What To Know About Menstruation
Periods and Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Periods or menses are the regular bleeds that a woman has, usually occurring once a month and lasting 3-7 days.
Pre-menstrual syndrome is used to describe the sometimes annoying and unpleasant symptoms that a woman can experience in the days leading up to her period.
What is pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)?
Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is also called pre-menstrual tension (PMT) and is a term used to describe the broad range of symptoms that many women develop during the second half of the menstrual cycle. PMS includes a whole range of symptoms and it is estimated that up to 75% of women experience one or more of them every month. These can include;
• tender breasts
• irritability and aggression
• bloating of the abdomen
• food cravings
PMS symptoms are most often experienced by women in their 20's and 30's, although all women who have periods are susceptible to PMS. For most women, the symptoms cause only mild-to-moderate discomfort or difficulties, but in some cases PMS can be severe. This is called premenstrual dysphonic disorder (PMDD).
What causes PMS?
PMS is probably your body’s response to changing hormone levels associated with your menstrual cycle although nobody really knows its actual cause. It is also thought that chemical changes in the brain might be involved in PMS, and that diet may have an impact (especially salty foods and caffeinated drinks).
How do I know if I have PMS?
There are various ways to diagnose PMS, but no definitive test for it. There are also other medical problems with similar symptoms to PMS, so if you are concerned you should see your doctor.
To help diagnose PMS, it’s worth keeping a diary for 3 or 4 months where you write down any physical and mental PMS symptoms that you have when they occur, together with your days of bleeding. It’s useful to make a note of how you are feeling every day. After 3 or 4 months, you’ll probably be able to recognize a pattern of symptoms. Although the pattern may vary from cycle to cycle, women with PMS tend to notice that their symptoms stop very quickly once their period actually starts. Another pattern that might help your doctor to diagnose PMS is if you have a week during your menstrual cycle when you have no symptoms at all.
What can I do to relieve my symptoms?
There are a number of options open to you for relieving your PMS symptoms, but it can take some trial and error to find a method that works best for you.
Some of the most straightforward things that have been shown to help are to make sure you drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet. It’s a good idea to include lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and reduce the amounts of salt, sugar and processed foods that you eat. Many women find that avoiding caffeine (commonly found in tea, coffee and cola) and alcohol when they have PMS can reduce some symptoms. Taking supplements of vitamin B6 and evening primrose oil has additionally been suggested as a possible way of reducing PMS symptoms.
Regular exercise can also help, mainly because exercise reduces stress and tension and can lift your mood. If you are suffering from PMS, you might find that walking, swimming or running reduces your period symptoms – try for 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
If these simple lifestyle changes are not helping to manage your PMS, you should see your doctor for further advice.
Why Safe Girl Reusable Pads
1. You will reduce your menstrual cramps, infections and skin rashes.
If you suffer intense pain during your period and are using disposable pad, consider using alternatives like washable pads or 100% organic cotton products. Disposable pads also use plastics, which block airflow to your vagina, and not surprisingly, can encourage a painful rash. Disposables also use synthetic fibres like rayon which are super-absorbent, but will also absorb all the moisture in your vagina, increasing your chances of severe pain and infections -- especially if you are wearing one for hours, all day, and all week. Once I switched to reusable cloth pads, my own severe cramping was reduced to nil -- a real menstrual miracle.
2. Reusable options are much healthier for you.
Disposables are typically made with a combination of plastics, cotton, synthetic fibres and wood pulp. Conventionally produced cotton is one of the most toxic crops grown, using 20% of the world’s pesticide and herbicides. These materials are then bleached with chlorine dioxide, creating polluting, harmful and bio-accumulative by products like dioxin, which not only end up in the environment, but also remain in our bodies for decades. Add other synthetic chemicals and artificial fragrances to the mix, and you've got a recipe for side effects like allergic reactions, hormone disruption, reproductive and gynaecological disorders like endometriosis.
3. You will save loads of money.
If the health reasons don't sway you, maybe the numbers will be more convincing. Granted, reusable have a larger initial cost, but they last much, much longer. With proper care, cloth pads can last for years (my own cloth napkins are six years old and are still going strong). Compare this to the disposable that has a lifespan of a few hours before it's thrown away, forcing you to buy more and more -- all of them ending up in a landfill.
You can do the math: assuming a woman menstruates for 40 years, buys a pack at 3500 ugx for a month, you can do the rest.
4. You will help save the environment.
Switching to reusable is a striking example of how seemingly small personal choices can have a tremendous positive impact on our environment. The plastics in a pad will take hundreds of years to decompose. The process of manufacturing these disposables also pollutes our waterways, air and animal habitats. Switching to reusablecan make a difference.
5. You will support independent companies.
If you are already leery of handing your money over to big, faceless corporations that probably don't have your best interests in mind, check out the companies that specialize in providing safe and healthier alternatives.
6. Its sanitary, doesn't leak and easier to clean than you think.
When talking about reusable options, one is inevitably faced with the questions: "is it clean?" and "will it leak?" Our washable pads use a removable liner for extra absorption, and many have a waterproof lining sewn inside. It may be a tad bulkier, but occasional bulk is infinitely better than a lifetime of health problems. With the right maintenance, reusable products are just as sanitary. For washable pads, we recommend soaking them overnight in water before washing.
7. Heck, it's pretty. And empowering.
Forget those boring, bleached white synthetic products -- reusable options are bursting with colour, patterns, and unique designs -- personality. I don't know what the background science may be, but surely bright colours can help alleviate any premenstrual syndrome-related moodiness.
We would also do well to remember that non-disposables are nothing new; women have been using sea sponges and rags forever. The culture of concealment surrounding menstruation has influenced women to feel ashamed about their bodies, and this imposed shame makes us docile, unquestioning consumers of products that are neither good for us, nor the environment.