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 of the more common concerns and how naturopathy can help get you feeling your best when it’s that time of the month.
Menstrual Cramps, Menstrual Pain & PMS
Cramping or pain at the start of your period is called dysmenorrhea. For some women, there is mild cramping or low back pain that lasts only a few hours. Other women have severe pain that lasts for several days at the start of their period. This pain can be disabling, limiting a woman’s ability to go to work, and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
While some cramping is relatively normal, severe cramping can be a sign of 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 their symptoms and underlying deficiencies, read more about PMS.
Irregular Periods & PCOS
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 of them should be heavy days. Some women have cycles that are much shorter than 28 days, and 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 normal:
- If your cycle is the same length each month, even if it’s longer than 28 days, it might be a normal reaction to stress or other temporary change. Two or more cycles longer than 35 days in a year is abnormal, outside of the few years before menopause.
- If you’re nearing menopause, it’s normal for you periods to last fewer days, and for the time in between each period to lengthen.
When cycles are different lengths each month, it can mean something else is going on. Younger women who have very long cycles might have another condition causing this as well. 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, too much exercise, premature menopause, and eating disorders can all 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 there are herbs and supplements that can help speed the process.
How Can Naturopathic Medicine Help?
Women’s health is a major area of focus for me. I have spent the equivalent of one university degree in courses related specifically about using medical grade herbs to align women’s cycles to regular, painless cycles that exhibit minimal changes in mood. Learn more about how I specifically treat menstrual symptoms here.
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. Also, acupuncture is commonly used to help balance out female hormones and regulate the menstrual cycle, as well as optimize fertility.
If you have questions, it may be time to call me and get answers! Book an appointment now!