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  • 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 ( ):

    • 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 ( ):

    • 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 ( ):

    • 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 ( ), 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 ( ):

    • 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 ( ).

  • 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 ( ):

    • 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.

  • Birth Control, Health, Photography, Puberty

    5 Tips All Girls should Know: Periods

    1. Periods. We all have them, and for most of us, we hate them. Periods are hard to track and terribly painful. If your looking for understanding in your period or even just trying to track your period you can use The Flow App. The Flow App is perfect for tracking your period and understanding your body, also gives really cool facts about your body.
    2. Usually, if you have some type of health insurance birth control is free. You can ask your doctor or often at public health clinics. Birth control is not just for sex and does not make you a bad person if you use it. Birth control can also help regulate your period and stop intense stomach cramps.
    3. If you are able to track your period and you have bad cramps try taking medicine a day before your period starts. This way your body will already be prepared to fight the pain. Medicines that usually do the trick is Midol or ibuprofen(DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor these may or may not work for you.)
    4. Its okay not to use a tampon, or even be able to put one in. Pads are just as great! Don’t feel ashamed because many women still use pads in their thirties. What you use is truly up to you and what you’re comfortable with.
    5. Although, it is true to avoid certain foods on your period and you should live a healthy lifestyle you should also give your body a break. Being on your period is stressful and your body is doing amazing things. You’ve earned a donut or cookie. Don’t be ashamed to eat some sweets on your period!


  • Puberty

    Puberty: Changes for Females

    Puberty: Changes for Females

    Puberty – it’s a crazy time. Your body’s changing, and so is everything else. But, what is causing all these changes?

    You know how everyone says that puberty is all about raging hormones? It’s kind of true. Hormones that were hibernating suddenly awaken and signal your body to enter puberty. You might think this doesn’t mean a lot, but hormones cause the changes that are associated with puberty.

    Timing of Puberty

    Puberty starts at different times and lasts for different periods of time for everyone. It can start as early as 8 years of age to as late as 13 years of age. The sequence of puberty – from breast development to complete physical maturation – may take a year and a half or last as long as 6 years.

    This is sometimes very difficult for girls as some of their peers may have entered and completed puberty before they have even started. However, there is no way to slow or speed up the process, but puberty happens to everyone, so never fear, it will happen to you!

    You may have heard that girls mature more quickly than guys, and that is somewhat true, since girls usually enter puberty about 2 years earlier than boys.

    Below is a general time line for physical changes that occur during puberty (for girls):

    Growth of Breasts
    8 – 13 Years Old

    Growth of pubic hair
    8 – 14 Years Old

    Body Growth
    9 1/2 – 14 1/2 Years Old

    First Period
    10 – 16 1/2 Years Old

    Underarm Hair
    2 years after pubic hair shows up

    Around the same time as underarm hair

    Remember, puberty is not the same for everyone, so some girls will grow pubic hair before they develop breasts, and that is absolutely normal.


    Breast development begins between 8 years of age and 13 years of age and continues through puberty.

    Breast development starts with the flat area around the nipple (areola) becoming enlarged and some breast tissue forming under the nipple. When breast development is complete, each breast is distinct and the areola no longer appears swollen.

    Breast size varies from woman to woman, and there is no way to try to make your breasts larger or smaller other than going through plastic surgery, which is not always a very safe or healthy alternative.

    Pubic Hair

    Pubic hair starts along the vaginal lips, the outer opening of your private parts. The hair becomes darker and coarser and grows like an inverted triangle. Sometimes, the hair spreads to the insides of thighs, as well.


    Puberty also causes you to go through a growth spurt, which results in an average growth of about 3.5 inches a year.

    Your head, hands, and feet are the first things to grow. Then you grow in your arms and legs, and finally your torso and shoulders catch up with the rest of your body.

    If it’s any consolation, everyone goes through that awkward phase, so you are not alone! Height growth is, of course, accompanied by an increase in weight.

    This weight gain is perfectly normal and a part of puberty. Without gaining this weight, you cannot grow taller, develop breasts, or get your first period.


    Finally, underarm hair begins to grow, and your sweat and oil producing glands also start developing, which eventually results in acne when these glands are clogged.

    In order to avoid breakouts, you should wash your face twice daily. If you still regularly break out, you may want to speak to a dermatologist.

    From: Sutter Health


    Having Teen Issues?


    Facing a problem? Just need another teen to talk with who get’s it? You’re never alone. This is the right place for you.

    Call us at 1-800-852-8336

  • Teen Pregnancy

    Could I Still Be Pregnant Even Though I Got My Period?

    I had sex with my boyfriend without using a condom. I got my period the next day and I’m not sure whether having my period means I’m not going to get pregnant. Is it possible that I could still get pregnant?

    It is possible for some pregnant women to have some light, irregular bleeding during pregnancy. However, the length and amount of bleeding should not be like a regular period. If you are pregnant and are experiencing any type of bleeding, it is best to check in with your doctor right away to make sure that there are no underlying medical issues connected to the bleeding.

    If you are concerned you might be pregnant, but start bleeding around the time you would normally get your period (and the duration and amount of bleeding is consistent with what is it like when you normally get your period), then most likely you have gotten your period and you are not pregnant.

    If you have gotten what seems like your period, but you are still concerned, consider taking a pregnancy test or meeting with your primary care physician, gynecologist, or adolescent medicine specialist to confirm whether or not you are pregnant so you can put your mind at ease.

    Going forward TeenHealthFX strongly recommends that you meet with a medical health professional before continuing a sexual relationship with your boyfriend to learn about different types of birth control and pick the best type for you so that you will not find yourself in this situation again. Doctors generally recommend that teens and young adults who choose to be sexually active use condoms to protect against unwanted pregnancies and the transmission of STDs, as well as a back-up method of birth control such as the pill or birth control shot.

    FX also recommends that you check out our Resource of the Month, Planned Parenthood Resources on Safer Sex. This resource gives links to important topics such as sexual readiness, how pregnancy happens, birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy options, STDs, and more. If you make the decision to be sexually active, it is important to be educated on these different issues.

    From: Teen Health FX

  • Sexual Health

    Recognize Problems in Your Body

    Recognize Problems

    It’s important to know how your body works, and be able to recognize when something isn’t quite right. If something changes or doesn’t seem quite right, get checked by a qualified healthcare provider.

    If you have any symptoms that you’re just not sure about, get evaluated. But you don’t have to have a symptom to get checked, though. All sexually active women under age 26 are recommended to be tested yearly for chlamydia. Older women with risk factors (new or several partners) should also be tested. If you have questions about testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), don’t be shy about talking to your healthcare provider (learn more how to do that here).

    Also, ask about pelvic exams (see more below) and Pap tests. While not designed to detect STIs, these simple exams are an important part of a woman’s sexual and reproductive health. The American Cancer Society recommends women begin Pap testing within three years of first intercourse, or by age 21.
    Learn to Recognize Problems


    Irregular Cycles
    In a perfect world, women would have their period on a regular cycle of 28 days. In reality, the range is more like 21-45 days. A young girl who is just beginning to have her periods and an older woman who’s at the end of her reproductive life may both have erratic periods.

    Get checked if:

    • You’re sexually active and skip a period. You may be pregnant.
    • Your period still hasn’t settled into a relatively predictable pattern after three years, or if you have four or five regular periods and then skip a period or becomes irregular.
    • Your cycle is less than 21 days or more than 45 days or if you don’t get a period for three months after first beginning your period.
    • Heavy, prolonged periods or no periods at all

    Either extreme can be a sign of trouble. The cause may be as simple as a hormone imbalance or as serious as a structural problem.

    Get checked if:

    • You’re soaking through at least one sanitary napkin (pad) an hour for several hours in a row
    • You have periods that last longer than 7 days
    • You haven’t started your period and you’re three years past the first signs of puberty or 16 years old
    • You’ve had normal periods then suddenly stop having periods for more than six months or for three of your usual cycles

    Painful periods
    Having cramps for a day or two of your period is normal, but if they’re severe enough to keep you from participating in your normal activities, it’s time to get checked.

    Abnormal bleeding
    This could be a sign of many things, such as endometriosis (tissue growing outside the uterus) for example, or other conditions. Get checked.

    Toxic shock syndrome
    This illness is caused by toxins, which create a bacterial infection. While linked with tampon use, it can also associated with the use of contraceptive sponge and diaphragm. If you have a high fever, diarrhea, vomiting or are in shock, get checked right away. Of course, the symptoms may not be related to toxic shock syndrome, but better to be safe than sorry.

    Sexually Transmitted Infections

    If you are sexually active, you have to protect yourself from diseases and infections. Obviously, the best protection is abstinence, but if you are having sexual intercourse, use a condom every time.

    Using a condom doesn’t mean you can forget about sexual health. You still need to be vigilant. Remember, many STIs do not produce symptoms.

    However, if you notice any of the following:

    • pain in the pelvic area
    • pain in the lower abdomen
    • pain when having sex
    • discharge from the vagina
    • a bad smell
    • bleeding between periods
    • burning when you pee

    Or if you notice a problem with the following:

    • painful bowel movements
    • nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite
    • fever or fatigue
    • blisters, sores, warts (or any odd skin change, including rashes and yellowed skin)
    • itching or swelling
    • inflammation (redness)

    …get checked.

    Having a symptom doesn’t mean you have a disease. The symptoms (or lack of) are so many and varied, it’s hard to tell if, for example, bleeding between periods is simply the result of a normal, age-related hormone imbalance or a sexually transmitted infection. Get checked anyway.

    Each year, one of every four sexually active teens will get an STD/STI. By age 25, half of all young people will have acquired one or more infections. If you have any symptoms that you’re just not sure about, get evaluated.

    What to Expect at Your First Pelvic Exam

    Whoever you choose—male or female doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant—let the provider know this is your first exam. He or she will be more apt to explain the procedure as you go along. Your provider will examine your external sexual organs for any changes or abnormalities. They will also use an instrument called a speculum to open your vagina and take a look at your cervix. A Pap test is often done as part of a pelvic exam. While the vagina is open, the healthcare provider will use a small stick or brush to take a collection of cells from your cervix. These cells are then sent to a lab and examined under a microscope for anything that looks abnormal. The Pap test is an important means of preventing cervical cancer.
    The whole exam is quick, painless and necessary.

    Once a baseline has been established, any changes in your body will be noticeable and easier to diagnose. If an abnormality exists, it can be treated.

    Bottom line? Pay attention to your body and how it works. Make sure a qualified healthcare provider is tracking your reproductive health. If something changes or doesn’t seem quite right, get checked.

    From: ASHA