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OUR PERIODS: Let's talk about them

Speak to your healthcare provider if you are having problems with your periods
It's entirely possible to have normal manageable periods.

What are we referring to when we say "our period"?

Medically, we refer to our periods as our menstrual cycle. A menstrual cycle is a natural process that occurs in the reproductive system of female mammals, including humans. The cycle is regulated

by hormones produced by the body and is characterized by changes in the uterus and ovaries.

The menstrual cycle typically lasts around 28 days, although it can vary from woman to woman and can range from 25 to 35 days. During the cycle, the uterus prepares for pregnancy by growing a lining of blood and tissue. At the same time, the ovaries release an egg (ovulation) and produce hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle and prepare the body for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, the levels of hormones decrease, causing the uterus to shed its lining and start a new menstrual cycle.

What are our menses?

"Menses" is another term for menstruation or the menstrual period. It refers to the process of shedding the uterine lining, including blood and tissue, that occurs during a woman's menstrual cycle. The term "menses" is often used in medical or scientific contexts when discussing the physiological aspects of menstruation. It is derived from the Latin word "mensus," which means "month."

What kinds of problems can women have with their periods?

  • painful periods (dysmenorrhea)

  • irregular periods

  • heavy periods (menorrhagia)

  • frequent periods (polymenorrhea)

  • menstrual migraines

  • severe mood swings (PMDD)

What causes painful periods?

There are several reasons, including

  • increased inflammation and "prostaglandins"

  • endometriosis

  • uterine fibroids

  • ovarian cysts

  • pelvic inflammatory disease

  • unknown causes

What causes irregular periods?

Irregular periods, also known as oligomenorrhea, can have a variety of causes, including:

What can cause heavy periods?

Heavy periods, also known as menorrhagia can have several causes including:

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Uterine fibroids- benign muscle tumours in the wall of the uterus

  • Polyps in the uterus- benign growths found in the lining of the uterus

  • Endometrial hyperplasia- an overly thickened uterine lining

  • Adhesions or scarring in the uterus

  • Thyroid problems

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

  • Blood clotting disorders

  • Cancer of the uterus, cervix, or ovaries

How does a functional medicine provider approach period problems?

Your provider would recommend a consultation to obtain a detailed history regarding your periods, including your medical history and general health questions. When appropriate they would likely recommend an ultrasound, ensure your pap smear is up to date and sometimes perform a pelvic exam.

Treatment options recommended could include:

  • dietary changes

  • nutritional supplements

  • hormone replacement therapy

  • certain medications

  • stress reduction techniques

The bottom line:

You do NOT have to live with difficulties with your period. If you are having issues with your period, please speak with your healthcare provider as this could be a symptom of some serious underlying issues.

Carol Rademeyer is a highly regarded Advanced Practice Registered Nurse with a wealth of experience in women's health. With over 25 years of professional practice and a Master of Science Degree in Midwifery from the Midwifery Institute at Philadelphia University, she is a respected expert in her field. Her rigorous academic and professional background has earned her board certification in her specialty, and she has fulfilled the requirements in Florida for Autonomous Practice as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse.

In addition to her clinical practice, Carol has also made significant contributions to the broader medical community. She has been published in several prestigious medical journals and has been a speaker at the national conference for the American College of Nurse Midwives, where she has shared her expertise and insights with her peers.

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