5 Common Signs of Menstruation & How to Relieve the Pain Imm
The time between pre-puberty and your first day of menstruation is when you should prepare yourself for the various changes that will occur to your body. The start of your period might scare and confuse you. You might have many questions about the changes that are taking place with your body, and you want your questions answered.
We at Captain Well, want to start a discussion about some of the common concerns you might have about menstruation, and offer solutions to help you overcome them.
But first a little bit about menstruation:
Menstruation, or period, is a non-dangerous, non-lethal bleeding through the vagina. Women of reproductive age bleed every month, with the monthly bleeding lasting between five to seven days. Menstruation is a necessary biological process that prepares your body for a possible pregnancy every month.
Every month, your uterus prepares itself for pregnancy by thickening its inner lining. If you don’t become pregnant in that month, your uterus will get rid of this thickened lining. Your uterus will discard its inner lining along with blood through your vagina. These unwanted substances are your period.
While some women havecomfortable and painless periods, others experience several unfavorable symptoms commonly known as PMS, or premenstrual symptoms.
About PMS (Premenstrual Symptoms)
While PMS can be painfully uncomfortable, there are ways in which you can reduce its severity. It’s important to manage PMS symptoms because they may disturb and disrupt your daily activities. It needs to be noted though that each woman’s body reacts differently to PMS symptoms.
Some women undergo premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. PMDD is a more serious and severe form of PMS. As much as 8% of women suffer from PMDD. In premenstrual dysphoric disorder, women experience all the symptoms of PMS at once. While PMDD is a relevant topic to discuss, we want to talk about PMS which affects more than 90% of menstruating women.
PMS symptoms can be mild for some women, but become severely uncomfortable and debilitating for many others. In its severe form, PMS can disrupt your routine daily activities. PMS symptoms can negatively affect your school, work, and personal life. Many women lose valuable school and working hours due to their uncomfortable PMS symptoms.
PMS usually begins three to five days before the first day of your menstruation. Here are some common signs that can help you prepare for your oncoming menstruation:
5 Common Signs of Menstruation and How to Prepare for Them
1- Painful Cramps
The most common symptom of menstruation is painful body cramps, medically known as dysmenorrhea. Menstrual cramps may last anywhere between five to ten days before and during your period. Period cramps are very common during your period. The pain typically occurs in your lower abdominal area, lower back, and inner thighs.
Abdominal cramps are caused by the release of excessive amounts of prostaglandins from your uterine lining. Prostaglandins are hormonal lipid compounds that are required in sufficient quantities to regulate the ovulation process and menstrual cycle. During menstruation, your uterus produces too much prostaglandins to control inflammation and blood flow, resulting in painful periods.
To relieve period cramps, apply heated pads or warm water bottles on your painful regions to soothe the discomfort. You can also consume ginger tea or flavored mineral water to hydrate your body.
2- Acne and Breakouts
Many women experience acne and rashes before the start of their menstruation. Acne usually occurs on the chin, jawline, or other parts of your body. Hormonal changes right before your period cause acne breakouts.
In women of childbearing age, the levels of female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone decline, while the levels of androgens, which are male sex hormones, rise just before your period. Androgens trigger excessive sebum production. Sebum is an oily-waxy substance produced by your skin’s sebaceous glands to help minimize moisture loss and keep your skin hydrated.
High levels of sebum production during your menstruation clog your skin’s pores, leading to acne breakouts. To minimize hormonal breakouts, you must try to reduce the growth of acne-causing bacteria on your skin. Use a gentle skin cleanser or tea tree oil to help decrease the acne-causing bacteria on your skin.
Another PMS symptom that many women experience is the feeling of fatigue. Plummeting hormone levels trigger mood swings. Hormonal fluctuations also deteriorate your quality of sleep, contributing to your fatigue. Fatigue and lack of sleep reduce your productivity and quality of life during your menstruation.
A healthy sleep pattern is crucial for controlling other symptoms of PMS like headaches and mood swings. Try yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation to improve your sleep quality. Adding zinc to your diet can also help you relieve fatigue and sleep better.
Hormonal fluctuations during your period trigger headaches and migraines in many women. Headaches and migraines are caused by interaction between serotonin, a neurotransmitter, and estrogen in your body. More than half of women experience headaches before the onset, and during menstruation every month.
5- Emotional Discomfort
Many women experience constant mood swings, anxiety, irritation, and depression before the onset of, and during their menstruation. The emotional discomfort can be moderate to severe. Mood swings and emotional discomfort right before and during your period is caused by interaction between estrogen and endorphins.
Estrogen influences the production of endorphins. Endorphins are hormones produced by your brain that make you feel happy. A drop in estrogen right before your period causes less endorphins to be produced, making you feel depressed and irritable. You can increase endorphin production naturally through exercise, listening to music, and meditation.
Menstruation for many women typically lasts five to seven days every month. On average women experience menstruation for 40 years of their lives. That adds up to 2,400 days of menstrual pain, which is a lot of uncomfortable days in your lifetime!
Your period can cause 9 different types of pain and discomfort in your abdomen, uterus, ovaries, lower back, legs, head, etc. at the same time. That is 2,400 days of nine simultaneous pains in your lifetime.
According to census.gov., women constituted 50.8% of the U.S. population in 2018. 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 necessary biological process that must take place every month to facilitate reproduction. While an uncomfortable experience for many women, you can take steps to minimize the discomfort. With a balanced diet, proper sleep, moderate exercise, and good mental health, menstrual discomfort can become a manageable event.
Tell us about the methods you use to relieve your menstrual discomfort. Share your tips with others so you can help other women experience more comfortable period days.