Menstruation is the periodic vaginal bleeding that gets the uterus ready for pregnancy by shedding the endometrium, or lining of the womb, and allowing a fresh one to grow in its place. For most women, menstruation is nothing more than a minor discomfort, but it can cause serious and sometimes debilitating problems for others. These problems are becoming more common in Western industrialised countries where women are putting off childbearing and having smaller families. Most women will live with menstruation for around 40 years of reproductive life. Menopause, the time when periods stop, occurs around the age of 50 but can occur anywhere between 45 and 55.
Some symptoms relating to periods
Heavy periods (menorrhagia)
This is common. It is difficult to measure blood loss accurately. Periods are considered heavy if they cause such things as: flooding, the need for double sanitary protection, soaking of bedclothes, passing clots, or if your normal lifestyle is restricted because of heavy bleeding. See your doctor if your periods change and become heavier than previously. There are various causes of heavy periods. However, in most women, the cause is unclear and there is no abnormality of the uterus or hormones. Treatment can reduce heavy periods, and is dealt with in more detail in a separate leaflet called 'Heavy Periods (Menorrhagia)'.
Painful periods (dysmenorrhoea)
When periods first start they are usually painless. However, later on most girls notice an ache in their lower abdomen, back and tops of the legs, especially in the first few days of a period. The first two days are usually the worst. Some women have more pain than others. Painkillers or anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen, usually ease the pain if it is troublesome. Another leaflet called 'Period Pain' gives details.
Period Problems of the Adult Women
Irregular and Delayed Periods
Some lucky women have a precise 28 day cycle, but the usual variation is from 25 to 33 days. The actual length is not an indication that something is wrong, but variation from what is normal for that person can suggest that careful monitoring is required. Hormonal imbalance is assumed to be the cause.
(Dysmenorrhoea) Pain can be expected before or at the onset of a period, a few suffer pain throughout the period. It can get so bad for some that the suffer period pain for up to 15 days of the cycle. There are two types of period pain. Spasmodic pain is where there is cramping in the lower abdomen which begins at the start of the period and can last up to seven days. Congestive pain is a dull ache before the period and stops at the start of the period.
(Amenorrhoea), This is where there is no period, after a regular cycle has been established. Pregnancy, lactation, physical and emotional illness, stress, air travel, night work and diabetes are all causes of no periods. There is usually no pain associated with this condition.
(Menorrhagia), The variation between periods and between different women is large. Periods are usually heavy during the first day, but when they continue to be heavy for up to five days they are then defined as heavy periods. The reason - nothing specific but being over forty, fibroids, hormonal imbalance, (especially the ratio between oestrogen and progesterone), IUD contraception, obesity, endometriosis, emotional tension and stress. Anaemia, exhaustion, lack of energy, irritability, and fatigue are the usual symptoms of heavy periods.
This is when a small amount of bleeding occurs mid cycle and not at period time. It can be caused by a unsuitable contraceptive pill, sex, cervical erosion, a polyp, psychological stress or cancer.
How to Eat:
Water is integral in keeping your body running properly, and thus more able to fight off virus and infection. Dehydration is also often the culprit of headaches and dry throats as well. The general rule is to try and drink at least eight glasses of water a day to keep your system working its best. Try and avoid soft drinks and processed juices that can dehydrate your system and leave you thirstier than before.
Get Your Protein
Protein plays an important role in building and maintaining strong cells in the body, along with those in your immune system. Fish is a great source of protein, along with lean chicken, beef, and eggs. There are two types of protein, known as complete and incomplete proteins. To benefit your immune system most, you will want to consume complete proteins, which are found mainly in animal products like beef, chicken, fish and dairy.
Incomplete proteins are found in vegetables, nuts and fruits, and don't contain all the needed amino acids. If you are a vegetarian, you can get all the required amino acids by eating a mixture of incomplete proteins. Incomplete proteins contain four groups including vegetables, nuts, legumes, and grains, so try incorporating grains such as oats and pastas, green vegetables like broccoli, nuts and legumes to get all the amino acids your immune system will need.
Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables contain numerous vitamins and antioxidants that benefit your body in a number of ways. Vitamins A and C, found in many fruits and vegetables, have been found to be especially beneficial to the functioning of your immune system. Try and consume anywhere from six to eight servings of fruits and vegetables a day and make sure you vary them with each meal to insure you are getting all the proper vitamins and minerals to benefit your immune system.
Tea is not only great when you are sick, as it can open a stuffy nose and soothe a sore throat, but it is also a wonderful benefit to your immune system. Green tea contains the most beneficial nutrients, so try and stick with this one to benefit your immune system the most. Thanks to the antioxidants in green tea, it is effective in helping your body fight the free radicals that attack your immune system. Try drinking a cup daily, in the morning or right before bed, to help your immune system.
Probiotics, a type of bacteria that helps maintain a healthy digestive system, have also been found to benefit the immune system as well. Foods such as yogurt, miso soup, certain cheeses and certain kinds of milk contain these helpful bacteria. Try starting your day off with a cup of probiotic-containing yogurt, or adding a small cheese plate to your dinner, in order to get the benefits of probiotic bacteria.
Take A Supplement
Vitamins A, C, the mineral zinc and certain herbs like echincea are all supplements that have been found to have immune system benefits, and taken daily, they can help to ensure your immune system is getting the best boost it can. Some health stores even sell packets or single pills that contain all, or at least some, of these immune friendly supplements.
Foods To Avoid
Certain foods and beverages can actually be detrimental to your immune system, leading to greater chances of getting sick. Sugar has been found to weaken white blood cells, so eliminate or limit it at all costs by avoiding foods with refined and processed sugars. Also avoid sugary beverages such as soda and concentrated fruit juices. Caffeine is another source of detriment to your immune system, as it not only will dehydrate you, but has been found to actually deplete vitamin levels in the body. Finally avoid alcohol, which not only poisons your entire body, but can slow down the pace at which your immune system can work.