to someone who comes to you and says, “I went to my GP, but I just felt a bit fobbed off”?

Jasmin: I would tell them to go back and go back again. That’s what I did. I did that for years and years and years. I said to you I had problems since I was age 11 and had gone to the doctor’s regularly. I had been told to go on antidepressants, I had IBS. I had so many different diagnoses and went down different routes until I had my cyst rupture. I know what it’s like to be fobbed off and told, “You’ve got this” or “There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s a normal period.” But now, knowing this information, I can’t really stand for anyone just to sit back and go through it. The message is just keep going back to your doctor. You have the information. There’s an incredible lady called Nancy Nook who shares really all of the best consultants to seek around the world. And so you can go to your GP and say, “This is who I want to see.”

Or the other route is, if you have the money, you can go and book an appointment with a private doctor, have a consultation with them, and ask them to refer you back onto the NHS to see this specific consultant. And this really works as well. Say you pay £150 to see a private consultant and then get yourself back on the NHS to see the consultant, this route works really well as well. And that helped me when I was diagnosed with cancer, which was years ago. But I know that there’s ways of getting to your consultant much faster than through your GP, and that’s one of them.

You just have to keep supporting yourself and know that what you’re going through is something that you really need to support. If I had known how much it had affected my fertility, for example, I think I would’ve been at the GP every day knocking down the door, but I just didn’t have awareness. And so now, I just … The most important message is to get seen and be heard.

Le’Nise: And what would you say, once they’ve got the appointment, they’re in the door, how would you suggest that they prepare for that appointment?

Jasmin: The most important thing is to keep a journal, to really write down all of their … keep a diary of their symptoms, what they eat, their cycle, how long a cycle is, what their bleed is like, what their mental health symptoms, what their digestive experiences are. Just keeping a journal of everything so that they have that information before they go and see the consultant and therefore, they can pretty much show them everything they’re going through on a monthly basis. And that really helps them to be, “Look, I’ve got all the information here. This is what’s going on for me.” So they can’t be told that their situation is that you’ve got a normal period because there’s evidently not if they’ve got all these symptoms connecting them to whether it’s endometriosis or something else.

I think keeping a diary is the most important thing. And then to maybe bring someone with you at the appointment so that they can hear everything because sometimes you’re digesting information and that’s all you need to do. And someone else can just sit there and take the notes for you. Yeah, and just make sure that you stay with that consultant if you’re happy with them. Make sure you create a relationship with them because that really helps. And usually, my consultant was also the person that was operating on me. I think it’s good to create a relationship with someone knowing that they have your best interests at heart.

Le’Nise: Can you talk a little bit about your work as a reiki practitioner and how that has … We talked about energy and slowing and how that’s affected maybe your relationship with your body and your period.

Jasmin: Definitely having the awareness of universal energy within, which is this chi, this life force energy, has helped me to get unstuck emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. I always have this feeling of never feeling alone. I feel empowered by what’s going on in my body. By that, I mean that I have this awareness that, okay, I’m not feeling so good today and I can check in with myself and see why, and I can bring together this timeline and knowledge of why I’m not feeling well. And reiki helps me with that. It just helps to open up this awareness to all that’s going on within. And so you have, in fact, a natural ability to heal yourself because you are not being this person that’s stuck and not doing anything about it.

When you’re more open and embrace what’s going on within, you’re able to really understand that information, that your personal information of what’s going on inside your body and therefore do something about it. It really just helps me to be more aware and in that, I’m able to take something from that and do something about it. It’s the awareness and the action that goes afterwards, if that makes sense.

Le’Nise: And so do you have any particular tools that you use that you would be willing to share with the listeners?

Jasmin: I use clary sage oil on a regular basis to relieve the inflammation, and I massage that into my womb, into my hips, into my thighs, and my back, my lower back, the areas where I tend to get a lot of pain from the endometriosis and keeps everything really moving. In Chinese medicine, they talk about that area, if it’s cold, that you’ll more tend to have the pain and inflammation hanging around in those spaces, so massaging the area regularly keeps it nice and warm and helps everything to stay in flow. That really helps me, and it feels really good. It also feels like I’m honoring my womb as well. It’s kind of like an offering of self-care to my womb.

And I give myself a reiki treatment every day. That’s with my hands placed on my body, scanning the body and just placing the hands where it might need some reiki. That’s just tapping in to see where in my body I’m feeling stuck or I’ve got any pain. And then I place my hands on that area and send reiki there. And reiki is always within you, but the touch element, it just helps to support you more and feel really connected. And it’s a really nice way to meditate, I find. I bring in the breath, take some deep breaths and just allow this healing process to happen.

And I think food is really important to mention. We’re all very different. It’s really important to know what foods you digest well and to digest warming foods during the cold months. I always find that that really helps me to feel better. Soups and stews when it’s cold help me to, again, warm up the body and keep everything in flow. But just making sure that you’re eating well, drinking lots of water. And for me, I have a daily meditation practice, which really helps me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to stay connected.

And I think also, a period tracker. I use an app called Moody, which is amazing because you can track your moods, you can track your period, your cycle. You can also leave notes in there. You can journal. Anything that might be a little bit odd that month, you can write about it. And really generally, keep a daily journal of how you’re feeling, checking in with yourself. I’ll do a daily check in, “How am I feeling today?” And then I’ll just check through physically, mentally, emotionally how am I feeling. And that, I really find really powerful because I can look through that and just see if there’s anything that’s spiked, that’s peaked, that might not feel right, and then I can look into that more.

And I think also having conversations with others. If you’re feeling like something is not right or you feel … Yeah, it’s just basically sharing with other people, I think is really important, to find your trusted circle that you can talk about these things and not feel any shame or embarrassment. I called my sister on Friday and said, “I’m walking down the road. My period … I’m flooding through. It’s a nightmare. I’m not feeling well. It’s making me feel quite anxious.” I had all these conversations. And just in having that with someone who can relate with me because I know that she’s gone through that herself, then we have this connection where I feel like it’s not just me. And then it’s like that feeling of oneness, and I’m not going crazy. This is happening to someone else. I think connection with a trusted person who will relate to your story is really important.

And you can find that through Facebook groups or it doesn’t have to be a family member because it can be someone else, a stranger. You can find people online that are going through this, too. If you don’t have a community near you in person, you can find someone online to talk to about it. But I think that’s really important as well, to stay connected and talk about those things.

Le’Nise: You have quite a rich practice of honoring your body and staying connected with body using lots of different methods, which obviously I loved hearing about the food side of it, the meditation. Are there any specific, say, reiki techniques or meditation practices that you would share with someone who is going through something similar?

Jasmin: The most beautiful practice that I have is just a reiki treatment where I place one hand on my womb, so my right hand on my womb, my left hand on my heart, and I breathe into those spaces. I lay down, find somewhere comfortable, and I usually do this before I go to bed and in the morning when I wake up. But I share reiki in those spaces and I breathe into my womb. I just allow my breath to go in there and expand the breath into that space. You can visualize light, bright white light coming into that area, just receiving renewed energy into the womb. And then when you breathe out, you’re letting go of any tension, any pain that you’re holding onto. You’re breathing into the womb and then taking the breath into the heart space and just really opening and expanding these areas. And I find it really comforting. I find it really beautiful to connect in that way, and I see both spaces, I visualize roses in those space to … just an opening of beautiful red roses, which really helps me to feel like I’m loved.

And I think that’s really important for me in particular because sometimes we take on so much of the external world. And so this just gives you this time, even if it’s five minutes in the day, just to reconnect back and realize that your womb is creating so much beauty for you, and sometimes we get attached to, oh, this heavy period every month and that can really bring us down, like it did on Friday. When I reconnect through meditation, I bring an offering back to my womb to say thank you, in a way, for my bleed, for maybe being able to birth a child in the future or for me to connect to my creativity. It’s those kind of practices that I really embrace. And that’s one particular one that I will do on a daily basis.

Le’Nise: I think that’s so beautiful and it really shifts the narrative from … Certainly I see this with other women that I work with who have endometriosis. It’s the shift from this feeling of fighting with your body to honoring it, and that whole visual of visualizing roses, I just love that.

Jasmin: Yeah. Because you can go even further and use your senses. You can smell them and journey with the roses, which is really beautiful and you can extend into a meditation. And that’s just so beautiful when you can just visualize them growing and growing. And rose tea, which I drink regularly, is really beautiful. You can also honor your womb in that way, of just creating, making a little bit of time, a mindful moment of boiling the kettle, putting some rose petals in the cup, pouring hot water in, waiting for that to cool down, taking some deep breaths, and drinking that tea slowly. And just visualize that rose tea moving through into your womb space. Rose is really great for digestion and for your health of your skin and stuff like that. It’s got great qualities to it anyway, but that’s a really nice mindful moment of having a tea ceremony for your womb, which is really beautiful.

Le’Nise: Yeah. Wow, so lovely. Can you talk a little bit more about your work as a reiki master, your business, Emerald and Tiger, and maybe talk a little bit about your amazing book that has just come out?

Jasmin: Self Reiki came out in December in the UK and January, US, Canada. And it’s a book that focuses more on one specific area of reiki, which is hands-on healing and the power of touch. And hands-on healing has been around for a very long time, way before reiki has, the system of reiki has. But what it is in the book is just gives you these tools, these 40 exercises and meditations around health and wellbeing to help you to tap into your natural ability to heal yourself. In reiki, we do give achievements to awaken you, to bring this awareness of life force energy moving within you. But we know that we were all born with this energy. We are all created by this energy.

And so, really, the book gives you a little bit of this background information of what reiki is, history, and insights, and then there’s so many different exercises that you can follow. The wellbeing ones will be … For example, today’s a full moon, so there’s a full moon meditation in there so you can really exercise the process of writing down all the things that you want to let go of under a full moon and feel empowered to let go of those. That’s a really nice exercise to do. Or there’s ones around if you have chronic back issues, you can follow a reiki treatment to help to relieve that pain and see why that pain’s coming up for you because often when we talk about working with reiki, we find that the roots of the problem isn’t the physical back pain, that there might be an emotional attachment to why that back pain is coming up.

Yeah, there’s lots of exercises in there that would be for everyone, generally, on a daily basis. And so it’s really about creating this daily treatment for yourself every day, a little bit of self-care to really honor yourself and be more in tune with yourself personally because although I feel that we’re all connected and we are in so many special ways, we all individually go through things personally. And so it’s really about tapping into that and finding why that is, who am I, what’s going on with me today and having that check in.

Jasmin: And my business, Emerald and Tiger, I offer one-to-one guidance, corporate group workshops, events, retreats, and products such as my book. And Emerald and Tiger fuses the synergies of modern life and conscious living and ancient practices, so practices such as reiki and sound healing to help people to tap into their natural ability to heal. Really, I am the facilitator to help to bring people … come back to their true self. And I offer, for example, a session called Breathe Love, which is about people breathing love back into their bodies. It starts with a breathing exercise for 20 minutes, guided meditation and then lots of sound healing. And all of these tools help to bring us back to the energy that’s within us, that life force energy. All of my work always comes full circle back to the essence of who we are, what we are made up of.

Le’Nise: If someone wanted to get in touch with you … As someone’s listening to this podcast and really connecting what you’re saying about circling back to the energy and the ability to heal yourself and the meditations that you talked about, how would they connect with you?

Jasmin: I have a website emeraldandtiger.com. They can reach me at hello@emeraldandtiger.com, send me an email if they’re curious or have any questions. And I’m also on Instagram, Emerald and Tiger.

Le’Nise: Brilliant. One last question, if listeners, if they take one thing away from all of the beautiful things that you’ve talked about, what would you want that to be?

Jasmin: I would definitely start with keeping a journal of their period and creating their own period story, so really finding out on a daily basis what their mood’s like and tracking their period and understanding their particular cycle because everyone’s is different. That’s really the key thing. But also, if I can add to that, is to share their period story, to have those conversations because that really empowers other people, the youth, the next generation that are coming, we hope that they’ll be talking about it more and more and more so that it doesn’t stay a taboo subject anymore, that we can really honor our full femininity and the amazingness of our womb, that we don’t often do.

Le’Nise: Beautiful. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Jasmin: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure. Thank you.

Foods To Help Reduce Period Pain

Foods To Help Reduce Period Pain

In the many conversations I have about periods, I’m starting to see period pain becoming more and more common. As I say a lot, period pain may be common, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal.

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Why is that? It’s hard to say for sure, but stress levels are higher, we’re trying to get by on less sleep, we’re eating on the run, eating fewer vegetables and more of us are constipated, i.e. not having a daily bowel movement.

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If you’ve been reading along for a while, you’ll know that food is a powerful way to deal with period issues, including painful periods. If you’re dealing with endometriosis, fibroids or adenomyosis, search my blog for specific posts on these conditions.

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Magnesium, nature’s relaxing mineral, can be really helpful in reducing / managing period pain. Leafy greens and nuts & seeds are a great source of this mineral. I also like taking Pure Encapsulations magnesium bisglycinate for an extra boost.

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Inflammation (when the immune system is overactive) can increase pain levels, so adding in anti-inflammatory foods such as ginger, turmeric and oily fish on a regular basis can be really beneficial.

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Zinc is another powerful anti-inflammatory. Free-range, organic red meat such as beef and lamb, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, oysters and seafood, eggs (eat the yolks!) and ginger are fantastic sources of zinc.

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It’s important to also note that it’s not just about the food that gets added into the diet, it’s also about what gets taken out. For some, sugar, alcohol, cow’s milk dairy and gluten can be very inflammatory, so if period pain is a major issue, it can be beneficial to trial reducing or removing these foods from the diet, especially if it can be done in a way that doesn’t lead to a restrictive mindset around food.

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Have you ever used changes in diet to reduce period pain? Let me know in the comments!

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Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

Foods To Reduce Pre-Menstrual Bloating

Tender boobs, swollen fingers and face, a bloated tummy: these are all symptoms of pre-menstrual bloating.

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Can you relate to any of these?

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Pre-menstrual bloating can be caused by a number of things:

  • Already low progesterone dropping even further in the run up to the next period
  • Eating too many salty foods
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Not eating enough fibrous foods
  • Chronic constipation (we should be ideally pooping everyday!)

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Adding in different fruits, vegetables and nuts & seeds can help reduce all the types of pre-menstrual bloating to a more manageable level.

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Increase Water Intake

🚰 Drinking more water can help (add a squeeze of lemon or lime to boost its effectiveness), as can eating fruits & veg with a high water content, like cucumbers, celery and cantaloupe.

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Increase Daily Fibre Intake

🥬 Increasing your daily fibre intake can do wonders.

The current UK recommendation is about 30g of fibre a day for adults. Fibrous vegetables and fruit such as leafy greens, beetroot, pears and artichokes are a lovely way to get more fibre in.

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Increase Potassium Intake

🌰 Potassium is a mineral that when depleted, is associated with sodium retention and bloating.

An easy way to add more potassium is to eat more bananas!

These powerhouses have around 422mg of potassium in a medium sized banana, which is about 12% of the UK daily recommended intake!

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How do you deal with bloating before your period? Tell me in the comments below 👇🏽

Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.
 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

Foods To Support Pre-Menstrual Mood Swings

How many of these things have happened recently? Started crying at something really sentimental on TV? Gotten really irrationally irritated about something then felt fine a few minutes later? Felt fine one minute, then really angry / sad / annoyed / upset the next? 🤪

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Pre-menstrual mood swings can be a sign for many of us that our periods are on their way. Or perhaps the moodiness of the previous few days makes more sense when your period arrives. Can anyone relate to that? 😳

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Food can help stabilise mood and adding the foods I’ve listed below consistently can help shift pre-menstrual mood swings.

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Support Serotonin Production

🍳 Adding foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan can help the body make more serotonin, our happy hormone. Eggs, oily fish such as wild salmon, nuts & seeds are all high in tryptophan. Eating these foods often and alongside carbohydrates such as rice, fruits & veg and oats can help make the conversion from tryptophan to serotonin more effective.

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Support Gut Health

🥕Research shows that 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut, so supporting a healthy gut is another great way to support moods. Increasing fermented foods such as kombucha, kimchi, miso and kefir can help, as can adding soluble fibres such as bananas, garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichoke and chicory root.

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Support Blood Sugar Balance

🍽 Managing your blood sugar levels by eating meals with lots of vegetables, high quality protein, good quality fats and lots of fibre can help keep mood stable.

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How do you deal with mood swings before your period? Tell me in the comments below!

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Le’Nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, mBANT, women’s health, hormone and menstrual cycle coach, founder of Eat Love Move and host of the Period Story Podcast.
 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

Foods To Support (And Bring Back!) A Missing Period

In clinic recently, I’ve been seeing more and more women of menstruating age with missing periods, who desperately want their period to return. The reasons for their missing periods vary from:

  • Seeing carbohydrates as the enemy
  • Improper vegan / vegetarian diets
  • Transitioning off hormonal birth control (p.s. you don’t have a proper period on the pill – that’s a ‘pharmaceutical bleed’)
  • Excessive exercise and excessive stress.

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Food can play an important role in bringing back a regular menstrual bleed and menstrual cycle, as can reframing the role of certain food groups. 👀

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Eating Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are not the enemy and provide a tremendous amount of nutrients that can replenish a body that has had key nutrients depleted by certain diets, hormonal birth control and excessive stress. Focusing on complex carbohydrates, i.e. foods with more complex chains of sugar that take longer to digest, can help rebuild lost nutrients. Try adding in sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa, lentils and beans to at least one meal a day.

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Managing Stress

Stress, whether physical stress from excessive exercise or emotional stress, can wreak havoc with hormones, putting the body into ‘fight or flight’ mode. This means that the brain will signal to the ovaries that they don’t need to make as much estrogen. This can lead to the loss of a period. It’s important to address the causes of stress, i.e. do a bit less high impact exercise & incorporate gentle movement such as restorative yoga, walking and swimming. Being honest about sources of emotional stress and finding ways to deal with them can also help.

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From a food perspective, adding magnesium, whether through food or a high quality supplement can help, as well as supporting gut health with fermented foods and leafy greens.

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Transitioning Off Hormonal Birth Control

When transitioning off hormonal birth control, it is essential to replenish the nutrients that have been depleted. Zinc, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 are some of the nutrients that can be depleted by hormonal birth control. Adding in high quality red meat, poultry, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, eggs and wild fish can help rebuild nutrients over time.

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Does any of this feel familiar? Email me on lenise@eatlovemove.com or click here to sign up for a free 30 minute hormonal health chat.

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Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach, founder of Eat Love Move and the Period Story Podcast.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

The Third Phase of The Menstrual Cycle: Ovulation

Photo by Rodrigo Borges de Jesus

For the last two posts, we’ve been talking about the first two phases of the menstrual cycle, the menstrual and the follicular phases.

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Are you finding that having this information is helping you understand better about what’s happening in your body? 

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I really feel empowered when I know what’s going on and I don’t have to guess. Do you? 

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Let’s move on to talking about the ovulatory phase, otherwise known as ovulation!

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So what’s actually happening when you ovulate?  

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Simply put, one of your ovaries releases a mature egg!  This is the big moment of your menstrual cycle and what the follicular phase has been building up to! 

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Your luteinising and follicle stimulating hormones are at their highest points, as is your oestrogen, which has risen to help thicken the endometrium, the lining of the uterus (the place where a fertilised egg will implant!). 

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For most women, their energy will be at its highest point and they’ll be raring to go! 

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Communication skills are at their peak during ovulation, so this is the time to schedule in that big presentation or important meeting with a boss or client. 

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Here’s a question I get asked a lot: how do I know when I’m ovulating? 

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There are two major signs to look for: 

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  1. Discharge: this tends to become more of an egg white consistency and can be whitish in colour 
  2. Temperature:if you track your cycle using the fertility awareness method (FAM), then you will see your temperature rising during this phase of your cycle

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Food wise, do you notice that you tend to crave fresh fruits and vegetables during this phase of your menstrual cycle? There’s a reason for this! 

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Eating a rainbow of fruit and veg helps support your immune system and keeps you as healthy as possible – your body wants to have the healthiest possible environment to fertilise the mature egg it’s just released!  

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Do you notice a boost in your energy levels and communication skills when you’re ovulating?  

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What do you think? Is there anything else you want to learn more about this phase of your menstrual cycle? 

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Next up: the final phase – luteal! 

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

The Second Phase of The Menstrual Cycle: The Follicular Phase

Photo by Diana Simumpande

In my last post, I took you through an overview of what happens during the first phase of the menstrual cycle, aptly called, the menstrual phase.  

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Did it help you understand a bit more about what’s happening during that time of your cycle? 

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Let’s talk about what happens next! 

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As you all know by now, I used to be be blissfully unaware of what happened in my cycle after my period ended.  All I cared about was that the terrible week of my period was over and I could get on with my life (and put the horrible period underwear away!).

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What I didn’t know is that what happens in the next phase sets up the groundwork for the rest of the menstrual cycle. 

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When we enter into the follicular phase (phase two of the menstrual cycle), our estrogen, testosterone and follicular stimulating hormone  (FSH) begin to increase again in preparation for ovulation (i.e. your body is getting ready to release an egg). 

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Do you feel an increase in your energy levels around this point?

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That increase in energy is connected to  rising hormones, preparing us to get out of the house, get social and look & feel our best! You might find that you get quite horny around this time too! Yeah!

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For many women, this is the time of their cycle when they feel their most vibrant, energetic and like their best selves. 

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Your confidence is at all time high so if there’s anything you’ve been hesitant about, try it now

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You also may feel more creative and the rising testosterone also means that you’ll be up for more risk taking and trying new things.

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Have you noticed this come up for you? 

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There’s a lot going on in your body during this phase of your cycle, so nourishing your hormones with lots of dark leafy greens and brassicas really helps (and the fibre keeps you regular!).

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Grass-fed beef & lamb are also superstar foods during this phase – they help replace the iron that has been lost during menstruation and can keep your energy levels high too! 

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What do you think? Is there anything else you want to learn more about this phase of your menstrual cycle? 

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Share your questions about the follicular phase of your cycle in the comments below!

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Next up: ovulation, or when one of our ovaries releases an egg! 

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

The First Phase of the Menstrual Cycle: The Menstrual Phase

The Menstrual Phase of The Menstrual Cycle
Photo by Erol Ahmed

I didn’t learn much about my menstrual cycle when I was in school. Anyone else in a similar position?

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What I did learn about my cycle, I cobbled together from books, magazines (shout out to Sassy magazine!), chats with my girlfriends and eventually, some pretty serious googling when I was trying to get pregnant. 

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I often think about how great it would have been to learn about all of this much earlier. To learn that there are four phases to the menstrual cycle. Or that the menstrual cycle isn’t just about getting a period.  Or that ovulation is a hugely important part of it. Or that what you do in the 60 -90 days before your current menstrual cycle will have an effect on it. 

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Over the next few posts, I want to breakdown each of the four phases for you. 

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Are you with me? 

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Let’s start with the menstrual phase, which starts on day one of your period.

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During this phase, if you haven’t fertilised an egg in the previous cycle, your body takes this time to shed the lining of the uterus.  This is the menstrual bleed and typically can last between 4 – 7 days. 

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What’s happening with your hormones during this phase, because let’s face it: there’s always something happening in this area! 

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Estrogen (the hormone that controls the menstrual cycle) and progesterone (the hormone that is released after ovulation) are at their lowest points, so you might feel a bit low with not a lot of energy. 

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You might feel discomfort, pain, a lack of energy, a bit moody or that your emotional responses are a bit more heightened., i.e. you might get teary at a random TV advert. 

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Socially, you might find that you withdraw a little bit from activities or you want to stay at home, especially on day 1 & 2 of your period.  

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All of this is completely normal and part of the ebb and flow of our menstrual cycle.  

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What’s not normal is having lows that are too low, excessive bleeding or pain that is too much.If you feel like this, I would encourage you to explore what’s going on and work with a professional (like me!)to get to the bottom of it. 

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Interestingly, research shows that evaluation and analytical skills are at their strongest during this part of the menstrual cycle, so it’s a great time to take a step back, take stock and reflect on where you are in your life / career / etc. This would be a great time to schedule a call with a mentor or coach if you feel emotionally up to it. 

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It’s so fascinating to see that once you understand what’s going on during your period, you can start to listen to your body and connect more, rather than fighting it. 

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So many of us have negative feelings about our periods and I would love to encourage you to let go of that and find ways to be positive. If positivity is a step too far, then at least try a little bit less negativity. 

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Food, breathwork and movement  (I had to talk about this –  I’m a nutritionist & yoga teacher!) are incredible ways to support your body during this phase of your menstrual cycle.

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Listening to your body, remembering to breathe acknowledging the type of movement & food you crave and nourishing it with nutrient packed fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, complex carbohydrates and good fats will have only positive effects. 

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What do you think? Is there anything you want to learn more about this phase of your menstrual cycle?

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Look out for my post about the next phase of the menstrual cycle!

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

Happy gut, happy hormones!

How much do you know about what’s going in your gut?

 

We have millions of microbes there, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. All of them have a good and bad element and they have an impact on our physical and mental health.

 

Our gut health, far from being something to be forgotten about, has a major impact on our hormone health.

 

That means that the gut microbiome, the collection of microbes, including bacteria, in our large intestine, has an effect on how you feel throughout your menstrual cycle.

 

Interesting, isn’t it?

 

The gut microbiome is connected to the estrobolome, the collection of bacteria that helps us metabolise estrogen. Or in a nutshell: good gut health can support good hormone health.

 

So how do you improve the health of your gut?

 

Eat more vegetables!

 

Fibrous vegetables and fruit support gut health, as do fermented food and drink, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir,  kimchi and picked vegetables.

 

What do you do to support your gut health?

 

Do you want to talk more about your hormones and gut health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

Do you have a normal period?

Who knows a normal period feels like?

 

In my work with women of different walks of life, I see a general perception that periods are supposed to be painful, emotional and annoying.
It’s frustrating because periods don’t have to be this way!

 

A healthy period should be relatively pain-free, apart from a few aches, non-disruptive and generally an event that you notice every month, but one that doesn’t cause a huge amount of upheaval.

 

So what is a normal period?

 

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to figure out what’s going with your period.

 

1. Am I in a lot of pain?

A painful period is a sign that something else is going on, especially debilitating pain.

 

2. Am I bleeding heavily for my whole period?

Generally speaking, the first and second days of a period are the heaviest.

 

3. Am I bleeding for more than 7 days or less than 3 days?

Menstrual bleeds are generally between 3 – 7 days long. Anything shorter or longer can be a sign of hormonal imbalance, nutrient deficiency or a symptom of another issue.

 

4. Do I have heavy clotting?

Heavy clotting is generally associated with heavy bleeding and can be linked with another issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, polyps, PCOS, ovarian cysts or hormone imbalance.

 

5. Do I get very, very tired and lethargic for my entire period?

It’s normal for energy levels to dip in the first few days of a period. They’ll start to rise again towards the end of a period as the body moves into the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. If energy levels stay low, with a feeling of lethargy and sluggishness, that can be a sign of nutrient deficiency or hormonal imbalance.

 

Do you want to talk more about what’s going on with your period? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review to talk about what’s going on with your menstrual cycle.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

How To Use Your Menstrual Cycle To Your Advantage At Work


Do you ever wonder why there are times when you feel totally on top of your game at work and ready to tackle anything your clients or your boss throws at you?
 

And why there are other times when it’s a struggle to get anything done, let alone concentrate on that big project that needs to be finished by the end of the day?

 

It’s normal to have ups and downs in your energy levels and ability to focus, but did you know that there is a connection with how you feel and your menstrual cycle?

 

Learning to use our menstrual cycles and its four phases has the potential to give women a competitive advantage at work.

 

Yes, really! 

 

The menstrual cycle has been called the fifth vital sign, so understanding it and each phase can help women understand things like when the best time is to negotiate a pay raise, when we’ll be at the top of our game for a big new business pitch or when we may need to step back a little and do more reflection and analysis.

 

Here are the basics:

There are four parts to the menstrual cycle, with a full cycle lasting anywhere between 24-34 days. The primary female sex hormones, estrogen, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) will rise and fall depending on where a woman is in her cycle. The peaks and troughs in these hormones will also correspond with physical, mental and emotional  changes.

 

Knowing when these changes are likely to happen and harnessing them can give you an advantage in your work and personal life. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

 

Menstrual Phase

Day 1 of the menstrual cycle starts on the first day of your period, which can last anywhere between 3 – 7 days. It’s during this time of your cycle, the menstrual phase, that you may feel a bit tired and flat. Your energy may be low during this phase, but your evaluation and analytical abilities will be at their strongest, so it’s a good time to take stock and reflect on where you are in your life and your career. This would be a great time to schedule an appraisal or chat with a mentor.

 

Follicular Phase

Then we move on to the follicular phase, which lasts about 7 days. Your estrogen levels begin to increase, contributing to an increase in your energy and concentration. You may find that your creative juices are flowing. Use this time to try something new, whether it’s a course or new piece of client work.

 

Ovulatory Phase

Midway through your cycle, when you ovulate, your energy levels will reach their peak (along your estrogen & progesterone levels), so now’s the time to get that big project done or do that intricate task that needs a lot of focus. Your communication and negotiation skills will be at their strongest right now, so if you’ve been itching to do a talk or want to negotiate a pay rise, schedule it for this time of your cycle!

 

Luteal Phase

During the last part of the menstrual cycle, the luteal phase, you may find that your energy levels start to drop, especially as you get closer to your period. This is the time to lean hard on your routine, especially if you start to feel your mood start to drop.  Use this time to power through your to-do list and take action to complete something you’ve been procrastinating on.

 

Putting It Into Practice 

An easy way to start putting all of this into practice is to simply begin tracking your menstrual cycle, if you aren’t already. There are a wide variety of apps out there, so have a scroll through the app store and find the one that’s most intuitive to you and your lifestyle.

 

The information you’ll get from tracking your cycle will help expand your awareness of your body and knowing which of the four phases you’re in can help bring deeper understanding to why you’re feeling the way you are.

 

I see this again and again in my clients: when they listen to their bodies and have the knowledge to understand the messages they’re getting, they learn how to stay on top of their health. This improves their work lives and personal lives.

 

Understanding your menstrual cycle and its four phases can help you stay on top of your game at work and prioritise your tasks accordingly. Knowing what skills are likely to be stronger during each phase will give you an advantage that lets you can play to your strengths no matter where you are in your cycle.

 

Do you notice that certain parts of your job are easier depending on where you are in your cycle?  

 

Do you want to learn more about how to use your cycle to your advantage in your work and personal lives? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review to talk about what’s going on with your menstrual cycle.

 


Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 
 
They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  
 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

 

Hormones 101: Progesterone

 

In the last post, I talked about estrogen, one of our two major female sex hormones.

 

Today, I’d like to have a closer look at progesterone, estrogen’s counterpart.

 

How much do you know about this essential female sex hormone? 

 

There’s often lots of discussion about estrogen, but not enough similar discussion about its partner hormone, progesterone.

 

Although progesterone is most closely associated with pregnancy and preparation for pregnancy, it is also important for a healthy menstrual cycle.

 

So what’s the deal with progesterone? 

 

The majority of progesterone is produced by the corpus luteum, a little structure that comes from the follicle of the egg that was released. This helps prepare the body for pregnancy if the eggs gets fertilised.

 

We also produce progesterone in very small amounts in the ovaries & the adrenal glands. In pregnancy, the placenta also produces progesterone.

 

If you think back to the four phases of the menstrual cycle,  your progesterone levels don’t stay the same throughout. 

 

They’re generally at their highest point a few days after ovulation, the halfway point of our menstrual cycle. Your progesterone levels drop  if you don’t fertilise an egg and are at the lowest point on the first day of our periods.

 

If the woman doesn’t get pregnant that cycle, the corpus luteum disintegrates, progesterone drops, and this is the signal for a woman’s period to start.  

 

If a women does get pregnant, then progesterone will help the blood vessels on the lining of the womb grow and stimulate glands that will nourish the embryo with nutrients.

 

It also prepares the womb for the fertilised egg to implant and helps maintain the pregnancy, rising all the way until birth.

 

So what else does progesterone do for us? 

 

Its other major function is to help regulate the menstrual cycle, so you want it to be balanced with estrogen.

 

When you have too little or much, you can experience PMS symptoms such as mood swings, insomnia, bloating, blood sugar imbalance, anxiety, acne and cramps.  Check out my post on the 5 Types of PMS to learn more.

 

Do you notice the ups and downs of progesterone across your cycle? 

 

Have you noticed it dropping as you approach perimenopause and menopause?

 

If you have questions about progesterone  and feel like you don’t know what’s going on with your progesterone levels, get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 


Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 
 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  
 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

Hormones 101: Estrogen

How much do you know about some of the hormones that drive your menstrual cycle?

 

They do so many things for us, yet can feel like a bit of a mystery, right?

 

Let’s take a step back and have a look at estrogen, one of a woman’s primary female hormones.

 

A quick note: when we talk about estrogen, we’re mainly talking about estrodiol, the form of estrogen produced by the ovaries. This form of estrogen drives puberty and our menstrual cycle all the way to menopause.   

 

There are two other forms of estrogen that are useful in different times of our lives: estrone (the dominant form of estrogen during menopause) and estriol (we have a high amount of this form of oestrogen when we’re pregnant).

 

Contrary to what many may think, estrogen is a wonderful hormone, responsible for so many body functions and events, from puberty, menstruation, perimenopause and menopause.

 

During our menstruating years, estrogen is mainly produced by a woman’s ovaries.

 

Did you know that women can also make estrogen in the adrenal glands that sit on top of the kidneys, fat tissue and the placenta during pregnancy?

 

Our bodies are incredible, aren’t they?

 

It’s worth remembering with estrogen, we can have too little and we can have too much, so our body works hard to get the balance just right – similar to Goldilocks 😀

 

So what does estrogen do for us exactly? 

 

In puberty, estrogen helps our breasts and body hair begin to grow and and gives our bodies the signal that it’s time for periods to start.

 

During our menstruating years, estrogen is one of the four major hormones that control the menstrual cycle.

 

You might be surprised to learn that it also:

  • Affects our moods
  • Helps women have strong bones
  • Keeps our cholesterol levels under control: increasing HDL (the good cholesterol) and decreasing LDL (the bad cholesterol)

 

If you think back to the four phases of the menstrual cycle, it’s important to remember that your estrogen levels don’t stay the same throughout.

 

They’re generally at their highest point during ovulation, halfway through our menstrual cycles and at their lowest point on the first day of our periods.

 

This is why you might find that your moods are low right before or during your period and you might feel your best – your most energetic, sparkiest and brightest around the time of ovulation. Your libido will be its highest at this point too.

 

Do you notice the ups and downs of estrogen across your cycle?

 

Have you noticed it dropping as you approach perimenopause and menopause?

 

Do you have questions about estrogen and feel like you don’t know what’s going on with your estrogen levels, get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.


Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 
 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  
 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

 

Photo by Astro Nick on Unsplash

The 5 Types of PMS

5 Types of PMS

How do you feel in the week before your period?

 

Do you get a bit anxious?

 

Maybe a bit bloated or swollen?

 

Do you doubt yourself more or feel really down or depressed?

 

The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle when PMS takes place, generally falls in the 7-10 days before a woman gets her period. This phase can feel very different, depending on the individual woman.

 

Do you want to know why?

 

We of course, need to consider different genetics, diet, lifestyles and backgrounds.

 

The other reason is that there are 5 different types of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). This means that while I might experience a bit of pain and breast tenderness, another woman might spend this time feeling a bit anxious, having cramps or craving sweets and cake.

 

Some women experience low energy, depression, headaches and bloating / swelling, while others find that their mood is all over the place and they feel teary one moment and angry the next.

 

This time in our cycle is when our estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest and any nutritional deficiencies or existing hormonal imbalances can make any PMS symptoms worse. 

 

Understanding the 5 types of PMS can help you get a better sense of what’s going on with your body during this time of the menstrual cycle. And then you can deal with whatever’s going on, rather than letting these symptoms completely take over every month.

 

PMS-P (Pain)

Let’s start with the first type: PMS-P – the P stands for pain 😱.

 

Many women experience pain during their periods, however with PMS-P, the week before their periods can see them experiencing some light cramps and a reduced pain threshold, which is why things might hurt a little bit more in the week before your period (like stubbing your toe!) or you might feel a bit crampy, even though you don’t have your period.

 

PMS-A (Anxiety)

For some women, hormonal fluctuations and nutrient deficiencies can lead to an increase in feelings of anxiety, nervousness, moodiness and irritability in the 7-10 days before their period arrives. 

 

Some women describe really strong feelings of self-doubt and an unusual tendency to second guess themselves during this time of their cycle. 

 

PMS-C (Cravings)

Chocolate, crisps, biscuits, candy, sweets – no, I’m not opening up a sweet shop! These are very common cravings that women tend to get in the week before their periods. 

 

If you have this form of PMS, you might find that you have an increase in appetite, and you want more sweets (hello, chocolate!) or savoury foods. 

 

Some women also feel more tired or dizzy and then need to eat something to get their  blood sugar levels back under control.

 

PMS-D (Depression)

If you have this type of PMS, the week before your period starts might be a rollercoaster of crying, insomnia, forgetfulness and confusion.

 

At its worst, women who experience this type of PMS withdraw from the world and may have suicidal thoughts.

 

If you feel like this, I urge you not to suffer in silence. It’s okay to ask for help and to share how you feel!

 

PMS-H (Hyperhydration)

Bloating and swollen fingers are other common PMS symptoms and fall into PMS-H.

 

If you have this type of PMS, you could get anything from a feeling of being a bit bloated around the middle, to a puffier look in your face and hands to very tender breasts (mastalgia). You might even gain up to 1-2kg of water weight. 

 

Most women tend to have a few of these different types of PMS. Which ones do you have?

 

There’s really no one sized fits all when it comes to PMS – what I experience is very different to what some of my friends experience.

 

And here’s the truth: PMS isn’t inevitable and it isn’t something we need to accept as a part of our monthly cycles. Yes, really!

 

Cravings, anxiety, depression, bloating, swelling and pain are all signs from your body that something is out of balance. It could be a hormonal imbalance, a nutrient deficiency or an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.
 

So where to start if you’re experiencing these things?

 

Firstly, take a look at your diet.

 

Are you eating enough leafy greens? Brassicas such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts? Are you constipated? Drinking enough water?

 

Keeping a food diary and looking at what you’re eating and what you’re not eating is a great starting point to beginning to fix PMS.
 

If you have questions or simply don’t know where to start, get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.


Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.
 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 
 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  
 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

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