Menstruating comes naturally for some women; they don't struggle with many symptoms and go from one month to the next without many problems. But for many women, this is not the case. Especially in our urban lifestyle, our bodies struggle to keep up. With so many women who struggle with PMS and menstruation, it might even look like something normal. I can tell you it is not!
Why is it that we know so much about taking care of almost every part of our body but not a lot about taking care of our womb?
Ayurveda is one of the few sciences that looks at the reproductive tissues outside of the significant transitions of puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Ayurveda sees menstruation as a window into the human body. If in tune with your body, it will tell you exactly which imbalances your body struggled with that past month.
The menstrual flow is a byproduct of the most basic tissues of the body. After we have a meal, the food transforms into the seven tissue layers of the body. The actual menstrual flow is a byproduct of the first tissue layer.
Our food, thoughts, lifestyle, and daily activities have an enormous effect on how well this transformation goes. The symptoms before and during menstruation and the menstruation quality say a lot about how well this transformation went.
As soon as we experience symptoms in our body before or during our menstrual cycle, we know that there are imbalances in our body. When we look at the type and qualities of these symptoms, we will get a strong sense of what is going on before they have the opportunity to create more severe imbalances or breeding grounds for diseases.
What a healthy cycle looks like
The menstrual cycle is said to go with the ebbs and flows of the lunar cycle. The lunar cycle is approximately 29.5 days, which matches the menstrual cycle's average length for most ovulating women. The healthiest flow, (which is in tune with the lunar phases) will start on a new moon with ovulation happening around the full moon. When the moon is full, it is at its highest energy, pulling the egg from its home in the ovary.
The three doshas (the main energy forces in our body) will all take part in specific parts of the cycle.
1. Kapha is most active during the first half of the cycle, after menstruation, as the lining on the uterus thickens. During this period a woman gains the essence of kapha- the juiciness, the glow, the sense of calm and being settled within her body. The kapha period will reach its climax during ovulation.
2. Ovulation is the start of the next phase, which is dominated by pitta dosha. Pitta mainly acts through the blood tissue layer, and during this time, the lining of the uterus becomes puffier with blood vessels to prepare for the potentially fertilized egg.
3. During the last phase of the cycle, there is a sudden rise of vata dosha when the egg isn't fertilized, and the menstrual period begins. It acts as a moving force enabling the flow of menstruation.
The menstrual cycle will function optimally as long as all three doshas are balanced.
Signs of a healthy menstrual cycle
The flow is bright red
It does not stain clothing. (Blood that stains is a sign of toxins and unprocessed substances in the body)
It does not have a foul odor.
It has an amount that is, on average, four times the amount of liquid that could fit in one cupped hand. (This isn't a set amount it depends on the person constitution and their size).
The painful vata period As mentioned above, vata creates the movement of the menstrual flow. When vata is out of balance, the flow will be blocked or inhibited and will cause discomfort. When the flow of blood due to vata imbalance is slowed or even blocked, fresh blood will be mixed in with some old blood as it has stayed behind in the system—giving a darkened color of the menstrual flow. Most of the vata type symptoms will arise in the pelvic and thigh region. Physical symptoms:
Ringing in the ears
Dry (absence of mucous)
Dark in color
Lightening of the flow
Healing painful vata period
Many women struggle with the questions; what should I eat during my period? What shouldn't I eat during my period? Does exercising help for my period cramps? And this is not a one size fits all, thing, but when we look at the different doshas, we will know what it is that your body needs to heal. To heal the vata imbalance in the body, you can start with the following steps.
Create consistency in all parts of life Modern living is often ungrounding; we are running around doing multiple things at once, eating while driving, or watching tv, rushing out the house in the morning with a cup of coffee in one hand and a sandwich in the other. This aggravates the normal movement in our body, creating an imbalance.
Boost your metabolism Your health depends on the ability to digest the nutritional, emotional, and sensory information we consume. When you have a stable and robust digestive power, you will be able to create healthy tissues, eliminate waste properly, and produce enough energy.
Abhyanga oil massage Abhyanga is an ancient practice that nourishes the body from the outside in, while also balancing the doshas. When struggling with a vata imbalance, use a warming oil like organic cold-pressed sesame seed oil or specific vata herbal oil.
Warming foods When we have too much vata in our body, we tend to feel cold inside and out. Especially cold hands and feet. To counter this cold, focus on eating warming foods, spices, and plenty of healthy oils. Avoid dry, light, rough, cold, raw, and airy foods. (like chips, crackers, popcorn, dehydrated food). Warming foods are adequately cooked, fresh, and full of flavor.
Castor oil pack for belly or back cramps. Soak a cloth with warm castor oil. Lay down and place the fabric on the belly or back if you have put a warm water bottle on top to keep the cloth warm. Make sure to cover the rest of your body with a blanket.
The angry pitta period
Pitta is characterized by it's sharp and hot tendencies. Its fiery nature irritates the body that provokes swelling and inflammation.
Spotting between periods
Early onset of flow
Increased body temperature