Your period is essentially your monthly report card.
How you are feeling during and the lead up to your period can be a good indicator to what is going on inside your body.
So, what is your monthly report card telling you? Here, we outline some common, but NOT normal symptoms surrounding your period.
3 Symptoms that are Common but NOT Normal
Are your cramps causing you extreme pain?
It is astounding the number of women that I see in a nutrition consult brush past their period pain as if it is a normal symptom…
There are three types of pain that are associated with your period:
- Cramping: During menstruation, the uterus gently contracts and relaxes whilst the endometrial lining sheds (a.k.a. the ‘bleed’). This sensation should be largely unnoticeable; however, pain can be noted when there is a disorderly contraction and relaxation of the uterus which results in pain. In addition to this, inflammation is usually a component of the pain too.
- Body aches and feelings of ‘heaviness’
- Breast pain: Tender breasts are common during your periods and is likely due to fluctuating hormone levels. However, if the pain does not coincide with your cycle or is abnormally excruciating then it is worth getting checked out by your doctor.
Period pain is not normal and can signify a deeper issue for the individual, particularly if it is affecting your day-to-day living. Reasons behind pain during your menstrual cycle include hormonal imbalances (particularly oestrogen excess/sensitivity or low progesterone), inflammation, STD’s, stress, prostaglandin imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, or could indicate reproductive conditions such as endometriosis, or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) describes mood disturbances, pain or cravings in the lead up to your period. But when does it become abnormal?
If you are experiencing extreme PMS that effects your quality of life, you may be experiencing Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
PMDD is essentially PMS on steroids. It occurs when your body has an abnormal response to normal fluctuations in reproductive steroid hormones. It is characterised by a range of distinct symptoms, where diagnosis presents in 5 of the below symptoms for a minimum of 12 months with symptoms disappearing in the post-menstrual week (1).
Symptoms of PMDD include (1):
- Mood swings, tearfulness and sensitivity to rejection
- Irritability, anger and increased interpersonal conflicts
- Depressed mood, hopelessness or self-deprecating thoughts
- Feeling tense, anxious or “on edge”
- Difficulty concentrating
- A sense of feeling “out of control”
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Lack of energy
- Change in appetite or food cravings
- Breast tenderness
- Breast swelling
- Stomach bloating
For more information on PMDD, the differences with PMS, diagnosis and the critical nutrients for treatment, visit our previous blog post on PMS and PMDD here.
3. Irregular bleeding
Although every bleed will be different for each woman, there are some components that are commonly accepted by women that are abnormal.
Some of the most common menstrual bleeding irregularities include:
- Heavy bleeding: If you soak through one or more pads/tampons in an hour, then you may have menorrhagia, or heavy bleeding. This can further bring on issues such as fatigue or shortness of breath.
- Skipped bleeds: Your menstrual cycle generally occurs within a cycle of 28-32 days on average. If you miss a period, and pregnancy isn’t the cause, then there may be an underlying reason that needs to be addressed.
- Abnormally short or long periods: Keeping in mind that a normal period can be described as anywhere from two to seven days, anything outside of this range may be worth checking out by your health practitioner.
- Bleeding between periods: Depending on the cause, an occasional bleed between periods can be normal. However, if you notice that spotting between periods are ongoing, then it is definitely worth seeing if there are any underlying health issues.
Regardless of the menstrual bleed irregularities you are experiencing, it may be due to a number of different reasons which is why it is important to get to the root cause.
So, what now?
No matter the severity of your symptoms, Amanda’s goal is to find the root cause and treat it naturally so that you don’t have to suffer. Remember, ignored symptoms when it is ‘not too bad’ can turn into worsening issues later down the track. That’s why it is important to address these issues as soon as possible.
Book an initial nutrition consultation so that you can discover what is truly going on in your body so that you can thrive at any point in your cycle.