By Robyn Srigley, BA, PTS, CNP, NNCP
Periods are confusing. One day you are barely flowin’ and the next you’re changing your tampon every few hours. And don’t even get me started on the cramps and cravings! What gives? Well, depending on the colour and level of flow we superwomen are experiencing, there could be any number of things going on. Decode the mystery below.
(check out the full infographic, here)
This could be one of two things. Either you’re near the beginning or the end of your regular period, or you’re not having a true period at all and are just spotting. So how do you tell the difference?
Well, if you are expecting your period to arrive any day and you start to see light flow, this probably means that tomorrow you’re really going to need to step up your menstrual hygiene product game. It is completely normal to have light flow both at the beginning and the end of our periods. Our bodies are just getting the ball rolling so our flow is lighter. Or on the flip side, our uterus is pretty much done shedding it’s lining for this month, so flow decreases. Nothing to worry about here!
BUT, if you are not expecting a period, or are mid-cycle near ovulation, you could be experiencing what’s known as ‘spotting’. Spotting happens generally when your body is not producing enough progesterone, which is the hormone responsible for ovulation and much of the second half of your cycle. If this becomes too low, your body will think it’s time to rain roses. The tell-tale sign here is if the light flow is a brownish colour.
Should you need the super plus pads when it’s that time of the month? No way! Heavy periods are becoming quite epidemic in our western society and this is not a normal function for the body. We categorize this as having to change the tampon or pad about every hour for several hours or up to several days. There are TONS of reasons for heavy flow- enough to fill a small book, so I’ll go through the top two here.
The first reason for heavy flow is hormonal changes. This happens most often in teenage girls and women approaching menopause. As our bodies work bring about the changes to our reproductive system, sometimes it gets a little messed up. With our hormones out of whack during this time, flow can greatly increase.
The second common reason for heavy flow is a blood clotting problem in your body. If your body is not able to clot or stop bleeding in a timely fashion, our flow will increase. While you don’t want to have massive clots during menstruation, a couple of very small clots is normal.
Other reasons for heavy flow are more serious, and if you have heavy flow it is important to go to your doctor to find the true reason.
What about Colour?
Red flow is the best! If your flow is nice and right, it’s a great sign that you have a healthy uterus and a healthy diet. Good colour in the blood is also an indicator of your iron stores. Bright red means your iron levels are probably adequate. Nothing to worry about here!
Pinkish or pale red blood is something we want to avoid. This can be an indicator of poor iron stores or a poor diet. If you are having problems with digestion, you may not be absorbing nutrients well, and this could also cause pale blood flow.
Brown blood can be normal and not normal. If you are near the end of your cycle, brown blood is normal. If it’s brown throughout menstruation, it could be a lack of water and nutrients. And remember if all you experience is light flow that is brown in colour, you are probably experiencing mid-cycle spotting, which indicates a hormonal imbalance.
Black blood usually means big time clots. This can happen with a clotting disorder, poor diet and lack of essential fatty acids. Black blood is often old blood, signifying stagnation in your reproductive organs. This may happen if your periods are irregular.
So now you know your flow. And maybe you care just a little bit more about your wondrous reproductive organs! Our uterus is an incredibly hard worker, and we should do anything we can to help her along the journey. One way to do this is with clean, eco-friendly menstrual hygiene products. Whenever possible, choose products that are reusable, such as The DivaCup, or cloth pads such as Cozy Folk or Lunapads. These are easy to clean and have no risk of toxic shock syndrome, allergic reactions and other nasties we don’t want near our lady parts. If you are going to choose disposable products, choose organic, unbleached/treated cotton products. There are tons of companies out there making these, such as Natracare and Seventh Generation.
Robyn Srigley, BA, PTS, CNP, NNCP is The Hormone Diva! Robyn helps women replace anxiety with joy to open possibility in their lives and to have a positive impact on the next generation. As a holistic nutritionist, Robyn helps women with a variety of struggles including PMS, menopause, PCOS and endometriosis in her coaching practice. You can connect with her on her website The Hormone Diva, or on Facebook or Twitter.
In a few short weeks we will be joining forces with Robyn again to help ladies of all ages conquer their PMS Cravings once and for all. If you want to learn how you can ditch those cravings with 4 simple tricks, sign up below and we’ll make sure to notify you once all the details are available.
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