Sunday, July 17, 2011

Menstrual Nightmares

**If you are uncomfortable with reading about women's menstrual cycles, then I suggest you skip this post.  I always find topics of personal health accounts opens up great discussion that can be very helpful to other readers.**

Four days in I had to abandon my sleep experiment due to some health issues. When I started the experiment, I had already been spotting for 6 weeks.  I was only slightly concerned as this had happened in the past but it wasn't until a couple of nights into my sleep experiment, I started bleeding abnormally heavy.  I decided to see someone. (I know, most people would have seen someone about a problem like that sooner, but sometimes you just think it will go away).

I visited my Naturopath first who suggested that stress could be the culprit.  I won't lie, I am stressed, but when she asked me if I was stressed or had difficulty sleeping, I initially said no.  She pressed on with questions to think about specifics in my life.  My number one stressor is my job.  I've been working the same job for the last 4 plus years and I've never really liked it.  I spend most of my days at work "ticked off" and the little nuances of the job that other people seem to handle without grudge effect me immensely.  Sometimes I feel like there is something really wrong with me, but I'm not entirely alone.  There are a few other people who have the same angry disposition, so something about this job is triggering negative emotions in people.  It's funny, I left my last job of 6 years due to burnout only to get a new job that ended up also burning me out.  I seem to have a failure to cope.  I also think I care too much.  She suggested we deal with the stress, and get some blood work done to rule out other medical possibilities.

I visited my family doctor to have blood tests done and discussed with him my options from his end of the medical spectrum.  Expensive drugs and birth control.  I laughed and said no thank you.  To give my family doctor some credit, he is very open to me seeking the help of my Naturopath.  10 vials of blood later and I realised that I had to take serious action to reduce the stress in my life.

It's disheartening when you think you've been doing everything right with eating and exercising regularly only to find that something like stress can null your efforts.

When I started a primal/paleo lifestyle in April 2010, one of the changes I noticed was my period appeared once per month.  I was very excited and posted about it back in November last year.  It continued regularly until April this year when my husband and I departed for our Japan trip.  I was supposed to get my period a few days into our trip, but it never came.  I didn't really sweat about it at the time, but this could have been when the stress started.  

Since my return from Japan, I've had difficulty getting my health back in order.  It took me two weeks to get back into my paleo eating.  I've had my period since May 19th and we're pressing onto week nine now.  Some days are light spotting while others are oddly heavy with clotting.  Clearly this is a point of stress as well.

I'm trying to take it in stride and I've been doing some reading on the topic.  The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf has a great chapter on stress, cortisol and it's effects on the body.  I identified with everything in that chapter so I'm using this as a starting point to getting my zen back in order.  I also have an end date to my job as I'll be heading back to school in September.  Having that countdown to my last day should also ease my days at work.  If things go south while sitting at my desk, I can look up at the calendar, smile and say "I'm out of here September 2nd".

As I attempt to remedy my situation, it may be a little quiet on the blog front.  Thank you for reading and I'll post an update as soon as this menstrual nightmare stops.


  1. Katherine-
    I'm so sorry to hear about your menstrual nightmare! I think Chris Kresser mentioned in a blog post once that even if you are eating something good in a wrong way, it can still be damaging to your body. No matter how perfect we can be with our diets, stress can ruin all of our good efforts. I'm glad you have an end date in sight! You may need to start a countdown! haha

    In the meantime, try to just focus on doing the best you can at work. (When I was working, I was an anal perfectionist who worked way too much, so I know what you're going through!) But try to cut yourself some slack. Be kind to yourself!

    Also, do you practice yoga? That has helped me tremendously with stress! Also, I try to start and end my day by doing some deep breathing or meditation. Notice I said *try*.

    Hope your naturopath can shed some light on your health problems and they can be resolved shortly!

    Be well,

  2. I just went through this as well. I was bleeding for about 4 wks. I did take my doc up on the birth control which stopped the bleeding in 3 days. I took the bc for a month and then stopped cause I didn't want to take it any longer. This was actually the event that pushed me into cleaning up my diet and getting my stress under control. I make sure I got alot of good fats and I also take an adaptogen that is make my Gagia Herbs. I notice when I don't get enough fat my stress/anxiety starts to creep back up. Good luck and keep us posted.