How’s yours? Frequently asked, personal periods questions answered!

Exploring some of your top periods questions and supplying the answers



Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma


03 April 2018

Q1. Why have I missed a period?

This is one of the most common concerns – periods arriving late. Women often panic and assume that they must be pregnant. Although this certainly could be the case if you haven’t taken the necessary precautions throughout the month, it isn’t the only reason that your period might not have showed up. 

Unfortunately, mother nature is cruel and the symptoms of PMS and early pregnancy are often worryingly similar – think bloating, painful breasts, fatigue and nausea to name a few. Until your period is actually late though, you should try not to worry, and even then, even if it is late, you might not necessarily be pregnant. Take a test to rule this possibility out first. Next, consider what also could be having an effect. We know that other factors such as stress (especially if you are in panic mode assuming you are pregnant!), changes in body weight, exercise regimes and different medication could all potentially have an effect on your monthly cycle.

So, my advice? Try not to stress – this could be delaying your period in the first place and is very often at the route of the cause. If it’s a one off, fine, but track your period going forward in case there’s the possibility that a hormone balance could be at the root of the cause instead.

Q2. My period is too light or too heavy – what’s going on?

I often get asked ‘is this normal’? Firstly, it depends on what else is going on. A one off, slightly shorted or longer period is generally nothing to worry about. But my advice is to track what’s going on over a period of a few months to give you a better idea of what might be happening with your hormones. 

If your period only lasts a few days and doesn’t show up at least every 28 days, then it could suggest you are a little low in oestrogen. If your periods last up to 7 days or more, comes more frequently than every 4 weeks and is quite heavy, then it could suggest oestrogen dominance is at work instead. 

Get clued up on hormone imbalance and learn what to look out for and what can be done to help by watching my video blog on this topic. Next, I’ll discuss when it’s more normal to have irregular periods – whether you’re in your teens, or approaching mid-life, for example...

Q3. I’ve not long started my period – is what I’m experiencing normal?

In early to mid teens it’s quite common for periods to take a little while to settle down. This can be frustrating if you’re waiting for your next one to arrive or worried when your current one will stop, but this is all the result of fluctuating hormones. Herbal remedies often aren’t suitable for under 18s and when it comes to conventional remedies, we often don’t want to influence your hormones before they’ve even had a chance to settle naturally. However, if you’re bleeding excessively or are worried, then it’s time to go to the doctors to talk it over. They’ve literally heard it all so don’t be embarrassed!

Q4. I’ve had regular periods all my life and now they are starting to change – what’s going on? 

Another common query is from women reaching their mid 40’s and wondering why their once regular periods are now all over the place. Well let me tell you – this is normal!  

In the approach to menopause (the average age is between 45 and 55 years old here in the UK), wobbly oestrogen levels mean that your periods can start to change. This can result in missing, more frequent, heavier or lighter periods, and in any combination of the above! A trip to the doctor, again, won’t do you any harm, just to double check that everything is ok; especially if you’re bleeding very heavily as we don’t want this long-term even if it is normal. However, in many cases it isn’t anything to worry about. Some soy isoflavones at this stage can help to keep things nicely in balance.

Q5. Will Agnus castus help all of my monthly ailments? 

Agnus castus has long been considered as the female herb, and to some extent this is true. However, beware, it isn’t for everyone and you could mess up your cycle more depending on what’s going on.

Agnus castus can come in useful in many cases of oestrogen dominance, when typical symptoms of PMS are getting you down such as heavy, painful periods, sore breasts, bloating, irritability and mood swings. However, if you have a longer cycle, or your cycle is more infrequent, then it might not necessarily be the one for you. Watch my video blog or submit a question for more solutions!               

Q6. My period is messed up since going on the pill or since coming off it – why?

The trouble with going on the pill is that other than for contraception, women very often go on it to help calm their hormones in the first place, perhaps for problem skin or for painful cramp, for example. Sometimes this is the best option, but there are a few points from me to consider:

  • Despite taking an artificial source of hormones, your natural levels of hormones are still able to fluctuate. This means that although the pill can sometimes help regulate things (if the right type is administered preferably), in some cases, it can do the opposite and women will denounce that ‘certain pills don’t agree with them!’ 
  • Everything may well be fine and dandy whilst you’re on the pill – your symptoms are under control for now, but what happens when you come off it? The problem with the pill is that it often only helps with the original issue whilst you are on it. If you had irregular periods before starting on the pill then this issue is very likely to return when you come back off it. Plus, if anything changes whilst you are on the pill, for example, nutritional status, stress levels or your body weight, then the pill could be masking these issues. Remember, your period whilst on the pill isn’t a true period so it could potentially be masking issues that only then  resurface when you come back off the birth control
  • Periods can often be a little messed up after coming off birth control. This is dependent on a number of factors (some as mentioned above,) but this also depends on what type of birth control you’ve been on. If you’re on the combined pill (so you have a break and have a period each month) then in some cases, your period could return to normal quite quickly. However, if you have been on a progesterone-based method such as the mini pill (which you take all throughout the month), the injection or the implant, then periods can take up to 6 months or even more, to settle back into a routine. If after 6 months things still haven’t returned to normal, it would be worth paying your doctor a visit in case something else could be at the root of the cause.

Q7. Why do I feel sick or dizzy around the time of my period?

This is a common question, and quite rightly so, as symptoms of nausea or dizziness can be debilitating! Fluctuating hormones can give rise to nausea or dizziness and some tips from me include the following:

  • Understand hormone imbalance – If nausea is the result of a hormone imbalance, gently supporting your hormones with the help of some herbs could be an option
  • Target pain and heavy periods head on – As well as considering herbal remedies, nutrient deficiencies could also be making you feel a little worse for wear. Have a good daily dose of magnesium to help manage cramp or headaches and iron if you are at risk of anaemia as a result of heavier periods
  • Keep properly hydrated – Dehydration will only make up you feel worse, so sip plenty of water throughout the day 
  • Watch what you are eating – Now more than ever you might be tempted by cravings but high fat or sugary sweet foods will only make you feel peakier. Eat regular, healthy meals to help keep your blood sugar levels stable and to help fend off dizziness
  • Add in soothing supplements – Although we’d prefer to get to the bottom of what’s causing the nausea in the first place, ginger is a great home remedy and Silicol gel helps calm a tummy in turmoil quickly. 

 

Agnus castus

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Helps maintain normal healthy balance of female hormones in younger women.
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Here's what I recommend

As the A.Vogel  Women’s Health advisor, I recommend Agnus castus to help relieve premenstrual symptoms such as painful periods.

Learn more

Did you know?

Did you know the average age of starting your periods has changed? A 100 years ago, 16 was the average age for a girl to get her first period in the UK but now this has dropped to just 12! Incredible!

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