8

votes

Menstruation, modern life and paleo genes.

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 25, 2010 at 1:53 AM

I was wondering what is the best way to take care of oneself during menstruation. I do not know enough about paleolithic women care system - did they take a "break" to live in special hut like some women do in some cultures? Did they try to block somehow the blood flow, or quite the opposite - did nothing to block it?

What is the best way to keep hygiene requirements of modern life at the same time not to do something that would be harmful?

Personally I think that using tampons, as much as very practical, is not what our bodies need. they block the flow, hold the blood, which very easily may harvest bacteria on the surface of a tampon. Most of the pads available now stop free airflow which might also help bacteria. For a few years now I have been using diva cup, which I think is the most "natural" - what do you think?

And what about other things like cramps, PMS etc - can I do something more paleo than stuffing myself with pain killers? Can you think of primal methods our grandmothers might had been using? Are there foods to avoid a few days before and during the period? Or maybe foods/herbs that ease the pain and help relax the muscles?

Any other helpful thoughts and tips to connect our feminine cycle with our ancestry?

76c885d7d27e6c83542ea493ca866dcd

(2178)

on December 16, 2011
at 07:37 PM

I am suffering from cramps NOW but they are very unpredictable. Would the acupuncture work only if you get it while you are suffering from cramps, or would it be helpful at any time of the month?

E46d4f7e35e46ee4e8211ab4bc852023

(1510)

on October 26, 2010
at 02:53 AM

Melissa, how long do you IF for? The entire two days? Also, any particular reason why you take the GLA?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 27, 2010
at 06:09 PM

http://bit.ly/acLMXD

D0a103cafaf4768c6dc69b1772a55877

(421)

on July 27, 2010
at 05:58 PM

Sorry to sound like an idiot, but what is IF?

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 26, 2010
at 04:15 PM

to be honest, I have never really looked into it, b/c I simply haven't been in need for years (I'm a lesbian). If I wanted to use, I would make a serious research and weight pros and cons. Sometimes it's worth to go slightly against the pure natural approach to gain something else in return, like freedom, control over own life etc.

3eb3f79868b24b3df4450ea2d4f9a5d5

(2387)

on July 26, 2010
at 06:54 AM

Marisa - my suggestion would habe been condoms. We also took a look at diaphragms but that seemed to be too complicated. Since there is no 100% security anyway, we decided to stick with careful use of condoms. A fertility calendar seemed to be an interesting element to add in addition, but I did not look into that any further. The science should be solid, though.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 25, 2010
at 11:32 PM

IMHO spermicide is going to be a lot more irritating to your err...local environment than the pill. There are many types of hormonal birth control. I personally recommend the nuvaring. If you are married and having a child wouldn't be the end of the world, studies show withdrawl is as effective as condoms.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 06:07 PM

Marisa - I think next in line would be physical blockade like a condom, with added spermicide (I hope that's the correct term). But I don't know what is the impact of this substance on sensitive environment of vagina. I guess we have to face the fact, that stopping the chance of having children is quite against the whole point of evolution and nature... so whatever we try would not be paleo, but I am ok with it - a woman has the right to have a choice and control over her body and reproduction.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 06:06 PM

Neither I nor my best friend with very severe cramps were taking pill (well, she may now, I am not sure). I've heads stories of the opposite, that hormonal pill helped in the painful periods... so I guess it's on one by one basis.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 05:59 PM

this sounds very promising! I am really happy that something (or combination of a few) helped your girlfriend, my best friend has similar problems and it's so painful to just watch her suffer! I will let her know about your ideas, maybe that would help. I need to up my magnesium anyway...

35deb6722604c868c610088a6d8ce09e

(295)

on July 25, 2010
at 02:22 PM

Any suggestions for a non-hormonal method?

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 04:23 AM

I've never been into aspirin... is it better than ibu prophen (my drug of choice)? I dont' really know what is the hierarchy of damage among pain killers :-/ i remember that among older women there was advice of warm compresses and placing hot water bottle or such. I guess that's to relax the muscles a bit. I have just had my blood work done, am waiting for results, so will see if all there is ok.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 04:20 AM

I really like how naturally menstruation is taken among the !Kung women... we live in a society that inherited tremendous amounts of shame, taboos and embarrassment surrounding feminine bleeding. I do have easier periods, I think, but I've never had that bad anyway. I have often very painful first day, and some moodiness before that. But mostly that's it. I will try to IF before, I will see how it feels. Funny thing that actually today I was hardly hungry after eating some meet in the morning. I was surprised how uninterested in food I was!

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 04:16 AM

I know we don't have to emulate exactly what our ancestors did... I rather would like to know if my body evolved with a particular "assumption" of lifestyle, that it works in one way b/c for thousand of years women were behaving in a particular, common way during their periods. And what can I do now to get as close as my comfort and modern life allow, to this "assumption". I hope it's clear what I mean.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on July 25, 2010
at 03:38 AM

Most elite female athletes I have known had such low bady fat that they had very few periods, if any. Such low body fat is not natural for females.

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10 Answers

3
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on July 25, 2010
at 02:39 AM

Pads would probably be the most paleo for menstruation. Other methods swapped out often for clean ones are probably fine. We don't really know what the paleos did for that exactly. We are only guessing. Many people find that after going paleo for a while, cramps and whatnot decrease quite a bit. I used to use aspirin for a day or so beforehand for cramps, but lately do not need them. Ancient native Americans used willow bark for pain, the active ingredient of which is the same as in aspirin (although aspirin is synthetic). Exercise also helps with menstrual pain for many. (I mean exercise all month-I usually actually just rest any time I don't feel well like sometimes before menstruation).

Personally, I would not suffer hugely all for fear of an aspirin, especially as I do not appear to suffer any side effects from occasional aspirin useage. Yes, it is not ideal for gut flora but neither is tons of stress from suffering from pain and potential loss of sleep. I personally would use aspirin if I needed it and then take some probiotic to try to make up for it. Ideally, we try to get to the point where we need very little medication if any, but even the ancients, to the best of our knowledge, probably used various herbs to treat suffering and illness. You may also want to look into having some blood work done and hormones checked to see if there are any imbalances in nutrition levels or hormone levels. I think a lot of docs (many of whom are male) who do not suffer from PMS symptoms do not really understand that it's not just imagination or they tend to not take it seriously. But there is definitely a change in hormones that makes for a sometimes rather drastic change in mental and physical functioning at that time. -Eva

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 04:23 AM

I've never been into aspirin... is it better than ibu prophen (my drug of choice)? I dont' really know what is the hierarchy of damage among pain killers :-/ i remember that among older women there was advice of warm compresses and placing hot water bottle or such. I guess that's to relax the muscles a bit. I have just had my blood work done, am waiting for results, so will see if all there is ok.

2
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on July 25, 2010
at 05:00 AM

Apologies for offering advice outside my area of expertise, but my girlfriend has quite serious dysmenorrhea, so given my natural propensity to look into a nutritional explanation for everything, I got her started on zinc, magnesium, thiamin and sorting out her omega 3. (There are tonnes of references here). At least one of those factors seems to have done the trick as her symptoms (being immobilised by cramps for most of a day and being weak and sick for another day) have substantially reduced. Presumably the factors involved are inflammation (like everything) and vasodilation. She also drinks strong chamomile tea at the time, which apparently reduces cramping.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 05:59 PM

this sounds very promising! I am really happy that something (or combination of a few) helped your girlfriend, my best friend has similar problems and it's so painful to just watch her suffer! I will let her know about your ideas, maybe that would help. I need to up my magnesium anyway...

2
2b8c327d1296a96ad64cdadc7dffa72d

on July 25, 2010
at 03:31 AM

I think it largely depends on your flow. I remember when doing a triathlon, one of the elite athletes had blood running down her leg - stopping would have meant crucial minutes being "wasted". So she let it flow.

If you generally have a very heavy, clotty flow, pads aren't gonna cut it. I'm not sure trying to emulate our ancestors is really necessary here to align yourself with the spirit of paleo. After all, there are multiple attitudes about "what is paleo", "what is primal", etc. I think in the end, your comfort and your convenience should prevail.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on July 25, 2010
at 03:38 AM

Most elite female athletes I have known had such low bady fat that they had very few periods, if any. Such low body fat is not natural for females.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 04:16 AM

I know we don't have to emulate exactly what our ancestors did... I rather would like to know if my body evolved with a particular "assumption" of lifestyle, that it works in one way b/c for thousand of years women were behaving in a particular, common way during their periods. And what can I do now to get as close as my comfort and modern life allow, to this "assumption". I hope it's clear what I mean.

2
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 25, 2010
at 02:29 AM

In the anthrobiography Nisa: The Life and Words of !Kung Woman, the women in her tribe just let the blood flow and don't make a big deal over it. However, the !Kung are hunter-gatherers, not paleolithic people, so while there practices might be similar...we'll never know.

Either way, I used to have err...many "lady" problems??? yeast infections and UTIs CONSTANTLY. I no longer get them. I tried using organic tampons, not using tampons, using a DIVA cup...don't make a difference. Wasn't until I went mostly paleo that I stopped getting them. So right now things down there are great and while free bleeding might be more natural, I think the costs far outweigh potential benefits.

Two days before I get my period I IF, exercise more, and take some GLA. When I do get it, I eat a big steak :) Better periods are one of the MAIN reasons I stay paleo. When I went off paleo when I first moved to NYC, my period cramps were absolutely excruciating. Now it's a mild 2-3 day affair.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 04:20 AM

I really like how naturally menstruation is taken among the !Kung women... we live in a society that inherited tremendous amounts of shame, taboos and embarrassment surrounding feminine bleeding. I do have easier periods, I think, but I've never had that bad anyway. I have often very painful first day, and some moodiness before that. But mostly that's it. I will try to IF before, I will see how it feels. Funny thing that actually today I was hardly hungry after eating some meet in the morning. I was surprised how uninterested in food I was!

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 27, 2010
at 06:09 PM

http://bit.ly/acLMXD

D0a103cafaf4768c6dc69b1772a55877

(421)

on July 27, 2010
at 05:58 PM

Sorry to sound like an idiot, but what is IF?

E46d4f7e35e46ee4e8211ab4bc852023

(1510)

on October 26, 2010
at 02:53 AM

Melissa, how long do you IF for? The entire two days? Also, any particular reason why you take the GLA?

0
78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1035)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:01 AM

I've haven't had my period in over a year (had a baby four months ago), but I might get some cloth pads in addition to the diva cup I had been using previously. We already use cloth diapers and "family cloth" instead of toilet paper, so throwing something else in the washer would be no big deal. I'm actually kind of looking forward to getting my period back eventually (not that it needs to happen any time soon!) to start some new spiritual practices. Out of the handful of species that menstruate, humans are the only animals that have cycles that line up perfectly with the moon's cycles! Of course, all the excess hormones we are exposed to can elongate or shorten our cycles today, but our ancestors were definitely in rhythm with the moon. Menstruation was also traditionally a time to be still, contemplate, be exclusively with the other women who were all menstruating together or to be alone.
When I get my period back I plan on taking at least one day or part of a day to just step back and collect my thoughts, while "free flowing" so to speak, just sitting on a towel.

0
510dc587cd5b176c5386c7c13bb266da

on July 26, 2010
at 08:51 PM

For cramps, you could try accupressure. I practice that in general, and it can definitely decrease pain. However, when I was younger and had some very bad cramps, it didn't help as much.

76c885d7d27e6c83542ea493ca866dcd

(2178)

on December 16, 2011
at 07:37 PM

I am suffering from cramps NOW but they are very unpredictable. Would the acupuncture work only if you get it while you are suffering from cramps, or would it be helpful at any time of the month?

0
35deb6722604c868c610088a6d8ce09e

(295)

on July 26, 2010
at 12:59 AM

Thanks for the input offca and Melissa. I've been on the pill (Loestrin)/patch for about 4 years now (also regulates my cycle and cramps) and I'd like to get hormones out of my system completely. However, since I'm in my early 20s I don't think any doctor would let me have something like a copper IUD (which could irritate my system as well). I really don't plan on having any kids in the next 5-10 (if at all) but I'm becoming weary of putting extra hormones in my body. I have to deal with that in my food as it is :p

3eb3f79868b24b3df4450ea2d4f9a5d5

(2387)

on July 26, 2010
at 06:54 AM

Marisa - my suggestion would habe been condoms. We also took a look at diaphragms but that seemed to be too complicated. Since there is no 100% security anyway, we decided to stick with careful use of condoms. A fertility calendar seemed to be an interesting element to add in addition, but I did not look into that any further. The science should be solid, though.

0
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on July 25, 2010
at 04:40 PM

I have deleted this post.

0
3eb3f79868b24b3df4450ea2d4f9a5d5

(2387)

on July 25, 2010
at 11:05 AM

A close friend of mine greatly improved her menstrual problems by discontinuing the pill. After all that thing is hormonal warfare at best and so she gave it a try. As predicted, it also helped a little with weight loss. Since there are other methods of contraception this is definitely worth at least trying.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 25, 2010
at 11:32 PM

IMHO spermicide is going to be a lot more irritating to your err...local environment than the pill. There are many types of hormonal birth control. I personally recommend the nuvaring. If you are married and having a child wouldn't be the end of the world, studies show withdrawl is as effective as condoms.

35deb6722604c868c610088a6d8ce09e

(295)

on July 25, 2010
at 02:22 PM

Any suggestions for a non-hormonal method?

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 06:07 PM

Marisa - I think next in line would be physical blockade like a condom, with added spermicide (I hope that's the correct term). But I don't know what is the impact of this substance on sensitive environment of vagina. I guess we have to face the fact, that stopping the chance of having children is quite against the whole point of evolution and nature... so whatever we try would not be paleo, but I am ok with it - a woman has the right to have a choice and control over her body and reproduction.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 25, 2010
at 06:06 PM

Neither I nor my best friend with very severe cramps were taking pill (well, she may now, I am not sure). I've heads stories of the opposite, that hormonal pill helped in the painful periods... so I guess it's on one by one basis.

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on July 26, 2010
at 04:15 PM

to be honest, I have never really looked into it, b/c I simply haven't been in need for years (I'm a lesbian). If I wanted to use, I would make a serious research and weight pros and cons. Sometimes it's worth to go slightly against the pure natural approach to gain something else in return, like freedom, control over own life etc.

0
9b06a36116b91415492cb46d5c145ac4

on July 25, 2010
at 04:09 AM

i have some suggestions for the pms and cramp issues. most hunter gathers had some kind of medicine man and they would use herbs. i recommend the same. most healthfood stores have a nice selection of herbal teas and they most likely have a pms formula. You could also buy loose herbs and make your own tea, but that could be harder to find. Look for teas with herbs like dong qui, cramp bark, and raspberry leaf. taken regularly through out the month they can help to prevent pms, and when pms strikes they can provide soothing relief with out the nasty side affects of pharmaceutical formulas

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