What is your period trying to tell you – and what needs closer attention?
We are lucky in some areas of Naturopathic practice where we can use diagnostic tools such as heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, etc. However, the quality of one's period can be a great indication if something is awry. It can be suggestive of something underlying going on which needs close attention. From a pathophysiological perspective, the main culprits here are pro-inflammatory prostaglandins as a result of estrogen dominance at incorrect phases of the menstrual cycle. This article will detail some of the common symptoms of a period and what this could mean for your health.
• Heavy and painful periods – This can be a sign of many ailments such as functional menorrhagia, fibroids, polyps or endometriosis. Endometriosis is increasingly common these days and occurs when the endometrium grows outside of the uterine cavity. Lifestyle and diet factors play a significant role here in increasing inflammation.
• Moodiness/irritability – Feeling “hormonal” before you start your period? While this is widely accepted as being a normal phenomenon for women before their period, it isn’t! It could be a sign that your hormones are out of whack. Reduced estrogen in the luteal phase causes alterations to serotonin, as well as low progesterone causing a reduce GABA to create ease. This, therefore, explains increased feelings of irritability, aggression, anxiety, and depression.
• Large clots – noticeable large thrombi in your menstrual blood is a sign that you could also have underlying conditions such as anemia, hormonal disruptions, fibroids or endometriosis.
• Fluid retention, sore breast, bloating – fluid retention usually occurs in the later part of the menstrual cycle as a result of an increase in prolactin however excessive amounts can be exacerbated by stress, abnormally high estrogen, poor dietary choices.
• No period at all! – This usually caused when the body is under physical or psychological pressure. This can be self-induced (excessive exercise, malnutrition) or from structural abnormalities (ovary or outflow disorders).
Other symptoms that require immediate investigation:
These symptoms could mean there is something more severe and should be investigated by a medical professional immediately.
• Spotting mid cycles
• Painful sex
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, don’t freak out! By seeking Naturopathic care, we can identify underlying mechanisms that are into play here so we can improve or eradicate the symptoms commonly occurred in your menstrual cycle. Don't be tempted to seek pharmaceutical medication such as the OCP; this is merely masking underlying issues (SEE BLOG ON THE OCP). Our period is an accurate reflection of our health as women, and there is no better feeling than having everything in check, having a regular, natural menstrual cycle.
Making changes to your diet and lifestyle such as increasing your fibre and vegetables of the cabbage family, avoiding caffeine and increasing exercise can improve the estrogen clearance (SEE POST ON TOXINS). However, coming in to see Maree for a proper assessment is worthwhile, having a lot of success helping women find their flow over her career as a Naturopath. We are lucky to have the ability to prescribe herbal medicines that see huge achievements in balancing female hormones for centuries.
To book an appointment to get your period back on track click HERE
Jade is a final year naturopathy Student at Southern School of Natural Therapies. She is seeing patients from the student clinic at their Fitzroy campus.