Periods (frequently asked questions)

What you must know about periods. A period is something that usually occurs once a month. It is a change in a woman’s female reproductive system that enables her to become pregnant. A period happens because of the rise and fall of hormones.

What are the signs of a period coming?

It can be caused by many things including food allergies/Intolerances, stress, anxiety, depression, hormones, not enough exercise, lack of sleep, and diet. It can be prevented, and symptoms can be lessened. You should keep a food diary to see what food or drinks upset your digestive system.

Get some mental health support for any anxieties or stressors. Stress relievers can include yoga, cognitive behavioural therapy, meditation, mindfulness, etc. If your symptoms are affecting your day to day life there are support groups of people with the same problem.

Headaches

Headaches occur before a period due to the rise in hormones, so make sure you are staying hydrated to reduce the pain. Your breasts may become more tender, veiny, lumpy and a little sore, this is completely normal and may not occur in every woman. Mood swings; many women experience mood swings and it is a good sign your period is on its way, but it can also be a sign of pregnancy. Good prevention of mood swings is enough sleep, good hydration, and regular exercise.

Bloating

Bloating and weight gain is a common sign of your period being due and also occurs when you are having your period. It is very normal for a woman to gain a few pounds up to a week or two before they get their period. Period cramps; Some women experience period cramps with no actual period, this can be a number of things such as; implantation cramping, premenstrual cramping (before period) and ovulation can all feel the same.

Breakouts

Breakouts; many women will get a spot or two or three before their cycle comes along, this is because of a change in hormone balance. Anxiety and depression rise; when your period is due to your hormones surge which causes everything else too also. Anxiety can become very difficult in the leading few days/weeks before and during your period. Constipation or diarrhoea; this most commonly happens when you get your period because of the hormone changes and the period cramps affect your bowel movements.

What if my period is late?

Period lateness can be caused by several reasons. However, if you have had unprotected sex it is best to rule out pregnancy as a beginner. If there is no chance of pregnancy, and you are usually regular here are some reasons explained to why you could be up to a few days, or even a week late.

1. Weight gain or loss

If you have recently changed your diet and exercise routine that you are not entirely used to, this can affect your menstrual cycle. Keep an eye on your weight to see if you are gaining/losing it too quickly as it can be a good indicator as to why your period is late.

2. Stress

Stressful changes to life can cause unpleasant symptoms to our bodies and one of them is missing your period. Maybe you are anxious about getting a new job, or moving house, or going through a tough break up. It can be anything that changes your mental state to affect your periods.

3. Irregular periods

One of the most common reasons for a delay or missed period is irregular periods, some women have normal cycles to start with and then begin to have them every 2-3 months or more or less that’s what irregular means. It is unexpected and you don’t know necessarily when your period is due. Helpful advice would be to always be prepared with sanitary items in your bag/purse to stop the embarrassment.

4. Breastfeeding

if you have recently had a baby and had chosen to breastfeed, this can cause periods to stop or be irregular, this is because the hormone that produces your milk can also cause periods to start and stop.

If you are concerned about your periods, do not hesitate to visit your local doctor/GP for a chat they can always offer support and will look into it for you if you are worried.

How to control/ease period symptoms?

Every woman will experience a period in their lives, it is not the nicest most pleasant times for some, others can go through day to day life without it bothering them at all. Medical advice to women struggling with periods is, take a break. Periods are mentally and physically draining, so we need rest. Women’s bodies go through so much, and having this surge of hormones and period pains is not pleasant.

To help with period cramps It is suggested that using a hot water bottle and paracetamol for pain relief. Sugar, although not the healthiest option does help with period cramps, especially dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has iron in which you lose during your period so your body needs a top-up, plus it tastes super good!

If you feel rather moody with everyone around you, just explain what you are going through they should soon get the picture and leave you alone. Stock up on sanitary towels, as in the night your body is more relaxed and in most cases will produce more blood and blood clots, so have them at the ready!  If you find your flow at night is particularly heavy, I would also suggest sleeping on an extra towel.

Can I have a period when pregnant?

In most cases, the first sign of pregnancy is not getting your period. If you do have some light spotting that can be a sign of early implantation bleeding which is normal. Bleeding with a positive pregnancy test could also be a sign of miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Visit your doctor or local GP if the bleeding continues to get heavier or painful. Spotting during pregnancy can be perfectly normal but do not hesitate to talk to your midwife to be checked.

What are periods like after giving birth?

For many women, after giving birth their menstrual cycle might be heavier than usual. Although If you pass a blood clot larger than a 50p piece, contact your midwife, or doctor.

Signs to look out for postpartum?

  • Heavy bleeding with severe or sudden stomach pains
  • Sudden high fever
  • Soaking through more than one pad/sanitary towel every hour
  • Severe headaches/pain
  • Bad smelling discharge

If you have one or more of these symptoms contact your doctor or local hospital for advice.

Your periods should return to normal 6 weeks after giving birth, They might be slightly heavier and more painful. This is because your body is adjusting back to a pre-baby body. You are most fertile in the first few months after giving birth, so use protection to avoid another pregnancy. There are some forms of contraception, which may help you with your periods.

Advice for guys: How do I know if my girlfriends having her period?

If you are going about your normal day and all of a sudden you are hit with ‘Why don’t you ever do this, why don’t you ever do that?”. This could be mean one of two things. You are either not helping as much as you could be (seems unlikely so read on). Or your girlfriend could be due on or on her period.

If this is the case, you could try to be nice doing all of the things that make her feel good. By showering her with support, and love. Or you could hide. By this I mean get out and have some time for you. Let her go through the hormones without letting it bring you down too. 

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