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What you need to know about your menstrual cycle and health

How to Manage Your Period Problems

Your period can tell you a lot about your body and your health. Having regular, normal periods let you know your body is in working order. Period problems such as painful cramps or irregular periods can be a sign of a health problem. Period problems can lead to other health problems such as anemia, diabetes and heart disease.

How Your Period Affects Your Emotions and Energy

Throughout your cycle, your hormones can have an effect on your emotions, energy and overall mood. In the first part of your cycle (the first two weeks after your period starts in a typical 28-day cycle), you may have some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Your energy levels are higher than normal.
  • Your cognitive memory is sharper than normal.
  • Your pain tolerance is higher during this time, making it easier to perform or cram in an intense gym session.

In the second half of your cycle (ovulation period), you may feel some or all of the following symptoms:

  • You feel sluggish and lazy.
  • You feel forgetful or have a hard time retaining information.

If you suffer from depression or irritable bowel syndrome, the symptoms may get worse before your period.

If you have diabetes, your glucose levels may be harder to control. They may be higher or lower during this time. This is common in women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The levels of the brain chemical serotonin drop during this time. Along with your glucose levels, you could be craving sugary or starchy foods during this time.

How Your Period Affects Other Health Problems

Your cycle can have a direct effect on your other health conditions. As previously stated, it could have an impact on those suffering from depression, irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes.

Some symptoms from your period could lead to other health problems such as anemia – especially if you experience heavy bleeding. Anemia occurs when your blood can't can't transfer enough oxygen to the other parts of your body due to iron-deficiency. Other health problems include:

Asthma: Your asthma symptoms may increase during your cycle.

Depression: Women with a history of depression may find that their symptoms worsen if they have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Symptoms of depression can worsen before their period.

Diabetes: Women who have irregular menstrual cycles may find that their glucose levels are all over the place. It's been reported that women with irregular menstrual cycles have a higher risk for Type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, women between the ages of 18 and 22 have a higher risk. Studies have found that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) could be the direct link between irregular periods and Type 2 diabetes. Most women who suffer from PCOS have trouble producing insulin and are at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Heart disease: Women who no longer have their periods (amenorrhea) or have menopause find that their ovaries no longer produce estrogen. Without estrogen, you're at greater risk for heart disease and stroke.

Osteoporosis: If you suffer from amenorrhea, you could be at risk for osteoporosis. Since your ovaries are no longer producing estrogen, you lose bone mass. Osteoporosis is a serious bone disease in which your bones become weak and brittle and may easily break or fracture from a fall or minor bumps.

Fertility Issues: Other health problems that cause menstrual cycle issues such as endometriosis, PCOS and uterine fibroids can lead to fertility issues.

How Weight Affects Your Menstrual Cycle

Your weight has an impact on all aspects of your health, including your cycle. If you're underweight, your body may stop ovulating, which could lead to irregular periods or no periods at all. Women who suffer from anorexia often weigh below the average body weight. If you're no longer ovulating, your body is no longer producing estrogen, which protects your body in many ways. This can increase your risk for several health problems.

On the other hand, if you're overweight, you might also be likely to have irregular periods or no periods at all. You may also experience fertility issues. Not only do your ovaries produce estrogen, but so do your fat cells. Too much estrogen can make your body think you're taking contraceptives or you're already pregnant. This can prevent you from ovulating, menstruating and conceiving.

How to Prevent Period Problems

There is no cure for problems with your menstrual cycle. Common problems such as heavy bleeding and painful cramps are associated to problems associated with your reproductive system. In this case, you should talk to your doctor about your heavy bleeding and painful cramps.

Your doctor may prescribe hormonal contraceptives such as the pill, the shot, a vaginal ring, or an intrauterine device (IUD). If you don't want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about which birth control is right for you. Hormonal contraceptive options are ideal for alleviating women's health problems and problems associated with your cycle.

If you suffer from painful cramps, you can control them with over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) or naproxen (Aleve®). These medications usually work best before your period starts or at the onset of cramps.

Keeping track of your fertility periods and menstrual cycle problems can also help your doctor better understand the problems associated with your period. Track the day and time your period starts, how long it lasts, how much you bled, and any pain or discomfort you may experience. Ask your doctor what's considered normal and about any symptoms you feel are unusual or different.

Either losing weight or staying at a healthy weight can also help relieve menstrual cycle problems. This can include eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables, working out regularly, not smoking, drinking enough water, and getting plenty of sleep. Just some of these lifestyle changes can improve your mood and overall health and alleviate some of these symptoms.

If you are concerned about abnormal or especially difficult menstruation problems, contact Kansas City ObGyn today at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (913) 948-9636 to book an appointment to discuss your options.