HERBS FOR A REGULAR CYCLE: ASK C+S

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Dear @cyclesandsex,

Wondering if red raspberry leaf or nettle herbal tea can induce vaginal bleeding or menstruation? I purchased these two herbs from a credible herb store to make a tea infusion in an effort to help 1) grow my hair and 2) regulate my cycle. I heard it was good for both. I started drinking these together after my last period, and was drinking about 3 cups a day, for 5 days, until I started bleeding... a lot!! (During my Follicular Phase. What started off as vaginal discharge then turned into full on heavy blood flow — looking and feeling like I was back on Day 2 of my cycle (When I was actually on day 11). I first heard that the infusion was safe to drink every day, but now Google search mainly returns info related to red raspberry leaf’s ability to help pregnant women prep for childbirth toward the end of their pregnancies. I learned that this is because the herb activates the muscles in your uterus / pelvic floor — thus building the muscles needed to push a baby out at birth. Seeing that this herb directly targets the muscles in your uterus, I thought it would make sense that this herb could activate menstruation/ bleeding. But I have not been able to confirm this from a-n-y-o-n-e anywhere!! And it has been the most frustrating experience ever. Here’s the response I got from the specialist at the herb shop I bought from “Dear Melissa, both red raspberry leaf and Nettle are nourishing herbs. They simply support you reproductive cycle. Neither would cause you to bleed excessively. in fact they would work towards regulating any hormonal imbalance. Both herbs are in perfectly safe to drink in infusions daily.” So ... NOT HELPFUL! (‘cause I was bleeding excessively from the infusion, and needing info as to why). Reaching out here as a last resort! I have a boat load of these herbs now just sitting in my apartment not being used. I also want to start drinking the nettle leaf again because I’m convinced that it will help grow my hair — I’ve just been holding off because I don’t want to risk messing up my cycle again. Any info you may be able to offer would be greatly appreciated.

Love,                                                                             

#FrustratedUterus

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Dear #FrustratedUterus

It is so frustrating when people tell women we are not experiencing exactly what we KNOW we are experiencing! I hear you! Things like raspberry leaf can be beneficial when regulating a cycle. Many women find remedies for cycle regulation can take up to three months to really get noticed. Drinking the infusion might be quite shift in your system, especially if you’ve been irregular for a while, so it would make sense that you might bleed at a time you weren’t expecting, at first. Your body will rebalance itself over time and then you’ll be able to see the overall effects of the raspberry leaf on your menstrual cycle. One of the issues using herbs is that there are so few practitioners who are well-trained in which herbs will be appropriate for very specific cases. This is why we hear so many “this is good for everything and good for your overall balance and health” from various practitioners. Since herbal treatments are not regulated, you don’t need a prescription to get them, and there are so few real experts, we are stuck googling about what might work for our health needs, without any thorough assessment - because it’s so hard to find someone who will do one! It sounds like, while this herbalist has some general knowledge about herbs, she may not be versed in the specifics of women’s health and exactly how to prescribe them for certain conditions. And she also kind of told you that your bleeding wasn’t because of her herbs . . . when you and I both know it totally was! This failure-to-listen-to-the-owner-of-the-body’s-expertise happens to be somewhat of an epidemic throughout all of healthcare, it seems! But I digress . . .What I would suggest is this: get to the bottom of what’s behind your irregular cycle. Speak to a local midwife or naturopathic doctor who specializes in women’s health. They can take a good history, order some labs and check your hormones during your cycle. Before choosing someone, make sure they have experience in this area and they provide good follow up care over the following weeks and months so see how things are going. Speak to the person who answers the phone and make sure they are confident you’ve found the right advisor! They will likely be able to recommend various herbal remedies that can provide better results. I hope this helps!

All the best,

Tanya Willis

Tanya Willis (@manhattanbirth) is a Certified Nurse-Midwife, Womxn's Healthcare Nurse Practitioner, Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant, and owner/founder of Manhattan Birth.

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CYCLES+SEX is not providing medical advice! Check in with your practitioner and use the above as a conversation starter to figure out what is best for you and your unique health history and situation.

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