If you are finding that your period has become a total mission, chances are you are not alone. So why are period problems more of an issue for some than others? The answer is linked to our lifestyle choices, genetics, weight, age and even your level of sensitivity – let’s face it, we are all different, and so are our periods. Although you might not chat about it much, except perhaps with your besties, lots of girls suffer from period problems, and we are here to help you through it! The most common period problems are: Heavy periods, Painful periods and Irregular periods. The great news is that while they may seem like the end of the world now, problems with your period can have some easy solutions. Read on for the most common period problems, what parts of your life could be causing them and our super secret tips and tricks to making that time of the month easy peasy.
Heavy periods technical name menorrhagia
If you happen to bleed for more than 8 days each month, for most of the year or if the bleeding is so heavy that your day just plain sucks (can’t work, your social life suffers, school feels like the last place you wanna be) you may be having heavy periods. Normally heavy bleeding happens as a result of hormones going all over the place. Our hormones change at different times of our lives, for example your hormones will be different when you’re a teenager, if you’re pregnant or when you are going through menopause.
So if your periods are heavy what is the quick fix? Hormonal treatments like the Pill can help make your period more ‘regular’ so you know exactly when your ‘aunt flow’ is rolling into town. Because heavy periods are caused by hormones and hormones are a factor of what you eat, you may also find that changing your diet makes a big difference at ‘that time of the month’. Cutting down on those delicious chocolates and soft drinks (hey we didn’t say this would be easy!), and bumping up the all important vitamins and minerals contained in fresh fruit and vegetables can be a great start. You don’t need to be out of action for weeks at a time just because you got your period, so if you are upset, chat to your doc about the different things you can do to make getting your period a breeze.
Painful periods technical name dysmenorrhoea
For most girls, the biggest problem with their periods is the killer period pain. For most of us this is just a normal part of life, but for some period pain is a life stopper and can put you out of action for days at a time.
The pain that you get during your period is caused by the release of hormones called ‘prostaglandins’ that cause the uterus to contract (just like it does during child birth), to help it get rid of the lining that has been built up over the last 28 days.
Period pain sometimes comes in the form of stomach cramps, headaches, nausea, vomiting, back ache or dizziness (yikes!). These symptoms are usually worst at the very start of your period as your womb is contracting and your unfertilised egg is leaving your body so a fresh one can take its place.
So what to do…? Surprisingly regular exercise such as swimming, biking or walking can make your periods much less painful. There are also lots of over the counter pain killers (anti-prostaglandin tablets) that specifically aim to get rid of period pain. Keeping a pack in your purse is handy for when you feel really bad period pain coming on but you can’t afford to be out of action. Using a hot water bottle or microwavable heat pillow on the tummy is an age old remedy that has been trusted by many generations of women; go on ask your grandma. If none of these treatments help reduce the pain or if the pain suddenly becomes worse it is best to seek help from your family doctor.
Irregular periods are actually pretty common; in fact about 1 in 3 of all girls get irregular periods at some time. An irregular period is any type of bleeding that is unusual when compared to your normal cycle. This can include a late period, an early period or bleeding between periods. If you have just started to get your period then don’t worry if it’s a little irregular, as you get older they start to arrive like clockwork (just like that cute guy who walks past your house at 9am every morning, sigh…).
Irregular periods can also be caused by hormones deciding to go haywire. Stress, and who doesn’t have a bit of that in their life, is also known to be a major cause of irregular periods. If you have been travelling overseas, just broken up with your boyfriend or been under a lot of pressure at work or school, then a skipped period may just be your body letting you know to schedule some ‘me time’. Some STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) can also cause irregular periods so if you think this is the case then you should get an STI check-up from your local medical clinic pronto. Finally, one of the main causes of irregular or missed periods is pregnancy, if you suspect this might be the case grab a home pregnancy test from your local chemist – they are fast and easy and will do wonders for your peace of mind.
Normally irregular periods correct themselves over time, however if you have had irregular periods for a year or more, it is best to get some advice from your gynae as there could be an underlying illness causing the problem.
When you have worries about your period, if your period changes by becoming heavier, more painful or not coming at all its best to talk to your GP. Though most period problems turn out to be nothing to worry about, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you feel comfortable enough you can also talk to your mum or friends. They are women too so will have been through the worries, outchies and dramas that your experiencing – the might even have some fab words of advice. The sooner you get it taken care of, the quicker you’ll be on your way to feeling great again – Yay!