How to promote a healthy menstrual cycle

How to promote a healthy menstrual cycle

20 Mar 2022

Menstruation is a normal part of a woman’s experience related to her reproductive age, usually starting at age 10-15 years, occurring monthly until a woman is around 45-50 years old (1). This cycle, also called a ‘period,’ typically refers to the changes that occur in a woman’s body as it prepares for a possible pregnancy (2).

A period commonly happens due to changes in the body’s hormones, which are the body’s chemical messengers (1). A woman’s ovaries release estrogen and progesterone, which prompts the build-up of the womb’s lining as it prepares for a fertilised egg to attach. If the body does not receive a fertilised egg, this lining breaks down and bleeds (1). This takes about a month, which is why women typically get their periods once a month.

This is the body’s natural way of reproducing and is a part of a healthy woman’s day-to-day life. While this experience may vary from woman to woman, this should not disrupt their daily life and shouldn’t get in the way of their normal routines (1).

Maintaining your menstrual health can help both the body and the mind cope and get through your monthly cycle.

Menstrual health 101

A woman's menstrual health means being in a state of combined physical, mental and social well-being before, during and after their monthly cycle (3). A woman, or anyone who experiences menstruation, has achieved proper menstrual health when they are able to:

  • Access information and hygiene practices about the menstrual cycle and the changes that take place throughout this experience, received in an accurate, timely and appropriate manner (3).
  • Perform self-care during their period, with access to proper, effective and affordable resources necessary to stay clean and healthy (3).
  • Experience menstruation in a positive and respectful environment, free from stigma, psychological distress and discrimination (3).
  • Receive timely treatment and health care for any menstruation-related discomfort or illness (3).
  • Freely decide on how to participate in all aspects of society during all phases of their menstrual cycle (3).

This overall and holistic approach to menstrual health can ensure that period care is possible for everyone.

Menstrual health

Self-care during period

Your menstrual health should be built on a foundation of healthy lifestyle choices appropriate for your body’s needs. Here’s how you can personally take care of your body to promote menstrual health:

  • Exercise regularly because it can help relieve menstrual pain and cope with the hormonal mood disturbance that comes with the cycle (4).
  • Get your regular dose of vitamin D through healthy sun exposure which can help in regulating the body’s hormones (5).
  • Make sure to get regular quality sleep to avoid hormone irregularities that can lead to disturbances in your menstrual cycle (5).
  • Keep your diet rich with omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and vitamin D by loading up on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and plenty of water. Avoid salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine to reduce the risk of troublesome premenstrual symptoms, to help you stay healthy during your cycle (4).
  • Support your diet with supplements that can provide vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, vitamin B, and zinc since they also promote menstrual health (4).

It is normal and healthy for women to experience some menstrual pain at the beginning of their cycles, due to prostaglandin, a hormone produced by the uterus (6). This pain does not typically indicate specific problems in a woman’s menstrual health (6), but if the pain is unbearable and home treatments for period care are not working, it is important to seek professional help immediately.

Effective menstrual health is a combination of consistent self-care techniques during periods, and a strong foundation of social and mental well-being for those who experience it. Consider supporting your menstrual health with Vitable vitamins, where you get to build your own custom vitamins in Australia. Pair up your daily vitamin pack with a healthy and well-rounded diet to support menstrual health. Take advantage of the vitamin delivery service now, so you can receive your subscription vitamins on time!

*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. 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 18, 2022.
  2. Mayo Clinic Content Team. “Menstrual cycle: What's normal, what's not”. Mayo Clinic: Mayoclinic.Org. Published April 29, 2021 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186. Accessed January 18, 2022.
  3. 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 18, 2022.
  4. The Royal Women’s Hospital Content Team. “Exercise, diet, and periods”. Clevelandclinic: Health.Clevelandclinic.Org. Published October 2, 2020 on https://health.clevelandclinic.org/how-to-keep-your-joints-healthy-with-the-right-exercise/. Accessed January 18, 2021.
  5. 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 18, 2021.
  6. 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 18, 2021.
  7. Saneh, C. “Five pieces of advice all new runners need to know”. World Athletics: Worldathletics.Org. Published June 16, 2020 on https://worldathletics.org/be-active/performance/advice-runners-beginners. Accessed October 11, 2021.
  8. Mount Sinai Content Team. “Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)”. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai: Mountsinai.Org. Published on https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/vitamin-c-ascorbic-acid. Accessed October 11, 2021.
  9. Mayo Clinic Content Team. “Fish oil”. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research: Mayoclinic.Org. Published December 8, 2020 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-fish-oil/art-20364810. Accessed October 11, 2021.
  10. Gammone, M., Riccioni, G., Parrinello, G., & D’Orazio, N. “Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: Benefits and Endpoints in Sport”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published December 27, 2008 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357022/. Accessed October 11, 2021.
  11. Thimóteo, N. S. B., Iryioda, T. M. V., Alfieri, D. F., Rego, B. E. F., Scavuzzi, B. M., Fatel, E., Lozovoy, M. A. B., Simão, A. N. C., & Dichi, I. “Cranberry juice decreases disease activity in women with rheumatoid arthritis”. National LIbrary of Medicine: PubMed.Org. Published October 10, 2018 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30553231/. Accessed October 11, 2021.
  12. Basu, A., Schell, J., & Scofield, R. H. “Dietary fruits and arthritis”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published January 24, 2019 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788027/. Accessed October 11, 2021.
  13. Hewlings, S., & Kalman, D. “Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health”. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published October 22, 2017 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/. Accessed October 11, 2021.
  14. Daily, J. W., Yang, M., & Park, S. (2016). “Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials”.  US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Nih.Gov. Published August 1, 2016 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003001/. Accessed October 11, 2021