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Menstruation usually begins between 10 and 14 years of age, but most commonly at age 11 or 12.. The menstrual cycle has the potential to be calm and easy but problems frequently occur from the pre-menstrual days and last throughout the entire menstrual bleed. Pre-menstrual days can be just as taxing and demanding as the menstruation itself. Pre-menstrual symptoms may start from ten days before a period and continue a few days into it. Typically there is tension, anxiety, tearfulness, depression and even anger as part of the emotional roller-coaster.
Menstruation should not be painful; the blood should flow with ease, with no clots (clots tend to suggest an oestrogen excess). The blood should be a brownish red colour rather than a bright red; the latter indicating potential poor food assimilation and possibly an excess of sugar. If the flow is dark red and stringy an excess of poorly assimilated proteins, especially meat and eggs, is likely to be the cause. The menses can last anything from a day or two to seven or more days, but between four and six is considered normal. After menstruation has finished you should feel uplifted as your hormonal balance changes again.
Vital nutrient requirements
Keep iron, magnesium and calcium levels up. Blood loss lowers serum iron levels, and magnesium and calcium are lost in womb peristalsis during blood loss.
Useful essential oils
Use relaxing essential oils for cleanliness and additionally to help avoid cystitis and vaginal infections. Lavender, geranium and chamomile are wonderfully soothing and are 'in tune' with your hormones - add one or two drops to your bath water.
- Use plastic-free and chemical-free cotton sanitary towels or tampons, but try to avoid using any kind of tampon if you have a history of infection. Tampons of all descriptions keep stale blood where it shouldn't be, even if they are changed every four hours. (Some women even experience life-threatening toxicity from using tampons - toxic shock syndrome.) There is also considerable speculation that pelvic inflammatory disease (P.I.D.) and some forms of endometriosis can arise from tampon use over the years.
- Wear cotton or silk pants and avoid sweaty nylon tights or other tight, airless clothing.
- Don't restrict your belly with tight skirts or trousers.
- Keep your circulatory system healthy. Exercise and breathe deeply - this will prevent clots and sluggish painful blood movement (or lack of it).
Planning around the cycle
- Take care of your immune system. Pre-menstrually the immune system can become three times more vulnerable than at normal times.
- Don't plan exhausting work or social schedules around these times - stress disrupts the delicate balance of hormones. Think ahead and plan accordingly, giving yourself permission to take time off if you're able.
- Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol. They are all known to disturb hormone balance, increasing sugar imbalances and congesting the liver which needs to dispose of excess hormones. If the liver cannot do its job successfully both the pre-menstrual phase and actual menstruation will be more painful both physically and mentally. Liver health is vitally important, therefore consider liver maintenance programmes if these symptoms are consistently an issue.
- If you have sugar cravings, eat fruit or choose bitter and sour foods which will offset the craving for sweetness. Otherwise go for organic dark chocolate containing 70 to 100% pure cocoa.
- Avoid high fat content foods, such as dairy products and meat, as these affect prostaglandin levels in the body. It is particularly important to avoid all hormone-fed meat, dairy produce and eggs (choose organic and free range), as hormones in these foods will also disrupt your own hormone balance.
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