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  • Writer's picturecarlyjenessa

Bleeding, Bitchy, And Seeking Connection




Last week I had my period. It's not a big deal, it happens every month. But every month there is slight discomfort and turmoil in me and in my relationship around this time.


What I recognized this time was a pattern-

I need more rest and I have two young children, so getting it is near impossible.

I do not communicate this need to my partner, assuming the need will not be met.


I become irritated because I'm uncomfortable with cramps, I'm tired, and I'm not asking for what I need. I get bitchy and annoyed with my partner, pushing him away. He starts to try to stay out of my way and the more he does this the more I long for more connection with him. I get more frustrated with him as he disengages...


Yuck!


So what can I do about this? Well talking about it was helpful. It felt like an "aha" moment when I realized my frustration came from a desire for greater connection, as well as a desire for my unexpressed needs to be considered and potentially met.


We talked about how my cycle affects both of us and how anticipating what comes next and talking about it beforehand can be a helpful tool. Tracking my period and getting to know the rhythms of my needs is something I am working on doing for my and my family's wellbeing. My partner cannot meet my unexpressed needs very easily, so it's up to me to anticipate them and discuss them before I'm annoyed as it's easier for him to respond to a calm request than an annoyed off hand comment.


So, I write this as part of my own education in hopes to also help others.


This is the very basics about how a typical cycle goes (remembering every woman's body is unique and this is most commonly, but not always how it goes):


Day 1: The first day of Bleeding, Menses, your period starts.


Day 1-14 is the Follicular Phase. During this phase follicles begin forming in the ovaries, typically in both, one side more than the other. One of the follicals grows faster and larger than the others and becomes the dominant follicle. The egg will be released from this follicle when you ovulate.


Day 15 - Ovulation. The dominant follicle ruptures and the egg is released. This typically occurs in the middle of the cycle. An expected cycle can be anywhere between 21-35 days. During ovulation there is a small rise in body temperature and there is often a increase and/or change in cervical mucus, there can be cramping, bloating and for some women even spotting.


Day 16 - 28 (or the day before menses begins) is the Luteal Phase. During this phase the ruptured follicle is now called the corpus luteum. Progesterone begins to surge to support implantation of the egg is incase of fertilization. If the egg is not fertilized, towards the end of this cycle progesterone production decreases fairly dramatically. It is this dip in progesterone as well as a slightly less extreme dip of estrogen that can result a noticeable effect on ones mood and symptoms we correlate with PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome).


Progesterone has a calming effect on mood, it helps us to feel relaxed and have a restorative sleep. When these levels drop, it has the opposite effect, leaving one feeling irritable, tired and moody.


So naturally, one's first question is how can I keep my progesterone levels up so I feel like irritable?


The answer, although there is no way to get progesterone directing from ones diet, there are things you can eat to help the body produce optimal amounts of it.


Foods that are high in magnesium help to regulate the body's ability to regulate hormone levels. These foods include nuts (particularly almonds, cashews and brazil nuts), dark chocolate (yay!), tofu, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, bananas, avocados and legumes.


Getting sufficient amounts of vitamin B6 and zinc also have been found helpful for keeping progesterone at optimal levels.


Foods high in zinc include shellfish, poultry, legumes, pine nuts, cashews and whole grains.


Foods high in vitamin B6 include salmon, tuna, chickpeas, dark leafy greens and milk.


So, here I am sipping on a cold glass of milk and crunching cashews. I open my day planner to track the basics of mood, sleep, and my cycle along with the moon cycle for extra enjoyment.


I appreciate taking the time to get to know a little more about myself through tracking and understanding my cycle.


By deepening my understanding of myself, I increase my capacity for connection with others.



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