Honestly, there’s not just one thing that can cause your period to become irregular. It could be because you’ve gained or lost weight. It could be due to some stress that you are under. Maybe you’re taking a certain medication that’s causing it. Perhaps you’re exercising too much or eating too little. Again, the answers tend to vary. Yet if there’s one thing that a lot of these issues boil down to it’s that your hormonal levels aren’t as balanced as they need to be. That’s why, if you’ve noticed over the past few cycles that your period is all over the place, it’s important that you make an appointment to see your doctor sooner than later. It’s also a good idea to add some of the following foods into your diet; ones that are proven to help to bring some consistency back to your cycle, if you consume them on a regular basis.
Although pineapple probably has the best reputation for helping to make our bodily fluids down below taste better, it’s got a ton of other benefits too. Pineapple is good for you because it’s got a ton of Vitamin C and manganese in it, not to mention the fact that it contains properties that can help to boost your immunity, fight cancer, ease digestion, suppress inflammation and even help with arthritis-related symptoms.
The reason why it’s helpful on the irregular period front is because the enzyme in it called bromelain increases the production of red and white blood cells (which makes for an easier blood flow) as well as makes it easier for your uterus to shed its lining when it’s time for your period to start.
A couple of years ago, when I wrote about how putting some cinnamon oil on your genitalia can take oral sex to new heights (you can read more about that here), some of y’all asked if there was a burning factor. Nah, it’s more like a warming sensation (although you can add a carrier oil like sweet almond oil if that will make you feel “safer” about it). Anyway, that’s my introduction to how much of a fan of cinnamon I am. I like the way it smells, I like the way it tastes and it’s definitely good for you. Cinnamon is another food that is full of antioxidants. Not only that but it contains anti-inflammatory properties, can help to lower your blood sugar levels, is able to help fight fungal and bacterial infections and there are even studies to support that it helps to fight HIV too.
Since cinnamon is great at helping to bring balance to insulin levels in your system, this is why many medical professionals say that it can be beneficial when it comes to regulating your period; this is especially the case if you happen to be a woman who deals with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome).
There aren’t too many articles that touch on the topic of foods that are good for you where salmon isn’t going to be somewhere on the list. It’s full of protein. It’s super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids (which reduce inflammation, lower your blood pressure, and help your arteries to stay healthy). They also contain a good amount of B vitamins, potassium and selenium that work together to help you to manage your weight, boost your brain health and help your skin, hair, and nails to remain strong. Also, due to the omega-3s that are in this particular kind of fish, salmon helps to balance hormones and reduce the severity of period discomfort — both are huge wins in the menstrual cycle department.
Mushrooms are good for you because they’re a great source of Vitamin B, copper, potassium, and antioxidants. Also, because it contains compounds that “mimic” prebiotics (which are basically plant fibers that help your gut to produce the good bacteria that it needs to stay healthy), mushrooms can aid in digestion and strengthen your immunity as well. So, why are they so good at regulating your period? A lot of it comes down to the Vitamin D that is in them. There are a good amount of studies that say that having Vitamin D in your system won’t only help your cycles to come on time, they can also shorten them if they happen to last longer than six days. All good reasons to cook with them more often, if you ask me.
5. Chia Seeds
There are plenty of good things to say about chia seeds. They are full of protein, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. They contain antioxidants to keep your immune system in good shape. The calcium in them can help to support your bone health. Some health professionals say they are good at reducing blood sugar levels. Chia seeds are a pretty good source of iron as well. These nutrients, combined with the omega-3s that are in them, all work together to ease your blood pressure, decrease your cholesterol levels, increase blood flow and reduce damage to your blood vessels including the ones in your ovaries — all of which make having a more regular period possible.
6. Raw Papaya
If you’re looking for a fruit that’s basically a multivitamin, raw papaya has totally got your back. Aside from the vitamins A, B, C, and E that’s in it (which makes it the kind of fruit that is really good for your skin), it has fiber, folate, and potassium in it. Raw papaya is also really good for you because it’s got antioxidants, anti-cancer properties and it’s able to fight bodily inflammation. Some other perks are it helps with cellular repair, relieves constipation, and can help to improve your heart health over time.
Because properties in it can also trigger muscle contractions (including when it comes to your cycle), that’s why it gets a period regulating shout-out. A word of caution on this is to eat or drink it a couple of times a week in order to help to get your period regulated but to AVOID it during your actual cycle. Again, because it can get contractions going, I’m not sure how much more intense you want your cramps to be while you are actually on your period.
When it comes to the spice turmeric, make sure that you get the kind that contains curcumin because that is the active ingredient that will give you all of the benefits that I’m about to mention. Turmeric can be super beneficial because it has powerful medicinal compounds that are able to reduce inflammation, lower your risk of heart disease, help to prevent cancer, reduce depression-related symptoms and fight free radicals. As far as your period goes, because turmeric also has anti-spasmodic properties in it, that along with its anti-inflammatory benefits can help to balance your hormones which definitely attributes to you having a more regulated cycle.
Just a word of caution, though — I used to take turmeric on a pretty consistent basis and what it did to me was significantly increase my period flow (I mean, A LOT). I think it’s because it’s also a blood thinner. If you’ve got clots during your period, that could be a good thing. Otherwise, it could end up looking like a mini crime scene in your bathroom. Just a heads up.
8. Apple Cider Vinegar
It certainly isn’t the best-tasting stuff on the planet, no way around that. Still, if you want to boost your health, apple cider vinegar can certainly make that happen for you. It kills harmful bacteria. It can assist with lowering your blood sugar. It helps to balance your skin’s pH levels. It lowers cholesterol. It can help to burn belly fat. It really deserves an article, all on its own. And what does apple cider vinegar do for your cycle? There are actually a few studies that say that it’s so potent that it can help to restore ovulatory function in women who have PCOS, so long as they consume it on a regular basis. How amazing is that?
It’s kinda crazy, how much a lot of us don’t give parsley a second thought beyond it being garnish on some of our dishes because it really is an herb that’s pretty good for our overall health and well-being. For starters, it’s a fair source of protein and fiber. Parsley also contains a ton (and I do mean A TON) of vitamins K and A per serving, along with a pretty impressive amount of Vitamin C and antioxidants. If you’re looking for food that will keep your bones and teeth strong, protect your eyes and even freshen your breath, look no further than it. Period-wise, it’s good for you because it helps to increase blood flow which could result in your periods coming more on time (if you consume it semi-regularly, that is).
10. Dark Chocolate
If you’re looking to get a good dose of fiber, manganese, iron, magnesium, and copper, you don’t need to look any further than dark chocolate. It also has antioxidants and fatty acids that help with lowering your cholesterol levels and keeping your heart healthy. As if that’s not impressive enough, dark chocolate can help to ease feelings that are associated with depression, lower the risk of you having a stroke, suppress coughs that are related to the common cold, boost your brain function, and even protect your skin from damaging skin rays.
And if you eat a piece of it on a daily basis, the flavonoids in dark chocolate can “mimic” estrogen, so that your hormones are able to level out and your blood circulation will be able to improve all throughout your body. Just make sure to not get a Hershey’s bar but rather the kind of dark chocolate that has no less than 65 percent cocoa in it. It might not taste as good, but you’ll get a lot more benefits — your body, including your period, will thank you. Guaranteed.
To learn more about all things vaginal health and wellness, check out the xoNecole Women's Health section here.
Featured image by Getty Images
- Tips For Women Struggling With Endometriosis - xoNecole ... ›
- Are Your Periods All Over the Place? - xoNecole: Women's Interest ... ›
- Living With PCOS As A Black Woman - xoNecole: Women's Interest ... ›
- How To Balance Your Hormones - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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