Listen up ladies – it’s time we start talking about our periods. Generally it’s a topic that is kept quiet, but why? It is a major pillar of women’s health and well-being.
Haven’t you wondered if someone is experiencing the same period-like symptoms as you? Or have you ever wondered how the pill can affect your period? We have! That’s why we submitted our most pressing PMS, period, and birth control questions to Dr. Angel Willey, obstetrician and gynecologist with Hawaii Pacific Health. Keep reading to see what she has to say.
1. I usually get moody the week before my period. After starting a certain birth control, I noticed that I started getting extremely moody (crying for no reason, depression/anxiety, so angry that I feel like I’m going to burst, etc.). My doctor told me that it could be PMDD so he prescribed me a different pill. What does this mean and what causes it?
Many women get moody around the time of their period, but some women have more severe symptoms than others. This is called PMDD or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Birth control is an excellent treatment option, but it may take a trial of different pills to find the right one for you. A low dose antidepressant can also help with PMDD.
2. Prior to taking the pill, I got my period every month. After being on the pill for a little over five years, I noticed that I rarely ever get my period. It worries me but my doctor said that this is normal for most women on the pill.
Sometimes, especially with today’s low-dose oral contraceptive pills, a woman can have very light period or no period. This is completely normal and safe. If having a monthly period is important to you, speak with your doctor about possibly switching to a different pill.
3. I’ve read some articles that have said that the production of tampons and pads are unregulated, a.k.a. you could be putting some scary/not good stuff in you. Is this real and something I should be worried about?
The tampon and pad industry have been in the news lately and The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology does not have a statement about this yet. If you are worried about the ingredients or materials used to make pads and tampons, there are other organic alternatives available. I expect we will be hearing more about this in the following months.
4. I’ve only ever used pads or tampons, but recently I’ve seen a lot of different products (moon cup, diva cup, reusable cloth pads, etc.). Would you recommend any of these over pads or tampons?
Feminine cups, reusable pads and menstrual underwear are all options available today. It is just personal preference. Some women might not feel comfortable using a tampon or cup and some women might not like using pads or cloths. There is no right or wrong method.
5. Before and during my period I get extremely tired. What is happening in our bodies that is making us so fatigued?
Being extremely tired before and during your period is common. I get this way too (sometimes it makes me wonder if I’m getting the flu). Sleepiness during your period is your hormones fluctuating during your normal menstrual cycle. Some women are more sensitive to these cycles than others.
6. Are period cravings real? Even when I try to eat healthier, I feel like I’m always craving fast food and sweets before and during my period. Why is that? Is it best to give in to those cravings or try to resist them?
Period cravings are real. Our friendly shifts in hormones are to blame. For some it is sugar or carb cravings and for others it is salty foods. Thank goodness it’s usually limited to a few days!
Giving in to those cravings won’t completely sabotage your healthy diet if it’s done with portion control. Have a bite of that dark chocolate or a few salty chips and then try to get some exercise. Also, try to start your day off with a protein-packed breakfast which can help offset some of those afternoon cravings.
7. Why do women experience PMS/menstruation so differently? For some women it’s relatively painless but for others it can be very difficult. Is there a medical reason why?
Women are complicated creatures. They all react differently to PMS (not fair, right?). It does seem like women who eat healthy and get regular exercise do have less symptoms. That seems to be the answer to most questions.
8. Can taking the pill for a long period of time make it harder for me to have children in the future?
Being on the pill for even several years has not been proven to make it harder to get pregnant. If you think about it, pills keep you from ovulating, therefore saving an egg each month. Women on the pill for years should have more eggs left over.
9. I’m currently on a birth control pill where you get your period every three months. Are there any long-term concerns I should have about changing the natural cycle of my period?
Taking a pill that causes period to occur every three months is completely safe. Some women do experience more break-through-bleeding on this type of pill, especially if they do not take it at the same exact time every day. Once you stop this type of pill or go back on a monthly pill, your cycles should resume a monthly cycle within a month or two.
10. Is there anything women can do to mitigate the effects of PMS like cravings, bloating, cramps, and skin breakouts?
Birth control can help with cravings, bloating, acne, etc. Diet and exercise also help lessen these symptoms.
If you have any questions regarding your period and birth control, make an appointment to speak with your PCP or OB/GYN.