Red Raspberry Leaf for Menstrual cycles

Red Raspberry Leaf for Menstrual cycles

Some of us have to deal with uncomfortable symptoms during our menstrual cycles. These can be mild or so bad that they hinder our lives.

People with these symptoms, usually look for relief from them. There are quite a few things on the market that may help and red raspberry leaf is one of them.

For this post, information about the leaves and how they may provide relieve will be presented.

Icky hormonal symptoms

Our menstrual cycles come with hormonal fluctuations. Depending on one’s body, the reaction to these fluctuations may be quite poor. These bad reactions are what causes the pesky symptoms that plague a lot of people each cycle.

The symptoms are most commonly experienced in the luteal phase (PMS/PMDD) of our cycle and during our periods. They can also show up a couple of days before ovulation, the day of ovulation and for a couple of days after our periods end.

The symptoms that people may experience include the following:

  • GI issues (loose stools, gassiness, constipation, nausea etc.).
  • Acne
  • Body aches and pains.
  • A sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose and sneezing (lesser known symptoms!).
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Abdominal and pelvic cramps.
  • Ovarian pain during ovulation.
  • Mood issues.
  • Fatigue and/or insomnia.
  • Lightheadedness/dizziness.
  • Cravings and increased hunger.
  • Heavy bleeding during periods.
  • Spotting in between periods.

There are other possible symptoms than what is on this list but those are the most common ones. Some people deal with the same ones each month at the same intensity or there may be some variations.

About red raspberry leaves

Raspberries are one of many types of berries and they are one of the most popular among them. As loved as they are, not very many people know that the leaves from the raspberry plant possibly have a slew of benefits.

If you have a raspberry plant and are interested in using the leaves, you must harvest them before the plant blooms. They are then to be dried until they can be crumbled easily. It is best to wait to crumble them until right when you are ready to use them though.

Most people who use red raspberry leaves, make tea with them. This can be done by steeping one tablespoon of the crumbled leaves in one cup of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. The smell of this tea is said to be very pleasant with a fruity, black tea flavor to it. People also say it is slightly sweet on it’s own.

You can also get red raspberry leaves in prepared tea bags, liquid drops, capsules and K-Cups.

There are numerous nutrients in these leaves. They include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. It may also have some other antioxidant properties as well.

How it may help during menstrual cycles

Red raspberry leaves have been used as traditional medicine since around the mid 1700s. There has been a combination of anecdotal and some scientific evidence that it actually helps.

The hormonal symptoms it may help with include the following:

  • Menstrual cramps
  • Heavy periods
  • Spotting in between periods
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Breast pain
  • Fatigue

It has been said that these leaves may be helpful due to the nutrient and antioxidant content. Most notable is the vitamin B6, calcium and magnesium that they contain. These are nutrients that have been shown to help with hormonal symptoms by balancing things out.

To see if red raspberry leaves help with one’s menstrual cycle, drinking the tea or taking capsules are options. If one chooses to drink the tea- no more than three cups a day is recommended. If one chooses to take capsules instead of tea- up to 900 mg per day is recommended.

Red raspberry leaves can be taken every single day to prevent symptoms, during the luteal phase of one’s cycle or whenever it is needed.

Other possible benefits

There are some other things that red raspberry leaves could possibly help with. They are as follows:

  • Morning sickness.
  • Inducing labor- Very, very little evidence for this so don’t count on it.
  • Respiratory viruses and all that comes with them.
  • GI viruses and all that comes with them.
  • Non-hormonal headaches and migraines.
  • Non-hormonal diarrhea.
  • Relief of skin conditions such as eczema and rashes.
  • Increase of insulin sensitivity.

It is important to note that there also may be some estrogenic effects so anyone who is sensitive to that hormone should be careful.

My use of red raspberry leaves

I found out about using red raspberry leaves for menstrual cycle symptoms years ago. At first, I tried to drink three cups of the tea a day but I got kind of sick of that. I then switched to taking capsules of it daily.

As I recall, doing this really helped reduce my symptoms. I didn’t experience much in the way of nausea as I usually did and my menstrual cramps were all but non-existent.

I remember being very excited that I found something that helped me. After a while, I completely stopped buying them though. This was because I kept forgetting to put them in my Amazon cart and then I eventually kind of forgot about them.

For the past year or two, I have started to keep around red raspberry leaf teabags. I have begun to use it sporadically again- a couple days before my period begins when I have nausea. It takes the discomfort away pretty quickly which is great. I also drink some the first day of my period as it diminishes any cramps I may get.

I am planning to buy the capsules and start taking them everyday instead of just a few days a month. I am not going to get my hopes up but it would be nice to have even less symptoms than I have now (Claritin hasn’t been a complete cure)!

I will also keep the tea around to help with sore throats, coughs and possible immune system benefits.

These leaves could help you!

So, I typed all of this to say that this may be an option for people if they are struggling with their menstrual cycles and have not yet tried these leaves. It sure has helped me a lot and I am glad I found out about it.

Have any of you tried red raspberry leaves? If so, did they help you at all?

Thanks for reading!

Affiliate disclaimer: Some of the links on my site might be affiliate. This means I may make a commission on any clicks and purchases people make.

Medical disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and I am not telling you what to do in regards to your health. Consult your doctor for an evaluation before taking any herb or supplement.

#periodcrampsrelief #redraspberryleaf #traditionalmedicine #hormonalimbalance #pms #pmddtreatment #menstrualcup #tea #chamomiletea

Be Careful With Supplements: Vitex (Chasteberry)

Be Careful With Supplements: Vitex (Chasteberry)

For the past six or so years, I have been continuously trying to figure out how to deal with hormonal issues. This has led me to read about many different supplements and medications that have helped other women who go through the same things as I do.

Vitex (a plant) is one of the things that some women swear by when it comes to dealing with their menstrual cycle issues. Upon learning about it, I decided to try it. Needless to say, my experience with it was not good.

In this post I will be talking all about vitex and specifically how it affected me.

Women’s hormonal discomforts

Many women and non-binary people experience varying levels of discomfort during their menstrual cycles. This can be due to their hormones being out of balance and/or because their bodies are sensitive to hormone shifts. Either way, it is very common.

Some of the things women deal with are as follows:

  • Physical PMS/PMDD symptoms: Acne, bloating, increased hunger, joint aches, headaches/migraines, lightheadedness, breast pain, insomnia and more.
  • Mental PMS symptoms: Sadness, depression, anxiety, irritability etc.
  • Mental PMDD symptoms (more extreme than PMS): Sadness, depression, anxiety, rage, mood swings etc.
  • PCOS: Acne, oily skin, hair loss/thinning, weight gain/difficulty losing, bloating, fertility issues and more.
  • Heavy periods.
  • Irregular periods.
  • Endometriosis flare ups- Abdominal pain, nausea, painful periods, pain during sex and more.
  • Infertility.
  • Menopause/perimenopause- Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, weight gain and more.

There are some other things women and non-binary people go through but these are the most frequently talked about things. Not all women have it bad or experience much of anything though.

Women who want to treat these issues usually end up taking/doing the following things:

  • Birth control: May balance hormones.
  • Diet and exercise: May help to balance hormones and is goes toward an all-around healthy life.
  • HRT: Replaces hormones during menopause.
  • Spironolactone: Blocks androgens and reduces blood pressure.
  • Pain relievers: Tylenol, Advil, Naproxen etc. for aches and pains.
  • Antidepressants: These may help the mood issues some women get during their cycles.
  • Acne products: These can include creams, antibiotics, gels etc.
  • Hair growth products: These can include serums, oils and shampoos/conditioners.
  • Fertility medication and IVF
  • Alternative/Traditional medicine: Some examples include herbal teas, plant extracts in capsules, vitamins etc.

These treatments effect each person differently so it is best to look into them as much as you can and consult with your doctor.

Vitex as a women’s health supplement

Vitex is the name of a plant that is used for women’s health purposes. It is also known as chasteberry and vitex agnus castus. This plant is native to the Mediterranean region which includes Italy, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Syria, Monaco and Libya.

Vitex needs to be grown in hot and dry conditions with full sun. The tree can grow to be about 10 feet tall and looks great in one’s yard/garden. It is very pretty with violet flowers and berries. Just like most other plants, it contains flavonoids, essential oils and fatty oils.

In traditional medicine starting in the 14th century, the leaves were used for suppression of the libido in men and women. It was eventually found that the leaves and fruit possibly provide hormonal benefits for women. Since this finding, it has been marketed for this purpose.

Its use for women’s hormonal health is due to how it can alter hormone levels. Vitex has been shown in some studies to increase progesterone levels, regulate prolactin levels, increase estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels.

Because of the effects on hormones, some studies and anecdotes claim that it treats the following ailments:

  • Breast pain/tenderness: This is something that commonly occurs around ovulation and shortly before one’s period starts.
  • Bloating: This is something that commonly occurs before one’s period starts and sometimes lasts throughout it. For some women it also occurs during ovulation day.
  • Mood issues: Women who experience PMS or PMDD tend have mood related problems. With PMDD, the mood problems are more severe.
  • Hot flashes: This is commonly seen in menopause but some women also experience it shortly before their periods.
  • Insomnia: This is something that happens shortly before one’s period starts and during menopause.
  • Acne: Some people are plagued with acne before their periods start or the whole month due to a hormonal imbalance.
  • Infertility: Some people have a hard time getting and/or staying pregnant. This can be due to not ovulating frequently and/or progesterone levels being off. Infertility is commonly seen in people with PCOS and endometriosis.
  • Heavy bleeding (menorrhagia): Some people have periods that include a lot of bleeding. This involves needing to change a pad/tampon every hour and passing large clots. These types of periods may even last longer than the usual range of days (2-7 days).
  • Headaches/migraines: These commonly occur shortly before one’s period and during menopause.

Even though the medical research done on vitex isn’t considered as providing the strongest evidence of efficacy, there were some positive results for these issues shown in them. Also, if you take a look at reviews and women’s health forums, you will see that many people have been happy with the supplementation of it.

Despite some people getting good results, there are also many people who have gotten bad results from it. Because of this, it has been found that vitex can cause the following undesirable effects:

  • Worsening headaches/migraines
  • Mood issues
  • Bad acne
  • GI issues
  • Rashes
  • Insomnia

As you can see, taking vitex may lead to uncomfortable side effects. It can potentially add new symptoms or make current ones worse.

Another thing to be aware of is that vitex can interact negatively with certain medication and conditions. Below are some precautions that comes with vitex supplementation:

  • May interact with birth control.
  • May interact with antipsychotics.
  • May interact with Parkinson’s medications.
  • Should not be taken if you have breast, ovarian or uterine cancer.
  • Women with PCOS and endometriosis should think twice about taking it.
  • Should not be taken if you are receiving fertility treatment.
  • Should not be taken by someone with Parkinson’s even if they are not on medication for it.

If one does decide they are going to take vitex, there are quite a few brands that sell it as a supplement. You can find it in capsules, liquid drops and teas. There are even some women’s health related supplement blends that contain it.

Dosages of up to 40 mg of the concentrated fruit extract and up to 1000 mg of the dried fruit are recommended. It is said that supplementing with vitex may take three months of consistent use to start working.

My experience with vitex

I had read about vitex helping some women on a reddit forum. It sounded like it was worth a shot at the time.

Instead of doing research into it, I decided to just buy some right away (not a good idea!). I went with capsules that contained 400 mg of the dried fruit in each one and planned on taking two of them a day as the label stated to do.

I was hoping for the vitex to help me with the bloating, acne, headaches and low moods that I get before my periods. Balancing my hormones with birth control was not something I have ever been excited about so I thought that this could possibly be a good alternative.

Unfortunately, vitex was not a good alternative for me. Yikes!

Every possible negative side effect that one could have from it- I experienced. This meant that the issues I was trying to fix got worse! The nausea, horrific rashes on my back, ice pick headaches etc. were unpleasant to say the least.

The silly thing is that I took vitex for a few weeks because I thought things would get better. Of course they never did so I have no one else to blame but myself for feeling miserable. I should have stopped taking it after a couple days.

Clearly, vitex was and is not for me. You live and you learn I guess. I am really glad that it works for other people though!

In conclusion

Vitex is a hormonal health supplement option for those that are into plant based treatments. There are some benefits that have been seen from it as well as some risks. As with everything, it is best to do some research on it before trying it.

It was disappointing that it didn’t work for me. Since then I have continued to search for ways to make my menstrual cycles go better. All I can do is keep reading and trying things out.

Have you tried taking vitex? If so, what was your experience with it?

If you are interested you can check out my other post about a women’s health supplement (evening primrose oil).

Thanks for reading!

#womenshealth #menstrualcycles #nonbinary #supplements #chasteberrysupplement #vitexsupplement #menstrualcup #periods #pms #pmdd #hormones

Dragging During Your Workouts? Blame Your Hormones!

Dragging During Your Workouts? Blame Your Hormones!

As most people know, consistent exercise is important for a healthy life. There are just so many benefits that it gives us.

Even if we are really into exercising (some might call that being a fitness freak), there are days where we may have a harder time getting through our workout sessions. There are also days where we may have an easier time and can push harder. Our hormones can have something to do with both of these kinds of days.

For this post, how our menstrual cycles can affect our workouts will be discussed as well as what to do about it.

Ups and downs in our workout routines

Everyone has good, bad, “just whatever” and regular workout sessions. Here are some examples of what these sessions may look like:

  • A good one- You are running hill intervals on a treadmill and you find that you are able to handle a more intense level. You feel motivated and physically capable of pushing yourself more than you have some other times.
  • A bad one- You are lifting weights and hating it. Your muscles feel weak, you are irritated, you are saying “screw this” after every set (maybe even rep) and you want to quit.
  • A “just whatever” one- You are getting your weightlifting done but are very distracted and uninspired. After every set, you scroll through your phone and get a little lost looking at threads on a gossip site. You complete your workout but it took an hour longer than usual.
  • A regular one- You are feeling good doing your supersets, you have the mental/physical energy to complete the cardio circuits and you finish the workout in the usual time.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?

Just like the rest of our days, how we feel (mentally and physically) during our workouts can differ. There are many reasons as to why this happens and it is all totally normal.

Hormones and our menstrual cycles

We have around 50 different types of hormones in our bodies. There are three of them that play a huge role in our menstrual cycles. They are estrogen, testosterone and progesterone.

Here is some quick information about these hormones:

  • Estrogen- This hormone comes from our ovaries. It is involved in regulating our periods, moods, bone health, regulation of appetite (decreases it) and creating the physical features that are commonly associated with women (i.e. breasts and wider hips than men). It also can help in increasing energy levels.
  • Testosterone- This hormone comes from our ovaries. It is involved in our sex drives, energy levels, muscle mass/strength, bone health, appetite (can increase it) and body fat.
  • Progesterone- This hormone is produced in an endocrine gland in our ovaries after ovulation. It can be calming to the body/mind, help us burn fat, aid in fertility, prevent certain types of cancer and increase sex drive.

While we do need them-having too much or too little of them can cause some issues. Here are some symptoms that can arise when our levels of the hormones are off:

  • Too high/low of estrogen- Mood swings, headaches, fatigue, irregular periods, hot flashes and weight gain.
  • Too high of testosterone- Hair loss, acne, excess facial hair and deepening of the voice.
  • Too low of testosterone- Hair loss, fatigue, fat gain, mood swings, muscle weakness and low sex drive.
  • Too high of progesterone- PMS symptoms.
  • Too low of progesterone- Fertility issues, low moods, headaches, irregular periods, weight gain and hot flashes.

As you can see from all of this, a good balance of hormones is necessary to feel well.

Menstrual cycles and our workouts

Before we talk about how our hormones may influence our workout performance- a brief idea of what they are doing during our cycles is important. The following are days of a 28 day cycle and what the three hormones are doing on them:

  • Days 1-7: This is the menstruation phase (and also follicular) of the cycle-when most women bleed. Estrogen and progesterone are low at this time.
  • Days 8-14: This is the follicular phase of the cycle. Estrogen and testosterone are high at this time.
  • Days 15-22: This is the luteal phase of the cycle. Estrogen and testosterone levels get lower as progesterone rises. Estrogen rises a bit again during these days and then falls.
  • Days 23-28: This is also the luteal phase of the cycle. Estrogen and progesterone drop to low levels at this time.

Not everyone has a 28 day cycle but it is considered to be the average length of one.

So let’s take a look at how our hormones on certain days may dictate how well our workouts may go. We can do this by looking back at the effects each hormone can have on us and our levels of them during our cycles.

After analyzing some things, it becomes clear to see how our hormones can help or interfere with our workouts. The following is what the exercise sessions may be like:

  • Days 1-7: Since this is the time that most women bleed, low energy may be a problem. This is due to estrogen being low and/or heavy bleeding. You might also experience aches and just be uncomfortable in general due to the bleeding that is happening. These things may make a quality workout hard to get in as putting in effort could be a struggle.
  • Days 8-14: With estrogen and testosterone being high on these days, energy (physical and mental) goes way up. You also are probably in a better mood than you had been in the days prior. All of this means that workouts will probably go very well for you during this time.
  • Days 15-17: On these days, progesterone is rising with testosterone and estrogen dropping. During this time, energy levels go down. This is due to the progesterone having somewhat of a “sleepy” effect. You also may lose the confidence and good attitude that you had in prior days. These things may cause you to have workouts that you feel are tougher to get through. Although they may be hard, progesterone is rising so you will actually be burning more fat completing them than other times.
  • Days 18-19: Estrogen bumps up a bit meaning you may have a little more energy with a better mood. This means that workouts on these two days can be better than it was the three days prior.
  • Days 20-25: Progesterone is getting higher as estrogen falls again. This means that you may be experiencing quite a bit of fatigue and mental fogginess if you are sensitive to this shift in hormones. You also may be pretty bloated which would make you feel even more uncomfortable.
  • Day 26-28: If you weren’t feeling fatigued the prior few days, there is a good chance you might on these ones. This is due to your hormones being at their lowest. You might be super foggy too which could impair your ability to learn moves to a dance workout (if you are doing one) or another new kind of workout.

These are all just possible things that you might experience. Not all women have a rough time with symptoms during their menstrual cycles. Some lucky ones don’t notice anything!

What to do about high and low energy workout sessions

If you are experiencing an increased or a very low amount of energy when you go to do a workout, there are some modifications you can make. Here are some ideas:

High energy days-

  • Increase the distance (if you are running, walking, biking etc.).
  • Change up the moves to be harder (i.e. add a push up onto your burpee).
  • Go faster through the workout (sprint, move through lifts faster etc.).
  • Lift heavier weights than usual.

Low energy days-

  • Have a backup workout that is easier for you to do.
  • Decrease the distance.
  • Change up the moves to be easier.
  • Nix the cardio portions altogether (if you have added cardio in to your strength training days).
  • Do two sets instead of three.
  • Do less reps.
  • Lift lighter weights than usual.
  • Simply don’t workout that day. Missing one workout won’t hurt you.

In conclusion

Our hormone levels during our menstrual cycles can lead us to feeling certain ways which in turn can affect our workouts-positively and negatively. The next time you are having a workout session, look up what day you are on in your cycle afterwards and compare it to how your workout went. You might find it pretty interesting!

Thanks for reading!

#homeworkout #homegym #menstrualcycles #periods #periodproblems #periodcup #hormones #fitness #strengthtraining #hitt #womenwholift

What’s the Deal With Calcium?!

What’s the Deal With Calcium?!

I love to read about all things health-especially women’s health. One of my favorite past times is scouring articles/books for new information or just rereading information I already know.

Lately, I have stumbled upon multiple resources talking about calcium. After reading about it more, I found that there are some clear benefits for it when it comes to women’s health. In this post I will be discussing those benefits and just calcium in general.

What calcium is and where to find it

Calcium is a mineral. It is essential for our bones, heart, muscles and nerves to work.

In short, we need it!

Many foods contain calcium and some have a lot more per serving than others. Below is a list of food that have the highest amount of calcium in their food groups:

  • Fruits: Tangerines, oranges and kiwi.
  • Vegetables: Collard greens, spinach and kale.
  • Dairy: All milk, part-skim ricotta and plain yogurt.
  • Fish: Canned salmon and canned sardines.
  • Nuts and seeds: Almonds and sesame seeds.
  • Protein: Whey protein powder, tofu, soybeans.
  • Beans and legumes: White beans and edamame.
  • Grains: Fortified grains.

It is also sold as a supplement by a variety of brands. You can find it in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid and powders. Some of these supplements only have calcium in them and others combine it with other things (usually Vitamin D and/or magnesium).

You also need to be wary of interactions between calcium supplements and other medications. There have been shown to be possible bad ones when taking diuretics, thyroid medication and antibiotics at the same time.

The recommended daily intake of calcium is no more than 1300 mg. Going over this amount may cause things like excess calcium in the blood, kidney stones, bowel problems and heart issues.

Conversely, extremely low levels of calcium in the body can cause problems too. These include tingling, muscle spasms, shortness of breath, wheezing, seizures, confusion and vomiting.

Calcium for women’s health

So now that we got the general stuff about calcium out of the way, let’s talk about how it can help us women (and nonbinary people of course)!

Our menstrual cycles-

Calcium has been found by multiple studies to reduce the PMS symptoms that many women experience during their menstrual cycles. Here is a list of some things the studies concluded:

  • Just 500 mg of calcium reduces brain fog and mood issues.
  • 1000-1200 mg of calcium reduces brain fog, mood issues, muscle/joint pain, fatigue and food cravings.
  • 500 mg of calcium with 200 mg of Vitamin D reduce mood issues, fatigue and bloating.
  • 500 mg of calcium with 40 mg of Vitamin B6 reduces mood issues, breast pain and bloating.
  • 500 mg of calcium may reduce PMS symptoms just as well as a higher dose.

There was also one study that stated that calcium intake can help menstrual cramps and bloating during a woman’s period.

Our bones-

As mentioned before (and as most people know!), calcium is extremely important for our bones. When people get older, the risk for osteoporosis (weak bones) increases. Unfortunately for women, our risk is even higher than men’s risk due to our estrogen falling.

This is where calcium comes in.

It is important that women get enough calcium as we age to help prevent the weakening of bones from happening. Studies suggest that getting in around 1,000 mg of calcium per day (before and after the age of 50) can do this.

Pregnancy-

Proper intake of calcium is definitely important before, during and after pregnancy. Studies have shown that it may help prevent postpartum depression and help reduce the incidence of leg cramps. There is currently being more research done on both of these things.

Medical professionals state that 1,000 mg of calcium is the best amount to get in while pregnant. Since a lot of prenatal supplements either don’t have calcium in them or only a little- it is best to either get it through your diet or take a stand-alone supplement of it.

Mood issues in general-

There have been a few studies showing that women who have mood issues (such as depression) also have a low dietary intake of calcium. This has made researchers suggest that there is a correlation between calcium and our moods.

Will I supplement with calcium?

Not too long ago I did a post on using Claritin for PMS/PMDD and how it was working well for me. On top of still taking that everyday, I will now start upping my calcium intake a little.

I currently get 150 mg of it a day through the Vitamin B supplements I take. My plan is to boost that amount up to 500 mg a day to see what if anything happens to my PMS symptoms. While things have gotten better with them due to the Claritin, I still experience some discomfort.

If I can make things even easier before my period, that would be awesome!

In conclusion

Calcium may do wonders for women/non-binary people for a few reasons. If you are able to, it can be something you get from food or you can use supplements to get your intake up.

It is important to remember that too much of it is not a good thing so stick within the 500-1300 mg range.

Have you noticed if your calcium intake makes your PMS/PMDD better? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

#calciumtablets #calciumcitrate #pmssupplements #pmddtreatment #calcium #womenshealth #menstrualcycle #menopause #bones #osteoporosis #pregnancy

Having a PMS/PMDD Toolbox

Having a PMS/PMDD Toolbox

PMS and PMDD are two things that many women have to deal with. While PMS is milder, they both can cause a lot of discomfort physically and mentally.

When it is that time of your cycle where things get really bad for you and you need some relief, having helpful resources in one place may do wonders. This can be called your “toolbox.”

In this post, more about having a toolbox and what to put inside of it will be discussed.

Hormones and our menstrual cycles

There are three key types of hormones that play a huge role in our menstrual cycles. They are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone (yes, women need this one too!).

During the phases of our cycles, these aforementioned hormones do different things. Here is a quick run down of which ones are doing what during the days of our cycle:

Days 1-7: Estrogen is rising and progesterone levels decrease.

Days 8-14: Estrogen and testosterone are rising together. Progesterone is low.

Days 15-22: First, progesterone rises with estrogen dropping. Estrogen rises again during this time.

Days 23-28 (an average cycle length): Estrogen and progesterone decrease.

Sensitivity and/or genetics

Everyone is different when it comes to their experiences with their menstrual cycles. Some get through them without any struggles. Unfortunately, others are not so lucky.

There are a lot of women who are very sensitive to the hormone shifts that happen in our cycles. This leads them to deal with physical and mental symptoms that usually come on after ovulation.

There also may be some genetic component to this. Usually if one person has hormonal issues, other biologically related people in their family have them too.

PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder)are both the names of the groups of hormonal symptoms. PMS can range in intensity from mild to severe and PMDD is even beyond that.

The following is a list of the hormonal symptoms that both PMS and PMDD can include:

Mental-

  • Sadness
  • Impatience
  • Anger
  • Low level of self-confidence
  • Cravings
  • Anxiety

Physical-

  • Bloating and weight gain
  • Aches and pains
  • Gum irritation
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Headaches and/or migraines
  • Lightheadedness
  • Gassiness
  • Loose stools
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Urinary frequency

While the mental symptoms in PMS and PMDD are similar, PMDD is more severe. It may even greatly disrupt aspects of women’s lives such as romantic relationships and employment.

Regardless of whether someone has PMS or PMDD, there are sure to be times when relief is wanted as soon as possible.

Why have a PMS/PMDD toolbox?

We are not talking about having a Craftsman toolbox in this case-although those are great too. We are talking about a toolbox that you can reach into when your hormones are causing chaos to your mind and/or body

Everyone has a certain amount of discomfort that they can handle. Having a PMS/PMDD toolbox around when you have gone over that amount is extremely helpful.

The following are the benefits of having a toolbox always available:

  • Provide relatively quick relief from physical symptoms that you are having trouble with.
  • May help you channel negative feelings.
  • May help boost your mood so that you can get through the rest of the day or night.
  • May help keep you from making bad decisions that may negatively effect you later on.
  • May help you learn more about and be in tune with yourself.

The idea of having a toolbox for mental and physical health is great for people without PMS or PMDD, too. This is because everyone has times where they may need some quick help to feel better.

How to make your PMS/PMDD toolbox

Okay, so we know the reasons why having a PMS/PMDD toolbox is a good idea. Now, let’s get into how to make one.

Here are the steps to take for making one that will serve your specific needs:

Step 1- Pick out a container

Here is a super cute backpack idea to hold items in!

You can use anything you want to put your PMS/PMDD-helping items in. Some ideas include a backpack, large bin, medium sized bin, duffel bag, laundry hamper and a large bucket. Heck, you could even use an actual toolbox if you wanted to!

A backpack with multiple compartments is a particularly nice idea. This makes it so you can section out your items and organize them-if you are that type of person. Just throwing it all in their is fine, too.

You may need to switch to a larger “toolbox” depending on how many items you decide you want to put in one.

Step 2- Pick out the items that you think will help you

Before you pick out your toolbox items, you have to ask yourself some questions. These include the following:

  • “What do I usually struggle with mentally and physically that is caused by my menstrual cycle?”
  • “What days during my cycle do I experience these bad feelings?”
  • “What has made me feel better in the past?”
  • “What am I interested in trying to help me feel better?”

Along with asking yourself these questions, you should also write down a list of emotions and feelings that you struggle with instead of just thinking it. This will make it easier to figure out what you might want to put in your toolbox.

Here are examples of things you can put in:

For mental/emotional health-

  • A journal to write out what you are feeling.
  • An inspirational quote book.
  • Written down names of videos that you find relaxing. All you have to do is type them in on your phone, computer, tablet etc. and start listening.
  • Written down situations that make you laugh or just feel good and loved.
  • A sheet detailing breathing exercises.
  • A CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) workbook to work out of.
  • A self-love workbook to work out of.
  • Calming essential oils such as chamomile, bergamot orange, lavender and peppermint.
  • Packets of tea such as fennel, Cup of Calm, chamomile and Tension Tamer.
  • A coloring book and colored pencils.
  • List of feel-good movies that you are interested in watching and are available to stream.
  • Special sketchbook if you like drawing.
  • Picture books and scrapbooks that show good times/family/friends.

Physical-

  • Tylenol, Advil and/or ibuprofen for aches and pains.
  • A heated blanket and/or a heat pack. These are great for aches, pains and for a general calming feeling in the body.
  • Tea packets for nausea such as ginger, peppermint, red raspberry leaf, cinnamon (you can use cinnamon bark sticks), turmeric, rosemary, fennel and chamomile.
  • Tums for bad heartburn.
  • Vick’s Vaporub for aches and pains.
  • Gas-X for gassiness that can occur.
  • Diarrhea medication if you are someone who experiences a lot of loose stools on certain days of your cycle.
  • A comfy outfit (s).
  • Magnesium spray for insomnia, aches and pains.
  • Pieces of candy drops that help with digestive upset.
  • Lotion for itchy skin.
  • Your favorite treat that you only indulge in during certain times of the month.
  • Sleeping pills that you only use during certain times of the month when you get insomnia.

There are probably more things that you can put in your toolbox but these are just to help you get started!

There are two things of note here. One is that you should check the ingredients of teas and medications before you use them as part of your mental/physical health resources. You may be allergic to them or they may interact with other medication you are taking.

The other thing to note is that if you are putting in any kind of candy drops or treats, you should regularly look at the expiration date and replenish the supply if need-be.

Step 3- Proper placement

Once you have your toolbox put together, it is time to figure out where to put it.

It is important to put it in an accessible place. Somewhere where you don’t have to spend time digging it out as this might make you more frustrated than you already are. You could put it under your bed(if you are using a flat bin), in your closet (not under things), by the side of your bed etc.

If you live with someone, it might be a good idea to tell them what the toolbox is for and where it is. This is because if you are really struggling, it could be helpful to have them go get it for you and help get out the things you need right away.

Other things you can have around

Because some helpful things might not fit in your toolbox container, you can simply keep them near it. Here are some other items to consider:

  • Foam roller to help your back during certain times of the month when it gets tight.
  • A heated blanket if it didn’t fit in your toolbox container.
  • A massage gun for your tight muscles and back.
  • A red light therapy lamp which can help with pain, moods and energy levels.

Another thing to consider having is a calming or meditation app on your phone.

Long-term help

As stated before, a PMS/PMDD toolbox is for quick relief when you are really struggling. There are certain things that you can do or take each day that may reduce and/or lesson these times though. These include the following:

  • Cleaning up your diet if you don’t eat very healthy.
  • Taking supplements such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and magnesium.
  • Getting regular exercise.
  • Weekly counseling.
  • Keeping in touch with loved ones.
  • Taking birth control to help balance hormones.
  • Taking an antidepressant.

In conclusion, consider a toolbox

As you can see from this post, having a PMS/ PMDD toolbox could be a life changing thing for you. It may not be a cure, but it can help you feel better on short notice if you carefully select the items you put into it.

Do you keep around something like this when you are having a rough time? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

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