Periods can be a pain, but by understanding what your body is doing, you’ll have a better understanding of why periods can be a good thing, cramps and all.
Mood swings, abdominal cramps, bloating, bleeding, cravings… There’s a lot about your period to hate. It can make you feel gross and take you on an emotional rollercoaster, however, there is so much more to your menstrual cycle than these terrible but temporary symptoms.
Why is your menstrual cycle important?
Every woman is different (and hear us roar!) and our menstrual cycles reflect that. Understanding your cycle and symptoms is important as it allows you to be in touch and empathetic with your state of mind, energy levels and hormones.
It’s Mother Nature’s way of checking in and tracking whether everything is working as it should be, as well as preparing your body for the miracle we call pregnancy. Some of us might be nearing this stage and others may be running in the other direction, but it’s still amazing what your body is doing for you.
Common symptoms which are actually a blessing in disguise
Let’s talk about Premenstrual Syndrome. The hormone fluctuations during the time right before you menstruate are what causes acne, anxiety, tender breasts, headaches, irritability and a host of other symptoms all associated with PMS.
We’ve all experienced and complained about these symptoms, but let’s take a closer look at some of the more common ones to see why we need to shift our perspective on period pain and become more period positive.
Cramps: There are some women who will never in their life get cramps. Others will cramp so hard they’ll petition health services to allow for mandatory work leave.
Although painful, your uterus is contracting repeatedly to throw out the old lining and make way for the new. In exchange for a few days of cramping, your reproductive system is cleansing your body, flushing excess iron and other unnecessary materials which could build up and cause harm down the track.
Tender Breasts: Your hormone levels fluctuate right before Aunt Flo comes a knocking, causing an increase in estrogen which can take you up a bra size in no time; as well as a spike in progesterone which causes milk ducts to puff out. The result can leave your boobs feeling painfully tender.
While breast pain can be a pain, it’s your body’s way of preparing your body - boobs and all - for a potential pregnancy. Without this change, you would never be able to produce the milk needed to breastfeed, giving us the badass ability to nurture a life. Talk about girl power!
Cravings: During the days before and at the start of your period, your body is going through some wild hormonal shifts, throwing your body out of whack. During this phase, we all have a run of emotional eating - that’ll be 12 krispy kremes, please…
Due to the shift in hormones your body is craving certain nutrients, for example, a lot of ladies crave a bit of chocolate at the beginning of their period. Have you ever wondered why smashing a block of Cabury's Roast Almond or Rocky Road chocolate feels perfectly justifiable once a month? Well, it’s because the craving is real. Cocoa is high in magnesium which is something your body runs low on at the beginning of a period and thus, craves.
Vee tip: Choose dark chocolate over milk. It’s lower in sugar and higher in the nutrients your body is craving.
At the end of the day, your period is important and it’s something so uniquely you that you shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed about. It’s there to help you, not hurt you (although those cramps sometimes, jeeze), and let you know if everything is in working order. Get to know your cycle, your symptoms and you can begin to change the dialogue around periods and their importance. Really, it’s a blessing in disguise.
Period, end of story.