Period pain... Is it normal and natural? We will look at ways to help you experience pain free periods.
Dysmenorrhoea is the definition of period pain that can range from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) that can occur leading up to the period as well as and during menstruation causing discomfort, pain and hormonal imbalances.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can become debilitating for some women. It can be so disruptive leaving them feeling tired, cranky, emotionally and physically unbalanced, cause cramping and aching and just out of sorts.
Pre-menstrual symptoms are often at their peak the week leading up to and including the first 2 days of the flow. Once the period has established a hormonal shift occurs and women begin to feel calmer, and more like their balanced selves.
So why do some women experience these symptoms so intensely?
There are many reasons this can occur:
- Onset of menstrual cycle never established a normal natural pattern, so the hormones are all over the place not being able to find their own natural rhythm.
- Amenorrhoea, is the absence, spotting or very light flow period. This can occur for many reasons but some common ones may include: Intense stress or weight loss; an imbalance of other hormones affecting the ovaries such a Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome; no ovulation; pituitary disorders; damage from chemotherapy and radiation to the ovaries; high levels of prolactin and eating disorders. Secondary Ammeorrhoea may also be investigated as a cause where blood tests may be reward to assess thyroid health, follicular stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH), Prolactin, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), Oestrogen, Progesterone and Cortisol levels.
- Menorrahgia, is characterised by excessive or heavy menstrual bleeding for a prolonged time. This can be more prevalent during puberty as young adolescent women are establishing their period cycle. It can also occur at menopause as the hormones aim to find a new balance while they taper off and cease menstruation.
Other common causes to heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding can be: pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infections; fibroids; endometriosis; imbalances to the thyroid, liver and kidneys; various blood diseases; birth control such as intra-uterine devices (IUD) and inflammation due to high levels of prostaglandins (PG's).
- Poor gut/ bowel function and elimination of waste. Think about this for a moment. If we are not regular with the elimination of waste through our colon, we get a buildup of toxicity throughout the body. This also refers to the other avenues of elimination including the shedding of the uterine wall each month also know as a period.
Will detoxing my body help me be free of period pain?
Our body is a series of pipes and tubes that are required to filter and clean via the 4 channels of elimination. Defecation, Urination, Perspiration and Respiration. If we have blockages in any of these systems build up of toxicity occurs causing disruption to normal healthy function of the body and a reduced ability to manage its' toxic load.
Our internal environment is influenced by our choices, lifestyle, mental and emotional states. Dietary choices, synthetic contraceptive pills, xeno- oestrogens (foreign oestrogens), unfiltered water, chemicals from our cosmetics, cleaning products, pesticides and hormonal disruptors in or food and water supply may all contribute to polluting and overwhelming our bodies to disrupt homeostasis.
The creates stress on our liver, kidneys and lymphatic system that are there to filter and clean our blood, leaving us with poor circulation, reduced vital energy or chi, and a build up of hormonal disruptors that may increase inflammation, degeneration, pain, sensitivity and stagnant blood.
''In a nut shell..... Chemicals, toxins and synthetic drugs can and do cause hormonal disruption that may lead to the painful symptoms of PMS''.
So what can we do?
The lead up to a period is the best time to get rebalanced and cleanse your body. Follow these simple strategies to pain free periods.
Water is essential to flush away toxins that build up through the month. Each day we require 1 litre for every 25kg of bodyweight to remain hydrated and for general cleansing. By regularly staying hydrated with clean, filtered and alkaline water you can alleviate water retention and help with the flow of the period.
Eat to support the female reproductive organs
What you eat does directly impact how you feel. Put clean plant based fuel into your body for the optimum energy, focus and clarity. An Alkaline diet rich in greens, colourful fruit and veggies, organic nuts, seeds and low processed foods is a great place to start. By keeping your diet clean you can reduce inflammation, support healthy bowel elimination, move waste more effectively and consistently maintain vibrant energy.
Avoid triggers that increase pain, inflammation and fluid retention. This means no refined sugar, dairy, processed foods and avoid alcohol. These all increase the series 2 prostaglandins (PgE2) in the uterus causing pain and inflammation. This can affect and irritate nearby organs such as the bowel resulting in diarrheoa or bowel irritation. Higher levels of PgE2's can also increase cramping, slow down or affect the blood flow and prevent the body of completely eliminating the shed lining of the uterus for that month. This then becomes old waste, that stays stuck inside your body.
Foods that contain healthy fats, high chromium and magnesium will help manage cramps, reduce inflammation, pain and help stabilize your mood and cravings you may experience. Include avocados, almonds, seeds, hemp seeds, sweet potato, leafy greens and lots of filtered water.
Exercise & Circulation
Regular daily exercise is not just about being fit and strong. It plays a very important role in moving and circulating all fluids in the body. This includes your period. The lymphatic system requires manual stimulation to flow and allow the body to gently clear waste products. Walking, swimming, cycling and stretching all help increase circulation.
Get sweating! Sweating is one of the main ways we eliminate toxins. If you find it difficult to sweat while exercising, then jump into an Infra Red Sauna. this type of sauna is the most effective in stimulating circulation, sweating and detoxification. Remaining hydrated when using a sauna is very important to avoid dehydrations, light headedness or feeling unwell.
Avoid chemicals and xeno- oestrogens
Personal care items, cosmetics, cleaning products, detergents, plastics and perfumes are just some products that contain endocrine disrupting ingredients. Not only are they disruptors, they can create hormonal imbalances and compromised liver an kidney detoxification. Many of the fragrances used are irritants and petrochemical based, and may be contributors to many of the symptoms of PMS. Replace these items with non toxic products, essential oils, and natural cleaning products that won't have negative impact on your health or environment.
Monitor your cycle patterns
Keeping a menstrual diary is a great way to become aware of patterns. Write down all symptoms, when they start and if you notice anything that increases these symptoms. Together with your Naturopath you can create a plan to identify any lifestyle and food triggers that could be contributing to pain or discomfort that you may be experiencing.
Rather than reaching for the Nurofen or Ponstan there are many amazingly effective alternatives Mother Nature has provided us.
Turmeric is a great alternative to Nurofen or Ponstan there are many amazingly effective alternatives Mother Nature has provided us with. Turmeric is an extremely potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic root that contains the active constituent curcumin. Not only will it help you manage period pain and cramps, it will improve your circulation and mood too.
Fresh ginger root, is warming and soothing helping to reduce inflammatory prostaglandins (PgE2). It can be made into a tea by grating or slicing fresh ginger root and steeping for 8-10 minutes as you would any other loose leaf tea. It is a warm, spicy drink that can start managing pain in as little as 5 minutes. Used in combination with turmeric it will help you mange pain and inflammation naturally.
Cinnamon is another wonderful spice to include. It's earthy sweet flavour will add flare to your food as well as help stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings. The quills can be ground into cinnamon powder and added to your ginger tea. It can be a little drying as it is astringent so ensuring you are well hydrated is vital. A little goes a long way so 1/4 - 1/2 tsp may be a you need.
Calendula and Dandelion leaf
These herbs will support the lymphatic system and the kidneys to flush away excess toxins and fluids. Marigold or calendula flowers are bright yellow or orange and support the female reproductive system to gently eliminate fluid while reducing inflammation and irritation. Dandelion leaf is a diuretic without causing any negative mineral loss as it is alkalising and caffeine free.
So how do I find help?
If you are experiencing any intense symptoms, an irregular menstrual cycle, bowel irritability, fluctuations in weight and disruptions from your period this is not normal. It is important to address the cause/s and find the triggers that are creating any imbalance, pain or discomfort.
Many women come to accept that this is their fate, but are unaware there are many ways to combat this and say goodbye to PMS for good!
If you are this woman or know someone that may need some support with this, please contact me to arrange a time to discuss a plan to support you. A comprehensive consultation will go over a detailed history, nutritional and lifestyle plan to help you overcome period pain.
For a quick start on cleansing and detoxifying your body, try our maqui berry powder or colon cleanse below. We also have some excellent natural practitioner only products available as well, but can only be prescribed through consultation by a practitioner.
To book a consultation please call 1300 798 984
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