What is your period trying to tell you? From thyroid disease to stress, naturopath reveals why you need to look at your menstrual cycle as a monthly report card for good health
- Lara Briden is a naturopath from Sydney behind a new book on period health
- She spoke about why you need to view your period as a monthly report card
- According to Lara, the state of your period can identify all sorts of health issues
- She also revealed the things you can do to get your period health back on track
When it comes to periods, for a long time women have chosen to ignore them, or at least pay as little attention to them as possible, apart from making sure they are there and regular.
But in 2018, this is all changing, thanks to the rise of period-tracking Fitbit watches, smartphone apps and more – as women want to take charge of their menstrual cycle and their overall health.
One woman who is part of the period revolution is Sydney-based naturopath, Lara Briden, who is also the author behind the new book, The Period Repair Manual.
Lara sat down with FEMAIL to reveal what your period might be trying to tell you, and how you can get your menstrual cycle health back on track.
Sydney-based naturopath, Lara Briden (pictured), revealed that your period can tell you more about your general health than you think
The naturopath and author said your period is an expression of your general health, and you need to look at it as though it’s a ‘monthly report card’ (stock image)
According to the naturopath, a healthy period is a reflection of a healthy body.
Lara is the author behind a new book on period health (pictured)
‘Your period is not just your period; it’s an expression of your general health,’ Lara told FEMAIL.
‘When you’re healthy, your menstrual cycle will arrive smoothly, regularly and without symptoms. When you’re unhealthy in some way, your cycle will tell the story.’
In this respect, the health author recommends you look at your cycle as a ‘monthly report card’, from which you draw clues each month as to the changes you need to make for your general health.
Here is what you need to look out for.
THE IDEAL CYCLE
For Lara, the ideal cycle is somewhere between 21 and 35 days.
‘Counting from “day one” of your bleed to “day one” of your next bleed, your period should arrive every 21 to 35 days,’ she explained.
‘It should arrive without symptoms and without pain, and should not be heavier than 80mL or sixteen filled tampons across all of the days.’
Many women’s periods don’t fall into the ideal bracket, and if it’s early late, too heavy or painful, it can signify all sorts of underlying issues (stock image)
VARIATIONS TO THE IDEAL
However, many women’s periods do not fall into this bracket, signifying everything from thyroid disease to stress, PCOS or endometriosis.
‘If your period arrives too early or is shorter than a 21-day cycle or too late insofar as it’s longer than 35 days, it’s a sign that ovulation might not be occurring, which can be the result of one of several underlying hormonal issues like thyroid disease or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),’ Lara said.
‘Meanwhile, if your period is so painful that you have to miss school or work, then it could be a sign of a gynecological condition such as endometriosis or adenomyosis.’
There are other signifiers of an unhealthy period, including losing too much blood, which can be a sign of thyroid disease or the result of a hormonal imbalance.’
Pre menstrual symptoms (PMS) can also signify stress, estrogen excess, low progesterone, inflammation or histamine intolerance.
With regards to the perfect day on a plate for good period health, Lara said it’s all about eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods like protein, starchy and non-starchy veg (stock image)
HOW TO GET YOUR PERIOD HEALTH BACK ON TRACK
Things to do to get your period health on track
* Visit a doctor if you are worried about unusual symptoms.
* Get your diet back on track and include plenty of nutrient-dense foods such as protein, starchy vegetables, non-starchy veg and fruit.
* Steer clear of junk food, sugar and soft drinks.
* Include a small portion of protein with every meal, especially breakfast.
* Aim to get seven or eight hours of quality sleep each night.
* Add regular exercise to your regmime in order to reduce stress and cortisol levels.
So you’ve identified the symptoms and know that something’s wrong with your period.
Now, how can you tackle the situation?
Lara said first and foremost you need to visit a doctor to find out if there are any underlying conditions.
Next, she said it’s a good idea to look at your diet and get that back on track.
‘Include plenty of nutrient-dense foods such as protein, starchy vegetables, non-starchy vegetables and fruit,’ she said.
‘It’s also a good idea to steer clear of junk food and soft drinks, which can worsen the insulin resistance and metabolic inflammation that underlies conditions such as PCOS.’
She added that cow’s dairy can be a common problem for many women, as it makes periods heavier and worsens the pain.
Try to eat a small portion of protein with every meal, especially breakfast, and spend time away from work and doing what you have to do.
Lara (pictured) recommends you prioritise both sleep and exercise, in order to lower cortisol levels and promote good menstrual cycle health
Lastly, the naturopath recommended you look at your sleeping habits and exercise patterns to truly help to get your menstrual cycle on track.
‘Sleep is another priority strategy for period health,’ Lara said.
‘Getting seven or eight hours of quality sleep each night will do more for you than almost any supplement or herb.’
Couple this with regular exercise and this should help to reduce stress and cortisol levels, which in turn helps hugely with period health.
For more information about Lara Briden’s new book, which is out now and published by Pan Macmillan, please click here.