Periods | What’s your problem?
This week I was chatting to a woman who told me she hadn’t had any periods for 3 months. She knew she wasn’t pregnant, so she wasn’t sure what was going on.
I asked if she was having trouble sleeping and she said that she lay awake for a couple of hours every night. She was quite surprised when I explained that the underlying cause of both things was probably stress.
Periods, stress and sleep are more connected than you might think.
Here’s the bottom line:
Your periods hold up a mirror to your overall health.
How does stress affect your periods?
Stress has a big impact on your periods.
Period problems can be partly caused by low levels of the hormone progesterone, because your body decides it’s better off changing it into cortisol.
Cortisol is what helps you run around and get stuff done when you’re busy.
Not surprisingly, your body prioritises that.
There are other causes of period problems, for sure, but stress is the big one.
A list of period problems
Period problems are so common it’s practically normal:
- Missing periods
- Heavy periods
- Very light periods
- Period pain
- Mood swings
- Trouble getting pregnant
It’s hard to get on with life when you’re in pain, or your skin is making you feel rubbish.
Flooding, mood swings or crying makes you feel completely out of control and that’s not great either.
Light or missing periods might not be affecting you in the same kind of way except maybe you’ve got this niggly feeling that something’s not right.
Life is much easier with trouble-free periods.
How do you know if my periods are normal?
Naturopathic Doctor Lara Briden in her book The Period Repair Manual describes normal periods:
- 21 – 35 days
- Menstrual fluid should be liquid, with no large clots
- Small clots are normal
- It should be red to reddish-brown
- You should lose a total of about 3 tablespoons across your entire period
- Your period should last between 2 – 7 days
In my practice I usually see periods restored to a 28 to 29-day cycle, with a 5 or 6-day bleed.
It can take a couple of months, or it might take longer, depending on the individual case and underlying causes.
Regular, predictable and pain-free
If you’re a teenager and your periods are heavy or irregular, don’t worry, it’s completely normal.
Your body’s hormones are sorting themselves out, which they can do naturally in their own good time.
Between age 20 and 45, your periods should be regular, predictable and normal.
From around 10 years before menopause, your periods will start to vary. They could be longer, shorter, heavier or lighter.
Menopause is when periods stop completely. The normal age is between 45 and 55. The average age is 50.
Could be better?
In my practice, I see a lot of women in their 20s and 30s whose periods are far from normal.
They’ve usually taken a hit from the combined effects of the pill, long working hours and tight deadlines.
I also see women in their late 30s and 40s with fertility issues or peri-menopause.
That’s the long-term impact of stress and toxic chemicals in non-organic food and skin-care, even if they stopped taking the pill years ago.
Have an early night
Here are two things you can start doing for your period health straight away:
- Simplify your life and find ways to slow down and relax
- Get a good night’s sleep with a good evening routine
Everyone needs decent sleep. Sleep is not just rest. It’s the main way our body recharges and repairs itself.
When you have a normal healthy cycle, you feel on an even keel and you can focus on being productive and spending time on things that are important to you.
Wherever you are in your life, and whatever your periods are doing, I’d love to help.
It’s easy to set up a free 30-minute chat if you’d like to find out more.