Water Fasting During My Day of Pain
I started my period this past Sunday morning – Boo. It showed up in the wee hours of the morning after getting our new puppy, Einstein. Einstein hates his crate already and cried a lot that first night, so I was already short on sleep.
I woke up in a lot of pain. I was sure to drink a lot of water upon rising and I took some Vitalzym and a probiotic, which did help ease the pain.
I pulled out my dear heating pad and tried to relax — which was hard given the new pup mixed with my older boxer Alice – who just wanted to play with her new, fragile little brother
The dogs helped distract me from the pain that was pulsing in my center. I kept looking at the clock, thinking that I should eat something, but my mind would not land on anything that I “felt” like eating, and I definitely did not feel like cooking anything.
My body is very sensitive to most foods when I start my period (my worst day of pain). I’ve been thrown into fits of awful uterine contractions where I just want to curl up in a ball and die when I eat the wrong foods.
Some culprits that come to mind include beans, avocado and chocolate. I try and steer clear of anything with high amounts of fat, anything that is hard to digest and anything with higher levels of phytoestrogens on the first day of my period.
So…as Sunday continued, all I put into my body was water (and my digestive supplements which should be taken on an empty stomach). This was all my body wanted.
I did notice that as the time progressed that I was not overly hungry for food. My body was in so much pain that it just didn’t want it. The only reason I considered it is because I am used to eating everyday. I mean, you need to eat to fuel the body right?
At seven o’clock Sunday evening (24 hours from my last meal) I opted for an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory smoothie with coconut milk, chia seeds, fresh coconut, a banana and a blend of frozen blueberries and cherries. Yum!
Benefits of Fasting
After spending my day of pain fasting, I decided to look further in to see if there are benefits to fasting during menstruation or if it was a dangerous thing for me to be doing.
One of the main benefits I found was that fasting promotes detoxification in the body. When food is refrained from the body, it then turns to its fat supplies for energy.
These fat reserves then release chemicals that have been stuck in our systems out through our waste systems — chemicals, such as dioxins, that have been absorbed from our environment. Dioxins have been linked to endometriosis.
During a water fast, energy is diverted away from the digestive system. This is a big deal considering the fact that digesting, assimilating and metabolizing food requires a lot of energy!
Freeing up this energy allows the body to focus on healing and recuperating, moving energy towards improvements to the immune system – detoxing and repairing cells, tissues, organs, and eliminating foreign toxins as well as natural metabolic wastes.
Human growth hormones (HGH) are also released during a water fast due to greater efficiency in hormone production, allowing the body to heal itself and repair damaged organs. HGH is often depicted as the anti-aging hormone.
Short fasts (as little as 20 hours, no longer than 32 hours) are enough to improve insulin sensitivity and other metabolic functions. Short fasts reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. They also assist in the reduction of bloating and can help increase energy. Definite bonus 🙂
Another benefit of fasting is the result of a calmer, clearer, happier mind set. This makes sense given the fact that fasting calms and quiets the insides creating a lighter feeling, while removing negative, toxic waste from our bodies.
On the Positive Side?
Fasting allows for cleansing of the body, initiating the body’s own healing process – it creates an environment for healing — sounds like a great place for a gal with endometriosis to fall into 🙂
I ended up water fasting for about 24 hours. I did notice as the day passed with me just drinking water, that my pain levels did decrease. My flow was bright red and free flowing, which is a good thing — painful flow must go out — if it stays in there I just feel awful and bloated.
I woke up the next day feeling much better and while my stomach was growling, I was not overly hungry like I normally would be, given the lack of food my body consumed the day before.
I didn’t find anything (outside of religious reasons) why it is not good or safe to do a short fast during menstruation.
I think that fasting during my day of pain was a positive for me and a result of me taking part in reconnecting with my body (part of my happiness project for this year). My body did not want food and I listened.
I have refrained from fasting in the past because I just do not do well when I am hungry. I get super moody (up to points of chaos, lol).
But doing it on my day of pain was easier since my mind was so far from food. My body needed to be able to heal itself from the inflammation and pain and food was just going to get in the way….
If you do decide to do a short fast, be sure to drink plenty of water, and to continue to eat a healthy, balanced diet so you do not have to suffer with detox symptoms amidst your other pains.
Also, I was able to do a successful water fast on my pain day since I’ve given up traditional pain killers and over the counter medicine including Ibuprofen and Tylenol.
I do not recommend doing a water fast if you are still taking these medications, as they will tear up your stomach! I find that Vitalzym has been a great replacement for these traditional pain killers and should be taken on an empty stomach.
Have you tried a water fast? Have you done one during your painful day(s)?
I would love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.
I found fasting on my first day (the pain day) to be so helpful…so much so that I have come to a point where there is no pain, just discomfort. Unfortunately I love to eat and usually can’t resist eating on my second day….my body definately doesn’t like anything in my stomach when I’m on my cycle. I know this because when I do resume to meals on the second day it has to be something light (fruit/s smoothie) or else the cramps come back…always! By the third day I can eat pretty much anything, but still sensibly. So for me fasting works….although I do need to increase on the water . Thank you for your post.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I find that fasting helps me too on my first day and that this is usually what my body is asking for 🙂 I agree with starting back slow with food, which is hard, as usually I’m starving!
I have been fasting for a week and a half. No food from Midnight to 4 pm, only water. I was doing this for religious purposes only. I normally have heavy menstruation that last for 7 days. I started my menstrual cycle and it is very, very light…the first day was like water and the 2 dayshave been a bright red-orange. I didnt understand this drastic change, so I researched it and have found lots of people have the issue, but I havent found much professional input on the subject. So my conclusion is … yes it is normal for fasting to have a drastic effect on yoir menstrual.
More long term fasting will definitely impact your menstrual cycle. The body needs good quality fats in order to make many hormones. Even when we do not eat enough this will impact menstruation. I’ve heard many accounts of women with eating disorders like anorexia who fail to ovulate.
I appreciate your comment but please remember that anorexia is not even remotely close to fasting. Anorexia depending on how severe would have no body fat reserves to pull their energy from and should never fast. Someone who is anorexic would not be a good comparison to the results and health benefits one would find from fasting.
Again I would like to emphasize someone who suffers from anorexia should never fast.
It varies per person. I’m on day five out of ten on my water fast and was quite surprised to wake up with my period this morning. In fact, there was virtually no cramping, no swelling of the breasts, and no mood swings, all of which I’m prone to when PMSing. So yes, if anything I’d say longer term fasting definitely impacts your menstrual cycle, in a positive way!
Thanks for sharing! I have yet to try a long term fast. Good to hear that it helped you 🙂
I have found over the last few months, that the first day of my period is a great day for a liquid fast and a heating pad 🙂 I only fast on days that i can stay home and take it easy, which i finally realized is exactly what i need on the first day of my period! I do not need to take pain killers and force myself out into the world, which i did for so many years. This new ritual allows me to go through the day without pain killers, rest and heat is just as effective for me and i am lucky to be in a position that allows me that option. I dont think i will ever take another job that requires me to leave the house on this first day… I do hope more women can learn to make choices that honor their bodies and the natural cycles! ~AP
I agree with you completely and appreciate that you’ve made this part of your monthly routine. I too wish that all women were granted time off on the first day (with little questions asked) as it is best for the body to rest during this time. I think there are countries outside of the US that honor this 🙂
I have been on absolute dry fast for 3 days now, and just last night I had my periods, heavy flow ,bright red blood, still having them now, I was so worried until I read comments from others. When the body is detoxifying it drives every dirty thing out of the body, leaving one feeling refreshed and revitalized
Hi Jane – I hope that your fasting experience has left you feeling refreshed and revitalized. My experience is it takes some time. I usually feel very drained the first couple of days of my period and this is accelerated by not eating. But I can tell my body appreciates the break from food. It takes a couple of days to feel semi-normal 🙂
I learned quite a bit from all of these comments. This is my first time attempting a 3 day dry fast with no food or water while menstruating and I only made it to the morning of the 3rd fasting day, which was the 5th day of my cycle. While getting ready this morning I found myself shaky, dizzy and naucious. I have experienced these symptoms once before(without being on my period), later coming to the conclusion that I was dehydrated. I currently have the Mirena IUD, therefore when that time of the month comes my bleeding is not as heavy as it was before the IUD. I was a bit surprised to find out that this time around(while fasting), this is the first time since the IUD was implanted that my bleeding has been this heavy(I’m guessing the fasting had a definite impact). Any other time I should fast while on my monthly cycle, I will certainly be sure to drink only water! I believe I pushed it a little too far. Thank you ladies for all of the helpful information and your experiences!
Glad that you found this helpful. I think it’s great that you listened to your body and understood that you need to drink more water, and to stop when you felt uncomfortable.
Oh my goodness! Always drink water! You die if you don’t drink for 3 days! 90 % of your essential cells are made out of water, protein synthesis and normal muscle, brain and nervous system will not work without water! You can fast for up to 7 days (more is not recommended) without getting any damage, as long as you go walking or do light sports which does good for your circulatory and allows healthy normal blood flow in your brain.
I can recommend 3 day fasts every month, and once a year a 6 day fast.
Make sure your life style is healthy. 8-9 hours sleep, 1 hour light or heavy exercise, 3 times a week sports, 2 warm meals, half of the meal should be vegetables, berries or fruits, one fourth of it should be carbohydrates (rice, oat, pasta or potato) and one fourth of it should be proteins (lentils, tofu, black beans, green peas… I don’t recommend any meat, because they are unhealthy and because it involves torturing and killing an innocent animal who wants to live and be playful like one of your dog pets)
lol. This is a total myth. I’m on day 5 of a dry fast. My blood pressure is normal, pulse is normal, and I feel fine. The only deaths really recorded during dry fasts were of a priest who dry fasted for 33 days, an old aged, dying man with Alzheimer’s disease who dry fasted for 9 days (for suicidal purposes). And a couple of women who dry fasted with a pre-existing heart condition(not sure about the days). The longest recorded dry fast is 18 days, and no he didn’t die. People do 10 day, 13 day, 7 day dry fasts all the time. When you go without water your body eventually absorbs it through the environment and also collects water from your cells.
Now if you’re stupid and decide to exercise while dry fasting…or have a major preexisting health condition… or even break the dry fast with junk food and crap, then yeah I’m sure there is most definitely a fatal possibility of dying at 3 days.
But do your research beforehand.
Prior to my surgery to remove some of my gnarled-up endometrial tissue and ovarian cysts, I had a few years of vomiting and pooing through the entire first or second day of every period and basically slumping on the floor of the bathroom or curled up in bed most of the time, so in retrospect I surely didn’t eat much on those days and it was probably like fasting! But I don’t think I ever set out to fast… I do remember constantly trying to eat a few crackers with the useless but vast quantities of ibuprofen that my unhelpful and uninterested doctor at the time pushed me to take.
In the last couple of years, there hasn’t been vomiting and needing to lie on the bathroom floor, although there is still lots of pain, passing clots, and pooing with my periods, and I try to eat light meals on the first day or two.
[Along with some Haagen Dazs ice cream as a tonic and restorative, ha ha —
I am new here, but I think dairy and sugar are probably not on the menu here so much?! 😉 Chuckle.
For some reason, for me, plain, high-quality ice cream with no artificial additives, colors, flavorings, etc., with only a handful of ingredients (therefore, only a few flavors of HD qualify) really seems to be good for my digestion and comfort.]
Anyway, I just wanted to say in the comments that fasting for more than, say, 18 hours, might not be a good idea for some people with some health conditions. Even something so common as hypothyroidism. So folks might check with their doctor if they wish to regularly fast for a whole day or more.
Also, some studies and many personal reports have suggested that women can react differently to various forms of fasting than men do, especially over the medium-term.
For example, see the following blogpost, and have a glance at the many reader comments and further hyperlinks underneath it, for some points about the topic: http://paleoforwomen.com/shattering-the-myth-of-fasting-for-women-a-review-of-female-specific-responses-to-fasting-in-the-literature/
Thanks for sharing Dory.
I started fasting to improve insulin tolerance, and have always had really painful and heavy periods. I used to give in to the ravenous pre-period hunger, and believed that eating a lot helped to ease the pain. In reality, it was causing me terrible indigestion and diarrhea on top of cramping. Fasting the day before my period starts has been the solution I have been searching for since adolescence. I used to take 600 mg of ibuprofen every six hours – now I only take herbal supplements and plenty of water, tea, and coconut water. It seems counter intuitive, and goes against much of what we have been taught by western medicine, but I highly recommend this for women who are tired of their periods controlling their lives for a week out of the month (which adds up to a quarter of your reproductive life cycle).
Like the comment above mentions, women’s reactions to fasting can be more varied than men – so just like you would do with a new medication or exercise routine, pay attention to and make note of how you feel. Maybe its not for you, but if you are experiencing what I was experiencing, crippling pain and debilitating indigestion, it’s worth a try!
Good to hear fasting has helped Quinn. I continue with this practice as well. I eat light on the day before my period and stick to fruits and veggies. Then I fast on the first day of flow, since that’s when I have the most pain.
Completed my first 3 day water fast. The timing happened to coincide within 12 hours or so of my period. The entire 3 day water fast was amazing!! No cramping, no pain, light bright bleeding. Then I ate food. 3 days after my water fast, I am doing 16 hour fasts daily (1 or 2 healthy small meals during the 8 hours on). My flow has, since consuming foods SIGNIFICANTLY increased, and passing lots of bright red and clots. My period has now lasted a day longer than normal, with no end in sight. I was initially thinking I would do this water fast each month during my time…but not if it ends this way (or fails to end, as is my current situation!)
Wow i am amazed by reading your article and everyone comments. I had decided to go on water and juice detox today and it happened that mid day my period started. I usually have painful periods with lots of discomfort and I was expecting to break my water detox so I can take some pain killers. Surprisingly,I did not need to. Discomfort is very minimal that i doubted myself.
I came to google to research the subject and it seems it ia true. Water fasting does help. This is a life saver for me!
Thanks for posting this as it reassured me I am not hallucinating.
Awesome! Thanks for sharing your success Ragda. Much Love.
I see that this is an older article.. but thank you for this information! I’m actually in the middle of a fast due to my gastrointestinal health.. One day I was in severe pain due to something that I ate and it lasted through the night. Days after an episode like this my digestive system is still very sensitive to where I can only eat mellow things like basmati rice and bananas.. Well this time I couldn’t even eat that without pain and burning discomfort in my organs. So I’m now day four of my first ever fast to try and give my system a break. But I’m also due to start my period soon and I wondered how it’d react since I haven’t been eating. Normally I get severe mesntrual pain with no good way to cope since I can’t medicine like midol, etc. due to my gastrointestinal problems. So it’s really nice to see that fasting has actually helped others with their mesntrual pain. I hope I have the same luck!
Thanks for sharing, love. I hope it helps you.
I’d love some references for the points made in this article if possible, so I could look it up in more detail?
I started my water only fasting on the fifth day of my period without any discomfort, just felt fainted couple times. I’m a bit concerned that it has been 10 days and doesn’t seem to stop tomorrow ( my menstruation normally is 7days ) There’s not much information on Internet. I’m thankful to read these comments. I hope it’s just detoxing not clotting problems.
I’ve been experiencing heavy flow,clots and periods pain and while fasting I wanted to stop I thought I couldn’t continue with fast while on my periods until I come across this blog so last month I did 5 days of liquid fast and my flow was normal on my second day and I wasn’t experiencing too much pains like I use to, and I was tired of taking medication for pains,I’m happy that fasting really works no more bloating.
I’m trying out a water fast I have started my fast this is like my fourth day yesterday and today I have been craving bananas peanut butter and salad on this fast but today I was really weak I know by the third day it’s pretty much an easy road but idk if my cycle is causing my to feel like I’m going to pass out from this fast my cycle is heavier too idk I was wondering should I break the fast or just keep going? Any suggestions? But this fast is teaching me to listen to my body
Definitely listen to your body. I’m not able to do longer term fasts like that because of blood sugar issues. If you feel like you’re going to pass out, I’d say eat something! Your blood sugar could be really low, which could be dangerous. Best of luck to you, love.
Thank you for writing about this subject, Aubree! I have been wondering for quite some time if not eating during my painful heavy period day would actually relieve some of the pain cause I always felt more pain and cramping shortly after eating (even if eating healthy low-fat vegan food) and the bloating would become heavier, too. So during my last cycle, which came late and was extremely painful the first day, I decided to reduce eating and only eat a bit to overcome the feeling of hunger. Plus I had a coffee in the morning to get rid off my headache. By eating very, very little (like a mandarin or a banana at a time) the bloating and cramping eased. However, I did not really dare to fast at first because a) I also like to eat (though less on my heavy day), b) I did read before that your body needs energy during your cycle and c) I am slightly underweight and want to gain some weight, therefore a day of fasting definitely contributes to me losing a bit of weight (I know, most women would be happy about this ;-)). Then I found your article and was happy to read that short fasts (no more than a day) can help you with period cramps. Since reducing my food consumption to a minimum on my heavy day had helped me so much already, I decided that this time of my cycle I would try the water (or tea 😉 to stay warm) fast for my first painful period day. There has been zero cramping or bloating – yeah! The only discomfort is that I get light headaches and feel a bit foggy in my head due to not having coffee today (which is also not good for your period) and no food. But I deal with it by having some green tea and guayusa tea with cinnamon (guayusa leaves have caffeine), both of which are supposedly better than coffee (especially during your period). So glad I found your article and tried it out. Thank you again for sharing your experience and doing some research on it and connecting the dots.
Good to hear this served you, love. I continue to fast on the first day of my cycle, years later, and it still helps!
Thanks so much for posting it! I decided to try a 24 hour fast for the first time, and wouldn’t you know my period started right at the beginning of the fast. I’ll I deal was water and raspberry tea. I’d normally take a pain killer for the cramps, but this time I didn’t. I felt then start, but as the fat began they went away on their own. I also didn’t feel as foggy and emotional as I normally do on day one. I’ll certainly be doing this again!
Awesome to see it helped you!