Hormones have been a major focus of mine because I feel like mine are jacked up. I do a lot of self experimentation because naturopaths are so dang expensive and now that I'm over 40 it's time to buckle down and really figure this out.
Did you know that it is NOT normal to have period pain? Well, it might be normal to the extent most of the women in your life have it and put up with it, but it was never supposed to be that way.
Periods should be pain free!
When we experience cramps, nausea and other painful symptoms it is our body's glorious way of letting us know something is wrong. **I am not a medical professional, so my writings are purely anecdotal and things I have learned from reading and exploring this area.**
As women we have a mechanism to let us know if something is wrong in our body. I used to dread my periods and while I don't usually get excited, I listen to what is happening to understand how I need to tweak things in my health and nutrition.
I am not diabetic and have never been diagnosed with anything like hypoglycemia or other insulin and blood sugar related issues. The reason I got so interested in this is that I went through a phase of ten days or so where I got a migraine almost every morning around the same time.
Hormones weren't directly involved, so my next guess was that my nutrition was to blame. Narrowing it down to a combination of fruit, red polyphenols, and a small amount of caffeine, I decided to pay attention to my blood sugar for a while.
Insulin and blood sugar have a bigger impact on our entire bodies, including our hormones, than most of us realize. Did you know caffeine impacts your blood sugar? Did you know blood sugar spikes and drops have a correlation to your hormone and period health? I'll let you put two and two together.
Although I cut out 90% of my caffeine I started noticing that high-carb treats (few and far-between) would give me similar symptoms: I could feel my blood sugar rise, I would get a very specific headache, and have an overall feeling of ick. (Ick is definitely a medical term-haha)
I bought a blood sugar monitor to learn how my body was reacting to certain things and it has been the most satisfying nerd moments of my week.
Testing Blood Sugar
If you aren't diabetic there's a good chance you haven't done this. I don't follow a schedule, but if I know I'm going to eat a decent sized meal I will test my blood sugar beforehand, then again about 30 minutes after I finish eating.
While I don't do much regular coffee (if I do, it's about 15% caffeinated) I have intentionally increased certain servings of caffeine so I can watch my body's response.
I've also tested after a little alcohol - very interesting.
What changed for me was seeing the numbers. Data doesn't lie. Although I previously knew that carbs impact blood sugar which then impacts hormones and organs and brain function, I would still do these things regularly and expect that my periods and hormones would magically fix themselves while I continued with bad behavior.
Spoiler: that never works.
I will still splurge and I will still deal with occasional carb hangovers, but I'm much more in tune with how food choices are impacting my health goals. And I'm hoping that my next period is just a little better than the last one.
If you're interested in testing your blood sugar, here are a few monitors I've researched and tried:
The one I use - Auvon DS-W Blood Sugar Kit
Here are a few resources I love for learning more about hormones and women's health: