Women's Wisdom Episode 2: Your Period is a Messenger, with Nicole Jardim
Nicole is a functional medicine practitioner specializing in women's cycles. In this information-packed session, she covers everything from befriending your period as an indicator or overall health, to hormones in perimenopause and the declines in sperm quality.
Below please find our automated transcript. Please excuse us if there are any errors!
Today, we will be talking about 3000 days bleeding, period basics, new knowledge, normalizing the conversation and talking with our daughters. Hera is known as the goddess of women's fertility and the patron of menstruation.
And in ancient times, menstruation was viewed as a sacred and a visionary time when women whose cycles then were often synchronized retreated to quiet spaces in honor of the time that was known to be more emotionally sensitive than usual and then they returned to their communities renewed and re inspired. Now, that is not the most common experience women today usually enjoy. And in fact, menstruation is sometimes referred to as the curse and it's often accompanied by shame, dread, and discomfort.
Our guest today is on a mission to help women reclaim their hormonal health and vitality. But before we welcome Nicole Jardim, please, I'd like to remind you that we welcome your questions and your comments. So please feel free to chat, to make comments in the chat window, you can also offer your questions up for Nicole to answer. Nothing's off limits. You can just put them in the Q&A box at the bottom of the screen. So now our guest expert today is women's health and functional nutrition coach with a specialty in hormones and reproductive health. I'd like to welcome to Women's Wisdom Nicole Jardim. There we go.
Nicole Jardim (03:00):
I was a little worried there for a second. Anyway, thank you so much for having me, Lisa.
Welcome. So glad that you were able to take the time out and really excited to have this conversation with you because I know there's so much like I said, shame and difficulty and pain and some of it's physical and some of it's emotional and a lot of it's cultural. So I'm wondering if by way of introduction, if you could share your own personal hormonal journey and how your experience as a teenager led you to do the work you're doing right now.
Nicole Jardim (03:30):
Yes. I had a very tumultuous experience with my period as a teenager and it was one of those things that drove me to do the work that I do because I really, really struggled. I had terribly heavy, painful periods from the time I was really young, probably 14 or so, and they just continued to get worse. And then I started to notice that they would come every three or four months. And at first I thought that was a bit of a blessing and then realized that it was becoming a bit of a problem.
Nicole Jardim (04:01):
Especially when they would finally come, they came with a vengeance. They were super heavy, super painful and they just kept getting worse like I said. So eventually I went and saw my gynecologist and she immediately wrote a prescription for the pill and that was really what set me on the path to trying to address my period problems although that did not really help.
Nicole Jardim (04:22):
Initially it did and then of course I run into all kinds of other problems because there were a lot of side effects including chronic urinary tract infections and yeast infections and horrible hair loss and the melasma on my face and I put on weight and I started developing joint pain and gut health issues. I was like a poster child for period problems or pill problems. And so eventually I hit my limit where I had gotten a urinary tract infection medication that I was allergic to and ended up in the ER with a major allergic reaction. And that was my last straw.
Nicole Jardim (04:57):
And so I saw an acupuncturist who offered to help me figure out this whole thing. And he said immediately that he felt that the pill had something to do with it. And I was so shocked nobody had ever said that to me. And so that really was a catalyst for my healing. And I started seeing him consistently, I changed my diet, I went to whole foods for the first time. I mean, all of these things happened and that was impetus to go into doing this work.
Nicole Jardim (05:25):
Because I had studied film production, I worked in TV and commercials. This was not my plan in life. And over time I realized that I had been able to help myself have a period that was no big deal and I felt that there were other women who could benefit from what I was sharing too. So I studied to be a certified health coach and then a women's health coach and I tried to learn everything I could on hormonal health and periods and here I am today.
Wonderful. Well you describe yourself as a happy hormone guide. I love that. That's so cute and important, just catchy. And so I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about how people can become period literate, how they can be a detective and recognize whether their periods are normal and if they're problematic.
Nicole Jardim (06:13):
Yeah. I think that what we first need to understand is that your period and your entire menstrual cycle for that matter, it's a barometer of your health. It really does help you figure out what could be going on with your overall health. Like what's happening with your mental and emotional health, your adrenal glands, your thyroid. I mean, your period can tell you all of that. And yet we don't even realize that.
Nicole Jardim (06:38):
In our culture, we're sort of told to sort of medicate away our periods or to just ignore them or ignore the pain or the symptoms that we're experiencing. And so with all of that said, what I always recommend to women is to start with the basics, start with tracking the symptoms that are associated with your cycle. And from there you're going to develop such an incredible understanding of your unique body, your hormonal landscape, your menstrual cycle, and nobody's going to be able to take that away from you.
Nicole Jardim (07:10):
And you'll be able to have educated conversations with your doctor, with any healthcare provider about the data that you've gleaned from tracking your cycle. And so when I say that, what I mean is getting a period tracking app or getting a cycle tracking workshop, which you can buy those on Amazon and basically workbook, not workshop. So anyway, the point is that you want to be tracking from the first day of your cycle is the first day of your period, so the first day of bleeding.
Nicole Jardim (07:39):
And that you want to track how many days you're bleeding, how many days, how much you're bleeding. So in that sense, tracking how many times you're changing tampons or pads or your menstrual cup or period underwear, whatever protection you use. And from there you want to be thinking about your menstrual symptoms as they relate to your mental and emotional health, like do you feel completely wiped out by your period? In the lead up to your period, do you feel like your emotions are completely out of control and you're super frustrated, angry, lashing out at people or you feel really depressed?
Nicole Jardim (08:16):
Some women describe the mini depression. Again, all of those symptoms are symptoms to be tracked. And then in addition to that, once your period is over, are you ovulating? Because that's really the key. Ovulation is truly a sign of health and if we are to have a healthy menstrual cycle, we have to be ovulating consistently. And so to determine whether you're obviating, one of the ways I do this with tracking your cycle is taking your basal body temperature, which is your temperature upon awakening.
Nicole Jardim (08:45):
And so that will tell you whether you've ovulated or not because your temperature is actually lower in the first half of your cycle and then it rises in the second half. And then in addition to that, you can track your cervical fluid, which is another really key important indicator of your fertility. And so if you are ovulating your cervical fluid, it follows a very distinct pattern.
Nicole Jardim (09:05):
It actually starts out dry right after your period and then starts to progressively get wetter and wetter until the point where right before ovulation it's a little bit stretchy, you'll notice it feeling like egg white or kind of viscous-like and it can stretch between your fingers. And so that will indicate to you that ovulation is eminent. And then after ovulation occurs then your cervical fluid dries up. And it pretty much remains that way for the rest of your cycle. So we're really seeing a lot of patterns in the way our bodies show up and it's just a matter of us paying attention to them, which we've never really been taught to do.
Fantastic. Thank you for that. That's a great guide to how to start tracking. And it seems to me that any kind of knowledge is power and it's great to have that kind of history so you can refer back to it even if you don't necessarily need it right now, you might need it sometime in the future, right?
Nicole Jardim (09:59):
Well, I want to take a pause for a second just to invite our attendees. You're here for some reason and we'd love to know what it is that you're most interested in. So if you have questions, please do put them in the Q&A box below so we can try to get to them and so we can really make sure that Nicole's answering to the concerns that are most important to you. So Nicole, we were just hearing about how to track and what that might impact and some of the difficulties that people might experience. Are those symptoms you described indicative of hormone imbalance?
Nicole Jardim (10:35):
Yeah. So what I would say when it comes to hormone imbalance, first of all, I think hormones have gotten a really bad rap. And we are the point where when we talk about hormones, we don't talk about them in a positive way at all, right? We talk about hormones as being sort of the bane of our existence. Like, hormones mean really bad menopause or they mean terrible raging PMS moods or they mean heavy periods or painful periods or they mean PMS or something like that.
Nicole Jardim (11:04):
And all the research I did for my Fix Your Period program, I never really heard women talk about hormones in a positive way. They were actually the life giving chemical messengers that they are because that's really what they are. And they're responsible for basically 99% of what's happening in your body at any given moment. And yet we don't even recognize the importance of them, let alone what they're capable of doing. And so I really feel like hormones need a bit of a rebrand. And talking about what your hormones do for you, they're responsible for so much.
Nicole Jardim (11:35):
Like I said, your entire menstrual cycle, your response to stress, whether you're hungry or you're full or whether you're exhausted or you're happy or you're sad. I mean, they're really behind it all. And so with that said, when it comes to signs of a hormonal imbalance, I think it's important to know which hormones we're talking about because it's confusing for women. I feel like hormonal imbalance is a bit of an abstract term that nobody really gets.
Nicole Jardim (12:01):
They kind of understand if they have a period problem for instance, or they have a mood issue but they don't really get it. And so when it comes to hormones in general, I always ask women to think of them in sort of a tiered fashion. So the top hormones at the top of this tier is a cortisol and insulin and then those are followed by DHA and pregnenolone. And then below that we have estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, melatonin, these hormones that are really influenced by the hormones on the top.
Nicole Jardim (12:32):
And so when we're talking about a hormonal imbalance as it relates to your menstrual cycle, a lot of the time what we find is estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, those are the ones that are imbalanced. And those are often imbalanced because you have stress that you're not dealing with and cortisol is out of control and it's caused a trickle down effect to your sex hormones.
Nicole Jardim (12:53):
And so if you have sex hormone imbalance typically what you see is a menstrual cycle problem. So you might have heavy periods or you might not have a period at all because you're not ovulating. If you don't ovulate, you don't actually have a period. You may have irregular cycles and that might mean you have too high testosterone. So your cycles are way too high or your cycles are just way too long. So there's multiple things.
So given that this isn't something that's standardly tested as far as my own personal experience, what are the ways that people can learn about their hormones in the various levels that they're experiencing? Is it something that they would only go and test if they were having extreme problems or is there another way to [crosstalk 00:13:38]?
Nicole Jardim (13:39):
I think hormone testing is sort of like the gold standard. I mean, we really want to know what's going on, we want to have a baseline. And so I consider hormone testing to be something that we should do at some point or another. It just really depends on the severity of your problem and how long you've been dealing with it for. For instance, if you're not ovulating and you're not getting a period, you want to test to figure out why that might be.
Nicole Jardim (14:02):
Because there are multiple reasons for it. I don't know that people even really realize this, but if you have celiac disease, it's undiagnosed, it might show up as a missing period. I mean you might just have very irregular cycles or no period at all, or you might have something called a pituitary tumor that raises your prolactin levels and prolactin suppresses ovulation and a period.
Nicole Jardim (14:23):
So there are multiple reasons why you might have something like that. So the end of the day, what I think is really crucial is to, like I said, track your cycle, pay attention to your symptoms, you become the expert on your body and then you can start to figure out where the imbalances lie. And then the second thing is that hormone testing, it's done when you have an issue. So like I said, if you don't have a period or you have extremely irregular periods that you might have polycystic ovary syndrome or you have a really, really heavy period.
Nicole Jardim (14:51):
You might want to test for certain sex hormones, but you might also want to test for a bleeding disorder like Wilson's disease. So there are multiple ways to test and in fact, I laid all of this out in my book Fix Your Period because I really feel so strongly that we need to be able to advocate for ourselves. And like you just said in your experience, hormone testing has not been something that's really readily offered.
Nicole Jardim (15:12):
And I find that a lot of women just need to go out on their own and do the hormone testing and work with a practitioner who's willing to look at the tests and interpret them. So when it comes to testing hormones that are involved with your menstrual cycle, you want to be looking at oestradiol, which is the most common form of estrogen during your cycling years.
Nicole Jardim (15:32):
You want to look at progesterone, you want to look at testosterone and DHEA, I can never say the whole word out loud because it's too long and complicated. I can never get it right. But DHEA is a hormone that basically it's the hormone that keeps cortisol in check a little bit. It's released by your adrenal glands, but it's also an androgen. And so it can potentially cause menstrual cycle issues. So those are the hormones to test.
Great. So that's the perfect segue into, we have a couple of questions that I'd like to [inaudible 00:16:01]. The first one that's very related to that is, well you already answered to some degree where someone would start. That's part of the question. And this attendee says that she's been to her doctor and they've tested hormones and thyroid, but they don't seem to be very comprehensive. So where exactly does one go to get hormone testing?
Nicole Jardim (16:19):
Yeah, I know this is really challenging and I see this so often where they go to their doctor, they get sort of basic testing and then they're usually told that the test results are normal and they're sent on their way. And what happens is when they come work with me, I look at these test results and I'm not a doctor, I don't interpret test results, but I can look at them and kind of gauge based on my own training what I consider to be normal or not normal.
Nicole Jardim (16:48):
And again, when you sync them up to the person's symptoms, it makes a lot of sense. So my interpretation of test results is a little bit different to the conventional medicine interpretation. And what that means is I look at it from a functional medicine perspective, which is my training background. And that's really looking at test results from the perspective that we're not looking at them from a sick person's test results. We're looking at them in terms of health.
Nicole Jardim (17:15):
And so really what I want to do is keep a person in a healthy range. And so the functional test results or the functional ranges of test results are quite different to conventional medicine. So that's the first issue that a lot of women run into is that they're normal, and yet their symptoms are not. And so I just feel like if you're going to a doctor who is basically telling you that you're fine and you should just go about your business, that to me is medical gas lighting.
Nicole Jardim (17:43):
It just means that you're not being listened to, you're not being heard and your symptoms are not being taken seriously because your test results are coming back "normal". So what I would suggest is well, you can work with someone like me. I will do the deep work and because that's the work that I do or work with women's health coach like me, a nutritional therapist, another type of health coach. Someone who is going to dig deeper.
Nicole Jardim (18:11):
Exactly. A functional medicine doctor, a naturopathic doctor, anyone who is going to take a full body holistic approach to your health. So that would be my suggestion. And you can bring all of those test results to that person too and they can look at it and they can look at it through the lens of, "Well we want you to be well, we're not going to base it on sick people ranges." Basically.
Perfect. So another question is how many women you've seen with hormonal imbalances are due to thyroid issues like hypothyroidism?
Nicole Jardim (18:43):
Yeah, I mean I see that she wrote hyperthyroidism, which is not as common as hypothyroidism. Yes, like a million. And again, this comes back to this idea that your hormones are all impacted by other hormones that are higher up on the totem pole basically. And so when it comes to thyroid, people don't realize that your thyroid is intricately connected with your menstrual cycle. And so when it comes to thyroid health, it has to be working well in order for your ovaries to work well technically.
Nicole Jardim (19:15):
And the reason I say that is because your thyroid, it plays a role in your ovarian function. And so if your thyroid isn't working properly, your body doesn't make as much progesterone as it should. So that's one of the big issues. Hypothyroidism or thyroid dysfunction in general also slows down ovulation. So what that means is if you're not ovulating, you're not going to get a period, you're going to have menstrual cycle problems.
Nicole Jardim (19:46):
And the reason thyroid does that is because your thyroid is basically your body's energy generator, right? So it's responsible for your metabolism, for your body temperature, a whole host of things, your weight, all of it. And when it's not working properly, it definitely impacts your ovarian function. So it can cause, like I said, this lack of ovulation, it can predispose us to estrogen dominance where we don't have as much progesterone in relation to our estrogen and it can cause a whole host of other issues.
Nicole Jardim (20:17):
So that's why I really recommend that if you are dealing with a thyroid problem, you've got to work with someone who is not sort of a conventionally minded doctor because they're really only going to test TSH and maybe free T4 if you're lucky. And their whole perspective is high TSH means that your thyroid is underactive and low TSH means that your thyroid is overactive and that's really it.
Nicole Jardim (20:45):
But your thyroid is multifaceted and there are much more hormones that the thyroid makes. So I highly recommend working, again, with someone who I was just describing. Someone like me or a functional practitioner of some kind, naturopath, someone who is going to look at the bigger picture.
Great. One other question related to hormones and to ovulation is that infertility that's so much more likely to be occurring as we get older. Is it related to ovulating or not ovulating part of the problem? I think is the question. Let me [crosstalk 00:21:17].
Nicole Jardim (21:16):
Yeah, no. I see the question here and it's a really good question. And again, this is what I think is so unfortunate is that we're not taught this information at all and we should because this is basic, periods 101 really at the end of the day and fertility 101. And so when we're struggling with infertility, that's so multifaceted and I think that that's something that's really important for all of us to understand.
Nicole Jardim (21:40):
It is related to not ovulating in many cases because if you cannot or do not ovulate, you cannot get pregnant. It's impossible. It's virtually impossible because you need that egg to leave your ovary and sit in your fallopian tube and wait for a sperm cell to fertilize it. And then that fertilized egg goes and sits in your uterine lining and then it will implant and you'll have a baby.
Nicole Jardim (22:03):
So the point is that if we are not ovulating, we need to figure out why that is, right? So like I said, ovulation is a sign of health. And so if you're ovulating consistently, that indicates to me that your endocrine system is working properly, your immune system is working properly, and your body in general is overall healthy. And so if you're not ovulating, to me that indicates that there is possibly a nutrition deficiency or nutrient deficiency.
Nicole Jardim (22:30):
It could mean that you're way too stressed. People don't realize this, right? We have a lot of ecstasies throughout our bodies. They all start in our brain with our hypothalamus and our pituitary glands. And those glands are releasing hormones that instruct our thyroid, our adrenals, our ovaries, our pancreas, all of these endocrine glands to do their jobs. And so if we have a disruption in our hypothalamus and our pituitary, in the case of excess stress, which who doesn't have that, then we run into problems.
Nicole Jardim (22:59):
So that excess cortisol that we produce, it actually kind of hijacks our brain and makes it produce less follicle stimulating hormone, it would stimulate your ovaries to produce an egg or to get an egg ready for ovulation. So if you're already hijacked in your brain and your ovaries are not getting the message, your whole ovulatory system stops. So your menstrual cycle kind of comes to a halt and you might not have a period or you might have very irregular cycles or you might just bleed constantly.
Nicole Jardim (23:29):
I mean it just looks different for different people. So we have to figure out what's causing this ovulatory disturbance and thus the infertility. So like I said, we've got stress, we've got nutrient deficiencies, we've got thyroid problems, like I just said, that impacts your ovulation as well. We have multiple things, environmental toxins, I mean this is huge.
Nicole Jardim (23:50):
And then we also have sperm. Sperm is not doing so great either right now. In addition to women's bodies, men's bodies are really struggling as well. And so it's really critical for us to understand that sperm plays a huge role in this, it's not all a woman. And we need to be checking out sperm as a very first step and also not taking same as for us women seeing a functional doctor or a naturopath or someone who is holistically minded.
Nicole Jardim (24:16):
You want to take those sperm test results to one of those people as well. Because those sperm parameters, by the way, they keep getting lower and lower and as a result, we're lowering the bar for men's sperm quality and not getting pregnant because of it. It's incredible to me how many women go through IVF because of poor sperm quality. And instead of just working on the man's sperm quality, which is highly influenced by nutrition and lifestyle and all kinds of other factors, then we go through a very invasive procedure that is to me is very invasive and serious and it takes a huge toll on our bodies. So I think that there's multiple aspects to infertility.
Okay. That's really shocking and a really amazing point and somewhat illustrative of what happens so often in our culture where we don't necessarily look into all the details, but we place I guess the emphasis, not the blame, but the power on just one place where we don't actually look at the holistic approach.
Nicole Jardim (25:25):
And this is on women 100%.
So men can be going through that or partners together if they're trying to get pregnant and dealing with infertility can be looking holistically from both the sperm side and women's fertility side, get information. So you have a six week program and I know that you call it Six Weeks To Fix Your Period, right?
Nicole Jardim (25:52):
Well, that's in my book actually. Yes. I have an actual program itself called Fix Your Period too. And that's more of a three month program because again, that's usually how long it takes for women to start to see changes in their ovulatory cycles and their menstrual cycles in general. But yes, in my book it is Six Weeks To Fix Your Period, technically. I had to fit it into a book.
Okay. And then you probably already covered this, but you talk about being a menstruation maven. Basically what you're talking about right now, it's like having the knowledge and being empowered and knowing what's involved and understanding your body, is that what's involved or is there more to it than that?
Nicole Jardim (26:33):
Yeah, that is the foundation of it. And we came up with that tagline almost as kind of a joke. And I run it by so many people over the years and some women are just like, "Hell no Nicole. I am not going to be any menstruation maven. I have no interest in that. So I just want to deal with the period problems and get on with my life." And then others completely embrace it. They become health coaches, they're just so psyched about their menstrual cycle.
Nicole Jardim (26:57):
And that's really what it is, is to really fall in love with your period. And it doesn't have to be this terrible thing. It doesn't have to be mysterious, it does not have to be gross or yucky or whatever. I've heard all the things at this point. It does not have to be the bane of your existence. It can be what I consider to be a guiding force in your life. And when I say that, what I mean is not only is it your period, but we're talking about the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, the luteal phase.
Nicole Jardim (27:25):
There's all these phases of your cycle and your hormones are shifting quite dramatically throughout these phases, so almost every week of your cycle. And what you can do is start to really live in harmony with those phases, meaning that in the luteal phase for instance, as you're getting closer to your period, maybe you're winding down a little bit, maybe you don't feel like hanging out with a whole lot of people.
Nicole Jardim (27:47):
Maybe you don't throw yourself a birthday party three days before you're getting your period or you don't go on a date three days before you're getting your period. Instead, maybe you take some time alone. So there are multiple ways that we can really start to harness these powers of our cycle and that's really what I consider to be a menstruation maven.
Lovely. It sounds like what you're talking about is really getting a lot more in sync with our natural cycles and the aspect and the impact that the cycle has, the point in our cycle has on us in terms of emotionally and socially and just to really be more in touch with really ourselves.
Nicole Jardim (28:26):
Absolutely. Yeah. And sexually as well. I think that women generally expect to have the same energy, the same appetite, the same sex drive, the same everything throughout the month. And that's really sort of like a very male way of approaching the world, very masculine way of approaching world. Not how we do it.
Nicole Jardim (28:47):
It's not how our bodies are designed. We have this hormonal ebb and flow happening throughout our cycle. And if we can really get to know our unique hormonal landscape, we can really tune in to what we actually need in each phase of our cycle so that we're not raging PMS monsters in the lead up to our period or we're able to capitalize on our heightened brain skills when we're ovulating when estrogen and testosterone are super for high and we have great verbal skills and we can step up in meetings or take charge of projects. We have a lot more confidence at that time in our cycle. So how do we maximize those strengths?
The thing that I hear in that is something that is in general rising up in our culture right now, which is the more we actually connect with the reality and the truth of our feminine nature and power in ways that we've been dislocated from and disassociated from, the more we can actually be impactful and happy and joyful and live really lives that can really make a difference. It impacts everything.
Nicole Jardim (29:55):
Doesn't it though? I love that. I love that you said that. I completely agree. I think it's certainly reflective in the society overall right now especially because periods have sort of come out of hiding so to speak and we're really more openly talking about them. We're speaking about these issues that we experience. I feel like women are speaking more about their IVF experiences, they're speaking about postpartum depression and anxiety and how debilitating that is. I feel like the veil has been lifted to a degree.
Yeah, well said. I really appreciate that the veil has been lifted and it's lifting all the time and it offers so much ability to dispel the things that are associated with shame, which is actually one of the things I wanted to talk about because you referenced it implicitly and I read it in the introduction and other people as we are leading up to this episode mentioned that that's something they've experienced in life.
And then I also want to talk about how we go about speaking to our daughters about menstruation. And I think one of the historical aspects to menstruation has been so laden with shame and nobody has told me stories or mentioned anything about that. But can you address that and how you help in your work, either daughters or mothers of daughters get more clear about how to address a shame that's surrounded so much of this categorically.
Nicole Jardim (31:16):
Yes. First of all, sorry there seems to be a lawnmower and a dog barking. It's like all the things that are happening in the background right now that I was not anticipating. So sorry ladies. But anyway what I have found more than anything, it's sort of in the words of, I'm paraphrasing too with [Brene Brown 00:00:31:32] and this idea of just speaking about it, bring it into the light continually, that's how we end shame and stigma. And that's really been my mission obviously, that's all I do all day long, talk about this stuff.
Nicole Jardim (31:46):
And that's really what we have to do as mothers to daughters and to sons as well, to anyone who is menstruating or not menstruating. I think that this is a universal topic that needs to be talked about and completely normalized. And what I found is that a lot of my friends are moms now, I'm not a mom yet and they have talked to me about, how do I talk to my son or my daughter because everyone wants to talk to everybody about it now, which is great.
Nicole Jardim (32:16):
And they've all remarked to me that if they take a completely neutral tone and they've happened to mention it or their child asks about it. Like for instance, my friend, her son asked her about her tampons during the other day and he's four. And so she explained it in very basic terms and what that is, what women get every month. And it was amazing because she said, he was like, "Okay, that's cool." And moved on. And that's really what it is, right?
Nicole Jardim (32:43):
If we don't attach our own stuff to it, our kids won't attach stuff to it either. So that's really what it comes down to. How can we just put our stuff aside because there is so much conditioning and I know because I grew up with it. But if we could just take a moment and put that aside and talk to them about it from the time they ask as little children, they'll know. I mean it'll be ingrained in the fabric of who they are by the time they're 12, 13, 15 because they've been talking about this without any kind of weirdness for 10 years.
Absolutely. So there is a question that I want to address that's basically around natural pads or otherwise. Is there a benefit to natural pads and reusable cotton pads?
Nicole Jardim (33:27):
That's such a good question. I have not answered that question in so long but yes. I highly recommend switching and moving as far away from possible from conventional pads and tampons because first of all, they're bleached and the byproduct of that bleach is dioxin, which is a very potent chemical that can cause all kinds of problems. Not to mention the fact that your vaginal tissue is pretty much the most absorbent tissue in your body.
Nicole Jardim (33:56):
So we really don't want to be putting anything in there that can leach chemicals into your bloodstream. That's why a lot of women report to me that when they switched to natural pads or cotton only pads, organic cotton, or they do a menstrual cup or period underwear, they notice that their periods become a lot less heavy. And the reason for that is likely that the chemicals that are in these products are highly estrogenic.
Nicole Jardim (34:22):
So we live in a very estrogenic society now where a lot of the pesticides are sprayed on cotton, and a lot of the chemicals, generally speaking create a lot of estrogen dominance. They're xenoestrogens, they're estrogen mimickers and so they create this situation in our bodies where we have this heightened estrogen in relation to our progesterone and we can't test for it because we can't test xenoestrogens, we can't test these fake estrogens to know.
Nicole Jardim (34:48):
And you will notice a difference like heavier periods, more PMS, more period pain, things like that, breast tenderness, breast pain, those are the symptoms that we might experience with a situation like that. So definitely consider switching. Huge change is going to happen.
Great to know. Thank you for that question to our attendee and thank you for all of our attendees for questions. We still have a few more to get to.
Nicole Jardim (35:09):
Yeah, they're so good.
If you have other questions, please pop them in the box. We're going to get to as many as we possibly can. And the next one that I want to address from an attendee is a really amazing question, which is do men also have a cycle like our period where their energy shifts in a way like ours does? Like how during ovulation our sexual desire can grow, is there any similar cycle like that for men?
Nicole Jardim (35:32):
I love that so much. That's so good. I'm just going to say ladies, that our bodies are kind of amazing. I mean, what they do on a monthly basis is so incredible guys don't even have anything close to that. We're so lucky. We are so lucky. They literally are so boring. It's like literally in the morning cortisol rises for men, testosterone rises and then they slowly taper off throughout the day and that's it. And then they go to bed and they do it all over again. And that's all they have. They really don't have any kind of cyclical shift besides what happens through a 24 hour cycle. I know they're just not as cool as us.
Nicole Jardim (36:06):
So that's it. And that's why it's so interesting. We tend to be up at night a lot of the time, we get a second wind. Men typically don't get a second wind. When they're done, they're done. Their testosterone is all the way down at the bottom and in the nighttime it's also nature's kind of cruel joke because their testosterone is high, their sex drive tends to be a lot higher in the mornings, whereas ours tends to be higher in the evenings and that just is the nature of it. But yes, in terms of your sex drive, but at ovulation time, which tends to be your peak for the most part. Men don't have that in the month, just in the morning.
Just having that information is helpful, right? Just recognizing that our cycles are operating on different oscillations can help us have maybe more compassion for each other and more compassion for ourselves and for men as we try and find the ways that we sync up together.
Nicole Jardim (37:05):
Yes, absolutely. I know, I completely agree with that.
So another attendee says that a lot of women talk about period and symptom change between their period and perimenopause and wants you to talk about the hormonal changes for perimenopause and what you see with women in that stage of life or why women feel, I'm just not that old. And...
Nicole Jardim (37:27):
This is so great. These questions are incredible. You guys are amazing. There is a significant shift and it makes sense, that's what should happen. I mean we have these different phases, very distinct phases in our menstrual life cycle, right? We've got puberty where you go from not having an ovulatory cycle to having an ovulatory cycle.
Nicole Jardim (37:47):
It's kind of incredible actually that we go from basically doing nothing with our bodies to releasing an egg every single month and then having a period and all of this. This is a big deal for our bodies. And then we go through the teenage years, which tends to be a little tumultuous. And then our twenties, things calm down a little bit. They don't tend to be as crazy as our teens. And then the thirties things definitely start to shift.
Nicole Jardim (38:09):
And so what I see is for the most part that periods tend to get a little heavier, especially after childbirth. I found that as well with a lot of my clients and a lot of my friends because I ask everyone about their period. And usually they have heavier periods that come more frequently, which tends to be the case with an estrogen dominant situation or when you're not ovulating as often as you might be just on a regular monthly cycle.
Nicole Jardim (38:35):
And so that is a shift I tend to see in the 30s and then what I've found is that there is no cliff that we fall off into hormonal purgatory and menopause hell at 35 or even at 40. Because I just turned 40 and I've not really seen any changes so far. But I've been taking care of things for a long time. So this is why I always tell women that you want to be taking care of your health.
Nicole Jardim (39:02):
When you're in your early teens, you get a pass, but in your late teens or early twenties or thirties because all of this adds up. Because what we don't realize is that when your ovaries shut down for business in your mid to late forties or early fifties for some of us, what happens is your adrenals take over. They take over responsibility for producing some of your sex hormones. They're not going to produce as much as your ovaries did, but they do.
Nicole Jardim (39:28):
And if your adrenals are completely burnt out as most of ours are unfortunately, because life is life and modern living is intense. What ends up happening is we have a more pronounced perimenopause or menopause transition. When I say pronounced, I say that nicely. It's more catastrophic for some women and they have a complete hormonal breakdown. And so I really encourage women to try and avoid that and really taking care of your adrenal glands is a good first step, but also taking care of your health in general.
Nicole Jardim (39:59):
And so when it comes to this perimenopause shift what I see is in the early to mid forties, that's where I start to see changes. And so usually what you might notice is you skip a period, you don't ovulate so you might skip a few periods in a year or you get multiple periods and they are much heavier because again, you're lacking that progesterone that you would have been making more consistently in your 20s and 30s. So those are the symptoms that I tend to see.
Nicole Jardim (40:26):
And of course there's the mental and emotional side of things too because things shift, right? Usually in our forties life is intense. I mean we're raising children, most of us are at peak career time, we've got relationships going, we've got a lot of responsibilities. And so I've found that there tends to be a lot of burnout and so we really have to check that as it relates to our perimenopause symptoms.
So let me ask you then about the next stage once people are through menopause. I've been hearing a lot of talk recently about various new approaches to dealing with menopause and to doing various new kinds of hormone replacement therapy. And some of them seem really controversial and really extreme, but I'm hearing and reading very mixed things about it to the point where some of the people who are doing pretty extreme hormone replacement that hasn't been tested by the medical field where they're actually seeing it's a positive thing to get their period restated. I'm guessing it's a pretty controversial area and pretty involved.
Nicole Jardim (41:29):
Yeah. I mean, I get that it's super controversial, but I guess the piece that strikes me in that is that there is still so much to learn about hormones and so much more reclaiming for all of us to do around the choices that we make around hormones. I'm wondering anything you can say to people who may be already through menopause, is it basically like, "There you go. You're done as we'll get used to it, your body's complete." Or what is the program for health and vitality and sensuality and sexuality and being alive in menopause look like from a hormonal perspective?
Nicole Jardim (42:14):
It's very clearly obvious to me that our society is so obsessed with anti aging and this idea of reversal of aging. And I don't know man, that has got to shift because menopause is just what happens. Keeping your ovaries going, that is highly experimental and I can't even imagine the potential health effects that something like that can have. And a lot of people say that well, you're going to keep cycling and you'll get your ovaries and you'll get your hormones and all that good stuff. But bodies have evolved over millions of years. The fact that we're just a little blip on the radar and we're now messing with this evolution of a woman's body is a little scary. But yeah.
Can we rephrase it then more a little bit more moderately then, maybe not to that extent, but just what are your thoughts on hormone replacement therapy for optimization? Because at some point, if we're wanting to optimize, you're basically saying we can optimize our experience. There must be a way that's more moderate that we could optimize our experience with our hormone relationship and interactions.
Nicole Jardim (43:24):
Yeah, certainly. And because I can't prescribe hormones or anything like that, I don't consider myself to be any kind of major hormone replacement therapy expert. But the people who I do talk to who are, are big proponents of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. And I've seen amazing things happen for women where they were having horribly painful sex or their moods were completely crashed or they were having issues with their skin, hair loss, all kinds of issues were happening.
Nicole Jardim (43:55):
And then they did go on hormone replacement therapy and things completely turned around. So I'm a big fan of it if you're working with a practitioner and they're really skilled and trained in that specific area. But yes, absolutely you can 100% optimize your health in your late forties, fifties, sixties with bioidenticals. I'm a big fan of them for sure.
And then would that be the same approach going to with the same type of... You specialize in younger women generally, but it would also be going through a functional integrative kind of health practitioner?
Nicole Jardim (44:27):
Yeah, definitely. And someone who is recognized for their work in bioidenticals, I think that you really want to make sure that they're trained and they've worked with a lot of people because of course the human body is a human body, right? We're not dealing with test numbers, we're dealing with human bodies that are quite fickle and they have a way of doing their own thing.
Nicole Jardim (44:46):
So you just want to make sure that you're working with someone who is experienced, at least has a number of years of experience working with multiple women who they prescribed bioidenticals to so that they can really help you because you can experience symptoms, right? So you might have too much of one hormone and it might be showing up as a problem. You might have hair growth, for instance, extra hair growth and that never happened before. So your testosterone that you've been prescribed might be too high. So you really have to work with someone who can recognize those symptoms and adjust dosages as needed.
I think you've largely already addressed this, but our attendee that asks, is there anything else we can do to plan for perimenopause and menopause in order to have easier shifts on our body?
Nicole Jardim (45:27):
Yeah, I think that's such a great question. And I love that it was asked. And like I was saying earlier, when we start to think of the menstrual continuum, so to speak, that's really where I think that we need to put our effort and our focus. Because if we're thinking of it like that, we're not just thinking, "I'm 24 and I'm invincible." Then we're able to see the bigger picture and the long term strategy. So if we can really focus on just taking care of ourselves.
Nicole Jardim (45:54):
I mean, I don't expect people to not go out and drink or eat sugar every now and again and do those kinds of things because life. But at the same time I really think that if we can practice a very basic 80/20 rule and live our lives and have joy in it, but find joy in other things rather than crazy partying and drinking and bingeing on cookies or whatever, we're going to preserve our menstrual cycle health, our fertility long into our forties because we're supporting our menstrual cycle function for the most part.
Nicole Jardim (46:31):
And when we're doing that with the right nutrients and not exposing ourselves to too many toxins and taking care of our gut health and our thyroid and our adrenals and our livers, I mean, miracles can happen. Like I said, I know multiple women who have gone into perimenopause and into menopause and they've kind of sailed right through because they've just recognized in their twenties and thirties that they need to take care of themselves for the long term. And that's really all it takes. It doesn't take a lot.
Nicole Jardim (46:56):
And I think also just to speak to something that I think we as women tend to struggle with is having boundaries. Being able to say no to things, not burning yourself out being a yes person and living up to other people's ideals or standards or requests. I think that that is a huge part of taking care of our hormonal health, so big.
It's interesting. I'm reflecting back to what you said early on the conversation is that our hormonal health reflects our general health and it sounds like what you're saying that is consistent with that in both directions, it's bi-directional. That taking care of our hormonal health is also the standard processes we'd use to be healthy, to live healthy lives, to eat healthy, to take care of our stress.
Nicole Jardim (47:40):
So true. I love that. Yeah, I know. It's bi-directional. I love that. It's true.
Right? So in some ways that's really encouraging because it means that there's a lot that we can already do that we already know that we can already implement without too much complication but that if someone did want to have a guide or some support, can you talk a little bit about the type of work you do and what kind of services you offer?
Nicole Jardim (48:04):
Yeah, of course. So like I was saying, I'm a women's health coach and my goal is to kind of work with you in conjunction with your doctor for instance, where I help you implement what is being recommended. And we really look at your menstrual cycle again as this barometer, as this map or roadmap for your overall health. And I will take what you tell me are your symptoms and help you figure out what the cause is. And then we work sort of from the ground up to address those issues.
Nicole Jardim (48:34):
And so I have a program called Fix Your Period and that's really what I do in the program. I told you I've been writing this book for this last year so I haven't been seeing clients one on one, but I'm now back to seeing clients one on one and in small groups. And so it's one of those things where we have to have somebody to help us because it's a lot of feeling around in the dark, which is what I did for a really long time. And so I highly recommend that.
Nicole Jardim (48:57):
And you can find me at my website, it's nicolejardim.com. Like I said, I have programs, I have a blog that is really in depth. I also have a podcast called The Period Party and I also have my book coming out in April and that's called Fix Your Period and that's got the six week protocol in there.
Fantastic. That's wonderful. Well if our attendees don't have any other questions, I'm just going to say thank you so much for being here.
Nicole Jardim (49:23):
And sharing this such important information. Is there anything else that you think that needs to be addressed or that could be reminded that maybe I didn't think our attendees didn't think to ask you? Is there anything else that comes to mind?
Nicole Jardim (49:35):
I just think ultimately that if we can really get to the point where we're collecting data on our bodies and really understanding what it is that your body is saying to you because she's speaking to you pretty much every day. We just don't really know how to interpret her language. And so if we get to tracking our cycles and interpreting what our bodies are telling us every day, it's going to just have such profound effects on our overall health and our longterm health.
Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
Nicole Jardim (50:07):
Thank you so much to all of our attendees for being here. Thank you so much for your wonderful questions. And I want to remind you that you can join us again next week for episode number three, which is called sex without babies. New questions of reproductive intent from when to how with [Dr. Ruchi Pere 00:50:29]. So we'll be talking more about it almost like a continuation from today's show, so please do join us again next week. You can register on the same Zoom webinar link and I look forward to seeing you next week again.
Nicole Jardim (50:44):
Christine Mason (50:47):
What is reverence? It's a way of living in awe and amazement at these outrageous, complex and beautiful bodies. The mere fact that we are alive at all to treat ourselves, each other and the earth as if it was all a treasure because it is. Be assured that anytime you feel small, unattractive, there's a lie involved because the truth of you is perfect nature, perfect wholeness, always more than enough. The stories we learn from family and culture from thousands of years of culture have often made the feminine less than subject to denigrated or demeaned, and we leave those stories in the past.
Christine Mason (51:37):
We don't pass them on to our daughters and granddaughters. Knowing our worth, we step forward into this new moment, knowing that all of the world is a blend of male and female and each element asks for celebration. So we shine out, make a world that works for all women everywhere starting with ourselves. Thank you for joining us at Women's Wisdom by Rosebud Woman. For more information and past episodes, visit us at www.rosewoman.com.