Lesser-Known Menstrual Symptoms & Tips for Alleviating Them
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause various symptoms for those who experience a period. Mood swings, irritability, cramping, bloating, pelvic pain, and even teen and adult acne are some of the more common symptoms. However, the changes that the body goes through during the menstrual cycle can result in numerous other issues, which primarily stem from the changes in hormone levels.
This article will review some of the lesser-known symptoms that can accompany a period, including what causes them and guidance on relieving them.
1. Vision Problems
Our brains generally control our vision through four different lobes, primarily the occipital lobe, which is responsible for observing and processing the image “data” that is received from the outside world through our eyes. However, many other things can cause a disruption in vision and the signals that are sent to our brains, including our hormones.
When you experience your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels change—specifically your estrogen levels. In the first week of your period, estrogen levels tend to spike, which can cause various vision problems such as blurred vision, watering eyes, and trouble focusing. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is related to the menstrual cycle, can also cause high androgen levels, and high levels of androgen can result in dry eyes.
If these symptoms are extremely bothersome, you can talk to your doctor about medications or supplements that can help rebalance your hormones. However, you can also keep your hormones better balanced by eating healthy and exercising. The foods we eat can play an important role in our hormone levels. While you might not feel that great while on your period and may be more prone to reaching for junk food, the more fruits and veggies you eat, the more you can mitigate problematic symptoms of your menstrual cycle.
While the rise in estrogen levels after your menstrual cycle has begun can cause vision problems, the drop in estrogen that occurs just before your period can result in severe headaches and migraines. Imbalanced estrogen and progesterone levels commonly cause headaches, but this can be even more of a problem just before and even during your period. Luckily, despite being painful and even debilitating, migraines can be easily treated utilizing many different methods. These include
- Ice packs
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Meditation and other relaxation exercises
- Prescription medication
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You can also look into trying a new birth control pill. If you take birth control, it can play a part in your hormone levels and thus your headache patterns. So if you experience severe and frequent headaches and migraines while on your period, you can look into starting a certain birth control pill if you don’t already take one or switch to a low-hormone one that might be more effective at preventing headaches.
While some mild changes in mood and irritability are common during the menstrual cycle, some people may be more prone to severe behavior changes, such as depression. Experiencing symptoms of depression during a period is perfectly normal and nothing to feel ashamed of, but it can make this time of the month more difficult to deal with than it is for others. So it's essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression to get the help or treatment you need.
Mild symptoms of depression can include increased anger and sadness, irritability, forgetfulness, fatigue, and insomnia, but more severe cases can lead to something called Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Those who experience PMDD during their periods can completely lose interest in all social activities, develop panic attacks, and can even start having suicidal thoughts.
Once again, the main cause of this issue is an imbalance in hormone levels. When estrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall, it can also affect your serotonin and dopamine levels, which are the hormones that help us sustain a good mood. When these hormone levels drop, it can cause you to experience symptoms of depression.
Again, adjusting your diet and exercise routine during your period can help, as well as getting better sleep. You should particularly stay away from sugars, fats, complex carbs, and alcohol and instead focus on increasing your calcium, B6, and magnesium intake, which can come from eating leafy greens, dairy products, nuts, and fish. You can also talk to your doctor about other ways to treat depression and PMDD, such as medications or therapy.
4. Joint Pain
The female hormones are responsible for heightened levels of pain at any time. However, as these hormone levels spike and drop in relation to the menstrual cycle, those who have a period can experience more pain during their cycle in various parts of their bodies, especially in their joints. Those with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia may experience even more joint pain than usual before and during their periods.
While there are various medical treatments and medications available to help, there are also exercises you can do at home to relieve joint pain. These include isometric lunges, the dumbbell farmer’s carry, the 90/90 hip switch, a wall slide, and the weighted sled push. Just make sure you avoid any exercises that place too much stress on your joints if you are experiencing pain. Swimming is another great option as it alleviates the pressure on your joints.
Overall, diet and exercise habits can significantly improve any of the above symptoms. Physical exercise and the foods you eat play crucial roles in your hormone levels, and as hormones also directly affect your period and the symptoms you experience, getting them under control is the best way to alleviate those symptoms. However, home remedies such as diet and exercise are not always enough. If you have severe symptoms that are troubling you, it’s always best to reach out to your doctor to see what other options are available.
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Amanda Winstead is a writer focusing on many topics including health and wellness. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Nannocare. Nannocare is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the author of this article, or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.