Somewhere between pre-puberty and the first day of menstruation is a big chunk of time when each girl needs to prepare herself for various changes that may occur in her body during menstruation. The onset might sound scary, might lead to confusion and questions that may remain unanswered. We at Captain Well, want to start a discussion around some of the common menstrual discomforts and some ways to overcome them.
But first a little bit about menstruation:
Menstruation, or period, is non-dangerous, non-lethal bleeding through the vagina that lasts anywhere between 5-7 days every month for women of a certain age. It is a required biological change in the body that prepares women for pregnancy. Each month during puberty, if the egg does not lead to fertility i.e. if the woman does not conceive, the womb sheds it’s lining as tissues and blood from the uterus. While for some women, a menstrual cycle is almost painless, a lot of women undergo several symptoms commonly known as PMS or pre-menstrual symptoms.
About PMS (Pre-menstrual symptoms).
While PMS can be painfully uncomfortable, there are ways in which the severity can be drastically reduced. It’s important to control these symptoms because they may have an occasional disturbing effect on the daily routine. It needs to be noted though that each woman’s body reacts to the symptoms differently.
Some women undergo PMDD which is different from PMS. Reportedly close to 8% of women have a certain kind of premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. This simply means that all the symptoms will coincide during the menstrual cycle. Out of these, 85% of women have at least one severe effect of PMDD. While PMDD is a crucial topic to discuss, we want to talk about PMS that affects nearly 90% of women.
Among some women, the symptoms are mild but often can become very severe. And many of them eventually disrupt daily activities. This is to say that women may lose many valuable working hours every month. These symptoms interfere with their ability to succeed at school, work or anywhere else.
PMS usually begins 3-5 days before the first day of menstruation. Here are some common signs that help you prepare for oncoming menstruation:
5 common signs of menstruation and How to prepare for them
1- Painful Cramps
The most common symptom during menstruation is painful body cramps or medically known as dysmenorrhea. Cramps may last for anywhere between 5-10 days before and during menstruation.
Cramps are highly prevalent, and the pain mostly accumulates in the lower abdominal area, lower back and inner thighs.
Abdominal cramps are caused by the release of excess (low to moderate is necessary) compounds/hormonal lipids – prostaglandins from the uterine lining. Low to the moderate release of this hormone is necessary as it leads to the inflammation that regulates the ovulation process and the menstrual cycle. For immediate relief, use heating pads or lukewarm water bottles. For some women, the cramps are at their peak during menstruation, some ginger tea or flavored mineral water can help to raise the level of hydration in the body.
2- Acne and Breakouts
Many women experience ache and rashes before the start of menstruation. This usually occurs on the chin and jawline or other parts of the body. The reason for this is the alteration in the hormones associated with reproduction.
For women who are of childbearing age but have not conceived yet, the levels of estrogen and progesterone decline and androgens (hormonal cascades that start puberty) hormonal subcategories like testosterone increase slightly. This stimulates the production of sebum which is a naturally produced body oil that comes from the sebaceous glands.
High levels of sebum during the menstruation will increase acne and breakouts. To counteract the hormonal breakouts, the growth of acne-causing bacteria needs to stop. Use a gentle skin cleanser or tea tree oil to help eliminate the bacteria.
Another symptom that many women undergo is a feeling of fatigue. Plummeting hormonal levels gradually led to mood swings. This also affects sleeping patterns, the impact of which may continue throughout the next day/waking hours.
This also risks the increase in the level of daily unproductivity among women.
A healthy sleeping pattern is important to control other symptoms of PMS like headaches and mood swings. Try yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation. Add zinc to your diet.
Headache and migraines among women are generally a result of fluctuation in the hormone levels.
One of the many reasons that result in headache are neurotransmitters – serotonin present in the body. The association between serotine and estrogen leads to the migraine. The statistic shows that more than half of the women experience a headache before the onset of and during their menstrual cycle every month.
5- Emotional discomfort
Many women undergo constant mood swings, anxiety, irritation, and in some stages of depression before the onset of and during their menstruation. The impact may vary from moderate to severe.
The reason for this is the estrogen hormone. This affects the discharge of endorphin- the hormone responsible for the feeling of happiness. The collision of the two results in a drastic decrease in the normal level of endorphin, consequently leading to depression and irritability. Lessen the intake of salt in your diet and stimulate the serotine in the body with exercise.
Menstruation for many women typically lasts 5-7 days every month. On average women experience menstruation for 40 years of their lives. That adds up to 2400 days of menstrual pain. Which is a lot in a lifetime!
According to WebMD, the menstrual cycle can cause 9 different types of pain and discomfort in the abdomen, uterus, ovaries, lower back, legs, head, etc. at the same time. That is 2400 days with 9 simultaneous pains in a lifetime.
In 2018, women constituted 50.8% of the U.S. population according to census.gov. Statistics from NCBI reveal that out of these half, 20% to 75% of women suffer from menstrual discomfort. Of this group, an average of 15% experience unbearable pain and cramps. Menstruation is a natural process that needs to be treated like any other day. With proper sleep, a balanced diet, exercise, and good mental health, menstruation can be a manageable period in the month. Write to us with your inputs on managing menstrual discomfort. We will be happy to know.