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Women's Healthcare

How to Take Charge of Menstrual and Hormonal Health

Certified holistic nutritionist Nicole Bendayan, the creator of The Sync Society, shared how she got interested in empowering women’s health, and offered tips for better menstrual health and wellness.

Nicole Bendayan

Creator, The Sync Society

A certified holistic nutritionist, Nicole Bendayan educates women about holistic menstrual health and how to optimize their lives, balance hormones, manage menstrual-related issues, and thrive both personally and professionally by tailoring their nutrition, fitness and lifestyle to the four phases of their menstrual cycles.

Can you share a bit about yourself and what led you to specialize in women’s health?

My struggles with disordered eating and body image got me interested in health and nutrition (at that point, I didn’t even recognize that women had different nutrition and wellness needs). Further, it was my interest in cooking and nutrition, and my nutritional food business in Vietnam that led me into formally pursuing holistic nutrition.

After years of dismissing regarding my myriad negative symptoms, I went off birth control and my symptoms went away. That led me to research birth control. I found all my symptoms were associated with it and and that inspired me to further pursue women’s health.

I found out I knew nothing about my own cycle and found a passion for helping women understand, connect to, and support their cycles.

Can you explain cycle tracking and the methods used for it?

Cycle tracking, specifically the fertility awareness method, involves observing and charting menstrual cycle biomarkers. There are different levels to this method, including calendar-based methods, cervical mucus tracking, and basal body temperature tracking. The most effective is the symptothermal method, combining cervical mucus changes with basal body temperature shifts to confirm ovulation.

The key is to identify the fertile window for conception and understand hormonal patterns. Cervical mucus indicates the onset of fertility, as sperm can survive for up to five days within it, while basal body temperature confirms ovulation. Due to its complexity, I recommend working with a trained professional to learn and practice this method effectively.

Is cycle tracking useful for both contraception and fertility purposes?

Absolutely, cycle tracking is valuable for both contraception and fertility; it offers insights into hormonal health. Tracking biomarkers reveals information about hormonal balance, enabling us to address imbalances naturally. The symptothermal method can be used effectively for natural contraception. For fertility, it helps pinpoint the most optimal time for conception.

What are some indicators of a healthy menstrual cycle?

A healthy menstrual cycle typically ranges between 24 to 36 days. Periods last between 3 to 7 days, with at least two days of medium to heavier flow. Menstrual blood should be deep red in color, free of large clots, and relatively painless. While these indicators provide valuable insights into hormonal health, recognizing and addressing deviations from these norms is crucial to maintaining overall health, as well.

Are there shifts in the field of women’s health and increased awareness of hormonal imbalances?

There’s a growing awareness of women’s unique experiences and the importance of understanding hormonal health. More people are discussing and working in this field, contributing to a positive shift. However, misinformation and dismissal still persist, highlighting the need for continued education and empowerment.

How do hormonal imbalances affect women’s well-being?

Hormonal imbalances, such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and endometriosis, can lead to various health issues. PCOS may cause anxiety, depression, weight gain, fatigue, and hinder weight loss efforts. Endometriosis, an estrogen-dominant condition, can lead to chronic pain, anxiety, and inflammation. External factors like xenoestrogens from everyday products can exacerbate these imbalances, emphasizing the need for lifestyle changes and informed choices.

Are there trends toward more resources and awareness in women’s hormonal health?

Yes, there is a noticeable trend toward more discussions and resources about women’s hormonal health. This growing awareness highlights the interconnectedness of hormones, well-being, and daily life. However, there’s still much work to be done to ensure accurate information reaches more women and empowers them to make informed decisions.

How do societal perceptions contribute to the lack of understanding about women’s hormonal health?

Societal perceptions often downplay women’s experiences and normalize suffering, leading to a lack of understanding and resources for women’s hormonal health. Cultural taboos and historical biases have hindered open discussions, making it harder for women to seek help and resources for their hormonal well-being.

What steps can individuals take to prioritize their hormonal health and well-being?

Prioritizing hormonal health involves making informed choices. This includes understanding your menstrual cycle, using effective cycle tracking methods, and seeking guidance from professionals trained in women’s health. Evaluating lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and product choices can also positively impact hormonal well-being.

How do hormonal changes affect women’s well-being at different life stages, and what challenges can arise from these changes?

Hormonal fluctuations during puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause play a vital role in women’s health. However, focusing only on major life stages neglects the cumulative impact of hormonal changes. Ignoring hormonal well-being throughout reproductive years can lead to challenges in fertility, pregnancy, and menopause. Addressing hormonal imbalances during these stages can make transitions smoother and healthier.

Are there any final words of advice for women to prioritize their hormonal health?

Start by connecting with your body, become introspective, and observe patterns. Many symptoms considered normal are signals from your body. Begin tracking your cycle, understand its fluctuations, and tailor nutrition and lifestyle accordingly. Over time, this practice will become second nature, offering a profound understanding of your body’s needs. Remember to show yourself grace throughout the journey.

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