In my adult life, I have found myself fortunate in that my own cramps and moon-time pain aren’t terrible. It varies from month to month, and I can usually determine the root cause of any pain fairly successfully. I don’t have PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), endometriosis, or other more significant physiological causes. My pain and discomfort stems largely from stress and a rather significant drop in calcium and magnesium levels in my body just before I bleed.
Cramping and pain before and during menstruation are aspects many women just deal with, and are even taught that this is just how it is, to accept it and move on. Often we find ourselves turning to ibuprofen for relief (albeit temporary) just so that we can function, but really all this is doing is masking the pain and discomfort instead of addressing the root cause and offering a chance at a better moon-time quality of life.
Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) can have a number of causes both physiological and mental, ranging from common/chronic (elevated levels of the prostaglandins–a natural compound found in the body that stimulates uterine contractions, stress and/or trauma, etc.) to less common/acute (PCOS, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids). Whatever the root of the pain may be, there is hope.
As an herbalist, I am uniquely equipped with a garden full of plants that can help, not just with pain relief, but with working to heal our bodies and create a better quality of life.
One of my favorite ways to prepare for and address painful cycles is to do pelvic steams. (Full disclosure I love to steam no matter what, which makes it all the better that it can dramatically improve how I feel and function.)
I find myself fielding questions and formulating for dysmenorrhea A LOT! It is one of the most frequently asked about “conditions.” It’s no surprise that the pain associated with our sacred moon-time is enough to leave many women feeling not-so-sacred, wishing that it just didn’t happen at all. The stress of being in pain every month takes its toll. It can make the pain worse and can lead to long term issues.
How Steaming Can Help Ease Dysmenorrhea
In general, the act of steaming is warming to the internal organs and the body, as a whole. The warmth alone helps our body to relax and be soothed. The heat of the steam helps to dilate blood vessel, and open pores allowing the chemical constituents of the herbs to be more readily assimilated by the body. The herbs chosen can further determine the affect the steam has.
For example, if you are dealing with stress, elevated or plummeting levels of any number of hormones or compounds in the body, selecting herbs that have a more balancing and/or tonic effect on the body is the way to go–such as raspberry, motherwort, lemon balm, lady’s mantle, nettle, rose. If you are addressing more acute issues then selecting herbs that have a cleansing and building effect on the body is more advisable (violets, calendula, dandelion leaf, vitex, red clover).
Steaming for chronic vs. acute also changes how often you should be steaming. For chronic issues, steam 1-2x’s a week for three weeks each cycle, ending in the days right before you bleed. For acute issues, steam 2-4x’s a week for three weeks, also ending in days right before you bleed. I recommend doing this for two to three full cycles, and reassess.
- 2pt Lady’s Mantle
- 2pt Motherwort
- 2pt Raspberry Leaf
- 1pt Chamomile
- 1/2pt Lemon Balm
- 1/2 pt Oatstraw
- 3 drops Lady’s Mantle Flower Essence /1c of herb mix (optional)
Thank you for reading and Happy Steaming!