Lunch & Learn Webinar

Dispelling Menstrual Myths With Dr.Jenna Priestap, ND

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Jenna Priestap, ND

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND

Webinar Date and Time:
22/02/2023 12:00 pm

Dr Jenna is a Naturopathic Doctor who focuses on women’s health, especially menstrual health.


Q. What is a normal period like?

A. We define normal as having a regular cycle every 28 to 34 days—calculated from the first day of bleeding to the next first day of bleeding. The period itself lasts four days to seven days. As for the flow, to quantify it, it’s 50 to 80 millilitres. As for blood clotting, they shouldn’t be any bigger than a dime. To measure it, if you use regular pads, or tampons, those hold about five millilitres each. So that equals 10 to 16 regular pads over the whole period. If you use the super absorbent ones, those hold about 10 millilitres each. Also, there shouldn’t be any pain whatsoever. If we were to quantify it where zero is no pain and ten is the most, your maximum should be at two or three. This only applies to cramping. Other than that, you shouldn’t be experiencing headaches or acne.


Q. When is it time to seek help with common symptoms that are not normal?

A. If your period is holding you back from anything, like taking a day off work or school because your cramping is too bad, you should seek help. If you have pain, it shouldn’t be more than two to three. Another common symptom is diarrhoea and vomiting from the cramps and the pain. If you’re experiencing that, you should seek help instead of just trying to power through it with a Tylenol or a heat bag.


Q. What is typically the cause of period-related issues, and what can a doctor do?

A. When you go to your doctor or seek help, they’ll do a pelvic ultrasound, which is great. This is done to make sure there aren’t any fibroids or cysts on your ovaries. They may also get bloodwork done to assess if there’s a thyroid issue. Once these concerns are ruled out, many women are told to get on the pill. But that just turns off your hormones. Going on the birth control pill is a great band-aid solution, but once you want to try and get pregnant and go off the birth control pill, everything that you were experiencing before comes back. We want to look at your hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is important for the first half of your cycle. Then it’s progesterone, that’s important for the second half. If there’s an imbalance between one of them, the characteristics of your period will show it. For example, having more estrogen dominance could lead to extreme breast tenderness, clotting, and heavier bleeding. If you have more of a progesterone deficiency, you’ll start spotting, especially before you expect your period. We want to be looking into overall inflammation. If you have high inflammation, you will have an increase in cytokines. Cytokines help your uterus contract, which is important. However, when we have too much of them, it will work on not only the uterus but also the surrounding tissues, such as your colon, causing diarrhoea. Your diet and even certain products can cause inflammation. Stress is another contributor. Cortisol, your stress hormone, and progesterone come from the same parent hormone. When your body senses it’s in danger, it will pick survival over procreation. Overall, inflammation, stress, and the estrogen-progesterone balance are important to look at.


Q. What are some PMS symptoms that women shouldn’t overlook?

A. Women are cyclical beings. When we’re in the luteal phase of our cycle, which is the second half, we want to be more rested. However, when we’re functioning in a normal society, we don’t end up doing that. This causes irritability. However, again, it shouldn’t interrupt anything in life. Even things like breast tenderness or weakness can happen to a degree. You should be enjoying your life all month long with the proper support. If your period is interrupting that, instead of toughing it out, seek help.


Q. What are some natural things women can do to get a painless period?

A. Getting an initial assessment with a naturopath will help because everybody’s different. You need to see what you specifically need, so you can get the proper support and speed up your results. Also, try to reduce the inflammatory foods you’re consuming. The foods you’re craving before your period—sugar, grease and processed foods increase cytokines, making your period worse. Reducing stress is another big one: identifying the stressors in your life. And again, this can be where a naturopath can help if sometimes you don’t see the stressors happening and how your body responds to them. You don’t realise that certain things that are coming up are more of a stress response.


Q. What is a key takeaway from this conversation for everyone?

A. A key takeaway would be that you don’t have to suffer. I want women to understand what they need, what they should be experiencing, and what they don’t have to go through anymore. I often find that women tend just to soldier on and keep pushing through things, and it doesn’t have to be like that. If you are ever concerned about something, reach out to someone. That’s the best thing you can do.

About Dr. Jenna

As a mom of 3, Dr. Jenna understands the whirlwind that is postpartum. With every pregnancy, not only has a baby been born, but so has a mother. This time called Matrescence (process of becoming a mother) is a time of massive physical, mental & spiritual change.
Despite how the current care of mothers is set up, healing does not end at 6 weeks postpartum. The mother needs just as much care as the baby (if not more) during those initial months.

This is exactly where Dr. Jenna’s passion lies, helping women recover & thrive during such an overwhelming time of life. Mothers deserve to have the consistent & strong support they had while pregnant. I’d love to be that person for you!

Dr. Jenna Priestap realized her passion when she first encountered the beauty of naturopathic medicine at the University of Waterloo, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology with dean’s honors list distinction. She followed her calling to treat illnesses from the root cause instead of treating symptoms and found a way to help mothers recover & thrive postpartum as well as help women experience regular, painless periods (as they’re supposed to be).

Dr. Jenna is registered to practice by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario & is a member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors & Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors.

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND in Etobicoke - HealthBuddha

About Our Host

Dr. Danielle O' Connor, ND

Dr. Danielle has been a licensed Naturopathic Doctor for almost 20 years, practicing and living in the Halton region. She is deeply dedicated to helping her patients figure out the root cause of their health concerns and supporting them with foundational support like healthy eating, targeted supplementation, counselling, and lifestyle recommendations…  About Danielle O’ Connor