Period Problems – Solved!

Menstruation – the one week a month we love to hate, and yet, something we have to come to grips with … Read up more on what it is, how to combat PMS and some common menstruation problems.

The menstrual cycle is about more than just your period – it’s actually a regular series of changes that occur in your body to prepare you for pregnancy. If you don’t conceive, the lining of the womb is shed, resulting in menstruation – your period. A young girl’s first period (menstruation) usually occurs between the ages of 10 and 16 years, and these cycles continue until the end of her fertile life.

Because women’s cycles vary so much and are affected by so many different factors, it is difficult to define ‘normal’ menstruation. These are some common problems women experience with their periods:

“I’m so moody!”

Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, refers to the symptoms some women experience in the week or two before their period starts. These symptoms last until the end of menstruation and include irritability, anxiety, depression, mood swings, tiredness, hot flushes, breast tenderness and abdominal discomfort. Sound familiar? For about 5% of women, these symptoms are so severe that they can’t manage their day-to-day lives. Hormonal imbalances, an unhealthy lifestyle, stress and unresolved emotional issues all effect PMS.

A healthy diet with a limited intake of caffeine and sugar, regular exercise and taking some time to relax will improve PMS for most women. Women will need extra TLC over this time, so talk to your partner and family members. You may want to look into natural progesterone therapy too, as this can also help quite a bit.

“I get such bad menstrual pain that I can barely function.”

This is a condition known as dysmenorrhea. You could also have symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, and the pain may reach all the way to your lower back, legs and vulva. Dysmenorrhea can be divided into two categories:

  1. Primary dysmenorrhea is pain without any underlying cause, and it is especially common in younger girls. It is medically treated with oral contraceptives and pain medication, but the tissue salt Mag phos offers excellent natural help too.
  2. Secondary dysmenorrhea is more common amongst older women and is caused by an underlying condition like endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Try these safe and natural tips to relieve pain:

  • Eat foods rich in magnesium like beans, lentils, bananas and dark chocolate.
  • Eat more cold-water fish like salmon, as the omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and menstrual cramps.
  • Exercise regularly – yoga especially can promote pelvic circulation.
  • Chamomile is especially effective for dysmenorrhea when it’s accompanied by diarrhoea, bloating, anxiety and irritability.
  • Try drinking a ginger root infusion.
  • Take hot baths with relaxing essential oils like sandalwood, rose and lavender.

“I’ve stopped getting my periods.”

This is known as amenorrhea, and is considered quite normal in teenage girls up until 16 years, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, while using certain contraceptives, and after menopause. Many women occasionally skip their periods during times of stress, travel or minor illness, but amenorrhea that lasts three months or longer may be a sign of a medical problem. It can also occur due to excessive exercise and in people who have anorexia, and it can have long-term negative effects on fertility.

“I have really heavy periods.”

If you need to change your tampon or pad every 1–2 hours, you may have menorrhagia. This can be linked to problems like uterine fibroids and polyps, although often no cause is found. Apart from the discomfort, the most important complication of menorrhagia is iron-deficiency anaemia caused by the blood loss, and you may need iron supplements. Make sure to reduce environmental causes of oestrogen imbalance too. Hormonal treatment and pain medications are often prescribed, and in severe cases, a hysterectomy may be necessary.

“I have irregular periods.”

On average, the menstrual cycle lasts 28 days. Some women get their periods after 35 days or longer (known as oligomenorrhoea), while other women get their periods every 21 days or less (known as polymenorrhoea). Some women experience irregular menstruation, where there are wide variations in cycle lengths. Spotting or bleeding in-between menstrual periods may also occur. This may be a normal side-effect of certain contraceptives, but consult your doctor if it continues.

The following types of bleeding are abnormal and should be reported to your doctor or clinic:

  • Post-coital bleeding– vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse
  • Postmenopausal bleeding– bleeding 12 months or more after you’ve reached menopause