Feel like your cycle is unpredictable? Women’s health coach and functional nutritionist Nicole Jardim has advice for connecting with and balancing your inner feminine.
“I believe that every woman should be body literate,” says Nicole Jardim, certified women's health coach and creator of Fix Your Period, a series of programs that empower young women to reclaim their hormonal health. “They should have a comprehensive understanding of how their body works so that they can take ownership of their health.”
One of the easiest ways to cultivate body awareness is to chart the signs and symptoms of your menstrual cycle each month using a period tracking app like Kindara, Ovatemp, Glow, or Clue. Paying attention to your body's cues will facilitate a deeper awareness of how it functions.
Jardim recommends tracking your cervical fluid changes, especially the transition from a drier fluid to a wetter, more slippery consistency as you near ovulation, and then back to a drier, stickier texture after ovulation is over. This is a telltale sign that you're ovulating each month.
She also suggests paying attention to other physical symptoms like your skin (do you break out at certain times of the month?), as well as your breasts (do you feel pain or lumps at any time during the month?). And finally, be aware of your emotions (when do you feel happy, sad, irritable, or anxious throughout the month?). Once you start tracking these physical and emotional symptoms, you'll likely notice a pattern and correlation to your cycle.
"Once you have a comprehensive understanding of exactly how your unique body and menstrual cycle work, you can track your fertility and see irregularities in your menstrual cycle or cervical fluid long before a doctor would ever pick up on it," Jardim says. "When you know what's normal for you, you can determine if you have hormonal imbalances, vaginal infections, and even cervical dysplasia much earlier."
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One of the unfortunate side effects of living in our modern, fast-paced world is the disconnection many women feel from the natural environment. “Our bodies are over 70 percent water, and thus are intricately connected to the gravitational forces of the moon cycle," Jardim says. Women's bodies ebb and flow very much like nature, and when they honor their unique cyclical nature, they find more harmony in day-to-day living.
Our ancestors saw the menstrual cycle as governed by the lunar cycle, Jardim says. Within the yoga community it's not uncommon to hear one's menstrual cycle referred to as their "moon cycle." And there may be something to it.
Interestingly, the 29-day lunar cycle closely resembles the length of the menstrual cycle. And in one study, researchers found women who suffered from irregular menstrual cycles could normalize them by sleeping in complete darkness on days 1–13 of their cycle, sleeping with a 100-watt lightbulb turned on all night in the bedroom for days 14–17, and then sleeping again in complete darkness for the remainder of the cycle. Since the moon was our ancestors' only nighttime light source, Jardim recommends taking it outside. Moon bathing during the full moon is one of her favorite ways to sync her menstrual cycle with the moon cycle.
To try it, the day before, the day of, and the day after the full moon, go outside and sit in the grass for 15–30 minutes under the moonlight. “You can also meditate, deep breathe, and reflect on the events of the day, week, or month,” Jardim says. “The full moon is all about abundance, love, and creativity, so putting your focus on bringing more of these into your life during moon bathing is a good thing.”
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“There’s a common misconception that women need a great deal of medical intervention, in order to stay healthy,” Jardim says. “This couldn't be further from the truth.” She believes small, mindful changes to one’s self-care routine can lead to big rewards.
Mayan Abdominal Therapy is a perfect example. The ancient—and effective—practice is used to help women address conditions like infertility, pelvic pain, scar tissue, fibroids, and endometriosis, which are typically treated with invasive procedures and medications. It's an external non-invasive massage, designed to reposition internal organs in the pelvic region that have shifted and caused a restriction in blood flow and lymph. This repositioning significantly improves a tilted or prolapsed uterus and accompanying symptoms. It can also relieve digestion and bladder issues.
Jardim recommends learning the technique from a practitioner experienced in The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy and then taking charge of your own healing. "Seeing a professional and then continuing to do the self-care massage at home will help break down scar tissue from endometriosis and c-section deliveries, as well as fibroid tumors," she says.
During the 60–90 minute session, the practitioner will massage the area from above your pubic bone to just below your ribcage. They may also massage your sacrum, hips, and middle and lower back. (Tight back muscles can interfere with blood flow to and from the ovaries!) The practitioner will teach you this specific massage technique for your pelvic region so you can continue to improve and maintain uterine alignment.
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Focus on how you want to feel, rather than how you want to look. This piece of advice is tough to apply in today’s culture, but Jardim points out that trying to fit your body into a socially acceptable box is like trying to stick a square peg into a round hole. It never works, and you're left feeling exhausted and defeated by the process.
“Tapping into your body's innate wisdom takes some practice, but the easiest way to start is by journaling about three things your body does that you're grateful for each day,” she says. “For instance, you may hate your legs, but what a pain it would be if you didn't have them for your next dance class!”
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“We live in a deeply masculine world and, as a result, many women feel that they need to act like men, in order to get by,” Jardim says. Women are often taught that their emotions are irrational, they’re hormonal, and their basic bodily functions should be feared. Slowly but surely, this leads to disconnection from female intuition and ultimately disempowerment.
“In order to reconnect with our power, we must reconnect with our feminine energ—free, flowing, playful, collaborative, and intuitive.” Here are a few ways you can reconnect with your own feminine energy:
2. Creative expression: painting, pottery, or other art form
3. Nature: touch the earth or hug a tree—literally
4. Play: play with children, lighten up your yoga practice, color in coloring books, or do something for the pure pleasure of it
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Women's bodies are much more prone to the negative effects of stress than men's bodies, due to their unique hormonal makeup. “We must take extra good care of our adrenal and thyroid glands so we don’t burn ourselves out,” Jardim says. She’s found restorative yoga and yin yoga to be especially helpful for stressed-out women who need to take it down a notch.
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“Getting onto the mat, focusing on your breath and deep stretches, is one of the simplest ways to lower cortisol levels, reduce anxiety, and cultivate a sense of peace and belonging,” she says.
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Nicole Jardim is a Certified Women's Health Coach and creator of Fix Your Period, a series of programs that empower young women to reclaim their hormonal health in a fun and sassy way. She runs a successful group coaching business and has helped thousands of women around the world who are struggling with PCOS, infertility, amenorrhea, PMS, and much more.
Sign up here for her free 3-part video training series, Take Control of Your Period, Take Control of Your Life, to discover the top secrets doctors don’t tell you about your hormones, your symptoms, and how to finally fix them!