Let's face it. Periods (menstruation) can be a mission and if yours is becoming a little too difficult to handle, remember that you're not the only one. But why are period problems more of an issue for some than others?
We are all different and so are our periods, but the answer is often linked to:
- Lifestyle choices
- Level of sensitivity
Lots of girls suffer from period problems and we are here to guide you in the ways that you can help and support them through it, so here goes...
In this section, you'll discover the most common period problems, what could be aggravating them and our handy tips and tricks that could help them cope with that time of the month.
The most common period problems are:
- Heavy periods
2. Painful periods
3. Irregular periods
HEAVY PERIODS (A.K.A MENORRHAGIA)
Some women have longer and heavier periods. Heavy bleeding simply means having to change their pad more often during the first few days. Heavy periods can make some women feel very tired during this time, and it's helpful to take an iron supplement or to eat iron-rich food like meat, nuts, liver, sunflower seeds or dark-green leafy vegetables like spinach.
Heavy bleeding may be caused by genetics, weight, diet and lack of exercise. Ongoing bleeding (bleeding for more than 10 days or bleeding between periods) may be a sign of polyps or fibroids in their womb and this should be investigated by a doctor. Please note that in young women, these are rare!
When to worry about heavy bleeding:
- If they have lots of clots all the time
- If they feel very tired and weak after their period – they may be anemic
Here are a few ways you can help make a heavy period much easier for them to handle:
- Recommending that they reduce oestrogen levels (these are stored in fatty tissue) by exercising and keeping their weight to what it should be for their height.
- Helping them change their diet makes a significant difference. Cutting out empty calories like cakes, fried food, and soft drinks.
- Making sure they eat fresh fruit and vegetables EVERY DAY can make a substantial difference to their overall weight, health, confidence, and body image.
PAINFUL PERIODS (A.K.A DYSMENORRHOEA)
For most girls, the biggest problem is the killer period pain. For most of us, this is just a normal part of life; for some, period pain is a life-stopper and can put them out of action for days at a time.
Severe period pain can happen when there is an oversupply of a hormone called prostaglandin. This hormone helps the womb to contract and break up the lining (called the endometrium) so that it can be shed as the period. Taking an aspirin* the day before their period starts, helps to control prostaglandin levels.
Period pain sometimes comes in the form of pelvic cramps and backache. This may be made worse with PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) that is linked with:
- Nausea (sometimes even with vomiting)
- Feeling weak and dizzy
- Feeling grumpy and irritable
These symptoms are usually worse at the very start of their period. But how do you help them through it?
- Regular exercise such as swimming, biking, or walking can make their periods much less painful by controlling the prostaglandin levels, so try doing this with them until they get the hang of it.
- Over-the-counter painkillers* that specifically aim to get rid of period pain can also do wonders.
- Making a hot water bottle or microwavable heat pillow for them to use on their tummy is an age-old remedy.
If none of these treatments help reduce their pain or if the pain suddenly becomes worse, it is best to get help from your family doctor, gynae or clinic.
An irregular period means that the period comes earlier or later than expected. Periods don't come monthly - they come in cycles. A cycle is from the first day of one period to the first day of the next period, where it is possible for young girls to have their period twice in a month. Irregular cycles are NORMAL, especially for teenagers and especially during the first two years of starting their periods.
Irregular periods can be caused by quite a few things:
- Stress is known to be a major cause of irregular periods because it delays ovulation (the ripening of an egg). If they are under a lot of pressure at school or at home, then a skipped period may just be their body letting them know to schedule some 'me time'. You can remind them of this and help them take some time for themselves.
- Over-exercising or playing a lot of sport can delay ovulation and this can cause irregular periods. If ovulation stops, periods may also stop for a while. If they have an important sporting event that they are practicing for every day, they should not be surprised if their periods stop for a while.
- Extreme dieting can also stop ovulation, and delay or stop periods - especially if a girl is anorexic. This is not healthy, and you should help her seek professional help.
Irregular periods adjust over time. Some women never have 'regular periods' and that's okay. It will NOT cause infertility.
If a young girl stops having periods for more than 5 months, you can help them have a blood test done to alleviate the anxiety they might experience from that. Though most period problems turn out to be nothing to worry about, it's always better to be safe than sorry.
The advice provided in this material is general in nature and is not intended as medical advice. If you need medical advice, please consult your health care professional.