Browsing Tag:

menstrual cycle

  • Health

    What to Know About Your Flow

    You may know by now a little bit about your menstrual cycle.

    But do you know all the sanitary options available to you? I remember starting with a heavy flow. Back then, I thought that pads were the only option for me. I used to go through twelve to thirteen heavy pads a day. That’s a lot. I was always uncomfortable with the way the pads felt. It was almost like wearing a diaper. I was self-conscious about whether other people could tell I was wearing them, too.

    There was one incident where I had to get to class quickly and couldn’t get to the bathroom to change my pad out. I ended up bleeding through the cotton and onto my pants. I was mortified. A friend of mine came to my rescue and gave me her jacket to wear around my waist. She then let me in on her little secret: she used tampons! I had no idea that tampons were an option for me. I thought they were only for girls who had lost their virginity. Boy, was I wrong. The school’s health education program had failed me.

    She explained to me that wearing a tampon is not the same as having intercourse. It also does not feel the same. Depending on your flow you can buy sizes ranging from lite to super heavy. If one size does not feel comfortable, try getting a different size. You should also know that the size of your tampon has no reflection on your body aside from how much of your uterine wall you shed.

    If you try tampons and you still have trouble with excess fluid getting on your clothes, look into panty liners.

    Panty liners are small, thinner versions of pads. They are specifically designed to create an extra barrier between your flow and your clothes. It is also okay to use more than one panty liner or pad at a time. Tampons are strictly one at a time. Just be sure to take proper care of your sanitation devices. Do not forget to change out your pad every 3-4 hours. The same rules apply to tampons and panty liners. The box may suggest that the product will last longer than that but be safe and try to avoid going over 4 hours.

    If you are trying to cut back on your plastic waste, or do not find tampons, panty liners, or pads comfortable, then there are reusable cups. A common reusable cup is known as the Diva Cup. The Diva Cup is a small, plastic, form-fitting cup that holds a certain amount of fluids. Once the cup is full or you have had it in for a couple of hours, you can remove the cup and dump the waste into a toilet. You will need to be sure to use soap and water to clean the cup each time before reuse. This process may seem like a bit much, so it surely is not for everyone, but it can be useful.

    Here are some references to using menstrual pads, tampons, etc.

  • Health

    Illnesses That Mimic Your Period Part III

    Illnesses That Mimic Your Period Part III

    Do you feel a burning in your throat or your chest after consuming spicy foods? The food may not have even been spicy, it could have just been extra sweet. Do fruits keep you up at night, forcing you to sit straight up or elevated in bed because the pain is too much? You may be experience Acid Reflux. Acid Reflux is a common experience for most people, but if it is haunting you day and night, then you might be part of the percentile with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). GERD is an Acid Reflux disease that takes on a whole new meaning to heart burn.

    Although there are few symptoms with GERD to coincide with menstrual cycles, it is still something that most young girls do not consider looking into. Here are some common symptoms for Acid Reflux Disease according to the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gerd/symptoms-causes/syc-20361940 ):

    • Burning in your throat/chest
    • Regurgitation of food
    • Lump in throat feeling
    • Sour liquid taste in throat
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Disrupted sleep
    • Asthmatic problems

     

    Sometimes these symptoms can be brought on by foods that you would not think would cause them. I personally experience acid reflux when eating fruits, ginger products, and garlic. Drinking milk can subside these pains, but it is more effective to take medication or to avoid eating foods that are problematic for yourself. Bread can sometimes help with the awful taste, as well as crackers, but do not eat these if you experience gluten sensitivities (unless you have gluten free bread/crackers).

    There is another disease that does not present itself all at once but can be just as uncomfortable as going through your monthly cycle. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that is still being researched, but has a few known symptoms provided by the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lupus/symptoms-causes/syc-20365789 ):

    • Joint pain
    • Stiffness
    • Fever
    • Exhaustion
    • Skin rashes that can get worse with Sun exposure
    • Headaches
    • Stress
    • Dry eyes
    • Confusion
    • Shortness of breath

    These symptoms can come in waves or all at once, or you may not even have more than three of them for you to be diagnosed with Lupus. Joint pain, fever, headaches, and stress are all common ailments with your menstrual cycle but can be on a much greater scale if instead they are Lupus related. If your pain does not go away with your cycle, then it might be time to get in touch with your primary care physician and discuss other possible causes, such as autoimmune diseases.

    Here are some helpful tips from me, as someone who experiences all (but Lupus) the fore-mentioned illnesses:

    • Watch what you eat. That does not necessarily mean that you need to change your diet completely but be mindful of how much of the “trigger foods” you ingest. A “trigger food” is a food substance that causes illness related symptoms.
    • Exercise helps with IBS and your menstrual cycle. Try doing some yoga, go for a walk, or go swimming.
    • Speak with your primary care doctor about medications or natural remedies.
    • Take vitamins!
    • Drink lots of water.
    • Buy a heating pad and ice packs.
    • Try getting a massage from either a professional or from someone close to you.
  • Health

    Illnesses That Mimic Your Period Part II

    Illnesses That Mimic Your Period Part II

    The idea of a gluten free diet seems to have struck a nerve for those who believe it to be a new fad diet rather than an actual life threatening/altering disease. It is okay to not want to eat gluten if you do not want the extra pounds, but it is also okay to eat it if you do not have any sensitivities.

    Here are some symptoms of Gluten sensitivities according to Beyond Celiac web page (https://www.beyondceliac.org/celiac-disease/non-celiac-gluten-sensitivity/ ):

    • Gas or abdominal pain
    • Bloating
    • Headache (migraine)
    • Foggy memory or not being able to think clearly
    • Joint aches
    • Numbness/ tingling in appendages (fingers, legs, arms, etc.)
    • Constipation or diarrhea
    • Exhaustion

    Again, there are similarities between the symptoms for gluten sensitivities and menstruation. If you were not specifically looking to solve the symptoms listed above, you may just account them to your cycle. Try cutting bread/wheat/gluten from your diet for a week or two and see if some of your pain goes away. If you have a more serious reaction to gluten than the above list, please contact your doctor to discuss Celiac’s Disease (a gluten allergy).

    If this pain does not go away with the absence of gluten, then try taking heated baths, taking naps, getting massages (whether professional or from a friend), and possibly cutting out dairy products (the symptoms for lactose intolerance will be listed below).

    If you are experiencing headaches that are not normal for you, or are incredibly painful, you may want to research migraines.

    Migraines are a more serious and painful version of a headache. It may start off like a normal headache and progress or you may have preempting symptoms.

    According to The Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201 ), there are four different categories for Migraines: Prodrome,  Aura, Attack, and Post-drome.

    Here are the main symptoms to look out for in all the categories:

    • Mood changes
    • Craving different foods
    • Headache
    • Stiff neck
    • Becoming thirsty or needing to use the bathroom
    • Visual problems (seeing spots, stars, blurred vision, etc.)
    • Heightened hearing (or hearing nonexistent sounds)
    • Being sensitive to light
    • Confusion

    You do not have to have all the symptoms listed above to be experiencing a migraine, but if you are having any of them that accompany a headache or are followed by a headache, then making an appointment with a neurologist might be a good option. The mood changes, headaches, food cravings, and heightened senses could be attributed to your menstrual cycle, but when accompanied by the other symptoms or all at once, then it may be a migraine.

    Another common illness that mimics menstrual pains is Lactose intolerance. This illness may seem like an embarrassing topic for some but should not hinder you from receiving proper care for your digestive tract. It is all a part of life, and almost 75% the American population struggles from some form of Lactose sensitivity.

    Here are some common symptoms for Lactose intolerance provided by the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lactose-intolerance/symptoms-causes/syc-20374232 ):

    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea, and sometimes, vomiting
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Bloating
    • Gas

    These symptoms are experienced after the consumption of dairy products. Try not eating anything with dairy for two weeks if you think you might be lactose intolerant. Once you have established a change in your dietary habits and you are functioning better, it is okay to resort to eating a little bit of dairy a week. There are also plenty of dairy free and gluten free recipes on the social media site Pinterest.

    If you do not feel comfortable discussing these symptoms with a parent or guardian, then school nurses and councilors are available to you. The Children’s Hospital of Alabama is also an available resource when needing to see a doctor or to get a second opinion for something (https://www.childrensal.org/adolescent-health-center ).

  • Health

    Illnesses That Mimic Your Period Cycle Part I

    Illnesses That Mimic Your Period Cycle Part I

    I’m sure you have heard by now what puberty does to your body. If you have not, then I recommend checking out the “tough topics” tab at the top of this page and clicking on the heading “Puberty”. There are many things a young girl has to worry about in high school, including personal health, but when does your health start to affect your average day? What do you do when that happens?

    There is some normalcy in having to miss a day or two of class or not being able to always participate in events due to menstrual problems, but when these symptoms keep you from almost always participating, then it could be more than just your average cycle.

    To help with some of the pain you could try looking into Midol or Advil. Or if you prefer a more natural solution, then heating pads, warm baths, certain yoga poses, and exercise can help with the pain. Exercising may seem like the last thing you want to do when on your cycle, but it really does help, even if it is light exercise like walking.

    If none of these things make a difference in your cycle, then you could be looking at a more aggressive period or an additional illness on top of the normal flow.

    Let’s start by identifying the problem.

    Some common female (and male) illnesses that are looked over include IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Gluten intolerance/sensitivity, Migraines, Lactose intolerance, Acid Reflux Disease, and Lupus. These diseases seem to ward off conversations because most teenagers believe the changes in their hormones cause the pain or discomfort. While that can be true, it is not always the case, and it is often the reason more chronic illnesses are not considered. I will split this discussion into three parts so that all the symptoms and resources are available to you.

    Here is a checklist of symptoms that relate to Irritable Bowel Syndrome according to the Mayo Clinic (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016 ):

    • Pain, discomfort, cramping or bloating located in the abdomen (stomach area), that can be managed by passing a bowel movement.
    • Mucus in the stool (slimy texture)
    • Constipation or diarrhea
    • Weight loss
    • Bleeding from the anus (or hemorrhoids)
    • Anemia (the lack of iron in your blood)
    • Pain when using the restroom or passing gas
    • Difficulty swallowing

    Some of these symptoms are different for each person, but majority of them mimic other hormonal changes. Weight loss, bloating, anemia, and even constipation could be viewed as typical monthly menstrual issues. If these symptoms happen more frequently than one or two weeks a month, or if you are experiencing more than two of the above symptoms, then it may be time to consider scheduling an appointment with a Gastroenterology.

    In part two we will discuss two other common illnesses and their familiarity with the menstrual cycle.