First day of period and no sleep

This is a women’s only issue but do feel free to read on if you want to.

I often have this symptom for no reason whatsoever other than to say that my period is heavy. Its really quite heavy on my first day and then lighter after that. I bleed lots during the night.

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This is not an unusual problem and you are not alone in this. The first day of the menstrual cycle is usually the heaviest. This is where a lot of bleeding and cramping and nausea happens as well as messing up the bed with blood.

The Sleep Foundation reports that many women don’t sleep well in the days leading up to their period. The body’s temperature rises at this time and a lot of women may experience anxiety. Prevention says that hormone levels change all the time as estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate all the time.

Period related mood swings are also normal. It could be one of the reasons that you can’t fall asleep at night. Here you should try meditation and yoga. You could also try ditching that afternoon coffee.

But if after you have tried everything and you still can’t sleep at night you should probably go and see your doctor! They can probably recommend some other treatments for you to try.


Why women’s menstrual pain is not taken seriously

I was inspired by Bethan Taylor-Swaine to write this article as I go through my own menstrual pain every month. I’m lucky that my pain is not very painful at all. And even if it is I can buy my own Ibuprofen to deal with this. Some women are not so lucky and they have to deal with the excruiting pain month in month out.

There isn’t a lot of research done on this as many women suffer in silence.

woman lying on couch
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What is period pain?

Period pain is when the muscles of the uterus contract to get rid of the lining that we don’t need. That pain can include cramping in the pelvic area. But some women experience heavier than others (adenomyosis which a condition that causes the cells to grow a lining in the uterus and outside of it). Endometriosis is a condition where cells similar to ones found inside the uterus grows outside of it.

Why don’t women want to come forward and share their pain?

Maybe we are:

  • too embarrassed to tell others about the pain. In a survey done by Flexx the tampon company, it is said that 73% of women don’t feel comfortable sharing with others.
  • There isn’t a lot of research done on this so no one wants to come forward
  • Its taboo to talk about it with anyone. For centuries we have learnt that it is taboo to talk about it. Not even our mums and grand mums talked this with anyone other than their daughters who are going through puberty.
  • We feel embarrassed when we have our period. When I was young I did not want to do any sport or swimming when I have my period. Now its ok because I learnt to deal with it.

So how do we #mindthepaingap?

  • Speak to your doctor about the period pain if it so bad
  • Share your story on Instagram and on Facebook. The more people know about it the better and then it would be equally normal.
  • Support businesses that support women’s health. Business like Swisse support women’s health
  • If you are a man, educate yourself on women’s issues. There are lots of resources out there to help you do this.

Luteal Phase and Hunger

We talk about this issue that affects many women.

I have often felt hungry during the luteal phase of my period. Like so many women there is no reason as to why. Some say it is to keep up with demand on the body and the maintenance of the uterus walls. The rise in progesterone might be to blame.

Psychology Today says that is a way of disordered eating. Women are prone to more eating disorders than men due to this type which involves the menstrual cycle and the way we look. The nature of the period has more of an impact on our appetites, especially when it is that time of the month. During the first half of the cycle estrogen acts as a suppressant.

Greatist said that researchers are trying to understand the impacts of the menstrual cycle and hunger. There has been little research done on this to date. In the coming weeks and months we hope to see more research done on this issue.

What is the Luteal Phase?

This is the phase that happens after ovulation and about 12-14 days before your period. Here the walls are being built in the uterus. If there is no pregnancy there would be a period.

During that phase your metabolism rises a bit to prepare for your period and build those walls.

What should I eat during the Luteal Phase?

I would drink plenty of water, fuel up on those irons and carbohydrate-rich foods. And I would encourage you to throw some feel-good foods in there like chocolate. A little bit of dark chocolate helps seal the deal as it has magnesium that your body needs.

But of course if you can’t get all those minerals from diet alone, you can try a supplement.


Axe the tax on period products

We should be able to manage our periods the way we want. Now more than ever due to the Covid19, people had to choose between paying bills or paying for their period. Periods are not a choice as it happens every month

We go through about 3-4 pads or tampons during the day. Some women go through more because they have had heavy bleeding. So all up in 7 days it would be 21-28 pads and tampons. Some days our period is lighter.

On top of that we also have to pay for pain killers to kill the period pain.

We shouldn’t have to pay for pads or go without them just because we have not got enough money. Pads in Australia are about $4-$8 a pack. And we go through about 1-3 packs per period.

But what about period products?

They are sustainable but they are a huge investment for women, especially those without an income. They are about $30-$60 per cup but some people can’t afford it.

So please if you can, ask your local MP or Government to make period products cheaper (or free for those that can’t afford it).

Or better yet, if you have lots leftover from your panic buying days, why not donate them to charity or a local pantry who needs them?


Sleep and women’s health

Do women get enough sleep during their luteal phase (that is the phase just before their period)? I know I certainly don’t and would love to find out. I know that it is said that we need about 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

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There are four phases to a women’s cycle:

  1. Period- that’s the bleeding that goes for 5-7 days.The uterus lining is not needed so it is shed. Some women experience heavy bleeding and so they might not sleep well.
  2. Follicular- this one is where the egg is being developed and being prepared for release into the ovaries
  3. Ovulation- that is when an egg is fertilized in her ovary. If there is no sperm with a few days there then the egg will wither away.
  4. Luteal- during this phase estrogen drops and progesterone rises. This is where women start feel more hungry and irritable and there’s where some women cannot sleep so well. This is also where the uterus lining develops.

Research Gate suggests that Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder might have something to do with this as is a change in women’s hormones during her luteal phase. Insomnia.net supports this and says that its due to her hormone changes.

Pyschology.net says that it happens but its rarely ever discussed because women are too ashamed to come forward.

So what should we do to raise the awareness?

Talk to somebody about your PMS problems. You can even jot it down online on Instagram. The more we talk about these things, the less bothersome it becomes and there might be a cure for that in the near future.

Researchers are constantly looking for ways to reduce PMS and sleeping problems for people. Currently there isn’t enough research being done on this topic.


Periods don’t stop for pandemics

Last week was Menstrual Health day and I got the idea from Bethan Taylor-Swaine who talked about this day on her Facebook page.

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Here in Australia some of the vulnerable and poor people don’t have access to period products and at the Kensington and Ascot Vale little Free Pantry people have been getting these products. In March Share the Dignity does these drives. The price of period products has been going up. Per year they would cost between $400-$700 altogether. Factor in food and rent and bills and some people would not be able to afford them. Last March people went crazy stockpiling pads and tampons and left none for the poor.

Periods don’t stop for those that are poor. Those that are poor risk staining their underwear and outer clothes. This in turn embarasses them and people think of them as dirty.

Poor people also don’t have access to clean water. Poor people also don’t have access to health services in the world right now.

Actions needed right now:

  • Donations would be appreciated everywhere. If you can, put some pads in a little free pantry somewhere.
  • Ongoing interventions to tackle period stigma. We need more free access to health services. Hopefully during this crisis the Government would spend more money on the homeless and this can be a part of the money that they spend on women’s health.
  • More access to clean water and washing facilities all over the world. In third world countries people don’t have access to clean water. Hence they always smell.

The female athletic triad

We talk about this all important issue for female health. Luckily though none of us have this sort of thing yet and we are in good health

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The female athletic triad is a serious problem for women who are young. It mainly occurs in women who do a lot of exercise and don’t eat enough to sustain themselves. The first time around this is a warning sign that you should do something about this. The second time around it is more serious.

Often this is not talked about enough, not even mentioned. The athletic triad is where a woman loses her period due to not enough nutrition to sustain her normal everyday functions. The woman has low body fat, so low that she is not warm enough. The recommended body fat is about 15%-19% to be healthy. In this case she might not have enough estrogen for her monthly visitor.

The result: is a loss of bone density after a while of missed periods as all the minerals get taken out of the bones. And that can have lots of negative impacts on your performance in running.

female-athlete-triad-diagram

Image courtesy of athlete life development

What should you do in this case?

We’d recommend seeing a doctor and maybe quitting exercise just for a little while. We also recommend that you have more food. If it is so bad that you have missed your period then let your doctor know. They may be able to prescribe some sort of hormonal thing to get you back on track

Just to be on the safe side about the body fat do get a body scan. You can do this for free at your local nutrition club or on the expensive side in most weight loss centres.