If it feels like your month revolves around fearing those few days of the month and the problems it brings, you are not alone. All around the world, women and young girls deal with various issues related to their menstrual cycles, and the period itself.
Let’s take a look at what these are, why these happen, and what can you can do to feel more comfortable:
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
PMS is the term given to physical, emotional and psychological symptoms that many women and girls experience in the days or weeks prior to their period. It disappears right after period arrives. Check the following list to see if you have ever been hit by any of the following PMS symptoms (different women may feel different sets of symptoms):
- Sore breasts
- Food cravings
- Irritability, mood swings
- Trouble concentrating, sleeping
- Headaches, backaches
Over-the-counter pain medication, reduction of alcohol and caffeine intake, smaller but more frequent meals, and physical activity can help alleviate PMS symptoms.
Feel cramps in your stomach or back, or have nausea, vomiting, or headache? Blame it on the prostaglandins released during the cycle that cause the uterus to contract. The main role of prostaglandins is to contract the uterus during childbirth, but it cannot differentiate it from a regular menstrual cycle period. This is also known as primary dysmenorrhea. Secondary dysmenorrhea, on the other hand, is caused by a disease or ailment, such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and fibroids in/on the uterus.
Over-the-counter painkillers and hot water bottle can provide relief from the cramping muscles. Mild exercise can also make you feel better, as it releases the chemical endorphin, which makes the body feel good. In case the pain is severe enough to interfere with daily routine, it must be consulted with a doctor.
It can take up to a few years for a girl who just started menstruating to develop a regular cycle. Even so, any girl’s/woman’s cycle can range from 21 to 45 days and can work on a timeline that is unique for her. However, it becomes a matter of concern if her periods
- Have not formed a regular pattern even after three years of starting to menstruate.
- Were regular but have suddenly developed an irregular pattern.
- Have stopped for the last two or more months.
Changes in hormones levels in the body are responsible for short periods, long periods, periods that skip a month, two periods that occur right after one another, a period with very light bleeding or an abnormally heavy period.
A doctor should be consulted in the above cases. Further, always carry a pad or tampon with you to be prepared for unexpected period arrival. Maintaining a calendar also helps to track the dates.
Troubled with extremely long and heavy periods?
Known as menorrhagia, a heavy period is one that is characterised by a heavier-than-normal flow that lasts over two days, periods that last for over seven days, or soak up more than one pad an hour.
Abnormally heavy periods occur due to a hormonal imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone. Due to this, the uterus lining or the endometrium keeps on building, resulting in a heavy period at the end of the cycle. Other causes include thyroid or bleeding disorders or inflammation of vagina or cervix.
A visit to the doctor is necessary for this condition, who will then conduct a Pap smear, pelvic exam, ultrasound and/or blood tests. Removal of extra uterine tissue or hormonal therapy may be required. On your part, make sure to include fruits and vegetables and vitamins in your diet.
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Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Coping with Common Period Problems,” KidsHealtg.org, http://kidshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/girls/menstrual_problems.html
“Heavy and irregular periods,” NetDoctor.co.uk, http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ate/womenshealth/207171.html