A Guide To Periods, Menstrual Cycles & Their Effects On Our Body

A Guide To Periods, Menstrual Cycles & Their Effects On Our Body

Generally, this cycle has four phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase. Menstruation is when a woman’s monthly bleed occurs. In fact, the first day of your cycle is the first day of your period, making for easy tracking if needed. 

During this phase, blood that lined the uterus from the previous cycle is shed, which happens when pregnancy does not occur. The two female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are at their lowest during this time.

When the follicular phase begins and your period ends, estrogen begins to rise. This causes the uterine lining to thicken as your body prepares for the implantation of the egg on the uterine lining. At ovulation, the egg is released from the ovaries. If it meets with sperm in the fallopian tubes, it will implant within the uterus. If not, menstruation will eventually occur.

However, the body prepares for pregnancy either way. After ovulation, during the luteal phase, estrogen wanes, and progesterone rises to support pregnancy if it has occurred. If there is no pregnancy, the whole cycle starts all over again with your period. Generally, this cycle lasts between 21 and 35 days.

Every month, menstruation happens—at least, it happens if everything is functioning smoothly. In today’s modern era, many things, from our diet to medications, can lead to hormonal imbalances. This can interfere with a woman’s monthly cycle.

Signs That You’ll Be Starting Your Period

But what if it is just your period? Maybe you are thinking, “I feel like I have my period but no blood,” or “My period is four days late, but I have cramps.” Well, this could just be a sign of delayed menstruation, especially if you have any of the following associated symptoms:

  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Sore breasts
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Lower back pain

Why Is My Period Late?

Menstruation can occur late due to stress, sudden weight loss, or even simply because you started a new birth control. For example, the IUD (intrauterine device) is known for halting periods altogether. At the same time, any new birth control requires some adjustment from the body, meaning your period may appear late or even early.

Why Is My Period So Painful?

Excessive period pain that impacts daily function is often categorized as “dysmenorrhea.” This condition can be caused by endometriosis, uterine fibroids, genetics, early puberty, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), or smoking. If you have ongoing severe period pain, we recommend bringing it up with your doctor to determine the exact cause.

What Are Period Cramps?

Period cramps occur when the uterine wall contracts to shed its lining. These cramps may occur shortly before your period or throughout your period, with many women indicating they experience pain in the first few days, with it ebbing off toward the end of menstruation.

What Causes Period Pain?

As mentioned above, period pain may occur due to the uterine contractions. These happen when prostaglandins in the body increase. Yet, prostaglandins also increase inflammation, which may lead to varying degrees of period pain and cramping.

How to Treat Period Cramps

By now, you wonder how to get rid of period cramps. So, here are a few pain relief remedies that can help:

How to Manage Periods at Work or School

Managing your period at work or school may come down to having a “period kit” ready. For example, this may consist of a small bin or box containing tampons, pads, ibuprofen, and a heating pad. This way, you can tackle your pain and flow and, hopefully, carry on with your day as planned.

What Are the Symptoms of Period Pain?

Typically, period pain involves:

  • Cramping or throbbing in the lower abdomen
  • Pain that usually starts a day or a few days before your period and may continue a few days into your period
  • Pain that radiates into the low back
  • A dull and constant ache

How Long Will My Period Last?

The length of one’s period can vary from person to person. Generally, periods last between two to seven days. However, longer periods also are not usually anything to worry about unless other symptoms are present.

How Can I Get Rid of Period Cramps?

While in the short-term, the tips mentioned above can help, there are longer-term solutions. For instance, taking good care of your overall health can go a long way in balancing your hormones and regulating your menstrual cycle.

A diet low in processed foods and high in whole foods and fibre can ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs to function optimally. This can also help reduce overall inflammation in the body, which may contribute to increased period pain. 

Regular exercise is also highly recommended for individuals that experience frequent period pain. Exercise releases endorphins, which help us feel good and can reduce pain or inflammation in the body. It may further help to plan your exercise routine around your cycle, opting for more gentle workouts when you feel more tired.

What Does Period Pain Feel Like?

Period pain often feels like a dull ache in the abdominal area, but it can extend into the back and legs as well. In more severe cases, it can feel like a stabbing or sharp pain, which may also go along with feelings of nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. 

For combatting period pain, our team at McCauley is confident we have what you need. With the right pain relief products, you can say goodbye to period pain and get back to your regular activities without discomfort holding you back.


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