A Toronto vegan blabs on about crafting, food, and her life in general.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

That time.

In my teens, I used to get awful cramps. I was on the Pill for a while – not as a treatment for cramps, but it helped. Then I read about the estrogen in the pill being collected from the urine of pregnant horses, like it is for Premarin, and I stopped taking it. Little did I know that the Pill, by that time, was being made with synthetic estrogen. So I suffered with cramps. Sometimes they were so bad that I would often spend at least half a day once a month in the nurse's office, curled up into a little ball on a cot.

I realised a few years later that the Pill wasn't made with horses urine and I started taking it again. My periods were a breeze back then – three days, if that. Barely there. And the cramps were very low. This lasted into my late 20s, when I stopped taking it again. I was in a relationship with a woman, and it was silly to put those hormones into my body. I have been off the Pill ever since. And my periods are back to normal. Which is to say they are heavy and painful.

This month has been especially bad. Not just the period, but the PMS. Yesterday, the day before it started, was filled with a severe mix of emotions: sadness, anger, despair and frustration. I felt like I was on some sort of drug – my body was tingly, in a bad way, and I couldn't concentrate. Everything was overwhelming. And all of today has been spent very painfully aware of the heavy dull groan between my hip bones, waiting for the acetaminophen to kick in.

I don't keep a journal of my cycles, other than to track my period on MyMonthlyCycles.com. But after this month, it is sounding like a good idea. There must be a reason why this month has been worse . I know my eating habits have been less healthy – less fresh greens, less water, more salt, more processed carbs – and I have a feeling that is the biggest culprit. That, and the stress from work, which has increased considerably over the past few weeks. Keeping a journal of my food intake, water intake and stress levels might not only help show which affects my cycle more, but also encourage me to make changes for my overall health.

I collected a few things from around the interwebs that may help in reducing or preventing painful periods:

  • Zinc, calcium, and B vitamins obtained in food and supplements have been found to reduce cramps, bloating and other symptoms.
  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoiding junk foods and high-fat foods.
  • Getting extra omega-3 fatty acids
  • Reducing your salt intake.
  • Limiting caffeine, sugar and alcohol. (Though I have also read that caffeine may help when you have cramps, like it can when you have a headache)
  • Change your diet slightly if you can, a week prior to menstruation to avoid menstrual cramping; avoid foods that could cause bloating such as salty foods and alcohol, avoid foods such as dairy that could contribute to menstrual cramps.
  • Try spot treatments. Heat or cold packs can be a spot on treatment for menstrual cramps, laying down with a pack around your stomach area. A warm bath can also provide heat that eases the pain of menstrual cramps as well as highly relaxing.
  • Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and is low in fat.
  • Begin or maintain a moderate exercise schedule. Try to work up to at least 30 minutes, 4 to 5 times each week. For more information, see the topic Fitness.
  • Reduce stress in your life. Although stress does not cause menstrual cramps, reducing stress can make your symptoms less severe.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products.
  • Try biofeedback or yoga. Both therapies teach relaxation skills.
  • Try acupuncture or acupressure.
  • Taking an extra 500 to 1,000 milligrams of supplemental calcium a day
  • Taking vitamin B6 as part of a B-complex supplement that contains no more than 200 to 300 milligrams of B6
  • Regular exercise (especially walking).
  • A heating pad applied to the abdominal area may relieve the pain and congestion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

not to be nosy or anything, but are you regular? i had problems with irregularity and then no periods, and then painful periods when i had them, and was finally diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome a couple years ago.

2:50 AM, November 11, 2007

Blogger mishka said...

I'm sorry about the diagnosis – is there a suitable treatment for it? I am very regular – the website I linked to helps me keep track and I'm definitely within a 28 to 31 day cycle. And my last exam was pretty clear :) I'm just lucky I guess!

9:01 AM, November 11, 2007

Anonymous EYtillwedie said...

I'm having the exact same problem...since Vincent was born I've been off the pill and the cramps are evil. I find the cramping is directly related to what I eat. Extra B vitamins and calcium will help. And try to have your kitties sit on your belly...better than any heating pad. :)

3:44 PM, November 11, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the immediate treatment was a prescription of some pills to kick-start the period, then a birth control (bc) pill to keep me regular and prevent build-up which could lead to infertility and cancer. for me, it was mild and i am doing excellently with just the bc. no more painful and unpredictable periods. i'm very regular now and don't have any current problems. :)

4:34 AM, November 12, 2007


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