My period does WHAT? Four things you may not know about your period

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Periods are a part of every woman’s life, but there is still so much we don’t know, or understand.

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Bondi Beauty talks to celebrity doctor and GP Ginni Mansberg about four things your period does to your body and what we can do about them.

Periods may cause low iron

What many people may not know is that one of the contributing reasons women are diagnosed with low iron is loss of blood through periods. “A period involves shedding blood from the lining of your uterus. Blood contains iron and if you lose enough of it, your iron stores will run down,” says Mansberg. This isn’t the case for all women however, Mansberg explains that “if you have a balanced diet and your periods are normal, you’re unlikely to have iron deficiency.”

What can you do?

Mansberg suggests talking to your GP if you’re worried about your iron levels before taking any supplements. “Iron can build up in the body and if the levels get too high, it can deposit in the liver and other organs causing problems. Get your levels checked first and don’t play professor on this one,” she says.

We bleed how much?

Bleeding is what our period is all about, but how many of us actually know why it happens and how much blood is normal? Mansberg explains that period blood comes from the unneeded uterus lining, “If you were to get pregnant, the tiny bunch of cells that will become your baby start feeding off that nutrient rich blood (of the uterus lining). If you don’t get pregnant, your body simply sheds the blood.” So how much blood is a normal amount to bleed during your period? “Periods range from 10-80 mls but most girls lose between 20 and 60mls of blood in total,” says Mansberg.

What can you do?

Heavy period bleeding can lead to more serious issues. Mansberg says, “If you are flooding frequently, doubling up on tampons and pads and still struggling to contain the blood or if you’re passing large clots, chances are the periods are too heavy.” She also advises to get checked out if your heavy days last more than three days. If you’re worried about heavy bleeding throughout the night it is important to remember that tampons can be worn overnight for more protection. Research conducted by carefree tampons reveal that 68%  of women didn’t know this, however it is in fact okay to wear tampons for up to 8 hours while you sleep.

Menstrual Cramps

Menstrual cramps, more commonly known as stomach cramps, occur when the uterus contracts in order to expel the unneeded uterus lining. You can expect to experience stomach cramps “usually the day before and the first day or two of your period,” says Mansberg. More symptoms of menstrual cramps you might expect, other than a throbbing or cramping pain in the lower abdomen include nausea, vomiting, sweating and headaches, among others.

What can you do?

Women commonly use pain relief drugs to reduce the effects of menstrual cramps however Mansberg suggests to “try a warm water bottle or wheat pack” as an alternate method. When asked about the myth that exercise can benefit period pain, Mansberg says “it certainly won’t hurt.” She goes on to explain that although small studies have proved that exercise can reduce period pain there is not enough evidence to be sure.

Change of Temperature

Feeling hot ladies? This could be because the body changes temperature during menstruation. Some women even use this change of temperature to chart their own ovulation and estimate when it’s ‘safe’ to have unprotected sex. The change in temperature is caused by the influence of various hormones, Mansberg explains that “Progesterone comes on in the second half of the (menstruation) cycle and this hormone causes the half degree temperature rise in the second half of the cycle.”

What can you do?

Mansberg warns that the ‘temperature method’ is “totally unreliable” way to prevent pregnancy. “It isn’t like the temperature rise is very noticeable and it’s more a general pattern than an exact rise,” she says.

By BB Intern Dominique Tait

What’s your secret pain remedy for menstrual cramps?

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Dominique Tait

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