No way around it: that time of the month is not fun. We’ve sort of gotten used to having it around, but we’re constantly looking for ways to make it a lot less annoying. This expert input on weird facts we didn’t know is helping ever so slightly.
1. Weight matters.
Some women do not know that when their body fat drops below 8-12 percent their period will stop, says Gina Keatley, a culinary dietitian and television host. This is because fat cells contribute to one-third of the estrogen levels in a woman, and without this estrogen, the body stops menstruating. Low-calorie diets and inadequate nutrition are big contributors to this as well.
2. Having your period often leads to iron deficiency.
Most of us do not get enough iron in our diet to keep up with the blood we lose each month. Sometimes taking an iron supplement as part of a good personalized vitamin regimen can be helpful, says Arielle Levitan MD, cofounder of Vous Vitamin LLC.
3. The days before your period mimic pregnancy.
The body is actually preparing for pregnancy in this time, so the hormones it secretes, namely progesterone, cause similar symptoms, such as fluid retention, tender breasts, a bloated feeling, and acne, says Dr. Levitan.
4. Something’s missing…
The absence of periods is called amenorrhea. This can be due to anatomy irregularities or physiological reasons, like stress or hormones, says Dr. Amy B. Hollingsworth, natural science biology lab coordinator at The University of Akron. If you don’t get your period for more than three months at a time, you should have this checked out by a doctor.
5. Ibuprofen is your best friend.
Normally ibuprofen can inhibit platelets, so doctors advise against taking it after surgeries where bleeding is a problem. In periods, though, the spiral blood vessels of the uterus actually constrict with ibuprofen. Even if you don’t have cramping issues, 10mg/kg of ibuprofen can decrease your blood flow, says Amy Baxter MD, CEO of MMJ Labs.
6. Cramps are not normal.
Believe it or not, having cramps is not normal. It usually means that there is something else going on, like high estrogen. It can also mean you ate too much sugar, which causes an inflammatory response. You should also find out if anything is irritating the uterus, like a fibroid or cyst, says Dr. Jennifer Burns of The Bienetre Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
7. It’s not just blood you’re losing.
There is a layer of the uterus that is shed every 28 days or so, along with some blood vessels, which is why some people’s periods can be messy, says Dr. Burns.
8. Sugar cravings mean more than PMS.
Sugar cravings or carb cravings can be a sign that you are low on progesterone. Progesterone helps to regulate blood sugars. Get some blood work done with your doctor and find out. This can easily be corrected with supplementation, says Dr. Burns.
9. Heavy bleeding is a tell-tale sign.
This could be a sign of high estrogen levels. Estrogen is what is used for the uterus to contract. Have your hormone levels checked by your doctor. There are some natural ways to bring estrogen levels down or make them more efficient.
10. Back pain is telling.
There are a lot of women who have back or vein pain with their period. This could be a sign of high estrogen. Again have your hormone levels checked with your doctor, says Dr. Burns.
11. Insomnia should be looked into.
This usually happens if there isn’t enough progesterone. Progesterone helps women to sleep. If you suspect your progesterone levels are low, go see your doctor and have your levels checked, says Dr. Burns.