By Amy Morris

Period Pain Isn't Normal

There is no doubt that as women, our bodies are nothing short of amazing. But what isn’t so amazing is the pain that can occur when our good friend Aunt Flo shows up in the form of our monthly period. Ladies of all ages, please take note that not all period pain is normal. I hope to provide a guide on when you urgently need to see your gynecologist, and also where you have the power to improve your cycle pain naturally, using diet and supplements.

Your Monthly Period Shouldn’t Ruin Your Life

Every menstruating woman or young girl experiences different levels of period pain. Sadly, many women have been conditioned to think that suffering during their period is totally normal. Still, there is a limit to when this pain is considered normal. Passing this pain threshold could mean you have an underlying health condition.

Within the normal range, your period should be no more than a little uncomfortable, for the first and second day only. It should not leave you taking pain pills all day long, or make you curl up in bed for days.

Telltale Symptoms that Something More is Going On

Chronic period pain is just one symptom. There are other warning signs that something isn’t quite right, which are important to be aware of. Below, you’ll find three very common (and serious) conditions, listed with their varied diagnostic symptoms, that could be causing your monthly period to be far from an easy breezy period.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Symptoms include: pain in your lower abdomen, pain and/or bleeding when having an intimate moment, an unusual discharge from your vagina coupled with a bad odor, bleeding between periods, infertility and even a burning sensation when you urinate (often usually mistaken for a urinary tract infection symptom).

Causes of PID; catching an STD from having an intimate moment, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, as well as some infections that are not STD’s.

Endometriosis

Symptoms include: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms such as constipation, regular loose stools and bloating, pain and cramps at any time during the month (not just during the period), painful intimate moments, abnormal bleeding and infertility.

Causes of Endometriosis: endometrial tissue that lines a healthy uterus breaks down every month and is discharged with the monthly bleed, but if a woman has endometriosis then this endometrial tissue starts to grow outside of the uterus and can attach itself to say ovaries, fallopian tubes, and even the intestines and other areas of the digestive tract including the rectum and uterus. The exact cause that triggers this to happen is currently stumping scientists, yet there are links to exposure in the womb to the hormone-disrupting chemical dioxin.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Symptoms include: irregular periods, can even stop menstruating completely, obesity, infertility and hirsutism (excessive hair growth and acne).

Causes of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) include: Women with this condition have ovaries producing too many male hormones, known as androgens. This then causes cysts to form in the ovaries, and with all these hormonal changes, this is what prevents the egg from fully maturing, therefore stopping ovulation happening. There are of course other conditions that may be causing your pain. If you suspect you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss.

Have A Happier Period by Making Simple Dietary Changes

Of course seeing an experienced gynecologist is the best way to rule out or correctly diagnose what is causing your abnormal period paid. If your period pain is manageable and nothing out of the ordinary, you can make a few simple changes to improve your symptoms. The common discomfort experienced during our period is caused by inflammation. This is why your doctor will often prescribe conventional drugs such as ibuprofen, which can help to alleviate this inflammation. But these unfortunately come with a long list of undesirable side effects, which is why many women seek out more natural forms of pain relief.* Starting with supplements, here are my favorite supplements that science confirms can help a women lower inflammation levels naturally:
  • Omega 3 fish oils – Several studies have found that women who took omega 3 fish oils had less menstrual pain compared to those that took the placebo.
  • Vitamin D – Without enough vitamin D, your digestive tract cannot absorb calcium. Vitamin D has also been found to lower inflammation.
  • Turmeric – A recent study has found that turmeric extract may be superior in addressing pain associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) when compared to other standard forms of treatment, such as antidepressants and painkillers.

(*please speak to your doctor before starting any new supplement regime)

Another way to reduce your period pain is to supercharge your diet. Here is my short and sweet guide to a few small tweaks that can overhaul your period:

  • Eat lots of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables – fiber binds to excess estrogen (natural and synthetic types), and helps it to leave the body. Lowering the level of estrogen in the blood has been linked to lowering a person’s chance of developing endometriosis, breast cancer and other conditions.
  • Avoid cow’s milk and dairy products – Modern day farming results in cows bred for milking, to have high levels of reproductive hormones. This again causes levels of estrogen and other hormones to rise outside of natural ranges. To get a milk fix, switch to nut milks like almond or cashew. Remember, the best sources of calcium are plant sources such as broccoli and spinach! (Popeye will have nothing on you!)
  • Avoid gluten – Several studies have found that gluten can cause inflammation in the body. The best way to manage period pain is to avoid inflammation triggers. Try giving up gluten for a month and see if you notice any difference to your period pain levels. Try to simply swap out gluten containing food for common swaps like corn, rice, beans, or quinoa. Eating a more varied diet will also ensure you are getting in more nutrients to help further support a healthy period.
  • Herbal relief – Herbs possess many therapeutic benefits to health, and they help many women combat period pain and cramps. A great option specifically for helping to balance hormones naturally and provide you with a boost of energy (which we all need at that time of the month!), is the Be Prepared Cramp Tea. This tea is caffeine free, and a rich source of chaste tree berry (and other carefully selected herbs), that according to some studies, has a positive effect on reducing period pain and cramps.

Change Your Reproductive Health Destination

Not all period pain is normal, especially chronic period pain and other unusual symptoms. It is a good idea to see your gynecologist to rule out anything serious that could be causing this pain and to preserve future fertility. And after going through my own endometriosis journey, this tiny step could change your health and quality of life. The changes above can provide relief for a small bit of effort. (We love when that happens!) One final way to lower stress levels around your period is to always be prepared. Whether you prefer reusable cloth pads, organic or conventional pads and tampons or the ingenious (and money saving) menstrual cup – the Be Prepared Period store will definitely have something for your individual needs.

Did you like this? Share it: