Menstruation and self-care

Menstruation and self-care

Every month, a woman’s physical and mental-health undergo changes thanks to the hormones present in her body. You may have noticed how, on some days, you are cheerful and excited; on other days, anxiety and depression seep in, unannounced, and drive away your peace of mind, and on some days, anger and irritation rule the roost!

It’s pointless losing sleep over it all, but we do! Not only sleep, but also or moods, our hunger and our happiness, all go out for a toss.

Do you wish to understand the mystery behind it all?
Well, it’s the one process that separates us from the men:

MENSTRUATION!

Right from menarche – when we “come of age” at 13, till menopause – at around 48-50 – our Period is a constant source of despair and discomfort to us.
Let’s get over this fear and anxiety that’s associated with menstruation and make our life simpler, shall we?

WHAT IS MENSTRUATION?

Every month, our uterus readies itself to welcome a human life into it. It lines itself with some tissue – like a cozy blanket – to prepare a warm cocoon for the human life. But, when pregnancy does not occur, this tissue is disposed of from the lining of the uterus through the vagina in the form of blood.

This process is what we call the Period, or “chums”, as girls usually refer to menstruation.

The process of bleeding lasts for 3 to 5 days, and sometimes even up to 7 days. It’s only after a woman crosses her forties, that this cycle begins displaying changes till the time when menstruation comes to an end, which is called Menopause.

HOW MENSTRUATION AFFECTS OUR BODY:

Menstruation and its effects are a result of hormonal changes that occur during a month.
The effects of Menstruation can be observed more during the PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome, that occurs 10 – 12 days prior to Period.
We also experience some more changes within us during the Period. And, it’s only after the Period is over that life begins feeling “normal”.
Let’s take a look at the symptoms of PMS that leave us feeling like a completely different person.

Photo credit: Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

SYMPTOMS OF PMS:

CRAVING FOR CERTAIN FOODS: Some crave chocolates and some, spicy food. Gorging on these sinful foods is what quiets the mind and brings respite from the mental chaos.

TENDERNESS OF BREASTS: Breasts feel tender and in pain during the week preceding periods. Just touching the breasts, for e.g. while bathing, or dressing, sends a shooting pain and you just want to leave them alone.

BLOATING: You feel full in your tummy even when you haven’t had any meals. You also tend to visit the loo oftener to pass motions and suffer an upset stomach.

STOMACH CRAMPS: Painful stomach cramps forbid you from leaving your home and all you want to do is lie in bed all day.

LACK OF ENERGY: Tiredness, exhaustion, sleepiness and the inability to carry on with your daily activities leave you feeling worse.

MOOD SWINGS: Your mood-swings confuse you and those around you. One day you are all chirpy and excited, and the next day, morose and angry. Some days, you get teary-eyed for no reason at all, and on other days, you are at your bravest!

CHANGE IN SOCIAL LIFE: Lack of interest in socializing is an effect of the PMS, as is wishing to socialize, all at the same time!

CHANGE IN SEX-DRIVE: Changes in sex-drive are also a result of our menstrual cycle. There are days when all you wish to do is relax and sleep in peace. And, there are also days when you have an increased urge for some activity between the sheets!

Dear women, blame it all on your hormones, for it’s thanks to the changes these undergo that you experience all these above things and some more!

MENSTRUATION AND SOCIAL TABOO:

Despite all that we go through, most of us women have it pretty easy in life, you know? We have access to hygienic and affordable Period wear. Sadly, there are lakhs of women who cannot afford even a decent sanitary napkin and have to make do with whatever rags they find lying around the house, or even on the streets! We don’t need to bow down before archaic rules that forbid us from doing certain things or carrying on with our daily activities during our Period. We ought to be grateful that we live in today’s world where we—especially those of us who live in the urban areas—don’t have to obey antiquated customs and rituals on getting our Period.
In many communities, for instance, it’s a common practice to not let the girl enter the temple and the kitchen during her periods, or eat spicy food! I remember a friend once told me how her mother-in-law forbade her from sleeping in the same bed as her husband during her Period.

Can you imagine that kind of life?
Menstruation is still considered a taboo by so many in our society, when in reality it’s just a physiological process that takes place in our body every month, just like sweating and urinating.

Isn’t it time we brought about a change in our perspectives and also in that of the others who still seem to be living in the bygone era?

NUTRITION DURING MENSTRUATION:

“We are what we eat.”

These are words I completely believe in. Whatever we put in our mouth will have its effects on our body, so we might as well eat sensibly, right?
Food plays an important part in the management of menstrual discomfort. Of course, it’s all an effect of hormones, but it can very well be taken care of by eating right.
Here are foods that you ought to incorporate in your daily diet to help combat the effects of menstruation.

NUTRITION FOR OVERALL WELL BEING:

Photo credit :Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
  • A lot of iron is lost during Periods. To regain it we need to increase our intake of iron-rich foods throughout the month. Include green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek and kale, legumes like chickpeas, soya beans, peas, lentils and foods like tofu, red meat, eggs and certain fortified breakfast cereals in your daily diet.
  • Fruits like bananas and apples are not only fiber-rich, but also loaded with nutrients. The digestion issues we experience during PMS can be solved with these fruits. Bananas being rich in potassium help relax the mind and deal with depression, too.
  • Vitamin C rich fruits like lemons and oranges give relief from fatigue. These energize you quickly and perk up your mood.
    Increase your water intake during Periods. This will keep you well hydrated and also help in regularizing the bowel movement. The best way to ensure you drink up your 10 – 12 glasses of H2O without fail is by setting an alarm in your smartphone to remind you.
  • Dark chocolate works like magic on bad moods during PMS. It’s the comfort food we women need during “those five days”! Apart from chocolates, sweet, sugary treats will also help you feel better.
  • Do remember to get in the exercise mode, too! Even a 30 minutes walk will do wonders for your mental and physical well being. It will also help burn the calories you load up while eating the sugary treats!
  • Green teas have been found to relax frazzled nerves and offer relief from stomach cramps. Coffee too brings relief from anxiety and depression during PMS. Make sure to pick one that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated.
  • Reduce salt intake during your periods. Less salt intake results in less water retention and bloating.
  • Include foods rich in vitamin B6, such as fish, eggs, milk, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes in your diet as these will help relieve menstrual cramps.

We women always prioritize our family and everything else. It’s time we put ourselves on top of our priority lists. Looking after ourselves better will help us work better.

Tiny changes like eating healthy, making time for exercising and indulging in an activity that gives us a mental break from everything else will ensure we live fuller, happier, more contented lives.

Menstruation is just a tiny part of our life; why give it the power to steal our joy? Let’s show our hormones who’s the boss!

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