5 Common menstruation problems and how to deal with them

5 Common menstruation problems and how to deal with them

17 Mar 2022

The best way for the modern woman to keep up with life’s demands is to stay healthy—physically, and mentally, too.

For women, a big part of staying on top of their well-being is managing reproductive health concerns, or more specifically, menstruation problems. This involves being prepared to anticipate and handle the changes in their body that subsequently affect daily activities brought on by menstruation.

A woman’s experience of menstruation, or commonly referred to as getting a period, may vary. Some women go through a painless, hassle-free period whereas others routinely face menstrual problems that can sometimes be debilitating. There is a wide range of what a “normal” period is like for every woman. However, generally speaking, though periods can cause some degree of discomfort or pain, these sensations should not be intense enough to cause long-term disruptions in work or school routines, or in one’s personal and social activities (1).

Severe menstrual problems may warrant a trip to the doctor or clinical naturopath, however, it may also be possible to address them with menstruation pain remedies that you can do at home at little to no cost. For all women seeking to alleviate monthly period woes, this article will provide you with a good starting point on how to free yourself of them once and for all.

How the menstrual cycle works

First and foremost, women need to understand the physiological processes that facilitate menstruation. Understanding this aspect of unique female biology is helpful in identifying when menstrual problems or menstrual pain are normal, and when they are not.

A menstrual cycle describes the events that take place in a woman’s body as it gets ready for a possible pregnancy (2). A woman usually has her first menstrual cycle occur at puberty, with menstruation tapering off in her 40s as her body undergoes menopause.

Every cycle is on average 28 days long, but it’s possible for other women to have longer or shorter cycles ranging from 21 to 35 days. A menstruation cycle  is composed of these phases (2):

The menses phase, which marks the beginning of a menstrual cycle, is marked by the first day of a period. It indicates that a pregnancy has not occurred, and so, the lining of the uterus is shed. This is what prompts bleeding that exits through the vagina. This bleeding, or a period, can last from two to seven days (3).

This is followed by the follicular phase when the lining of the uterus once again thickens in preparation for a potential pregnancy. This is dictated by hormonal changes, specifically the increase of estrogen. This phase now leads to ovulation that occurs at around the 14th day of a menstrual cycle. During ovulation, an ovum (or an egg) is released by the ovaries and the uterus becomes a conducive environment for the potential fertilization of this egg (3).

The final phase of the menstrual cycle is called the luteal phase, taking place at around day 15 to day 28, where the ovum travels from the ovary through the fallopian tubes, and reaches the uterus. Progesterone hormone levels rise which helps the body prepare itself for pregnancy. If the ovum is fertilized by sperm, the woman becomes pregnant, but if pregnancy does not occur, the uterus lining sheds and restarts the body’s menstrual cycle (3).

The menstrual cycle can put a woman’s body through a lot of stress. Shifts in hormonal levels are often the culprit of common menstruation problems that include cramping, back pain, increased emotional sensitivity, diminished energy, and changes in appetite or sleep—all of which are normal reactions (4).

However, there are instances when these menstruation problems may become unbearable. The next section of this article focuses on what women can do should this be a problem for them.

Menstruation problems

Common menstruation problems

Women can safely expect some deviation to occur from one menstrual cycle to another. These deviations can also be accompanied by discomfort due to the increased levels of hormones during menstruation like prostaglandin (4). However, there are some signs and symptoms that can indicate an underlying condition which can be identified with a trip to the doctor. Though they do not always signal a serious underlying issue, they may still be severe enough to interrupt a woman’s normal functioning.  

Some common period problems women face include:

Amenorrhea

Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual periods, such as when a woman does not get her first period by the time she is 16, or when a woman stops getting her period for at least three months without a pregnancy (5).

Oligomenorrhea

Infrequent menstrual periods or oligomenorrhea is when menstrual cycles are more than 35 days apart (5).

Menorrhagia

Menorrhagia occurs when a woman gets heavy menstrual periods characterized by excessive bleeding (5).

Dysmenorrhea

Dysmenorrhea is when a woman experiences painful periods that may include severe menstrual cramps that require her to do bedrest (5).

Polymenorrhea

Other signs of irregular menstruation include a shortened menstrual bleeding (less than two days) and polymenorrhea, or frequent menstrual periods occurring less than two days apart (5).

If you are experiencing any signs of irregular menstruation or menstrual pain, read on to find out how to improve menstrual health and learn self-care tips that can help you manage your cycle.

Self-care tips to follow during your period

Seeing a doctor or clinical naturopath is still the best way to get the right information about taking better care of your reproductive health. But even with expert medical advice, there are menstruation pain remedies you can do as part of your self-care regimen during your period. You can consider the following tried and tested methods that have alleviated menstrual problems for countless women:

Physical activity

Regular exercise helps relieve menstrual pain, and can help the body cope with the hormonal changes that come with menstruation (6). The recommendation is not to exercise during your period (although if you can manage to do so, it is completely safe to be active while menstruating), but simply to have a regular workout regimen, in general.

Sleep right

Consistent healthy sleeping habits can also help prevent extreme hormonal imbalances that can lead to menstrual pain or discomfort (7).

Menstruation problems

Get sunshine

A regular dose of Vitamin D through healthy sun exposure can help in regulating the body’s hormones, and keep the body ready for any hormonal changes that occur during the cycle (7).

Eat well

A well-balanced diet that includes lots of whole foods like grains, fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water can help improve a woman’s menstrual health. Keep your body healthy by avoiding too much salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine in order to reduce the risk of menstrual irregularities (6).

Consider supplementation

Getting enough vitamins and minerals such as omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin B and zinc ensure that a woman’s body does not experience nutrient deficiencies throughout the menstrual cycle. A health regimen that focuses on consuming the proper amount of nutrients on a daily basis is one of the first defenses against menstruation problems and is easily achieved with the right supplement package.

Vitable Australia offers women daily vitamin packs that are customised to suit their bodies’ unique needs. Vitable also offers delivery services, bringing your personalised vitamin subscription straight to your doorstep, perfect for women to stay on top of life’s demands.

*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.

References:

  1. Hennegan, J., Winkler, I. T., Bobel, C., Keiser, D., Hampton, J., Larsson, G., Chandra-Mouli, V., Plesons, M., & Mahon, T. “Menstrual health: a definition for policy, practice, and research”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov. Published April 29, 2021 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8098749/. Accessed January 23, 2022.
  2. Nemour’s Children’s Health Content Team. “All About Periods”. Nemour’s Children’s Health: Kidshealth.Org. Published October 2018 on https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/menstruation.html. Accessed January 23, 2022.
  3. Cleveland Clinic Content Team. “Normal Menstruation”. Cleveland Clinic: My.Clevelandclinic.Org. Published August 25, 2019 on https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10132-normal-menstruation. Accessed January 23, 2022.
  4. Mayo Clinic Health System Content Team. “When periods are painful”. Mayo Clinic Health System: Mayoclinichealthsystem.Org. Published May 24, 2016 on https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/when-periods-are-painful. Accessed January 23, 2022.
  5. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Content Team. “What are menstrual irregularities?”. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: Nichd.Nih.Gov. Published January 31, 2017 on https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/menstruation/conditioninfo/irregularities. Accessed January 23, 2022.
  6. The Royal Women’s Hospital Content Team. “Exercise, diet, and periods”. Clevelandclinic: Health.Clevelandclinic.Org. Published October 2, 2020 on https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/periods/healthy-periods/exercise-diet-periods. Accessed January 23, 2021.
  7. The Royal Women’s Hospital Content Team. “Sleep, sunshine and Vitamin D”. Clevelandclinic: Health.Clevelandclinic.Org. Published October 2, 2020 on https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/periods/healthy-periods/sleep-sunshine-vitamin-d. Accessed January 23, 2021.