The Menstrual Cycle: The Basics

The Menstrual Cycle: The Basics

Read about the author Megan Barnett

Periods are your body’s natural inconvenience- they can be heavy, bring on painful cramps and horrible mood swings. The length of a woman’s period can vary from 3-8 days, and while it is assumed that a period will occur every 28 days, having a period every 22-35 days is considered to be normal.

Excruciating cramps, acne breakouts and irregular periods are typically associated with teenagers and younger women as their bodies are still developing, but these symptoms can also lead on on in later life.

Medical care

To alleviate symptoms, doctors often prescribe the combined contraceptive pill to correct the hormonal imbalance, but this may not cure all symptoms and isn’t suitable for women with certain conditions. For example, women with blood disorders such as Fact V Leiden can’t take the combined pill as excess oestrogen in the body puts them at higher risk of developing blood clots.

A hormonal imbalance can be a symptom of polycystic ovaries, but in a majority of women it’s caused by a poor diet, so if you have any concerns it’s recommended you see a doctor. Other forms of contraception, such as the contraceptive implant and contraceptive injection, can actually stop ovulation by releasing progestrogen, a natural hormone, into your bloodstream. This is typically prescribed for women who can’t take pills or suffer from extremely heavy periods.

Vitamin Supplements

A poor diet or vitamin and mineral deficiency could be a cause of symptoms. However, this can cause hormonal disruption, which can then cause certain symptoms such as mood swings. By taking herbs and supplements, a healthy balanced diet is also necessary to ensure that your body’s normal balances are restored.

Eating foods such as maca and fermented cod liver oil can help boost hormone production, while magnesium and vitamin D are essential for good health. Evening Primrose Oil also helps reduce levels of PMS. If you would prefer to take herbal supplements rather than medication, seek medical advice prior to starting a course of vitamins.

Change your routine

Cutting down on caffeine and getting more sleep can help correct hormonal imbalances. High caffeine consumption can cause problems in the endocrine system, which is made up of glands that secrete hormones, so could increase your stress levels if affected. Try to get as close to 8 hours sleep a night, and if you have trouble sleeping, then engage in some relaxing activities. Run a warm bath, or snuggle down with a good book. Warmth can help alleviate cramps, so make sure you keep a hot water bottle of microwaveable snuggie near by!

Exercise can also help alleviate symptoms such as pelvic pain, which is also known as dysmenorrhea, but it’s recommended that intense cardio is avoided. Gentle exercise such as walking or yoga is not only beneficial to your health, but also to your stress levels. Short sessions of heavy lifting are also good for you, as they can trigger a release of hormones. However, it’s important that you take things slowly as you could strain a muscle if you’re unsure of what you’re doing.

Don’t neglect yourself

As well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it’s also important to maintain your sexual health! While the idea of masturbating or partaking in any sexual activity may seem like the last thing you want to do while you’re on your period, orgasms can actually alleviate the intensity of your cramps. Prior to orgasm, the uterus is relaxed. When climax occurs, blood flow increases, and the contraction of the uterine muscles during orgasm releases pain-relieving chemicals to the brain.

Enjoying an orgasm at bedtime can help you sleep better during your period too.

Orgasms also take away other PMS symptoms, such as irritability and feeling a bit blue. The Je Joue Mimi Soft or Rocks-Off Bamboo are great external products to use and ideal for popping in your bedside drawer. If you are experiencing any vaginal tightness due to higher levels of stress while you are menstruating, make sure you use a good lubricant. The Yes Organic Water Based Applicators are great to use, as they deliver precise application every use.

Unfortunately, symptoms of menstrual cycle issues never fully disappear, but the most important thing to remember is having a correct hormone balance.