My daughter’s bake sale has inspired me to pull my finger out and get back on the blog writing. February the 18th was Period Pride Day, who knew?! Her bake sale was to raise money for a charity that sends tampons and sanitary towels to countries where women can’t afford them. She’s 13, and it made me think back to that time in my life and how different things were.

Periods were not discussed, at least not in my family and they certainly weren’t discussed at school. In her school, the teachers, male and female students and even the head got involved. An open, frank conversation about periods across the whole school. Seems like there’s no shame or embarrassment with this generation, how brilliant is that? These girls strike me as confident and educated enough to talk about periods and considerate enough to think about how women around the world feel about them too.
But in other ways, I think we’ve still got a long way to go. I’m amazed at how many women I see in my clinic who put up with painful periods and have done so for years. Many say they’ve always been that way so it’s assumed that it’s just the way it is. Painful periods are just the tip of the iceberg. Women suffer from irregular periods or no periods, mood swings, changes in appetite, back pain, leg pain, migraines, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, dizziness, night sweats, insomnia, flooding and spots. It strikes me that as over 50% of the population will have periods of many years during their lives, problems with them should be addressed.

What is a good period?

A good period should come every 26 to 32 days. It should start with a good strong flow, no spotting and be a good red colour, not brown, black, purple and definitely no clots. It should last around 4 to 6 days. Slight pain at the start is not unusual but it should’ t interrupt or interfere with your day/night. PMS is not normal, changes in mood and energy levels are ok. After the period has finished and in the run-up to ovulation, you may experience stringy egg white discharge from your cervix. This is a normal, natural bodily function and nothing to be concerned about.

So if your period isn’t like this then your body is telling you there is an imbalance.

Steps to a better period

Change your diet
Try avoiding sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat and dairy. All of these foods can wreak havoc on your hormones and upset your balance. Abstain for a cycle and see if you notice any changes.

Make sure you are hydrated
Dehydration can make menstrual blood sticky, stringy, clotty or scant. Increasing water intake will always help, 8 full glasses of purified water, daily are the goal. Avoid plastic bottles, as these may contribute to hormonal imbalance. Hydration is key to a healthy flow.

Pay attention to your cycle and listen to your body
There are a ton of apps out there to help you track your cycle, these can be a great way to keep an eye on how regular your cycle is and allow you to know when you will be pre-menstrual. While I’m not saying life should stop at this time, it is important to have an awareness and avoid, where possible, triggers which you find upsetting, exhausting or stress-inducing. Rest at this time can be so helpful, it’s a time to nurture and treat yourself. Claire King’s Facials and Massages are amazing.

Get some acupuncture
Acupuncture is great for balancing hormones and dealing with problem periods. It can also help those suffering from PCOS or Endometriosis.

Try supplements
Magnesium, Star Flower Oil, Evening Primrose Oil and Vitamin D have all been linked to improving menstrual problems. See a professional nutritionist for information.

Problem periods shouldn’t be the norm, a good healthy period is an important part of a woman’s well-being, if yours isn’t like this then it’s time to address it.