Hi, friends! Happy Thursday! How is your week going? Recently, some of you have asked me about the seed cycling regimen I followed and for an Amenorrhea update. (See my previous posts: recovering from 5 years of amenorrhea and post pill amenorrhea update.) So, for the dudes, this will be period talk so if you want to skip it, see you back tomorrow for Friday Fitness & Favorites!
This past month I learned exactly how stress affects my body: turns out A LOT. Last month there were a few days that I felt like my dreams were crashing down on me. You know what happened? I started my period four days early, and it was SUPER light.
Here is a recap of my first five months: 38 days, 26 days, 28 days, 23 days, and 24 days.
I think that pretty much proves to me that I’m super sensitive to stress and I need to manage it carefully. Letting myself go down the: my world is ending rabbit hole, has profound physical effects on my body. It proves to me that all this was initially caused primarily by stress and a negative reaction to birth control. I was kind of scared it would disappear the next month altogether, but the last cycle was exactly 28 days, so we are getting more normal! It was still pretty light but five days this time instead of four. Not that “heaviness” is an indication of everything working normally, but in my mind it totally is. Not exactly logical.
What is logical is tracking my cycle. When I first tried to do this the month after my period came back it was too hard. I was too worried it wouldn’t come back and it put a ton of stress on me. Now that I’m fairly confident things are humming along, I can start tracking (I use an app called Kindara). I believe that learning the fertility awareness method is something every woman should do, regardless of the method of birth control she chooses. Only because it teaches a woman so much about her body like what is normal and what is not, which can help solve underlying hormone balance issues. We are Catholic, so I was exposed to NFP during marriage preparation, but it frustrated me because I had nothing to track. I was the same every single day with zero changes, so I eventually gave up. I think they call it “your basic infertility pattern.” I couldn’t let my mind go there, so while I did not have a cycle, I stopped tracking it, simply to save my sanity. To help me review and get back into tracking, I’ve been reading “Taking Charge of Your Fertility.” (<—–affiliate link) After I understand more about it I’m happy to post about it if you guys are interested.
Despite the little stress hiccup, I feel like my hormones are leveling off. I do not have huge hormonal acne swings, and I can tell my workouts are finally feeling …. um, effective? Moreover, I’m finally getting results from my workouts! Woot woot! Some of that has to do with finally recovering from injury and my new program my friend wrote me. Over the past ten weeks, I’ve lost 5-6lbs of the 10 I gained from my hormone fluctuation and too much holiday fun. Mr. Hungry’s grandma is still making comments about my weight gain. I just don’t let it bother me because it just doesn’t matter. I have the best husband in the world who has told me multiple times he can see a big difference in my muscle tone and definition. We’ve talked so many times about how when I was at my lowest weight when we got married I was so thin but with zero muscle definition (I lifted weights, but it made no difference.) Now it is becoming more visible every day (yeah hormones!), and I love it. My weight loss is slow but I barely think about it, and I’m not stressed about it. It took six months to gain it; it will likely take that much to lose it.
Okay, so I promised to share the seed cycling regimen the doctor (naturopath) I worked with put me on to help regulate my cycle. (She gave me permission to share.) (Note, links below are affiliate links. Thank you!)
Phase 1: Seeds to support the Estrogen Dominant portion of your cycle.
Days 1-14 of your cycle (starting from day one of your period) ingest the following daily:
- 2 Tablespoons of fresh ground flax seeds or chia seeds (I buy mine fresh and grind them in a coffee grinder)
- 2 Tablespoons of fresh ground raw hempseeds
- 2,000mg EPA/DHA (such as fish oil) – this is one I take (make sure to get this cleared by your doctor because fish oil can cause blood thinning, you also may not want to take that high levels if you are trying to conceive)
Phase 2: Seeds to support the Progesterone Dominant portion of your cycle.
Days 15-28 ingest the following daily:
- 2 Tablespoons fresh raw sunflower seeds or sesame seeds
- 2 Tablespoons fresh raw pumpkin seeds(pepitas)
- GLA (such as from borage oil or Evening Primrose Oil) 500mg (what I take, again, check with your doctor or schedule a one-time appointment with me before taking) *NOTE – DO NOT TAKE IF TRYING TO CONCEIVE. GLA is thought to be related to early contractions, so it’s best to skip this when you are TTC.
- 1,000mg EPA/DHA (such as from fish oil – review with doctor/dietitian if you are trying to conceive or are actively taking blood thinners)
When I started, I didn’t have a cycle, so I followed the phases of the moon. Days 1-14 are followed during periods of the new moon to full moon. Days 15-28 follow the full moon to new moon. I used this calendar to figure out when to do what.
- Only prepare a few days max at a time, seeds will oxidize and become less potent.
- Store the ground seeds in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator (I used mason jars.)
A few notes about seed cycling:
There is very little conclusive research supporting its effectiveness for hormone balance and no research supporting it helping with amenorrhea. However, there is some research on the ability of flaxseed and GLA supplements to impact hormone balance. (here is the most useful article I found, but it gets pretty in depth) I would also note that dosage seems to be an issue. For example, I tried seed cycling in the past but with a different protocol. That protocol required only one tablespoon of each type of seed. While many of my clients got great results (less PMS, more regular cycles, and decreased menopause symptoms), I never responded to it (aka no cycle). For me, I needed a much higher dose to respond. Since then I’ve cut back on it, I keep up with the supplements, but I’m not doing as many seeds, about one tablespoon of flax in the first two weeks and one tablespoon of sunflower (usually sunflower butter) in the second half.
This is one of those things that I figure may or may not work for you, but adding these seeds is very unlikely to be harmful, so why not give it a try? Worse case you get more anti-inflammatory healthy fats in your diet, whoopie!
Easy ways to get them in:
- mix into a smoothie
- mix into oatmeal
- mix into yogurt
- eat them by the spoonful (okay for sunflower, pumpkin, and hemp seeds not so much for the others)
I had a hard time doing this, so I got creative and came up with some new recipes! Here is a round-up of the recipes I came up with including how many seeds per serving!
Seed Cycling Phase 1 Recipes
Supplies full dose of flax and hemp in two bites!
Supplies 1.3 tablespoons of ground flax and 1.3 tablespoons of hemp seed per muffin.
Supplies 1T of ground flax per bar.
Supplies 2T ground flax, 1tsp chia seeds, 1T hempseed (you could easily increase the hemp seed in it though!)
Supplies 2 tablespoons of ground flax in each muffin!
Supplies 2 tablespoons of chia seeds per serving.
Phase 2 Recipes
70% of the time I ate two spoonfuls of sunflower seed butter straight from the jar as my seed cycling, so I was not nearly as creative for phase 2 recipes. I did come up with a couple of versions I liked, though:
Two tablespoons of sunflower seeds per serving and one teaspoon of pumpkin seeds.
1/2 tablespoons of sunflower seed butter per serving, I usually eat two muffins, so I get a full tablespoon
That’s it! Let me know if you have any questions, otherwise, I’ll update again in a few months! For those of you who have commented or emailed me, you don’t know how much your support has meant!
- Recovering from 5 Years of Amenorrhea
- Post-Pill Amenorrhea Update (4 months later)
- How to Make Your Hormones Work For You (What to eat/how to train)
- Why Your Hormones Need Carbs
- Iron Foods, Functions, and Facts (related)
- My friend Ashley wrote an ebook called Fit & Fertile (affiliate link)about her experience with Amenorrhea as a Group Fitness Instructor and what she did to get pregnant naturally. Her experience was different than mine, but similar in some ways as well. Either way, it was definitely a comforting read.