Conversations with Sara Widdowson

Tell us about Your Monthly Club


Your Monthly Club is exactly what the name suggests (pun fully intended!) , an online space for women to learn about the importance of their hormones, understand period health and why fertility is so much more than simply making babies.


What is your mission?


My mission is to inspire women to value their health and their bodies including their period. We often hear of women complaining about their monthly being “another thing” to deal with but I want women to learn that having a regular, pain free period is like your bodies monthly report card in terms of overall health.


Where are you based?


The beautiful city of Christchurch.  I work at a fertility and women’s health clinic here and run Your Monthly complementary to my work there.


What services do you offer?


I offer individual nutrition consultations (in person or via Skype) as well as couple sessions for those struggling with fertility (after all it takes two!). I also love delivering workshops and workplace wellness seminars as it is a great platform to spread the hormone health message to a wider audience.


Why is women’s fertility an important issue for you?


The University of Auckland produced some sobering research regarding women’s   ideal pregnancy age and perceived fertility at said age. Most young women are not planning on starting a family until they are 30-31 years old and have the impression that time to conception (in essence, their fertility) is not impacted into much later than that age bracket. The reality is the complete opposite, with our fertility as females declining much sooner while we are still in our 20’s.

 

I want women to always have the information they need to make informed decisions and fertility, contraception and health are no exception to that rule.

 

Your monthly cycle also requires a dance of female sex hormones that are influenced by nutrition and stress management and these hormones have the most wonderful health benefits that all women need regardless of wanting a baby or not. Oestrogen and Progesterone influence mood, libido, appetite, metabolism, skin, bone and heart health. They are hormones worth celebrating!

As a Dietitian, can you tell us how nutrition issues can overlap with period issues?


How many words do I have? But seriously, nutrition is so much more vital than I think many women realise. Micronutrients we get from foods are involved in hormone synthesis meaning that many hormone related period issues can be targeted with nutrition. I also work with many women who are simply not eating enough, irrespective of their body size,  to establish a regular cycle. Fasting and low carbohydrate diets in particular encourage starvation responses in the body which shut down ovulation.


Are there any diet changes women can make to make that time of month more comfortable or reduce period pain?


PMS is the most common inquiry I receive from women with common symptoms including period pain, low mood and skin troubles. PMS symptoms usually come about due to the fall in Progesterone prior to menstruation, so focusing on the health of this hormone is important for this issue. While nutrition advice should be individual I can say that focusing on the following is helpful:

- Magnesium: used in the production of hormones including, yes, progesterone. Food sources include nuts, seeds, figs and dark leafy greens. Focus on boosting your intake of these goodies or you may want to consider a magnesium supplement (check with your health professional first!)

-   Selenium: also used in progesterone production. As well as the famous Brazil nut you can also find this beauty in seafood!

-  Reduce stress: I sound like a broken record but I mean it. Stress impairs ovulation and therefore depletes your body of progesterone.


You can also read more about PMS on my blog

https://www.yourmonthlyclub.co.nz/blog/pmsing


What are your hopes for the future of Your Monthly Club?


I hope Your Monthly Club becomes a space that women refer to for advice, share stories and have discussions about all things cycle related.

 

Our bodies are so clever and complicated and I hope Your Monthly inspires women to learn more about what happens under our skin every month and how we are living impacts on those processes.


How can people find out more?


You can learn more about Your Monthly over at www.yourmonthlyclub.co.nz , follow @yourmonthly or send me an email at info@yourmonthlyclub.co.nz


Any other tips or advice?


Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you. When it comes to your health and your body you have the right to ask questions, always. And first and foremost please don’t celebrate the loss of a period unless you are trying for a baby - the health impacts are too great!