period

Endocrine Disruptors: 5 Ways to Reduce Your Toxic Load and Improve Your Hormonal Health

One of the things that I often hear women say is how complicated it all is! So let’s start off with the basics.

To keep it SUPER simple let’s start with a saying most of us are familiar with, “You are what you eat” and then add on “You also are what you put in and on your body”. It’s true in our modern day society it’s not only what you eat and drink but what you eat and drink out of and what you put on your body that affect your hormonal health. It’s no wonder peoples heads begin to spin!

Parabens, BPA, DDT, Toluenve, 4-Dioxane and oh my!

Thousands of chemicals are released into the market each and every year and very few of those are actually tested for their health effects on humans or the environment (crazy isn’t it)! Current research is undeniably pointing out that contact with many of these chemicals at crucial points of development, create various problems: for developing fetuses, kids going through puberty and other transitional points of life. The long term affects of the over all health of humans it still unknown and being studied, as we are all used as lab rats. Research does point to a definite impact on our endocrine system by way of our hormones.

What’s an endocrine disruptor?

Endocrine disruptors also known as hormone disruptors are simply chemicals found in our environment (air and water), soil, food, food containers and some of our consumer products that directly alter our hormones in various ways. Hormone disruptors can affect your immune system, neurological system and reproductive health. (If you are really interested to get into the nitty gritty science on the how’s and why’s the chemicals do this see the links at the bottom of this article to do further research).

Endocrine disruptors come into our bodies through our nose, pores on our skin or our mouth. They interact with various hormones in our body in various ways. Some can block while other imposters enter our bodies and masquerade as our own hormones but on speed! One of the most common ways is by mimicking the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is one of the main female hormones and is responsible for regulating the presence of our uterine lining each cycle, developing breasts and our bone mass, just to name a few. When the hormones disruptors enter our bodies and confuse our system, our body thinks we have an ABUNDANCE of estrogen and estrogen dominance is one of the results.

Estrogen dominance is when there is an excess of the hormone estrogen in our system causing an imbalance to occur. An over abundance of estrogen has been linked to a MAJOR increase in the likelihood of PMS symptoms, fibroids, infertility, weight gain (especially around the middle or omentum), headaches, and estrogen dependent cancers like breast, uterine and ovarian.

Life is full of so much information! So why is this something that we need to become informed about and take action on?

The statics on gynecological and endocrine disfunction are astounding and rising all the time. These hidden chemicals that are literally wreaking havoc on our bodies and if you aren’t seeing any impact now it is likely that at some point in your life you will.

Good news! There are simple changes that we can make in our everyday life that will greatly reduce the chemical load on our bodies.

I get it! It’s hard to make a change especially when the information seems overwhelming or unaccessible! The list below is filled with simple ideas that can make a major immediate impact. My advice is choose ONE thing of the 5 to focus on NOW and start to make changes. Once that is part of your everyday habit move to another.

5 Ways to reduce your toxic load on a daily basis.

  1. Clean up your cleaning supplies: We all clean our dishes, or some part of our house/office and even our bodies on a daily basis. The VAST majority of products that you will find on the market contain hormonal disruptors. More than that the marketing world has caught on and uses the word natural and green to describe products that contain chemicals that we don’t want to put in or on our bodies. Knowledge is power! To find a complete list of chemicals and alternatives check out the Dirty Secrets Report.

  2. Beauty & Personal Care Products: Beauty is no longer just skin deep! The personal care products that you use on a daily basis maybe harming your hormones! I know it’s hard enough for many of us to find products that work with our skin or that we enjoy and it can be hard to want to change those but one study done showed that simply by changing make up from a chemical filled brand to a chemical free brand the measurable toxic load in the urine sample within 3 days was GREATLY reduced. Don’t worry there are organizations that have done the research for you, you can check out The Never List for ingredients you want to avoid, as well as Skin Deep to find lists of products that are safe to us.

  3. Food: I know that going organic has been “a trend” for a while now. I also know that organic can be more expensive. When possible pass on the “filler” food (you know those oh so tasty cookies, chips, cereal) to save money and buy these foods organic. Another huge plus for hormonal health, when possible make sure you buy foods that are not stored in plastics!

  4. Know what's your cooking with: We all love the non stick pans but most of them are literally cooking chemicals into your food! Switch to stainless steal or cast iron to avoid the extra chemicals!

  5. Plastic, Plastic, Plastic: It seems that we live in a world made out of plastic! Try buying a glass water bottle. For a super cheap solution get yourself a mason jar and some yarn to tie around for a handle. When reheating and storing food make sure you are doing it on a plate or in a glass container. This is a HUGE way to reduce chemicals leaching into your food.



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The Power of Menstrual Health: It's a Revolution Ladies

Ladies, the statistics say it all, women’s gynecological health issues are appalling!

  • 176 million world wide have endometriosis.

  • 1 in 10 women have PCOS.

  • 70% of all women with have at least one fibroid by the age of 60.

  • 60% of us over 60 will have a hysterectomy (starting as early as 25-35 these days). As many 75% of these are unnecessary.

  • 30% of all women aged 15-40 are on a hormonal birth control (over half is due to non-contraceptive needs a.k.a to put a band aid on a hormonal imbalance)

(Disclaimer even if you aren’t included in those stats the information in this article is for you! Specifically to keep you out of them!)

This stats tell a grim picture about the status of women’s gynecological health world wide. That’s the bad news.

So what’s the good news!

The younger generation is on it! There is a menstrual health revolution going on and I am so happy to be a part of amazing teens, young women and even those of us entering into our crone time working towards better health for women. Better health for women means more empowered health, women not only knowing more about their bodies but also talking about it!

I want to share just a FEW of the teens and women who are up to amazing work in this menstrual health revolution!

Bryony Farmer: Bryony is a TEENAGE girl from the United Kingdom.  Her path on the menstrual health revolution started when she contracted Lyme disease. Lyme left her bed ridden, which made changing pads/tampons incredibly hard. She discovered the menstrual cup which lead her to get deeply in touch with her own body and inspired her to share and educate other teens. She founded the company and website Precious Stars, along with a YouTube channel to help educate young girls about their periods in an empowering and accessible way from a peer.

Nadya Okamoto:  Nadya runs the organization Period. The Menstrual Movement. She started this organization after her family unexpectedly found themselves homeless in her teen years.  She saw a first hand account of how the lack of access to feminine hygiene products affected homeless women in countless ways. She crusades to make access to menstrual health information and products a right and not a privilege.

Alissa Vitti:  Alissa Vitti is a POWERHOUSE.  She has taken her own diagnosis of PCOS in her early 20’s and challenged the there was nothing that could be done other than birth control pills or a hysterectomy.  She spent years of research and personal trials, deeply connecting to the healing power of food and the endocrine system.  She helps MILLIONS of women each year do the “impossible” and heal from PCOS and other menstrual health issues.

Megan White Mururia:  Founder of the ZanaAfrica Foundation an organization that helps Kenyans girls stay in school by providing them with free sanitary pads (prior to this organization the girls were missing up to 6 weeks of school per year and dropping out at high rates all due to lack of menstrual health care products).  She is not only providing access to products she is showing the girls that they are worth it and that this cycle doesn’t have to hinder there life, she is opening the conversation.

These women are calling B.S on the notion that there is nothing that we can do about the abysmal women’s health statistics and disease.  Not only are many of them doing their own research they are also being fearless about changing the narrative!  They are talking out loud what cross culturally we have kept secretive for so long.  The more we talk the more we can bring focus change occurs. 

So…HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Back in the day when I was a kid NO ONE in my friend group, town, just NO ONE was talking about periods! As an adult I chalked this up to being raised in a small town in middle America. However, I have come to research and experience first hand that well over 50% of the adult female population STILL don’t want to talk to ANYONE about their periods or menstrual health issues (even health care providers). They state that they don’t feel heard, they don’t trust and they don’t believe there is anything that can be done other than a pill or surgery.

One of the reasons that so many of us as women don’t know about our own cycles traces all the way back to actually getting our cycles. 

In my years as a midwife and menstrual health educator I have heard countless stories of surprise, embarrassment, shame, confusion and ignoring of the start of the young girls period. When a girl started menstruating there was little communication and life moved on.  These are just a few short versions of stories I have heard OVER and OVER again.

“It just wasn’t talked about”

“I had no idea what was happening to me.  I felt scared and alone.”

“I was given a pad (slid under the door) and told it would happen every month and that was it”

 “I hid it for a full year; I was so embarrassed” 

“My mom told me that my life was basically over and that I better get used to feeling horrible every month”

Let’s take a good look what the ramifications of that introduction into menstruation might be to the over all menstrual health life cycle. 

From the very beginning we are disconnected from the cycle!  We never see it as a curious thing that occurs, let alone as something we could and should have knowledge about.  We experience it as a few days of “bleeding” that is annoying and that we grin and bare, along with all of the annoying and sometimes painful things that come with it.  We aren’t given the understanding on how this cycle occurs all throughout the month and affects ALL THE THINGS!  We aren’t given the knowledge that what we do, eat, how we exercise and so many more things directly impact our cycle.  It is rare that someone says our cycle doesn’t have to hurt, to come with pain and that we don’t need to wish it away.  In fact, has anyone ever told you that your cycle is actually your bodies way of communicating with you on what is going on internally and is even an indicator on how your overall health is?  Thinking about it like this makes it seem POWERFUL.   

Now imagine a world where….

Can you imagine if when (or even before) you got your period someone was open and honest with you?  What if your introduction into this time of your life was honored?  What if you were given information about how important menstrual health is for your entire life?  Heck what if you were just given some information about it in a way that promoted the normalcy of the event rather than talking about it secretively?

The truth is that we have so much more “control” over our bodies than we ever realize.  Really the control or power that I am talking about is coming from being able to understand our own bodies and then have supportive tools to respond.  To no longer be reactive to them and push away any pain we have by taking pills (that end up putting a band aid on the root cause and making it worse in the long run) or pushing away uncomfortable emotions and chalk it up to “PMS”, rather than digging into what PMS emotions are telling us month after month.

THAT’S WHY WE NEED A MENSTRUAL HEALTH REVOLUTION

And you need you to be an empowered participant!

Many of the women highlighted in this article and that take part in this work came to this calling through their own experience of disease.   The thing about the revolution is that we are asking all girls and women to show up and be empowered by reframing their thoughts, curiosity and knowledge about their cycles.  We want girls starting their cycles and women who are at every stage to know about their bodies so that we change those stats!

For me knowing about our bodies is as necessary as breathing and eating (in fact so much of our hormones are actually regulated by our diet).  If you feel disconnected, uninformed about your body or want greater connection than make sure to check out Empowered Menstrual Health; becoming an empowered participant in the revolution by just knowing more about the intricacies of your own body (whether or not it is suffering from dis-ease).

 

Creating a First Moon Basket

Creating a first moon basket (or period basket if you prefer) as a gift for you daughter’s first period can help ease her into this new phase in the spirit of celebration and connection.             

No matter how well we have prepared our daughters for this day, they will experience an array of emotions. For most of them this day feels Big! Greeting them with a celebration is a great way to honor and embrace this change in their life; creating a moon basket is a great component of the celebration. A moon basket is a surprising element that can set the tone of self-care and an honoring or awareness around their cycle.

There is no right or wrong way to make a moon basket for you daughter. To get your own creative juices going here are some ideas of things you may want to include.

  • A beautiful basket/container

  • Menstrual supplies (pads/tampons/cup/undies)

  • Dark Chocolate

  • Bath Salts (Making your own is simple and less expensive! Not to mention you can assure that they help and don’t harm her new flowing hormones: you can simply get epsom salt and add a drop of essential oil per handful of salt and put it in a fancy jar)

  • A special necklace (with a red stone/theme)

  • Journal

  • Lotion

  • A special tea mixture and tea cup

  • Red candle, Red stone, Red scarf etc.

  • A new book

  • A love letter or card

No matter what you include she will be surprised and grateful for the extra love and attention.

Mom’s have you made a first moon basket or are planning on it? I would love to know what you included and how your daughter received it! 

We have been lied to and manipulated

Taking your period from burden to blessing.

There is a myth in our culture.  It comes across in various messages but it boils down to this, your menstrual cycle is a major burden!  It is filled with pain, discomfort, emotional messiness, and unpredictability. 

Advertisements reinforce the myth.  Tampon commercials call it "mother nature's curse".  Feminine hygiene products are created and advertised to allow us to continue our active life styles; never let a period slow you down and you can even wear white clothes.  What do you think the advertisers said, as they sat around their circular table throwing out ideas?  "Well Jim, I think that women everywhere just want to play tennis and wear white clothes while on their period, so let's go with that angle".  As my 80's self would have said "Gag me with a spoon"!    

Our modern day myth around the feminine burden is just that, modern day.  For THOUSANDS of years women found connection with each other, their bodies and to the inherent cyclical nature of life and wisdom through menstruation.  Women would gather together to bleed.  They would honor the slow down, as would their entire culture.  It was celebrated and honored and in some cultures it still is today.  They saw it for what it was and is, wisdom that flows through their own bodies.  Connection to our own internal rhythms and power.

Most women today scoff at the idea of embracing their cycle; let alone actually enjoying it or seeing the wisdom and power that our ancestors found within. We are taught or not taught to keep it quite, hidden and just deal.  How many stories have I heard of young girls (who are now women) hiding their period when it started, feeling ashamed, feeling lost and confused, not knowing what to do or who to talk to.  Think of the life long impact of that!  When young girls are learning about puberty in a classroom it's biologically based and deadened of the actual power and connection that is possible to be found within the cycle.  

So what is normal. 

It is normal for your body to speak to you in all sorts of different ways.  It is telling you something and it wants you to connect and listen!  It is not trying to hurt you, annoy you, burden you or act like a toddler throwing a tempertantrum.  If you are experiencing intense cramping...there is a reason!  And no throwing a birth control pill in your mouth every day will not "solve" that reason, it will mask it for awhile and may cause other things to start to talk to you.  No judgement, I was put on the pill at an early age because of my intense period discomfort and it worked for awhile, and it unleashed a whole other set of undiscussed symptoms, that can't or aren't quantified by a scientific method.  Emotions/feelings are not scientific, but when I got off the pill and talked to other women how different and alive I felt after getting off, I was met with SO MANY of the same and similar response.     

It is normal to feel more tired, and it would be fine to want to sit more, to not work out those days.  It would be normal to want to go into a cave and not be all for everyone for a day or so.  It's not summer all the time right?  We can't always go, go, go.  It would be normal to get moody and if you get down right Cruella de Vil then your body is telling you something. 

If your body is yelling at you there are reasons; life imbalance, hormonal imbalance, emotional releases, diet shifts that need to be looked at.  Really tuning in and listening to your body, honoring what it is asking by doing it and letting go of the guilt, excuses, shame or whatever story comes up that prevents you from taking action on the listening.  Tuning in and making some changes will shift your relationship with your period from burden to blessing.

It is a lie that our cycles have to be a burden, it is a lie that our cycles have to cause us pain, it is a lie that the suckiness of it all is normal!  It is simply a disconnection and it takes space, time and awareness to get reacquainted.  For so may generations now the disconnection has gotten deeper and deeper and it's time for us to not only stand up and say "#metoo this isn't normal how we are treated, but it isn't normal how we treat ourselves!  

It's time to heal and reconnect.

 

 

Check out my womb work sessions to start connecting to yourself now.