It’s rare to find a woman who has a symptom-free menstrual cycle. Cramping, pain, and uncontrollable moods can all get in the way of living a happy life- and it’s common to see. Below are some more common concerns and how naturopathy can help get you feeling your best when it’s that time of the month.
Cramping or pain at the start of your period is called dysmenorrhea. Some women have mild cramping or low back pain that lasts only a few hours. Other women have severe pain that lasts several days at the start of their period. This pain can be disabling, limiting a woman’s ability to go to work, and may accompany nausea and vomiting.
While some cramping is relatively standard, severe cramping can indicate an underlying condition. Endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, fibroids, and interstitial cystitis can all cause painful cramping. Birth control pills are often prescribed to help manage symptoms, but many women don’t like taking them, and there are natural options that can help effectively reduce cramps!
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is when you have mood disturbances, cravings, or pain leading up to your period. There are different types of PMS, each characterized by its symptoms and underlying deficiencies. Read more about PMS.
A normal menstrual cycle is 28 days long, starting counting from day 1 of bleeding. The flow should last 4-5 days, and only one or two should be heavy days. Some women have cycles much shorter than 28 days; if they are regular but short, it’s not usually a problem. This may cause iron deficiency, but this can be corrected with diet and supplementation.
There are two situations where having a long menstrual cycle is more or less standard:
If your cycle is the same length each month, even if it’s longer than 28 days, it might just mean that’s how your body works, and it’s not a problem.
If you’re nearing menopause, it’s normal for your periods to last fewer days and for the time between each period to lengthen.
When cycles are different lengths each month, it can mean something else is going on. Younger women with very long cycles might also have another condition causing this. PCOS is one common cause of irregular periods: with PCOS, women stop ovulating, and their cycles tend to be on the long side.
There are other reasons women stop ovulating, and determining the cause will help guide the treatment. Stress, excessive exercise, premature menopause, and eating disorders can stop a woman from ovulating.
It’s also common for women who are just coming off the birth control pill to have irregular periods and not ovulate consistently for several months. With time, this tends to even out, and some herbs and supplements can help speed the process.
Women’s health is a significant area of focus for many naturopathic doctors. Herbs that help regulate hormones and stress levels can help with menstrual disorders of all kinds. Incorporating the right healthy foods and proper amounts of exercise can help reduce symptoms of PMS. IV therapy can help reduce cramps, and acupuncture is commonly used to help balance out female hormones and regulate the menstrual cycle.