Every woman has that one story — you know the one. Maybe as a pre-teen or teenager, your first period came and went like it was no big thing.
It can be extremely frustrating when our bodies don’t function like they’re naturally designed to. But rather than immediately running to our gynecologists for a birth control prescription, we first need to be aware of common menstruation issues, how they can affect our day-to-day lives, and what we can do to solve them when it gets to be that time of the month.
Dysmenorrhea is the fancy scientific name for that awful pain (think cramps) we get when we have periods.
Although writhing in agony for five to seven days a month isn’t ideal, there’s a good reason we’re feeling these symptoms — our uterus is tightening and relaxing to better help the uterine lining leave the womb.
Take a yoga class, drink raspberry leaf tea, avoid inflammatory foods, or take a magnesium supplement.
Though there are two types of dysmenorrhea, primary and secondary, only the secondary category could necessitate a visit to your doctor. It might be a sign of endometriosis or fibroids. Otherwise, dysmenorrhea can usually be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers or a hot compress. Getting more creative with relieving dysmenorrhea pain could mean stretching, drinking raspberry leaf tea, avoiding sugary, inflammatory foods, or taking a magnesium supplement.
Not to be confused with its closely named cousin, amenorrhea is the complete absence of a period, whether for a three month period or before the age of 15. Amenorrhea affects almost 4% of women, and has many causes: obesity, eating disorders, stress, or hormonal disorders.
Although many physicians and women tout the benefits of being on birth control and skipping their periods entirely, as annoying as they are, we need our periods for our bodies to be in a correct position of homeostasis. Sure it’s annoying to damage a new set of sheets or a cute pair of underwear, but in the end, menstruation lets us know that our reproductive system is doing what it needs to do.
Obesity, eating disorders, excessive exercise, stress, or hormonal disorders can cause amenorrhea.
Amenorrhea is a more serious condition and can be indicative of larger problems below the surface. However, taking stock of our routines and daily lives — especially if excessive exercise or overwhelming stress is present — could be the key to treating amenorrhea.
The opposite of amenorrhea is just as important. Menorrhagia affects one in five women, and could be the reason your regular-sized tampons just aren’t doing the job.
One key to this is clotting. While clots can be helpful in removing uterine lining, if they’re bigger than a quarter, that could be a warning sign.
Menorrhagia could potentially be damaging, as inordinate amounts of blood loss lead to anemia. If you feel lower energy on your period with intense bouts of fatigue and heavier-than-normal bleeding, menorrhagia could be the reason.
If clots are bigger than a quarter, that could be a warning sign.
If that’s the case, cystic fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or other endocrine disorders might be responsible and definitely necessitates medical attention.
Did you know your ovaries are only the size and shape of an almond? Pretty crazy to think about, especially given all that they do and especially when their function is key to a healthy reproductive system.
Ovarian cysts are relatively common, and something many women experience. They’re fluid-filled sacs that sit on the ovaries, and they can range from microscopic to the size of a dime to even larger.
If you also experience heavy acne and abnormal hair growth along with other markers, you could have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which affects women who have an increased amount of cysts on their ovaries. Intense pelvic pain is also a sign of ovarian cysts, and the most common treatment method for both is usually to prescribe birth control.
Your ovaries are only the size and shape of an almond.
However, there are many successful natural options for managing cysts and PCOS alike. Regular exercise and diet are especially important, particularly foods high in magnesium with high-fiber, lean protein, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Our bodies are incredible things, but they often work in mysterious ways.
When things don’t automatically go as we expect or as we’ve been told they should, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed with information and others’ expectations.
It’s also natural to be given opinions and advice that don’t necessarily apply or may do more harm than good. In these cases, having the information — all the information — and research and evidence we can, as well as medical professionals who have our backs, no matter their own choices and opinions, can be a successful start to an unexpected journey.