Decode your cycle
Spotting during your period? Learn about hormonal fluctuations, birth control, stress, and more.
Spotting and long cycles, explained
Today, we're diving deep into two common phenomena that many women encounter: spotting and longer cycles. Ring a bell? Whether you’re familiar with one—or both of these conditions—we've got the insights you need. Ultimately, the goal is to empower you to take your cycle’s health into your own hands. After all, your menstrual cycle is a window into your overall well-being.
What causes menstrual cycle spotting?
If you notice spotting during your cycle, it could be due to the following reason(s):
Hormonal fluctuations: Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can lead to spotting. For instance, during ovulation, a slight drop in estrogen can cause spotting in some women.
Birth control: Some forms of birth control—birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), or hormonal implants—may lead to spotting, especially during the initial months of usage.
Stress: High stress levels can impact hormonal balance, potentially leading to spotting or irregular bleeding.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: PCOS can result in irregular periods and spotting due to hormonal imbalances and issues with ovulation.
Uterine or cervical abnormalities: In rare occasions, polyps, fibroids, or cervical inflammation can cause spotting between periods.
Perimenopause: Are you approaching menopause? If so, hormonal fluctuations become more pronounced, potentially causing irregular bleeding or spotting.
Sexual activity: Sometimes, post-coital spotting can occur due to cervical irritation or sensitivity.
Infections or inflammation: Infections in the reproductive organs or inflammation in the cervix or uterus can lead to spotting.
Medical conditions / medications: Thyroid or bleeding disorders can affect menstrual patterns and cause spotting. Certain medications (like blood thinners), can also influence bleeding patterns and cause spotting.
While spotting is often harmless and can be a normal variation, persistent or severe spotting should be discussed with a healthcare provider. If you experience heavy bleeding, severe pain, or any other concerning symptoms, seeking medical attention is recommended.
Can you prevent spotting?
In some instances, yes! Along with consulting your healthcare provider, below are general steps to reduce the likelihood of spotting:
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. A nutritious diet (in particular, keeping blood sugar steady), regular exercise, and proper hydration can contribute to hormonal balance and overall reproductive health.
- Minimize stress. As mentioned, high stress levels can disrupt hormonal balance and contribute to spotting. Engage in stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, and restorative yoga. If possible, schedule routine acupuncture to downregulate your nervous system and support hormone health.
- Avoid extreme exercise. Intense physical activity (or sudden changes in exercise routines) can affect your menstrual cycle. Aim for a balanced exercise routine that supports your body's needs. Don’t underestimate the power of walking!
- Maintain good cervical health. Practice safe sex, get regular Pap smears, and address any infections or inflammation promptly.
- Track your cycle. Consider using a period tracking app to help you anticipate your menstrual cycle and potential spotting.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol. Excessive caffeine and alcohol intake can impact hormonal balance and contribute to spotting. Moderation is key!
What causes long menstrual cycles?
Switching gears, let’s chat about long menstrual cycles. First and foremost, what is considered a long menstrual cycle? Most experts agree that a long cycle is anything longer than 35 days. For context, a normal cycle ranges anywhere from 21-35 days.
In terms of what causes this, the reasons are varied. For example, hormone imbalances can lead to longer intervals between periods—specifically, conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome. Furthermore, excessive stress, extreme weight loss or gain, intense exercise, and toxins often impact hormone production and subsequently lengthen menstrual cycles. If you have fibroids or endometriosis, these disrupt the regular shedding of the uterine lining, resulting in longer cycles.
As with spotting, if you experience persistent long cycles, seek guidance from a healthcare provider.
How to help shorten your menstrual cycle
Ultimately, focus on diet and lifestyle habits that encourage hormone balance. Hello, seed cycling! Additionally, keeping blood sugar in check—via adequate protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich veggies—helps, too. Last but not least, maintain a moderate exercise routine and clock your Zzz’s. Sleep is crucial for hormone health.
Frying eggs on stainless steel
When it comes to hormone health, did you know that cookware matters? Particularly, your pans. While it’s convenient to reach for non-stick frying pans, teflon (what most non-stick pans are made of) is produced from PFAS—an enormous family of chemicals. Extensive research links exposure to PFAS to many health conditions, including reproductive issues. Yikes.
When, in doubt, choose stainless steel! Not only is it top-quality and durable metal, but it’s also the safest option for your home. Stainless steel emits no toxins and does not react with ingredients. But, what about food sticking to the pan? Fear not, this hack shows exactly how to make stainless steel non-stick. Happy cooking, sauteing, and frying.
A few favorites from this week.
Create a soothing morning routine
If you’re in the thick of raising young children, this may feel overly ambitious—but, hear us out! Even if it’s a quick 5-10 minutes of intentional “you time” in the morning, a grounded, soothing start to your day can do wonders for your cortisol (stress) levels, hormones, and well-being. Depending on how much time you have, pick and choose what works for your lifestyle:
- Hydrate: Begin your day by drinking a glass of water with lemon and a pinch of high-quality sea salt to rehydrate your body.
- Meditation: Spend a few minutes practicing deep breathing exercises. You can do this as you brew your tea or coffee!
- Healthy breakfast: Like hydration, make this a non-negotiable. A balanced, protein-forward meal fuels your body and provides sustained energy. This avocado smoked salmon plate takes less than 10 minutes to throw together, our frozen peach cobbler smoothie blends in no time, and you can prep this chocolate chia pudding the night before!
- Technology-free start: Avoid diving into emails, social media, or the news right away. Give yourself permission to simply be without digital distractions. Your inbox can wait.
- Plan and prioritize: Take a few minutes to plan your day, set priorities, and make a to-do list.
- Personal care: Engage in a calming personal care routine, like skincare. Pampering yourself will boost your mood.
- Listen to soothing music: Play calming music while you get ready, prep breakfast, or tidy up. This creates a positive atmosphere.
- Mindful movement: Engage in a moderate physical activity, like a short walk, strength training, or gentle yoga. Movement boosts circulation and helps you feel awake.
- Express gratitude: Take a moment to reflect on things you're grateful for. Gratitude shifts your mindset and increases positivity.
Our seed cycling blends can help you feel and do your best