Cramps, mood swings, cravings—it’s the trifecta of telltale signs that signal your red days about to hit you hard. But, ladies, have you ever asked yourselves why we have to go through that month on month? Let’s break it down!

MENSTRUATION 101

The menstrual cycle is a series of changes every woman’s body goes through. Recall high school biology: every month, your ovary releases an egg into the fallopian tube. This is a process called ovulation. As this happens, hormonal changes prepare the uterus for pregnancy. The uterus lining (or the endometrium) gets thicker to be able to nurture a fertilized egg.

But if the egg does not get fertilized, that lining is then released out of the body as blood and endometrial tissue. This is called menstruation—or simply your “period.” This typically happens for 4-8 days, and after that, the cycle begins all over again.

So, yes, the menstrual cycle is a completely natural process. If your cycle is “regular,” this means your body is working as it should.

WHAT IS A “NORMAL” PERIOD?


The menstrual cycle is different per woman, but here are some signs your period is normal and healthy:

> Your cycle lasts 21-45 days;
> Your menstruation happens from 3-7 days;
> Your blood volume is between 5-80 mL.

Anything that may cause significant hormonal changes may impact your period. This includes stress, over-execising, a sudden change in diet, or significant life events. Your period may also fluctuate due to health conditions like uterine fibroids, uterine polyps, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). In any case, if you are experiencing distinct irregularities, it’s still best to consult with your OB-GYN.

However, what may be “normal” for someone else may not be the same for you. Every body is different. This is why it helps to track your menstrual cycle, so you know what’s normal for you.

HOW TO TRACK YOUR MENSTRUAL CYCLE


The key things to track are your period duration, flow, pain, emotions, energy levels, and sexual activity. Having these recorded allows you to identify potential causes, if any change in your period does occur.

Not the pen and paper type? That’s fine, there are apps that you can turn to for help! Try the Period Tracker Journal, Clue, and Flo Period & Ovulation tracker: all three have well-designed interfaces that make keeping tabs on your reproductive healthy easy.

HERE’S WHY YOU FEEL SO BAD DURING YOUR PERIOD

Well, apart from the pain that comes with the shedding of the uterus, your hormones are to blame. They rise and fall, depending on where you are in your cycle. Ovulation causes an increase in the estrogen, which is what allows the endometrium to support a fertilized egg. Bonus perk: you may feel extra pretty during this stage, as estrogen gives you glowing skin in healthy hair.

But if pregnancy doesn’t occur, your estrogen drops while your progesterone increases. This is what causes you to become more moody, irritable, extra sensitive, and sore all at once. Hello, Pre-Menstrual Sydrome (PMS)!

5 WAYS TO FEEL BETTER ON YOUR PERIOD


But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be terrible whole cycle through! Here are some tips to help calm those raging hormones:

1. EAT A WELL-BALANCED DIET. Tragic as it is, it’s best to avoid munching on some of your favorite treats for now, if you want your period to be smooth sailing. Salt retains water and will thus cause bloating. Caffeine may add to anxiety and irritability. Alcohol is a depressant. Too much sugar may make you crash. The list goes on, so a good rule of thumb to follow is to just eat clean and lean! Also, try to eat at regular intervals to avoid spikes in your blood sugar that might cause some gnarly mood swings.
TRY: Coco Dolce 65% Dark Chocolate (100g), P220, Take Root Kale Chips Peppercorn, P220, Healthy Munch Raw Almonds (100g), P160

2. SIP SOME TEA. Herbal teas make for great natural remedies for PMS! Teas with chamomile, peppermint, and lavender come highly recommended for uplifting your mood. Stock up these blends—not only will they relieve stress, they’re also full of antioxidants to help boost your immune system.
TRY: The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Fresh Leaf Tea Mint, P300, Manila Superfoods Loose Leaf Oolong Tea (60g), P145

3. ADD MAGNESIUM TO YOUR DIET. This mineral can help relieve a lot of common PMS symptoms such as headaches, bloating, and nausea. You can try to up your magnesium dose by adding more leafy greens, nuts, and seeds to your meals, but a supplement will ensure you get the recommended dosage of 400mg per day. Plus, apart from giving your body more ammo against PMS, it also helps with muscle pain, improving digestion, and sleeping patterns.
TRY: Herbs of the Earth Pure Magnesium, P1,099

4. EXERCISE. You may not feel up to it because of all that extra progesterone, but keeping your exercise routine helps fight both the physical and emotional effects of PMS. Your cardio workout will soothe cramps and those ever-reliable endorphins will put you in better spirits. Feeling extra-heavy? The stretches and meditations in yoga can do wonders!
TRY: Fitness & Athletics Skidless Yoga Towel, P725, Spoiled by Oils Namaspray (100ml), P180, Tesla Yoga Pants High-Waist Tummy Control in Black, P950

5. RELAX! Your period tracker has informed you that your period is coming up. Instead of going about town, why not clock-in some precious me-time? Grab a book you’ve been meaning to read, sip on some fennel tea, and press a hot compress over all the aches and pains on your body. You’ll get through this!
TRY: Kimochi Aroma Medium Herbal Pillows (6x8 Inches), P370

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