Our modern lifestyle made great advancements in the sense of our societal advancement, yet at the same time it has really thrown our bodies’ rhythms off, especially the way we balance female hormones.
Living a stressful lifestyle can create a lot of problems for our health: disease, mental health disturbances, etc. While stress will always be part of life, we can definitely live in a way that reduces it by embracing natural health tools and fueling our body with good nutrition. That is why I am such an advocate of cleansing: it truly is one of the best ways to reset our body and balance our hormones.
Many women have come to me over the years citing various hormonal problems: strong cramps, irregular (or no) periods, low mood and anxiety, digestive issues, loss of sex drive, etc. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to balance female hormones. Honouring the changes that happen in your body as you go through your menstrual cycle is a good place to start.
Understanding Your Cycle
A woman’s menstrual cycle is divided into four phases:
- menstrual phase
- follicular phase
- ovulation phase
- luteal phase
The menstrual phase is the first stage of the menstrual cycle when you get your period. This phase starts when an egg from the previous cycle isn’t fertilized. Because pregnancy hasn’t taken place, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone drop and the now-unneeded thickened lining of your uterus is shed through your vagina.
Because your body’s hormone levels are lower and you are shedding the lining of your uterus, the menstrual phase would be a good time to rest and replenish. You may find that your creativity levels are not as high, so be kind to yourself if you’re not feeling in the mood for creating and expanding.
The follicular phase overlaps with the menstrual phase (since it starts on the first day of your period) and ends when you ovulate. The hypothalamus sends a signal to your pituitary gland to release follicle stimulating hormone. The end result of this hormone is the formation of a healthy egg. As the egg matures, it sets off a surge in estrogen that thickens the lining of your uterus, creating a nutrient-rich environment for an embryo to grow.
Considering that your body is going through a process of creating a healthy, mature egg, this would be a great time for your to shift into accomplish mode. This is the time to make your plans and launch new ideas. You will find that you are your most energetic, creative self during this phase which can last from 11 to 27 days, depending on your cycle.
Ovulation is when your ovary releases the mature egg. The egg travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus to be fertilized by sperm. The ovulation phase is the only time during your menstrual cycle when you can get pregnant. Women trying to get pregnant can discover that they are ovulating by looking at symptoms. These symptoms include a slight rise in basal body temperature and a thicker discharge from the vagina (kind of like egg white).
During this phase, estrogen has peaked and begins a decline, while progesterone surges. As progesterone surges, a slight decrease in serotonin can happen. Since carbs can boost serotonin, you may find you experience more food cravings. If you notice this happening, try to engage in other serotonin-boosting activities, like taking a brisk walk in the sunshine. You should also enlist the help of serotonin-supporting essential oils like frankincense and wild orange.
While you may not have the same energy level during ovulation as you did during the follicular phase, you will be stable and strong to do the heavy lifting required to put your plans into action. Since your body is ready to receive “seed” to fertilize the egg, this will be a great time to seek input and to socialize.
In the luteal phase the follicle that housed the maturing egg changes into the corpus luteum. This structure releases hormones, mainly progesterone and some estrogen, to keep your uterine lining thick and ready for a fertilized egg to implant.
If you get pregnant, your body will produce human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (the hormone picked up on pregnancy tests). It helps maintain the corpus luteum and keeps the uterine lining thick. If you don’t get pregnant, the corpus luteum will shrink away and be resorbed. This leads to decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone, which causes your period to start.
During this phase, you may find you lack motivation. That’s OK. Your body is not primed to function at very high intensities during this time. Stay in action to maintain what you have, but this may not be a great time to start something new.
Now that you understand how you can honour your body throughout your cycle, let me share 4 oils with you that have helped countless women regain control over their hormones and lead a more balanced and productive life.
Clary sage helps to balance hormone levels naturally. It can be used to regulate your menstrual cycle, relieve PMS symptoms, and support your body when you are dealing with hormonal imbalance issues like infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome. Clary sage also serves as a natural support for emotional imbalances, like low-mood and anxious feelings.
It is no surprise that Clary Sage is one of the main oils in doTERRA’s hugely popular hormonal support blend, Clary Calm. This blend is powerful for women, especially when they are menstruating. Many women roll it on their bellybuttons, on top of their ovaries, on their lower backs, or on their inner upper-arms. I even know someone who uses it as a perfume! Clary Calm contains Ylang Ylang plus all the oils I am about to mention…and more! If you are looking for an oil to help you during mensuration or for general hormonal balance, look no further than Clary Calm.
Extracts of fennel have estrogenic properties that help balance the female reproductive system. Symptoms caused by menopause have been shown to be reduced with consumption of fennel seed extract. Fennel has also been shown to reduce menstrual discomfort and duration. Some suggest that fennel oil can also be used to boost fertility!
Pretty cool, right? With several health benefits dating back to ancient Rome, Fennel essential oil has been used for hundreds of years. Not to mention – it tastes great and can be used to aid digestion!
Could a well-being list really be complete without lavender? It’s probably the most popular essential oil, and for good reason.
Lavender oil promotes emotional balance and is often used to help those struggling with anxious feelings, low mood, moodiness and stress. It can also be used to promote restful sleep, which will, in turn, help to balance your hormone levels. I can’t begin to tell you how many sleepless nights I might have had if I didn’t have lavender essential oil by my side. It is relaxing and calming – all of which are very helpful for balancing hormones.
Vitex? Hmmm, sounds like the name of a new energy drink, doesn’t it?
Vitex is actually a type of fruit, also known as chasteberry or monk’s pepper. It is about the size of a peppercorn and is produced by the chaste tree, which acquired its name because its fruit was likely used to decrease men’s libido during the Middle Ages. Recent studies show it is helpful in improving PMS symptoms. Researchers believe that vitex works by decreasing levels of the hormone prolactin. Reducing prolactin helps rebalance other hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, thus reducing PMS symptoms. While it is not offered as a stand alone, it is in the blend I mentioned called Clary Calm.
A Reluctant Judge
When my daughter was 18, I saw her lying on the couch, curled up in a ball. When I asked her what was wrong, she explained that she had cramps.
“You know I have an oil for that, right?” I asked.
“Yeah”, she said, rolling her eyes.
“Just try it!”, I insisted, handing her the Clary Calm roller bottle.
After showing her how to use it, I handed it to her and walked away. When I looked back, she still held it in her hand, not showing any intention of using it. Fifteen minutes later, I walked back into the room and saw her sitting at her computer, typing away.
“Ah, you used the oil, I see,” I said, smiling.
“Yeah…”, she said begrudgingly. “Your stupid oil worked.”
All I can say is: thank God for stupid oils!
Essential oils have a wide-range of healing applications and women’s hormones are no different. I can personally attest to each of the oils I am recommending and it is my wish that you reap the benefits of them too! If you’ve never used these oils before, I dare you to!