Is Your Period Feeling Off? Here Are 5 Things You Can Do to Help

This post was in partnership with Agni but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. The Everymom’s product selections are curated by the editorial team. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely love.

period feeling off

There are two menstrual periods I’ll never forget. My first one, when I looked, horrified, at my underwear and thought, “this can’t be my period—I don’t even have boobs yet!” The second one is my first postpartum period when I thought, “I’m a 35-year-old woman and just bled through my pajamas.”

Yes, there’s a lot that happens between the menstruating years. And unlike middle school health class or awkward puberty talks from our parents, there’s no next-level health info session to give us some preparation for what to expect as we age. So what do women do? We talk to each other, posing questions to our friends, sisters, moms, aunts, or aunties who’ve been there before us. Our OB-GYNs may get an earful at our next appointment. Or we may scour the internet looking for answers.

If your period has been feeling weird or off, we want to help fill in the education gaps some of us may be struggling with as we hit our late 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond. Plus, we want to offer some solutions to help, including the new Women’s Health Box from women-owned business Agni. We talked with Dr. Rachel Low, naturopathic physician and women’s health expert, from Agni’s medical advisory board to answer some of our questions and include some ways to help us feel empowered and equipped to manage the unpleasant effects of our cycles.

 

How does our cycle change as we age and have children?

“The menstrual cycle is a dynamic process that is tightly regulated by our hormones and is thus susceptible to subtle shifts in hormone balance from month to month,” Dr. Low said. “As we age, we start to produce less estrogen, which can affect both the frequency and flow of the period. It is not uncommon to experience changes in your menstrual cycle as early as your late 30s, several years before the onset of menopause.”

It’s also not unusual for your cycle to change after having children. “Our hormones undergo massive changes during pregnancy. By the third trimester, estrogen levels will have increased by 800%, while progesterone levels will have increased by 900%! After giving birth, these hormones drop rather suddenly, and it can take some time for them to level out again,” she said.

“If you are breastfeeding, your body will be producing prolactin, the hormone that is responsible for maintaining your milk supply, which also functions to suppress the menstrual cycle for many women. And don’t forget about the stress that a lot of parents experience, which can affect the cycle in many ways, such as delaying ovulation and causing a late or missed period,” Dr. Low said.

 

How can we better manage our menstrual cycle?

 

1. Track our cycle

Tracking your cycle with an app or a planner can be a first step in getting a handle on your periods. Be sure to note not only the dates of your period but also any notable changes to your mental or physical health. For example, maybe you feel constipated mid-cycle or maybe you experience fatigue or irritability right before you get your period. Taking note of symptoms and then preparing for them next month can help you feel more in control of what’s happening to your body and when.

 

2. Pay attention to what we’re putting in our bodies—and what’s coming out

Cravings and digestive symptoms are all normal parts of our cycle, tying back to our hormones, Dr. Low said. First, let’s talk about cravings. Why do we crave sweets right before our period? What should we look for in a snack to sate our craving and help our symptoms?

 

 

“The sudden decline in progesterone levels just before the onset of your period can cause blood sugar to drop as well as serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy and calm,” Dr. Low said. “Many of us experience cravings, particularly for sweets and carbohydrates, both in response to the crash in blood sugar but also as a way to self-soothe and boost those neurotransmitters that make us feel good.”

“However, overdoing it on sweets and carbs can feed into a bit of a vicious cycle of feeling generally crummy around your period. A good rule of thumb is to always pair your carbs with a protein to help stabilize your blood sugar, preventing more of those spikes and crashes. This may look like a spoonful of nut butter, a piece of cheese, or a handful of seeds,” said Dr. Low. She also mentioned the reason many of us specifically crave chocolate around our periods—it’s high in magnesium, which she said helps relieve cramps and induce calm. Enter Agni’s Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, made with ingredients specifically chosen to support the body’s natural estrogen and progesterone levels and part of the Women’s Health Box.

 

There is a reason many of us specifically crave chocolate around our periods—it’s high in magnesium, which helps relieve cramps and induce calm.

 

period feeling off

Source: Kathy Sisson

 

How is digestion affected by our menstrual cycles?

“The primary way in which digestion is affected by the menstrual cycle is due to some of the changes that occur around menstruation, or the period,” Dr. Low said.

“As menstruation begins, there is a rise in prostaglandins, inflammatory compounds that cause the uterus to contract in order to expel the uterine lining as it sheds. The effect of these prostaglandins is not limited to the uterus but also reaches the intestines, which live close by within the abdomen and also contract in response to prostaglandins, resulting in increased bowel elimination and even loose stool during the menstrual phase of the cycle,” she said. Great news! We get our period and we may get diarrhea too.

How can our diet help our cycle? 

“Nutritionally, provide your body with plenty of healthy fats and proteins, which are the building blocks of hormones, as well as lots of fiber to support healthy detoxification,” she said.

And here’s where the Agni Women’s Health Box can help support us through our cycles even more. Each box comes with a collection of five products to replenish nutrients our bodies need:

  • Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Sesame Nori Seasoning
  • Cinnamon Maca Seasoning
  • Peppermint Chasteberry Tea

All of the products in this box are full of only good things—100% whole, natural ingredients that are sourced from the highest quality farmers, then turned into delicious treats by Agni’s team of top chefs. It’s so easy for moms to put ourselves last on the list, and the Women’s Health Box is one way to show yourself a little well-deserved care.

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Agni

The Women's Health Box

Use code EVERYMOM25 to get 25% off any item on Agni's site!

(Note: Code can only be used once per customer. It cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions and is not valid on the purchase of any subscription products or already discounted products.)

 

period feeling off

Source: Kathy Sisson

period feeling off

Source: Kathy Sisson

 

3. Get a handle on our hormones

Hormone fluctuations seem to be the blanket cause for all the unpleasant side effects of our cycle, from irritability to acne to headaches to mind fog. Are our hormones really something we can control? According to Dr. Low, “yes!”

“Our hormones fluctuate in response to all sorts of input: diet, exercise, stress, toxins, and more.” she said. “A great place to start is by working with a holistic or functional medicine provider who can assess your hormone levels so that you have a clear idea of what’s going on,” Dr. Low said.

If that’s not an accessible option for you, here are some really wonderful low-cost practices you can try on your own:

  • Mind your environment: detoxify your home and self-care by eliminating plastic food containers and fragrances. These are two of the biggest ways in which we are exposed to chemicals that disrupt our hormones, and by removing them from our homes, we can make a big impact on our own toxic burden.
  • Manage stress: Coping with stress is also a big part of balancing hormones. Consider working with a therapist and incorporating mindfulness in the form of meditation, daily walks, or other practices that calm the mind.
  • Mind your nourishment: Again, your body needs plenty of healthy fats, proteins, micronutrients, and fiber. And if you’ve ever wanted to try seed-cyclingconsuming nutrient-dense flax and pumpkin seeds daily for the first half of your cycle and switching to sesame and sunflower seeds for the second half—Agni’s Women’s Health Box can help too.

 

4. Be prepared with some ready relief

It’d be an overpromise to say anything can rid us of menstrual cycle side effects completely. In addition to the Agni Women’s Health Box, having on-the-spot go-tos for relief is a good idea. Here are some of our favorites for cramps, headaches, or hormonal acne.

Target

Bye Bye Cramps Starter Pack

Founded by three women known as "The Girls" in their college entrepreneurship class, The Girls Company created the world’s thinnest heated band to alleviate your period cramp pain.

face roller
Amazon

Face Ice Roller

For headaches or hot flashes, pop the detachable head of this editor-favorite in the freezer so you'll always have relief on hand.

period products
Rael

Miracle Patch

Manage hormonal acne with these invisible spot treatments for surface pimples and white heads, from BIPOC women-owned brand Rael Wellness.

 

5. Make well-visit appointments

Taking care of our health is one of the most important parts of self-care. Don’t skip those appointments, especially if you have concerns about your period or other issues. Plus, don’t forget certain well-visits change as we age: mammograms at 40 and colonoscopies at 45 or 50. Consider coming prepared with a list of questions or things you’ve noticed so you won’t forget to ask in the moment (it’s sometimes hard to concentrate in the stirrups).

 

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This post was in partnership with Agni but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.