My response follows the question. Enjoy!
Hi Katie, I wanted to write this morning and ask your advice on problems I have been having with my cycles. I am 26, almost 27, and I'm having trouble with my cycles. I don't smoke, have never had an abortion, and have no known gynae problems. My husband and I decided that we were ready to start trying to conceive last April (2009), so went to see my GP (general practitioner - we're in New Zealand!). My GP recommended I come off of the pill, and gave me a pamphlet on Fertility Awareness. I had been on a second generation pill, because I had had trouble with my skin as a teenager. I had been on it since I was 16, but still I assumed that everything would resume as normal when I came off of the pill. That said, I have no real idea what my cycles were like before I went on the pill. I don't remember ever paying much attention to them. Around the same time, I started a course with a pro-Weston A Price nutritionist. I started eating this way and found that its really natural for us. I have basically stuck as close to their principles as possible since then - I make our own breads (mostly sourdough), eat home made sauerkraut and kimchi, take cod liver oil, and we drink raw milk. I do my best to soak our grains (though occasionally don't get there). We live in the country, so we have our own free-range chickens, and because my husband hunts, 80 percent of our meat is wild game. I also stopped drinking coffee, and started avoiding sugar, though it does sneak in a bit, in the forms of sauces, chutneys, chocolate and home baking. It was also around this time that I came across your article in Nourishing Traditions, and looked forward to using Fertility Awareness to track my cycles. I was so excited about regaining what felt like my natural birth right that I had been rejecting, without even being aware of it. However, initially, my cycles did not return. I didn't have a period until October. In October, I woke up one night and discovered that the phone beside our bed was casting a light strong enough that I could see my hand. I removed this, and three days later began bleeding. Following this, I decided that night-lighting was clearly the way to go to help regulate my cycles and to help us conceive. That said, it felt unnatural to me to artificially light when we lived in the country, where there is very little light around. So I left us in complete darkness, until the time of the full-moon, when we opened the curtains. While this was a long way into my cycle (Day 31) I ovulated, and then conceived. I miscarried in December, at 6 weeks. Following the miscarriage, my husband and I decided that waiting a few months was a good idea, as we were both pretty upset. So we did, using condoms to prevent pregnancy. At first, my cycles returned, mostly normal. While I didn't really have a period bleed with the miscarriage, two weeks later, though it was the dark of the moon, I found myself at a friends house sleeping under a street light. I ovulated (with lots and lots of fertile mucus), and though my luteal phase was short, my period followed normally. In January I was away from home, and slept under light right after my temperature rise, which came on day 21.Though my temperatures were more erratic then the last time, I ovulated with still some, though slightly less, fertile mucus and my luteal phase was 11 days. I bled on the full moon. In February, though, I was at home, and so instead of artificial lighting, I slept in complete darkness until the full moon, four weeks later. I ovulated on Day 17, folowing 4 days of scant egg white mucus. I bled two days after the full moon shinign in our windows. My luteal phase was 12 days. In March, I didn't ovulate, and the full moon brought on light, spotty, bleeding. The following cycle (April) was short - I ovulated on day 14, (though with practically no show of fertile mucus) and had the heaviest period I have had yet, with lots of cramping and crying. I bled just before the full moon, and so left the curtains shut. I have come to think that maybe I should just be sleeping in darkness because my cycles are so out of kilter. This cycle, I have come close to ovulating. I had a show of Fertile-quality mucus, though not a lot, and my cervix softened and rose. But there had been no long temperature peak - my temps have been all over the place. I am now at day 23, and have only had creamy mucus for a few days. When my ovulation stopped again in March, I considered my lifestyle, and what I may have been doing to cause this. While I was continuing with our traditional way of eating, and regular infusions of nettle tea, I had also been drinking much more alcohol then in the six months previously. I had had a few hangovers after large weekend nights. So I decided to stop drinking again, but completely this time, and see if this helped. With the resumption of my period in April, I felt like this was the right choice, even though it was a difficult one to make. I enjoy wine, and think it is a natural partner with good food and good company. So I miss being able to share the pleasure of it in our lives, though going to the effort of forming new habits is worth it if it helps strengthen my cycles and health. But now, this cycle, I haven't ovulated again, and I feel frustrated and quite helpless. Why bother stopping id it doesn't make any odds? In your opinion, how much of an effect does social drinking have on fertility? While we had been waiting to try for another pregnancy following the miscarriage, we are both now ready, and not been using any protection since March. I feel like by waiting, we have missed our chance somehow - as my cycles have become increasingly irregular. Like I ignored the clear signs of fertility following the miscarriage, and now they have slipped away. I'm sure that sounds silly, since it's only been a couple of months, but it's now been a year since we decided it was the right time for us to have a baby. Anyway, I know you're busy, but I'd love to know what you think - particularly about the night-lighting. I am happy to try lighting mid-cycle, but I do feel like introducing artificial light, when the moon is available to shine in our windows, is somehow not right. i also worry that if I get pregnant lighting artificially, I would need to continue this monthly lighting throughout the pregnancy - so that my internal rhythms would know another month had passed. Also, I have been taking nettle infusion, from local nettles. I've ordered Susan Weed's book 'The Child Bearing Year' and will consider her advice on other herbal remedies. Do you think this is a good idea, or something worth exploring? Thank you Katie.
I salute you your goal of restoring the health of your menstrual cycles. I've learned over the years that the menstrual cycle cannot be controlled. We can nourish and support it, but it often doesn't go in the way we think it should. We need to be gentle and patient with ourselves. Given that you were on the Pill for so many years, the cycles you describe sound pretty good to me. It also sounds wise to continue experimenting with nightlighting as your intuition directs you, and to quit alcohol consumption all together. I am also suggesting at this point that people experiment with cutting back on their use of mobile phones and WiFi. At least, turn the WiFi off while you sleep and keep all electric appliances (including phones and clocks) at least ten feet from your head. Unplug the devices while you sleep if you can. Try this for a few months and see if you notice a difference. Very best, Katie Singer