I first got my period when I was 16. It was the end of my Sophomore year. All of my friends had already gotten theirs while I waited, anxiously, for that first sign of red. I don’t remember actually getting it, just the waiting.
From 16 to 31, I have had twice as many periods of anyone I know. I would bleed twice a month, every month- a full 5-day period. One would be robust and red, while the other was brown and dry. They would come as a complete surprise nearly every time, leaving me mystified and frustrated, often to point of tears. I remember a common question I asked myself was “what’s wrong with me?” I felt like I was failing my body, but I didn’t know what to do. I had gone to countless doctors, all of which would reply “I don’t know, we can put you on birth control”, but I knew that would not solve the problem- only mask it, temporarily. Plus, I don’t promote the use of hormone altering drugs, unless extremely necessary.
So, I lived with it, for years- through the rest of highschool and all the way through college. When I was 22, and working at an awesome vegan restaurant- Peacefood Cafe in NYC- the world of alternative medicine opened up. I decided to see an acupuncturist. She looked at my tongue, told me to stop drinking kombucha, take Don Quai, stuck me with needles, and BAM- my period shifted to the “normal” once-per-month schedule for nearly 2 years! But, not without its consequences. While I was bleeding once a month, the symptoms were deathly. I couldn’t tell what was worse- constantly bleeding or dealing with the most severe abdominal cramping, bloating, constipation (followed by diarrhea), mood swings, depression, and more! I would pass out on the street, have body shakes, and be so depressed that I couldn’t leave my bed for the first 2 days.
My period shifted back to twice a month after those 2 years, and became entirely unpredictable. I hopelessly surrendered, turning a blind eye to any and all symptoms. I survived those years, but always had that underlying feeling of “what’s wrong with me?”
More recently I have become determined to “solve” my menstrual disharmony. I began reading The Woman Code, by Alisa Vitti, and started using her MyFlo app to track my period symptoms. I tried Seed Cycling (insert link), more acupuncture, and different herbs. They would all help for a little while, until I remembered that I never finished reading the book! Alisa outlines a diet- highlighting certain foods for each phase of your cycle. I created this chart to track my daily food-intake, and started this new way of eating. It’s been three months and only 3 periods- hallelujah! Click the image to print out your own copy and give it a go- I hand write the dates of my cycle above each column so I can keep track.
I’d love to hear your period story. Leave a comment below! Let me know how you like using the food chart, and any related shifts you may be experiencing!