I love my period. I am one of those rare women who actually look forward to my flow - it reminds me of my womanhood, my sexuality, my babeness.
I may feel so attached to my scarlet sidekick because for two years, she left me. For two years, I felt completely unsexy, unattractive and unfeminine. I was so embarrassed about this that never talked about it. And since I didn’t talk about it, I forgot that I was even without it.
I also had zero sex drive. I remember talking to one of my girlfriends at a bachelorette party about sex, and my lack thereof. She suggested buying hot lingerie to wear for my partner of six years. I felt so awkward about that, and didn’t feel like putting any effort in. This was so unlike me. In college, I was on fire. Being sexy was just what came naturally. (Come on, I’m a passionate redhead.) So what happened?
At the time, I was taking hormones to balance my autoimmune thyroid condition and on top of that, was on birth control for over eight years. I was a vice president at a leading financial institution working 50+ hours a week and on top of that, was growing my business as a yoga and wellness entrepreneur. Working mornings, nights and weekends with such a stressful schedule, I didn’t have a moment to breathe. Finally, I had enough. I left the comforts of a six-figure paycheck, and I put my heart and soul completely into my business. Around then, I also weaned myself off the synthetic thyroid medication and oral contraceptives. Problem solved. End of story, right? Wrong. I still wasn’t getting my period.
Throughout these changes, my relationship remained a huge point of stress. My boyfriend and I were growing apart, and neither one of us could seem to find a way back. My new job was all about giving love and warmth to clients and when I came home exhausted at the end of the day, I so badly just wanted to fall into someone’s arms and be held. But that just never happened - because I never spoke up.
I wish I could say I reached an epiphany, but it was my body that gave out. I was quite literally too physically drained to stay in my stressful relationship. Leaving was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but also the most liberating. I packed my bags, moved out and two weeks later (on Christmas Eve no less) my period came!
Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to other women who’ve been in my situation (commonly known as amenorrhea). While in some cases, the causes can be chemical (medications you’re going on or off) or related to illnesses (so always see your doctor if you’re missing periods), it’s amazing to me just how many seem to stem from an emotional source. Start digging into the literature, and study after study show us why. When we’re stressed, we temporarily alter the functioning of our hypothalamus, the area of our brains that helps control the hormones that - among many other functions - regulate our periods. Stress often makes us lose weight, which also lowers our hormone production. So for some, it’s a double whammy.
But it’s also good news. Because these are things you can fix. If I reflect back, when I broke up with my boyfriend, I also made room for some other positive changes. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about what they were and how they worked. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
Yoga was instrumental in my own healing and it will be in yours, too. As a complement to eating healthy, supplementation and self-care, yoga works by strengthening and supporting your immune and glandular systems while also promoting digestive health. All three of those things need to be working in synergy in order to feel good and have healthy menstrual cycles.
Energetically, when you do yoga, you are allowing a current to flow through your body, clearing the garbage and releasing it out. When you breathe deeply, you’ll clear your lungs, focus your mind and your body will relax and let go of stress. I recommend rising 10-15 minutes earlier than your usual waking time to start your day with this simple sequence.
When I lost my period, I was on a strict vegan diet and I wasn’t getting enough protein to adequately nourish my body. In most cases with amenorrhea, women are underweight and lack adequate body fat to manufacture hormones. Sometimes, though, women who are overweight can have amenorrhea as a result of androgens associated with excess body fat. In either case, it is essential to get adequate protein in your diet, generally at least 40 grams daily. You’ll also want to make sure that your diet is comprised of about 20% good quality fats such as nuts, seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil. These will help support the production of sex hormones (including estrogen and progesterone). I recommend eating only when hungry, at consistent times each day and filling your plate with colorful phytonutrients and clean protein to ensure you’re getting the elements you need to support hormone balance and weight. And always remember, there’s nothing sexier than a woman with curves, so embrace what your mamma gave you!
Ancient wisdom teaches “a healthy mind is a healthy body." Your body truly is a mirror reflection of what’s going on inside that beautiful head of yours. When I was struggling with weight gain and feelings of low self-esteem around my lack of period, I was telling my body I was unworthy of love and affection, and so naturally, I wasn’t receiving any.
I believe that every person has the power to realize consciousness, the ability to take responsibility and a desire to find self-love and self-healing. Meditation can help with this. There is nothing more important than truly believing – with all your soul - that the healthy treatments you choose will work. And furthermore, feeling worthy of beauty, love, sustained health and prosperity in your life. Your belief sets the intention, and from that intention, a healing process occurs that will make way for a disease-free state to manifest in your body.
My daily morning practice includes setting my timer for five minutes to sit, visualizing myself in perfect health and happiness, and giving myself permission to draw it into my life. This meditation helped me to send love and healing light to my body rather than negativity and disdain for being “broken.” I created it to remind myself, and my clients, that we are all worthy, beautiful and sexy. I welcome you to listen and download it here.
In order to heal, we have to communicate fearlessly for what we desire to feel in our bodies and in our lives. We’ve got to speak up with conscious confidence. We’ve got to live mindfully and with integrity. When we do that, everything flows.
Fern Langham is an internationally recognized teacher, speaker and influencer on the power of integrative medicine, yoga, and holistic lifestyle practices. Combining her education in Biomedical Engineering with her studies in yoga and integrative nutrition, Fern is the founder of Thyroid Yoga™. After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Hypothyroid disease in 2008, she was inspired by the lack of knowledge about holistic lifestyle practices for hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and autoimmune conditions. In addition to teaching, retreats, events and speaking on the topics of holistic health and self-expression, Fern's thyroid course is a best-seller on MindBodyGreen and she trains wellness leaders and practitioners in her Thyroid Yoga training course, now available internationally. Fern is also the founder of Ajai Alchemy, an all organic essential oil fragrance brand specifically formulated with synergistic hormone balancing and aphrodisiac benefits.