Natural Guide for Menstrual Health

Natural Guide for Menstrual Health

istock_000003691524xsmallHaving a healthy menstrual cycle is instrumental to having abundant fertility. The menstrual cycle can tell us a lot about what is happening in the body, if the uterus is getting enough circulation, if hormones are imbalanced, if you are ovulating and so much more. Our monthly cycle IS our fertility.

Also determining what is ‘normal’ or what should be the goal for us to get our cycles back on track is equally as important. While everyone can not fit into one box, there is a general range that represents a healthy cycle. But let’s start from the beginning…

What is a period?

Menstruation (the period) is the shedding of the endometrium lining of the uterus. This generally occurs monthly, releasing blood and tissues from the uterus.

How the cycle works…

The period is only one part of the amazingly complex monthly fertility cycle orchestrated by the endocrine system. The endocrine glands work together to send messages via hormones. This is called the feedback loop.

In very simple terms the hypothalamus produces GnRH (gonadotrophin-releasing hormones) which signals to the pituitary to produce LH (luteinizing hormones) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) to signal to the ovaries that it is their turn to release estrogen and progesterone which is recognized by the pituitary gland.

Simple right? Not so. As you can see a healthy cycle is dependent on each part of the feedback loop and whether it is functioning properly. Think of it as an orchestra, if just one part of the cycle is off, it will throw the entire cycle off, causing imbalances that can effect fertility.

Phases of the menstrual cycle

Follicular phase
The hypothalamus responds to the different levels of estrogen and progesterone secreted from the ovaries. When estrogen drops during the period, the hypothalamus secretes GnRH which signals to the pituitary to release FSH which then initiates the follicular growth in the ovary. 10-20 follicles will begin to develop, but only one of these will mature to become an egg. While they are developing the follicles are producing estrogen which stimulates the endometrium to develop in the uterus (the uterine lining in preparation for the implantation of a fertilized egg).

As the estrogen increases (secreted from the developing follicles prior to ovulation) the cervical mucous begins to change to ‘fertile mucous’ which is like an egg white in its consistency. The increasing levels of estrogen then trigger the secretion of GnRH from the hypothalamus which then signals the surge of LH and FSH which normally triggers the release of the egg. Once ovulation occurs FSH levels drop fast and LH starts to drop slowly.

Luteal Phase
Ovulation is followed by the luteal phase. With LH present the corpus luteum begins to secrete increasing quantities of progesterone and fairly constant levels of estrogen.

The endometrium is now influenced by progesterone causing it to develop to be capable of nourishing a developing embryo.

If fertilization does not occur, the decline of the hormones causes the endometrium to shed, which is dependent on hormones at all times for its health, maintenance and development. When estrogen reaches a low enough point the hypothalamus releases GnRH and the cycle starts over again.

Counting the days of your menstrual cycle
Day one of the menstrual cycle is always the first day of your period. If you spot before your period has come, that is not counted. The days between the first day of your period and ovulation is called the ‘follicular phase’. Generally this is 14 days long, but varies woman to woman. When ovulation occurs the luteal phase begins.

The luteal phase is the days between ovulation and menstruation. It is generally 14 days long. This is the time when a fertilized egg is attaching itself to the lining in the uterus to establish itself. If the luteal phase is too short (less than 12 days) this can make implantation almost impossible as the egg has not had sufficient time to properly implant and signal to the cycle that pregnancy has occurred.

I find using a tool such as CycleBeads or fertility charting can be helpful in keeping track of your cycle so you can know the length and generally when ovulation will occur.

What is a normal period?

We get asked often what is an ideal period. Unfortunately there is no one answer to this question as we are all different. A ‘textbook’ menstrual cycle is 28 days long with menstruation lasting 3-5 days. The information that is most important about your cycle is the length of your period, the length of your entire cycle, the amount of pain, the color and consistency of the menstruation. We can use this information to learn how to best use herbs and natural therapies to help create a healthy, balanced cycle.

Length of a Healthy Cycle
The usual range of a healthy cycle is between 21 and 35 days. Some women will have cycles that are very different from this, but as long as there is a pattern, regularity, a healthy body and the follicular phase is between 12-14 days there should be no cause for concern.

Hormone levels and ovulation create the regularity of your cycle. Failure to ovulate will effect hormonal levels and hormonal imbalance will effect/inhibit the secretion of hormones that stimulate ovulation.

There are many factors that can affect hormonal balance and ovulation. Stress being one of them. Learn more about stress and fertility here.

How to use the signs of your menstrual cycle to determine your hormonal balance

Below is a list of associations and is not in any way intended as a diagnostic tool. My goal is to help you read your body and listen when it is telling you something is out of balance. The menstrual cycle is one of the best ways the body communicates about your fertility. The details of your menstrual cycle can be used as a window into your fertility, telling you just what is going on, where an imbalance may lie, how your reproductive circulation is and if there is a hormonal imbalance.

Missing a period
Missing one period is no cause for alarm. Hormonal balance is very delicate and can be affected easily by stress. It generally will reset itself. Missing one or a couple of periods does not imply infertility necessarily as you can still ovulate even if you are not menstruating. This happened to a friend of mine and she became pregnant. Missing a period for 6 months or more is called amenorrhea and is covered below and here in this guide…

Short Cycles
Short cycles can cause fertility issues due to lack of ovulation, too short of a follicular or luteal phase, lack of nutrition, deficiencies, anemia or low body weight. One of the best herbs that has been used for luteal phase defect is vitex. In studies, vitex helped 83% of women experiencing luteal phase defect.

Longer Periods
A longer period may be an indication of hormonal imbalance and/or a failure to ovulate. Progesterone secreted by the body after ovulation normally helps to stop excess bleeding because of its effect on preserving the uterine lining. If estrogen is high or progesterone low, bleeding may continue longer than usual. Some herbal therapies that have been traditionally used for balancing longer periods are vitex and Slow Flow.

Heavy menstruation
This is known to be caused by a prostaglandin imbalance and/or over-stimulation of the uterine lining from estrogens (estrogen dominance). Traditionally this imbalance can be helped by:

  • Supporting the liver in excreting excess estrogen
  • Modifying the diet and utilizing medicinal herbs to help regulate prostaglandin and hormonal balance


Nutritional imbalances have also been linked to prolonged or heavy bleeding. Vitamin A deficiency may be a contributing factor in heavy menstruation. Studies have shown vitamin A intake to significantly decrease the amount of blood and the duration of the menses.

Another important vitamin, vitamin C, has been shown to help reduce heavy bleeding by strengthening the capillaries, helping to reduce their fragility. One study reported an 87% success rate in reducing heavy bleeding with vitamin C.

Slow Flow is the best herbal-supplement blend I have seen to help with heavy menstruation. It contains herbs that are astringent (helping to slow blood flow) and nutrients such as vitamin A, C and K. In addition, vitex and liver supporting herbs have been found to be helpful.

Light menstruation with strong cramping
Generally the cramping could be helped by using herbs that have an anti-spasmodic, calming effect on the uterus. If there is light, bright red menstruation, this may also be a sign of a lack of circulation to the uterus (called a ‘cold uterus’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine). This may be helped by these herbs and natural therapies:

Bright Red Blood
Generally bright red blood indicates a healthy period. Rejoice!

Dark, brown or thick blood
Thick dark blood that looks old or is brown is old blood left over from the previous cycle. This may be caused by a sluggish menstrual flow, lack of uterine tone or low uterine circulation. Herbs and therapies used traditionally for this imbalance are:

Pale Blood, Watery or thin menstruation
Pale pink, thin blood traditionally signifies poor blood quality which can be enriched by using blood building herbs, hormone balancing, and increasing circulation. Eating a healthy diet will also be beneficial.

Clots
As viewed from a holistic perspective, menstrual clots are seen as a sign of stagnation created from excessive flow that is not being expelled. Herbs and therapies that are beneficial for increasing uterine tone are:

Spotting and bleeding between periods
Spotting is a tricky subject as it can be caused by many different factors. Most times it is not something to be concerned about. Some of the causes may be:

  • Disturbance in hormone balance – feedback loop
  • Failure to ovulate
  • Endometriosis
  • Abnormalities of the cervix
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Ovulation has occurred – some women experience spotting during ovulation due to the oestrogen changes mid-cycle.
  • Hormonal contraceptives
  • Excessive exercise
  • Poor nutrition

No period (amenorrhea)
It can be quite frustrating if you are trying to get pregnant and yet have no period. Having a healthy cycle is step one for boosting your fertility naturally and being able to get pregnant. There are a couple of reasons a menstrual cycle may be irregular in women in their reproductive years such as stress, dietary deficiencies, low body weight, getting off of birth control pills, hormonal imbalance, perimenopause (the phase leading up to menopause), or other underlying health issues.

Since the lining of the uterus is not being shed, it is very important to clear out the old blood and establish a healthy cycle again. This can be done naturally and effectively with herbs and nutrition. I have talked with many clients who have been offered synthetic estrogen to get their periods going again… taking synthetic estrogen for this issue is like using a sledge hammer on a thumb tack.

Natural therapies such as the liquid herbal blend RejuvaFlow, fertility cleansing, Dong Quai, Fem Rebalance or Vitex have been found helpful.

It is very normal for women who are in perimenopause to experience sporadic cycles. Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. As perimenopause progresses toward menopause, it is normal for menstrual cycles to become irregular, or absent due to hormone levels fluctuating. As ovarian reserve diminishes and egg health declines hormone levels change preparing the body for menopause. This is completely normal. A woman who has not had a menstrual cycle for a year or more and is between the ages of 40-55 is considered to be menopausal. Learn more about this here…

Steps to maintaining a healthy cycle

Depending on each situation, the herbs and therapies may be different. In addition to a specific herbal, supplemental and therapeutic protocol, here are 4 steps every woman can take to promote a healthy menstrual cycle.

1. Hormonal Balance
Promoting hormonal balance with the use of nourishing herbs and supplements. As you have read, there is a delicate balance between hormonal balance and imbalance. In some cases the endocrine system may be in need of some nourishment and support. There are herbs and supplements that are specific for this (see list further down). Diet is also very important for hormonal balance.

In addition, the 3 other steps below also help to support hormonal balance.

2. Liver Health
The liver helps to filter toxins from the body including excess hormones. If there is an over abundance of estrogen, the liver will be overloaded and in need of a little herbal help. Doing a Fertility Cleanse or using liver cleansing herbs such as Milk Thistle, can help to continually support the liver in detoxification. I personally am constantly using herbs and juices to help support the liver to cleanse itself as our modern world can be so toxic.

3. Nutrition and hydration
Nutrition plays a big roll in a healthy menstrual cycle and hormonal balance. It is important for us to consume a wide variety of minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Some of the nutrients that are specific to hormonal balance (remember a healthy diet is VERY important, not just getting these singled out nutrients) can be found in a whole food multivitamin.

You can learn more about eating a diet specific for fertility here…

Hydration is also important. In many cases of stagnation (such as blood clots or dark menstrual blood) dehydration is a contributing factor. In order for the menstruation to FLOW from us, it needs to have a liquid consistency. Not a sticky, thick consistency.

Drinking plenty of water and fresh squeezed juices is important for a healthy flow. Starting your day with a quart of water (with lemon if you like) is a great idea. Make sure to get another quart throughout the day. In addition, add at least 1 quart of fresh juiced vegetable and fruit juices and you are on your way to abundant health.

4. Stress reduction
Stress can have an impact on your menstrual cycle. Traveling, work stress, family stress, stress about infertility, financial stress can have an impact on the hormones that are released.

Stress boosts levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which inhibits the body’s main sex hormones GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) and subsequently may suppress ovulation, sexual activity and sperm count.

Supporting the adrenal gland is also helpful for hormonal balance as it can get burned out from too much stress for too long and negatively effect the endocrine system.

There are many ways to begin to reduce the amount of stress and alter your reaction to stress such as:

Herbal Formulas for Menstrual Health

FertiliCare Phase 1 & 2

FertiliCare Phase 1 & 2 Monthly Program is a liquid herbal program designed to support general reproductive health throughout your monthly fertility cycle. Utilizing two organic herbal formulas, one for the first half of your cycle and another for the second half, you are able to support your body’s natural fertility cycle with specific herbal formulas for each phase.

FertiliCare Phase 1 supports the first half of the cycle from menstruation through ovulation (day 14 average). FertiliCare Phase 1 helps to support:

  • Normal ovulation*
  • Balanced hormone production*
  • Healthy uterine lining in preparation for implantation*

FertiliCare Phase 2 supports the second half of the cycle from right after ovulation until menstruation begins (day 15 until your period begins). FertiliCare Phase 2 helps to support:

  • Normal progesterone production.*
  • Circulation to the reproductive system.*
  • Calming the uterus to support implantation.*
  • The hormonal system.*

Dong Quai
Dong Quai works by promoting blood flow to the pelvis where it will stimulate an absent or scanty period. It also nourishes the blood (it is in nearly all Chinese herbal blood-building formulas). Dong Quai helps with iron deficiency and anemia. One of the best uses is it helps women who are not menstruating to invite their menstruation back. The increased circulation also helps to strengthen and balance the uterus. Dong quai has been used by herbal practitioners for thousands of years to help build the lining of the uterus.

Slow Flow
Slow Flow is an herbal and nutritional supplement blend designed to promote normal menses.* This formula contains astringent herbs and nutrients which are to be used on heavy bleeding days.

Fem Rebalance
Fem Rebalance is a unique blend of herbs traditionally used to restore and re-balance a woman’s internal hormonal state. Hormonal balance may need restoring after discontinuing oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy, during stress, or weight loss.

Vitex
Vitex is an incredible hormone balancer, which adapts to women’s different needs. Vitex has been shown to normalize heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia), relieve amenorrhea (absent menstrual cycle), and decrease polymenorrhea (too frequent periods). Vitex even eases inflammation of the uterus or ovaries, so it’s a good choice for women prone to painful fibroids or cysts too.

Blood Builder
Iron is an essential mineral found in both vegetable and animal based foods. In iron rich foods, the mineral iron is found with other beneficial nutrients such as b12, folic acid and vitamin C; which are all important for iron absorption. These important nutrients have been included in Blood Builder, helping to increase absorption and utilization of iron in the body. Blood Builder is an easy way to supplement your diet with a whole food iron that is easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Plus this formula is non-constipating and easy to digest!

Maca
Maca is a nourishing food for the endocrine system, aiding both the pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands (all involved in hormonal balance.) Maca has the ability to affect key hormones in both women and men without containing hormones itself.

Maca helps to stimulate and nourish the pituitary gland, acting as a tonic for the hormone system. When the pituitary gland functions optimally, the entire endocrine system becomes balanced, because the pituitary gland controls the hormone output of the other three glands.

EFA’s
The hypothalamus is fed by essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and other nutrients. The glandular system utilizes essential fatty acids to produce hormones. If you are deficient, the body doesn’t have the building blocks to make the proper hormones. A sign that you may not have enough EFA’s in your system is dry skin and hair.

Harmonize Phase 1 & 2
Harmonize Phase 1 & 2 Monthly Program is a liquid herbal program designed to support hormonal balance throughout the monthly fertility cycle. Utilizing two organic herbal blends, one for the first half of your cycle and another for the second half, you are able to support and guide the body’s natural hormone and ovulation cycle with specific herbal blends for each phase. Harmonize works to alleviate common discomforts associated with PCOS.


References:
1. Trickey, Ruth. (2003). Women, Hormones and The Menstrual Cycle – herbal and medical solutions from adolescence to menopause. Crows nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
2. Lithgow, D. M., & Politzer, W. M. (1977). Vitamin A in the treatment of menorrhagia. S Afr Med J, 51(7), 191-193.
3. Cohen, J. D., & Rubin, H. W. (1960). Functional menorrhagia: treatment with bioflavonoids and vitamin C. Current therapeutic research, clinical and experimental, 2, 539.
4. Hobbs Christopher. (2003). Vitex The Women’s Herb. Summertown, Tennessee: Healthy Living Publications.
5. Hudson, Tori N.D. (2008). Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine – Alternative Therapies and Integrative Medicine for Total Health and Wellness. Revised and Updated. New York: McGraw Hill.
6. Romm, Aviva. (2010). Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. St. Louis, Missouri: Churchill Livingstone Press.

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[-] 118 Comments
  1. Hello.On February I did Fertility Cleanse. At the same time I stared to take Improve Egg (I’m 41 and have one child). At present time I’m doing Fertility Massage w/Castor Oil, taking Royal Jelly, Fertilica Omega, Mega Food + Improve Egg Kit + Fallopian Wise Fertility Kit (I had in a past ectopic pregnancies) +Fertility Diet.
    After Fertility Cleanse I noticed that I did not have any spots, that I experienced to have last 5 years every month before my period started and length decreased from 5 to 4 days. Is it good sign or not? At the same time I started to experience some pain (light cramping almost every day) 7-10 days before my period starts.
    I ‘m taking all supplements almost 3 month. 1st month I got 5 days delay of my period. I did feel uncomfortable, because I never experienced delays on my mens cycles (the length is 27 days), so I stopped everything what I was taking and started again after my period finished. 2nd month I got delay for 12 days… This month it’s already a time for my period and it’s late again (pregnancy test is negative) and I ‘m experiencing light pain like cramping last 7 days. I stopped all supplements like I did before. Is it normal that I have pain in a middle of my cycle until the period starts? I will be appreciating for any comments and suggestions. Thank you. Angela.

  2. Dear Dalene, ever since i started working in 2008, i noticed that my period was different, it was longer and it never stopped on its own. after 3 doctors and a host of tests it was confirmed that i have hormonal imbalance (hyperprolactinemia) i took treatment for it an it was normal and it still is. the problem is that i still don’t get regular period but when i do it lasts the normal 5-7 days. i want so much to have a child I’m only 23 and i would like to know is there something else wrong with my cycle. thanks for all your help in advance.

  3. Hi,
    I am 16 years old and I had primary amenorrhoea and i was worried because i have always wanted a big family. But my pastors wife, Brenda, is an herbalist and she helped me through it. I am now very blessed to say that i have bright red blood!

    -No longer worried
    P.S. I just had to share the blessing in case someone else was going through a rough time.

  4. This is my first cycle taking Maca 1000mg morning and 1000mg night, I did not ovulate this cycle. My average cycle is 35 days, I’m now on cycle day 44 and 8 days late with negative pregnancy tests, is the late period the result of too much Maca?

  5. wow, thank you so much for explaining, i’m 43 yrs young and been trying to conceive. I’m mixed between amenorrhoea, always 7 days of heavy and dark AF’s ( I know TMI).
    its a mix between the Follicular phase and ILuteal Phase. Ever since I was 24 taking birth control on and off lead me too this point I started having irratic AF’s .
    I know we did get pregnant at one point using herbs. I forgot what kinds of herbs I took in Dec of 10. we had a mc. but, at least I know herbs worked for me.
    I’m currently taking 2vitex 400’s, 2rrl 400’s, Lacitine, folic, b-6, maca, prenatals
    HB is taking multi, gingsing, d, astraplus?, e.
    any suggestions on how much to use to conceive.
    All I know I still feel young at heart, spirit and soul. hey I got to Thank God for everyday for life and breath, everyday with a home to come home too. My family and thier health. Give everyone whom wants to concieve sticky glue, baby dust in cluding me in concieiving a child so we can be more completed in our lives with children In Jesus name Amen.

  6. Hi,
    For the last 12 yrs I have been on Synthroid for overcorrected Graves Disease (now I am hypothyroid). Will this medication interfere with any of these cleanses or herbal supplements? I heard about this website while listening to an online Conscious Parenting Summit and I am interested in preparing for conception for my second child sometime next year.
    Thanks!
    Caressa

  7. I need help!
    I gave birth on June 26, 2012; I’ve been on BC pills for 6 weeks, missed my period last month but I’ve been on it now for 2 1/2 weeks. It started out normalish spotting and the dark drown blood for the first week, my husband and I had sex and now it’s in full force. I’ve been passing tissue and little clots, but have passed two peach pit sized clots since Monday, and had some bad cramping up until this morning. I also went to the hospital on Valentine’s day due to cramping, clotting and heavy flow, only to learn I had started my period. I wasn’t given a pregnancy test before being put on the pill. Before I had a baby I was used to my periods lasting a week at tops, and being filled with horrible incompasitating cramps. I’ve already put a call into my doctor, but I don’t want to wait on them to figure it out. Thank you so much!
    Kandi

  8. I’m 50 and have been having estrogen dominant dysfunctional uterine bleeding for some time. Had a d&c 5 weeks ago and started taking a lot of progesterone. My doctor’s hope was that the progesterone would stop the bleeding for a month and then she would have me do cycled periods w/ the progesterone, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. Am still bleeding a little though – not heavy but every day – so I started looking at herbs that might stop it in order to avoid a hysterectomy. Someone recommended Fem Rebalance but I’m concerned about Black Cohosh causing more bleeding? And don’t know enough about the herbs to know if this is a good choice for me. What do you think? I’ll ask my doctor too but she doesn’t seem to know about these things. Help! 🙂 Thank you!

  9. Hi there,
    I have stage 2 endo and chocolate cysts. Am doing IUI with clomid and progesterone. Is vitex safe to take together? Thank you!

  10. Hello,

    My name is Lebo. I have been diagnosed with blocked tubes, 2011 have ectopic pregnancy and one of my tube has been removed. In January and April 2012 did IVF of which results were negative. I had very good response of people gatting pregant using fertility cleanse or fertilplus. Please help with the medication that I can start using as I want to try my luck.

  11. Hi,

    I have long periods, where on 4th day its like totally done but again from 5th day it starts not tht heavy but spotting, some bleeding is there till 10-11 days. So, I don’t understand what to do n have no idea of ovalution days. Can you please help me with this? & firstly for normal 4-5 days periods I am fed up of this. I m 22yrs old, n from the very beginning of my periods startedin 8th std I hav this problem.

  12. greetings! thank you for being there to help people like me who are worrying about menstrual cycle.i haven’t consulted a doctor yet about my concerns in my cycle. I menstruate every other month.. sometimes, i am also having spotting in between menses. since I was in college, i never got my cycle return into normal state. and i’m worrying that i may not be able to have my own child in the future…i’m hoping that you could give me an advice… thank you and god bless!

  13. Dear Dalene and Hethir,

    I want to start by saying I love your site. Thank you for all that you do. I wanted to ask you what I need to be taking for my problem. My husband and I are currently trying to conceive but my periods are very irregular and I do not think I am ovulating. My periods come every 40-60 days averaging around 55 days. Sometimes my periods are very light and very short, I don’t know if I can call them periods. For example, my “period” for this month came very light and I had no temperature change(no peak for ovulation). I had my hormones and iron tested. My iron came back normal. My doctor said my hormones were off. My FSH 8.26 IU/L and my LH 14.29 IU/L and my progesterone is 3.26 nmol/L. My thyroid tests came back normal also. These were taken around day 8 of my cycle. (I was overseas at the time and tested while I was there). I am not sure where I should begin. If I should do the fertility cleanse then take vitex, maca, royal jelly or dong quai. Please guide me on where I should begin and what I should take. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    Deanna

  14. Hello.On February I did Fertility Cleanse. At the same time I stared to take Improve Egg (I’m 41 and have one child). At present time I’m doing Fertility Massage w/Castor Oil, taking Royal Jelly, Fertilica Omega, Mega Food + Improve Egg Kit + Fallopian Wise Fertility Kit (I had in a past ectopic pregnancies) +Fertility Diet.
    After Fertility Cleanse I noticed that I did not have any spots, that I experienced to have last 5 years every month before my period started and length decreased from 5 to 4 days. Is it good sign or not? At the same time I started to experience some pain (light cramping almost every day) 7-10 days before my period starts.
    I ‘m taking all supplements almost 3 month. 1st month I got 5 days delay of my period. I did feel uncomfortable, because I never experienced delays on my mens cycles (the length is 27 days), so I stopped everything what I was taking and started again after my period finished. 2nd month I got delay for 12 days… This month it’s already a time for my period and it’s late again (pregnancy test is negative) and I ‘m experiencing light pain like cramping last 7 days. I stopped all supplements like I did before. Is it normal that I have pain in a middle of my cycle until the period starts? I will be appreciating for any comments and suggestions. Thank you. Angela.

  15. Hi Hethir,

    We lost our first pregnancy at 13 weeks in October 2011 and I had a D&C. I conceived our second pregnancy immediately after that and lost that one at the new year at 8 weeks.

    We did a fertility work-up and found that I have Prothrombin Factor II Gene Mutation and I am on aspirin 81 mg until BFP and then will be on Lovenox to prevent this from happening again.

    However, we’ve been TTC now for 3 months with no luck (unusual for us as we conceived VERY easily both past times) and this month I clearly ovulated on day 13 (by charting temps and other signs…my temps went from 97.2 to 97.9 and above after day 13) and my luteal phase is ALWAYS 14 days, but I’m on day 16 and no red bleeding yet. I have been brown/sticky spotting for 3 days, not even when I wipe, but when I swab my cervix to check it’s position.

    I have taken 2 HPTs and both are negative.

    Is there any chance I’m still pregnant, first of all? Second, why would my luteal phase be longer this time? I thought that was ALWAYS fixed in a woman. And third, what can I do to improve my chances of conceiving next cycle?

    I’m 36, have no children yet…my husband is 40…I go to acupuncture since our first loss, and I was just given Jade Dragon Women’s Treasure with a mix of Chinese herbs in it, but want to wait to take those until I know I’m absolutely not pregnant.

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

  16. Dear Dalene,

    thank you so much for the this very informative website, which help us alot and enlighten me in my ordeal.i am 30 years old not having a regular period since i gain weight. my doctor said i have pcos, as we are trying to conceive i have undergone to all test and medication such using glucophage, clomid, duphaston and clomid since dec 2011, my doctor also done gonal-f, injection i had undergone also HSG test which show one of my tube is block, after all the effort we stop and ask me to come back after losing weight , im currently 83 kgs, (height is 5’5″) which she said my BMI is bad. Also scans shows i am not producing good eggs as well, i could have few eggs but abnormal..since i stop taking duphaston i am not getting my period for 3 mos. so i decided to start taking this VITEX + royal jelly then i come along with your article…please advise which is the proper supplement to take. so i could have a good fertility and can conceive.

  17. my hubby and i have tryed to concieve #2 for @ 2 yrs. i miscarried at 6 weeks about 9 months ago and havent had any luck since. i started charting my cycles and found that my cycle ranges from 26-30 days and ovulated @ cd 22. i feel my cycle is normal other then a short luteal phase. i hear about Vitex and red raspberry tea. i was wondering if vitex is right for me and if so when in my cycle should i take it? thank you for any advice

  18. Hello:
    I have gone through 4 IVF attempts. The last two ended with a chemical pregnancy. I have have watery periods the last 3 or 4 years. My lining was at between 11-15 the last two cycles but I am concened about the “quality” of the lining since my periods are so watery. I am 47 years of age. I am going to do the fertility cleanse for sure. What else would you recommend that I do?

  19. Hello.
    The thing is I got my period towards the end of the first week of march and I was supposed to be off it by Texas week during spring break and it’s almost been a moth nd I’m still on it regular at first and light right now it does look brown also sometimes the thing is idk why I’ve been on and off for one whole month is that bad?

  20. I was wondering if it is safe to take vitex & maca along with metformin, prenatal vitamins and femara all at the same time.

  21. Hi,
    I have always had irregular periods. I’ve had many tests done through the years and they all come back normal… My husband and I have been TTC for 2yrs now. I haven’t been on any birth control for 3.5yrs… We have seen fertility doctors, my hubby is perfect! I am not. They don’t know why I’m irregular and why I don’t ovulate all the time. I’m healthy (aside from small seizures), strong (workout 4x a week/dont smoke/hardly drink) and young (27).
    I have been on Clomid and Famara. Ever since, I’ve had Terrible cramps! Cramps that wake me up and keep me up. It gets so bad that I have back/side/front cramps and it feels like posion is burning in my thighs! I have stopped taking the fertility meds. Still want a baby! :/
    I just came off my period. This last cycle was, 50days long. I spotted 4 different times. I have brown spotting 2 days before I start my period, then the first day is hell. With heavy bleeding, cramps, clots and dark blood. The second day is easier, with a meduim/heavy flow. Third day, meduim flow. Then days 4-7 are light, with old blood at the end… So, I’m pretty sure I have a “sluggish” uterus. And am wondering what I need to do, to get it into good working order?
    Thank you so much for this site!

  22. Thank you Dalene!!
    I have already started having Vitex+Dong Quai+Maca+fish oil+daily multi vitamin and B6 this month… lol

    As per your advise I will start with the supplement Pregnancy Prep next month

    Thanks you again 🙂

  23. Hi! I removed Mirena in May 2011 and had 4 normal periods in July-Oct. Then my periods stopped completely. I was put on provera to jump start my period and had a very light one on Jan 26th (I dont know if I can consider that a period). Since that clearly didnt work, I decided to go the natural way as I dont want to take the synthetic approach anymore, my body is overdue. I started taking EPO, Vitex and Maca. I can’t tell for sure Im ovulating as my temps are all over the place (I use feritiltyfriend) and ovulation tests are so tricky to read. According to OPK’s I ovluated twice this month, being the first time (CD15) with a lot of eggwhite but still no sign of a period. The second time was only detected by OPK on CD36, but no eggwhite or temp switch. I’m 36 with a 4-yr-old DD that I conceived the first month of TTC.
    I came across your website and have been learning a lot with the amazing information you provide here. Thank you very much for sharing such a treasure!
    Can you give me any advice on how to proceed from now on? I have ordered dong quai and fem rebalance as well. I am also taking pre-natal vitamins since IUD removal. Not sure I should mix all of them. Help please!
    Thank you,
    Juliana

    • Hi Juliana Gois,

      In general Fem Rebalance is best taken first, before begininng other herbs for fertility. First 2 months Fem Rebalance. After that Vitex and Dong Quai. Those herbs have been shown safe to combine, with the EPO and Maca as well. The EPO and Maca have also been shown safe for combination with Fem Rebalance. Prenatal vitamins are fine to consume with all of those.

      A plan may look like this…

      Month 1: Fem Rebalance, EPO, Maca
      Month 2: Same as Month 1
      Month 3 and beyond: Vitex, Dong Quai, EPO, Maca

      The Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor is the most accurate for charting.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  24. Hi Dalene,
    I have a short Follicular phase. I ovulate on day 10. My eggs are not mature enough to be fertilized when releazed. My Letutal phase is a proper 14 days.

    Is Vitex good for me? What should I take?
    Thanks!!

    • Hi Shaesta,

      Vitex is really the best herb for adjusting the cycle length overall. If you are wanting additional support for ovulation timing, you may want to learn about the supplement Pregnancy Prep. It combines many herbs to support ovulation timing hormonal balance overall. You may also want to learn ways to support egg health and hormonal balance overall with Fertility Superfoods and supportive supplements. Learn how to Improve Egg Health!

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  25. I have been diagnosed as having PCOS. I can go months without having a period and then on the flip side when I do come on my period I will have heavy bleeding for months at a time. Please tell me what to do. This site seems to have a lot of beneficial information but I am not sure which solution is best for me.

  26. My period came 7 days early, which been happening again past 2-4 months. Sometimes 4 days early. This happend before and then had went back to normal, which is 21 days. What do you recommend so it can always be every 21 days.
    Thank you kindly,

    Pamela

    • Hi Pam Raft,

      A menstrual cycle that is shorter than 24 days is a sign of Luteal Phase Defect. This is where there is not enough time to build a sufficient uterine lining. Vitex has been shown to lengthen short cycles, and shorten long cycles, balancing the cycle length overall, as well as promoting regular ovulation.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  27. Hi,

    I am 37 years old with 3 kids and I am trying to have another. Conceiving seems to be a big challenge for me. I have noticed that over the years my monthly cycle has changed. Its so heavy for the first 3 days, I have extremely painful cramps, clots and dark red. I have spoken with my Dr. and he said it was Fibroids after the review of my sonogram. I really need to know the products that would help me to have a better cycle and to help with conceiving. Please recommend the products that would be best fit for me.

    Thank you,
    Tash

  28. hi i have been bleedin for the past five months straight.will the vitex or slow flow stop the bleeding?i am so fed up.what should i do?

  29. Hi,
    I am intrested in trying out the vitex because I have irregular periods due to birth control but me and my husband are not in a rush to become pregnant, will the vitex make me more fertile? I am just looking for something that will make my hormones balanced and have my normal period, but not increase my chances on being pregnant…. (well as far as right now…)

    • Hi B,

      If you are still using birth control we do not recommend taking any herbs for fertility, including vitex. As long as you are taking birth control your hormones are being controlled by that medication. If you want to learn the best ways to balance hormones after birth control use, please go to this link; http://natural-fertility-info.com/birth-control-fertility.html

      If you go off of birth control and do not want to get pregnant, consider methods like condoms.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  30. Hi
    I am hoping to conceive since 8 yrs ago. Im now 49 & since 3yrs ago my menstrual stops and I have been taking the Fertil Plus, Dong Quai, other supplements & Evening Primrose yet till now there’s no sign of my menstrual. Very upset & advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Warmest regards
    Mim

    • Hi Mim,

      It is not out of the ordinary for a woman who is your age to have gone through menopause. The normal age range for women to naturally go through menopause is 45-55, with the average mean age of 51. Menopause is generally confirmed after a year or more of no menstruation. Have you seen your doctor about your concerns? They can help you to determine if you have gone through menopause. No amount of herbs or supplements can reverse menopause. I am sorry you are upset. Please speak with your doctor.

      All the best,

      Dalene

  31. Dear Dalene,

    I just wanted to know if it’s safe to take vitex with maca, I’ve been taking maca for 1 month and I really feel with lots of energy, but I feel pain in my breast, in the past I took vitex and I feel great, but now I don’t know if I could take them together. I have anovulating periods. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Anna,

      Yes, maca and vitex have been shown safe for combination. When you are stimulating the body to increase progesterone production by supporting the endocrine system, the estrogen receptor sites ‘wake up’ (are stimulated) enhancing the action of estrogen for a short period of time. This is a sign that the progesterone is coming back on board, even though at the beginning it can exacerbate estrogen dominance symptoms such as breast tenderness and swelling, spotting, fluid retention, dizziness, hot flashes, fatigue, headaches and nausea. It sounds like this may be what is happening for you. The maca may support increase in progesterone production by the body. Vitex increases luteinizing hormone production while mildly inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This indirectly boosts progesterone production. The breast tenderness should go away after the next cycle.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  32. Hello,
    I just want to thank you so much for all of the information on this site. After reading the information I have seen here, I am thinking that my choice to take Vitex last month may not have been the best. I am 32 and have been trying to conceive for 15 months. I always have regular cycles that are about 29-30 days in length. I thought that taking Vitex would help just give me the boost that I needed to help. But, after only seven 400 mg pills, I began to experience extreme pain in my ovaries. My period was also 7 days late with extremely painful cramps on day 1. My blood is very red and has a few clots. I am wondering if there is something you can recommend to me instead of Vitex?

    An additional note is that I have been detoxifying my body of gluten as I just discovered in July that I carry a gene for Celiac disease. Could I benefit from a fertility cleanse as well?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    • Hi Erika,

      Thank you for your support, we are glad you are here! Well it is a good thing that you have realized Vitex is not your best choice right away! It sounds like you have very wonderful, regular cycles. The #1 reason couples have trouble conceiving is usually due to timing error. If you have never charted your cycle, this may help you to pin point your most fertile days, this will help you to know when to try to conceive. Yesterday I just posted our new Guide to Fertility Charting. I urge you to look over that page, research some ways to chart, so that you can time intercourse for your most fertile days!

      Honestly I feel that most people benefit from regular cleansing. The Fertility Cleanse, in general, is a great way for anyone who is experiencing fertility challenges, to create a foundation for hormonal balance and a healthy uterus for implantation. Fertility Cleansing creates a “clean slate” within the body that helps the body to respond and utilize other natural remedies better. Consider that fact that your first born child will receive and use your fat stores to sustain pregnancy and health. Toxins are stored in our fat cells and liver, they can be passed on to your baby during pregnancy. It is best to prepare for pregnancy with a Fertility Cleanse. Cleansing before conception may be one of the last opportunities you have to rid your body of toxins that could be passed onto your baby in utero.

      Also, an intolerance to gluten may play a role. New research has shown that Celiac Disease may contribute to infertility in a variety of ways. You can read an article we have on the subject at this link (you will have to join our Natural Fertility Diet community, but it is absolutely free and full of resources!): http://www.naturalfertilitydiet.com/forum/topics/can-eating-wheat-cause

      Always include a whole food nutrient dense diet, regular exercise and a good whole food multivitamin as part of your pregnancy preparation plan!

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  33. Hi,

    I just wanted to say what a fantastically informative web site. I have just spent nearly two days researching various supplements to help with regulating cycles, heavy bleeding and pain etc and came across this site today. I have found out more information in the last two hours than in the last two weeks! I am hoping to conceive and I have now decided that Vitex, along with Evening Primrose Oil is going to be the combination for me.

    Can I just check that I take Vitex 1000g of Vitex every day after food, except during menstruation and Evening Primrose Oil from the 1st day of mensturation until the first day of ovulation.

    I am 42 and have had various conversations regarding my age and conceiving, so am not naive to the fact that it may never happen, but any advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    Thanks again,

    Ali

  34. Thanks for directing me to this sight on the menstruation cycle, i think i have found my answer! The dong quai is for me,we will try it and hope for the best,PS: you girls have made my infertility journey much lighter and bearable, THANKS

  35. hy Hethir thanks for all the information ,helps me too alot to know all abot it.

  36. Hi Hethir i find your information very helpful thanks. It helps alot i never knew all this things thanks.

  37. I really like this site. Thanks for all the information! I’m breastfeeding my toddler and could really use some assurance about which steps are breastfeeding compatible. For example, I’m worried a cleanse would increase the toxins in my blood, which would increase the toxins in my milk.
    Thanks,
    Anne

    • Hi Anne,

      You are correct. You should never cleanse your body, with any type of cleansing, when breastfeeding. Cleansing while breastfeeding may dump toxins into your breastmilk, which would then be passed on to your baby. The herb Shatavari is safe for breastfeeding. Some superfoods like Maca, Royal Jelly, FertiliWhey and FertiliGreens may be safe with your doctors approval. Red Raspberry leaf and nettles is also safe for breastfeeding.

      All the best,

      Dalene

  38. Dear Hethir,

    I have been taken maca for 2 weeks now, at the moment I am menstruating. Should I continue with it?

    Thanks.

  39. Is it okay to take Maca and the Baby and Me whole food vitamin while on the Fertility Cleanse?

    I’m currently in the 7th day of the liver portion of the cleanse.

    Thanks.

    • Hi RDS,

      Yes it is fine to take both of those during the cleanse, actually we encourage those supplements as part of your cleanse and Natural Fertility Diet.

      All the best,

      Dalene

  40. Dear Dalene,

    I’ve been taking vitex for the last 8 months, because I had amenorrea, since I’ve taken vitex my menstrual cycles have been long and I’ve been spoting 5 days before of my period. What coud it be the cause of the spoting?

    • Hi Anna,

      How much Vitex are you taking? Have you taken a break from it to see how your body does on its own now? You may want to wean yourself off of it to see how your body does on its own. The only way you will know for sure if it is the vitex is to stop taking it and see what happens.

      Traditional suggested usage for Vitex is: Vitex is generally suggested to be taken once a day in the morning on an empty stomach (half an hour before breakfast). If vitex is being used as part of a herbal blend containing other herbs, use as directed on the bottle. Vitex should be used all month long without a break.

      Capsules: 900-1,000mg a day
      Tincture: 60-90 drops a day

      However, unlike powerful hormone drugs, vitex works slowly to normalize the body. Maximum benefits are often achieved after 6-12 cycles with vitex.

      All the best,

      Dalene

  41. Dear Dalene,

    For the past 9 months or so my periods have been very irregular and very, very light and only lasted a day, sometimes only half a day. The color is dark, not like the red color it used to be. We are ready to start trying but I am worried that I may not be ovulating. Am I, with it only lasting this long and hardly any blood? I am very confused as to why this started. Could you please help me get my cycle back on track? Please help me.

    Sincerely,
    Deanna

    • Hi Deanna,

      The following natural therapies are a great place to begin research:

      Dong Quai– In traditional Chinese medicine Dong Quai is referred to as a blood tonic as it has a general effect on circulation. This could be helpful for women experiencing pale menstrual flow, absent periods, and weakness after periods (in TCM this is called blood deficient). It has also been shown to improve red blood cell counts.

      Fertility Cleansing– In some instances the uterus is not able to empty it’s entire contents every menstrual cycle. Some imbalances that may show up when this is happening are PMS, cramps during your period, endometriosis, brown blood/dark blood/purple blood during menstruation, blood clotting during menstruation, endometriosis, PCOS, absence of menstruation, long cycles (longer than normal), are bleeding less than 4 days per cycle.

      Self Fertility Massage– Increases circulation to the uterus and cervix*
      Helps to move stagnant toxins to leave the body*
      Promotes the movement of fluids*

      It may be best to see a specialist to get some hormonal testing done to see why you are not having and cycle. If you are experiencing high levels of stress, this may delay your period as well.

      You may also want to consider a Natural Fertility Consultation.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  42. Hi Hethir,
    Today is my 11th day of period and still continuous bleeding, its my first time having this kind of problem. Could you mind to tell me what causes this?

    • Dear Barsha,

      Menorrhagia is excessive menstrual bleeding, either in the number of days, the amount of blood or both.

      There are a number of reasons that this could be happening, so many it would take up an entire page to list them all. It may be best in your case to review the last few months of your cycle and life to see if there is anything that may have affected you, diet changes, weight gain or loss, stress, herbs you may have been taking, medications you may have been taking, ect. You may also want to talk to your doctor about this and see if you can come up with a reason for this change.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  43. Hello. Thanks so much for all the helpful tips and articles you send me. I am very discouraged and have been trying for a year and a half to get pregnant but no luck. I have 2 healthy children already. Through several tests I have found that my fallopian tubes are blocked. I have a pretty normal period cycle. And as of today, I am 4 days late. I have taken 3 home pregnancy tests only to see negative results. Then I checked my email just now and see this article about the health of the menstrual cycle and fertility. Maybe my cycle isn’t as healthy as I thought it was. I am very sad that I have been unable to get pregnant. I’m thinking I should try that fertility cleansing kit.

    • Hi Arita,

      There are many reasons your cycle may be a bit irregular..stress, hormonal changes, age, ect. You know your body best, think about what may be causing this.

      Fertility Cleansing may help to create a foundation for balanced hormones and a healthy reproductive system.

      We have a great article on natural therapies for Blocked Fallopian Tubes, you can read it at this link: http://natural-fertility-info.com/blocked-fallopian-tubes
      Depending on what has damaged your tubes, for example endometriosis, the culprit may also cause irregular menstruation.

      Thank you for your support and kind words.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  44. Hi,
    thank you so much for the article. now, it is much more clear.

    I’ve been taking Vitex and Dong Quai altogether and Maca powder for 3 weeks already. No effect for now, but I’m optimistic. (I have high level of prolactin and ovarian cysts, but I have one child already!!; I’ve stopped breastfeeding and I would want to take my menstrual cycle back. I hope it will be possible naturally)

    Regards,
    Nadya

  45. I have blocked fallopian tubes. I was told that I am not ovulating, is this true?

    • Hi Passat08,

      You can ovulate if your fallopian tubes are blocked. Because your ovaries aren’t connected to your fallopian tubes, a properly functioning ovary is still free to perform its regular, once-a-month duty of releasing an egg for fertilization.*

      Is there a chance that your doctor said you are not ovulating because of another reason such as PCOS or hormonal imbalance?

      There is a higher risk of ectopic pregnancy if your tubes are partially blocked.

      *http://www.ehow.com/facts_6006043_can-ovulate-fallopian-tubes-blocked_.html

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  46. Hi,
    I had a miscarriage which resulted in a D&C Aug 2009. Since then we have been trying with no luck. I have had a normal cycle with the exception of very dark blood, clots and the worst cramps of my life. I don’t know what we are doing wrong. Please help us we want to add to our family more than anything.

    Thank you in advance,
    Katrina

    • Hi Katrina,

      The pain and dark blood clots may be a sign that your body may need to cleanse. Ways to cleanse the uterus naturally are the Fertility Cleanse Kit, Self Fertility Massage and Castor Oil packs. D&C has the potential to cause irritation in the uterus as well as scar tissue, Self Fertility Massage and Castor Oil packs may help with this. You have been through a lot, I am sorry for your loss, that must have been very difficult for you.

      Best Wishes,

      Dalene

  47. Hi Hethir,

    Can I take Dong Quai and Vitex simultaneously?

    Also, while taking these two herbs, can I take Folic Acid as well?

    Thank you.

    Andrea

  48. This was so helpful! I always wanted to know what is considered a healthy menstrual flow.

    Thanks,
    Theresa

  49. Hi Hethir,

    FANTASTIC article! Thanks so much for your on-going tips and information. So useful and much appreciated.

    Warmly, Karin