I have been talking about hormones a lot lately on my Instagram Stories. If you're not familiar with my story, you can read more about it here. Basically, I started going zero waste by cutting out plastic and other endocrine disruptors.
I cut them out because I was trying to balance my hormones. I've been able to control them by managing stress, diet, and the products I use. Sugar and overly processed foods are a huge trigger for me.
I have a full post coming on all of this later, but wanted to share the 10 ways that I take care of myself while on my period to try and keep my hormones in check.
1. reusable menstrual products:
One of the first things that had to go for me were toxic, single-use disposable tampons and pads. Did you know one pad contains the same amount of plastic as four - yes - *FOUR* grocery bags!?
Plastic contains endocrine disruptors which can make your periods worse! One of the biggest benefits of opting for reusable products is not having to worry about hidden plastic.
As you know, I was a huge fan of the menstrual cup, but since getting my IUD placed, I can't wear one. You can dislodge your IUD with a cup! Of course, if you feel comfortable - more power to you. I just don't.
Three years ago I was searching for a solution and started using Thinx! My Thinx Undies have become my all time FAVORITE reusable menstrual products.
This post was sponsored by Thinx. All thoughts and opinions are my own for more information please read my disclosure page.
Thinx are period panties. They're so easy to use and SO MUCH CUTER than using pads. You don't have to worry about any unsightly wings because your underpants are taking care of everything.
This also means you are way less likely to leak or spill.
Now, when I first heard about Thinx, I was a little skeptical. I was in a completely different place financially when I ordered for the first time, and it was an investment, but I felt really confident because they offer a 60 day love it or send it back program.
They even include a return shipping label so it's really risk-free! Plus, they're giving all GZW readers $10 off with the code KATHRYN just enter it in at checkout.
how many do I need?
This depends on your personal flow. When my periods are normal, I have 8 pairs of Thinx and they are the only thing I use for my flow. On the first day of my period I change every 12 hours, but after that I use one pair every 24 hours.
I have three pairs of hip huggers that hold tampons worth, three pairs of the sport stylet hat hold 1.5 tampons worth, and then two thongs for lighter days which hold .5 tampons worth. You can see all of them on my personalized Thinx website!
how does it work?
I know, it all sounds too good to be true, but it works!! Each of their undies have four layers to keep you leak free.
moisture-wicking cotton: a natural fiber closest to your skin for added softness and breathability.
anti-microbial lining: that’s just a science-y way of saying it fights bad odors and bacteria.
super-absorbent fabric: holds up to 2 regular tampons’ worth so you never feel too *moist*.
leak-resistant barrier: so you stay fresh ‘n’ dry, even when you feel blah and crampy.
how do you clean them?
Once they're full, wring them out with cold water until the water runs clear and hang them to dry. Once they're dry, you can throw them in your hamper to be washed with the next load of clothes, but do not tumble dry!
I upcycled my bedroom "trash can" into a delicates hamper! This way all of the clothes that shouldn't be put in the dryer are kept in one location.
Wash the Thinx with cold water in your washing machine and then hang to dry. Because there are four layers in the crotch area it takes a little longer for them to dry. I like to set mine out in the sun and they'll dry in a flash!
they give back:
One of the things I love about Thinx is that they give back! It's something I always look for when I buy products. They aim to empower and educate people with periods and tackle period poverty.
Thinx has donated 5,712 pairs of period-proof underwear and contributed $315,584 to partners. Here are a few of the other ways they're involved in their mission.
They partner with schools, after school programs, and nonprofit organizations to educate others on identity, human rights, and reproductive health. The activity-based curriculum is delivered by qualified, trained facilitators.
They make donations of period products to grassroots organizations and local initiatives who ensure distribution.
They also provide funding for programs and services that support underserved people with periods, including survivors of domestic violence, refugees, and the homeless.
If Thinx has been on your list to try, use this link to get $10 off!
2. get outside:
When I'm on my period, I do NOT feel like exercising. I do not want to do yoga or go to dance class. All I want to do is lie on the couch, eat 1,000 brownies, and watch Netflix.
One of the best things for me to do, is go on a really long walk. Being outside is mood boosting, it energizes me, decreases my stress, and I have one very, very happy dog that gets to tag-a-long.
One of my main focuses this week is decreasing my stress, and being outside really helps to put my work load into perspective.
Ever wonder why you crave chocolate during that time of the month??? Sugar, of course, is part of it, but another reason is because it is magnesium rich!
Americans, in general, don't do a great job at getting the recommended dose of magnesium a day. This is because we tend eat a lot of processed foods and soil which is normally magnesium rich is being depleted by fertilizers.
Magnesium has been proven to relax muscles, reduce cramps, and help with migraines. The best part of all of this - chocolate is rich in magnesium! Check out this awesome resource to learn more about magnesium.
Cacao has 40 mg of magnesium in just one tablespoon!
So, when I'm having a really bad day I whip up a batch of my sugar-free, magnesium and iron rich brownies that totally support your flow.
When you're on your period. You lose a lot of blood. This often means a drop in iron levels too. I try to keep my iron levels up by opting for dark leafy greens like spinach and opting for black beans.
Did you know 1/2 a cup of black beans contains 20% of your daily iron intake where 1/2 a cup of ground beef only contains 15%?
It's a common misconception that you have to eat beef to keep your iron levels up, but there are a ton of plant based options.
My personal favorite way to get an iron dose during that time of the month is with one of those brownies I was talking about in #3.
Flow Supporting Brownies:
1 1/2 cups black beans
2 tbsp cocao powder
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of Salt
1/2 cup of chocolate chips + more for decoration
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Grease an 8x8 pan (I like to use a round one!)
Combine all of the ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor, and process until they are completely smooth. Once you think it's smooth, process for another minute!
Stir in the chocolate chips
Pour the batter into the greased 8×8 pan, it will be really thick.
Sprinkle the extra chocolate chips on top
Bake the brownies for 16 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (I use a reusable chopstick to keep things zero waste)
Let the brownies cool for 30 minutes
Slice, dice, and dig-in! I also love to pair it with a non-dairy coconut milk ice cream.
5. healthy fats:
When you're in your menstrual phase, your body is craving healthy fats.
Period pains are caused by prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are totally normal, but some of them increase your body's sensitivity to pain... and can cause your muscles to spasm (i.e. cramps) these are the "bad" kind of prostaglandins.
Now, what you eat can either increase or decrease the levels of "bad" prostaglandins. If you want to increase the "bad" prostaglandins, then you'd need to eat a lot of processed foods high in saturated fat, lots of red meat, dairy, and coffee.
If you wanted decrease the "bad" prostaglandins, then you'll want to eat a diet high in salmon, nuts, seeds, eggs, avocados, and olive oil. Here's a great article to learn more about prostaglandins.
You can bet I am loading up on the avocado toast!
6. slow down:
Does anyone else just get exhausted during that time of the month? I lose all motivation for at least two days and want to do nothing.
So, I let myself take it easy. I don't beat myself up for not "performing" the way I should be. I make sure that build plenty of rest into my schedule.
If that means reading a book, taking a nap, or binging Parks and Rec for the third time - then I do it. No guilt and no shame.
7. non-toxic beauty routine:
I always use a non-toxic skin care routine, but getting my period is a nice reminder to take a little more time for myself.
I like to put on a nice face mask to combat some of the hormonal acne I always get! If I don't get four new pimples, do I even have a period?
I really like this calming matcha, aloe, and honey mask to soothe any visible inflammation.
I struggle with inflammation and have since I was a kid. After drinking lemonade or another sugary drink I would always say, "I can feel the sugar depositing in my bones." Of course no one knew what that meant.
It wasn't until I was sharing that story with a co-worker in his late 50s and he said, "That's called inflammation."
Then I looked up inflammation and sure enough - he was right! My joints were aching due to my blood sugar spiking. I have always been really sensitive to sugar - even natural sugars!
I have to be really careful, and try to keep everything balanced by opting for anti-inflammatory foods.
One of my favorite ways of adapting this practice has been drinking golden milk. (Full post and recipe coming soon!)
9. warm up:
One of the main symptoms in Estrogen Dominance (the type of hormone imbalance I have) is poor circulation resulting in cold hands and feet. My hands and feet are always freezing and typically purple.
I've been made fun of for purple feet since i was in high school. It's a problem that has plagued me for years.
It's also no surprise the heat helps with cramps. So, I just like to warm my whole body up with a bath, get real snuggly under a blanket or two, or put on some cute socks and sip a big ol' cup of tea.
Journal, journal, journal, journal, journal!!!
Keeping a journal is the only way that I've been able to find my main triggers. I make notes of how I'm feeling. Do I have brain fog? Am I bloated? Exhausted? Is my inflammation flaring up? What have I eaten? How have I been exercising?
When you write all of these things down consistently patterns will start to emerge and it will be so much easier to spot them!
How do you support yourself during your flow?