7 ways your menstrual cycle affects your body

7 ways your menstrual cycle affects your body
Ladies, ever wondered how your menstrual cycle influences your body? We unveil the many ways it can impact you, from your weight to your mood!
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The menstrual cycle is a natural and vital part of a woman's reproductive health. While it might seem like it only impacts your reproductive system, it can actually have a far-reaching influence on your entire body.

In this article, we'll explore several ways your menstrual cycle affects your body. But before that let's try to understand what it is.

Menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is like Mother Nature's monthly visit, and it's all about preparing your body for the possibility of pregnancy.

On average, it lasts about 28 days, but it can vary from person to person. The star of the show is ovulation, which typically occurs around the middle of your cycle (around day 14 if it's a 28-day cycle).

Ovulation is when your ovaries release a mature egg, and it makes its way down your fallopian tube, waiting to be fertilised by a sperm cell. This is also when your fertile period kicks in, so you're most likely to get pregnant if you have unprotected sex a day or two before ovulation or on the day of ovulation itself. Plus, sperm cells can remain viable in the female reproductive tract for up to five days.

If the egg isn't met by a sperm, it disintegrates, and your uterus sheds its lining, causing your period. And the cycle starts all over again.

How the menstrual cycle affects your body

So, the menstrual cycle is part and parcel of womanhood. But, while its main function is for ovulation and reproduction, it also affects your body in more ways than one. Let's dive into the different ways this affects your body.

  • Your weight

It's not uncommon to notice weight changes during your menstrual cycle. These fluctuations are typically due to hormonal shifts, water retention, and changes in appetite.

Estrogen and progesterone, the two primary hormones involved in the menstrual cycle, can impact your body's water balance. As a result, you might experience bloating and a temporary weight gain of a few pounds during your period. Don't fret, though - it's usually just water weight, and it tends to subside once your cycle is over.

  • Menstrual cycle and breast tenderness

Breast tenderness is a common symptom experienced by many individuals during their menstrual cycle. This discomfort, known as mastalgia, is linked to hormonal fluctuations, particularly the rise in estrogen and progesterone. These hormones can cause your breast tissue to become more sensitive, leading to soreness and swelling.

To alleviate breast tenderness, consider wearing a supportive bra and applying warm compresses to your breasts. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help.

  • Sleep and your cycle

The menstrual cycle can have a significant impact on your sleep patterns. Many people report having trouble sleeping during their period due to discomfort, cramps, and hormonal changes. The drop in progesterone that occurs just before menstruation can disrupt your sleep quality.

To improve sleep during your period, practice relaxation techniques, maintain a regular sleep schedule, and consider over-the-counter pain relief if cramps are keeping you awake.

  • Why do you get breakouts when your period is near?

For some individuals, the menstrual cycle can lead to changes in skin health, including acne breakouts. Hormonal fluctuations can stimulate the sebaceous glands in your skin to produce more oil. This causes your pores to get clogged, leading to pimples.

While it's not always preventable, you can manage menstrual-related acne by maintaining a good skincare routine, including cleansing and using products that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

  • Menstrual cycle and emotional changes

Emotional changes are a common aspect of the menstrual cycle. Fluctuations in hormones can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin, which plays a role in mood regulation.

It's not unusual to experience heightened emotions, irritability, or even sadness during your period. Self-care strategies such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and talking to a trusted friend or therapist can help you manage these emotional shifts.

  • Menstrual cycle and mood swings

Mood swings are closely related to emotional changes but deserve a separate mention due to their intensity and impact. The hormonal rollercoaster that comes with your menstrual cycle can lead to mood swings ranging from irritability to euphoria. These changes often peak in the days leading up to your period (premenstrual syndrome or PMS).

Keeping track of your cycle and recognising patterns in your mood can help you prepare for and manage these fluctuations.

  • Menstrual cycle and libido (sex during menstruation)

The idea of having sex during your period is a personal choice, and it's important to communicate openly with your partner about your preferences. Some individuals may find that their libido increases during their menstrual cycle due to heightened sensitivity and increased blood flow to the pelvic area. Others may feel less inclined due to discomfort or other factors.

Remember that it's perfectly okay to engage in sexual activity during menstruation if both partners are comfortable with it, but using protection is still crucial to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancy.

  • How it affects your appetite

Your menstrual cycle can indeed influence your appetite. Many people experience cravings for specific foods, particularly sweet or salty treats, during their period. This can be attributed to hormonal fluctuations, as well as changes in serotonin levels.

While indulging in your cravings is perfectly fine in moderation, try to maintain a balanced diet to support your overall health and energy levels.

How to manage your period and stay healthy and sane

Dealing with your period can sometimes feel like navigating a rollercoaster ride of emotions and physical changes.

But fear not, because we've got some handy tips to help you manage your period like a pro while staying healthy and keeping your sanity intact.

From nutrition to self-care, here's a shortlist to keep you feeling your best during that time of the month.

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help alleviate bloating and reduce the chances of constipation, which can be common during your period. Aim for at least eight cups (64 ounces) of water a day to keep your body well-hydrated.
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods: Opt for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Foods like dark leafy greens, nuts, and salmon can provide essential nutrients like iron and magnesium that your body may need during menstruation.
  • Manage pain with heat: Applying heat, whether from a heating pad or a warm bath, can ease menstrual cramps and soothe muscle tension. It's a simple and effective way to find relief.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Stress can exacerbate period symptoms, so take time for relaxation. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, or even a simple walk in nature can help reduce stress and improve your mood.
  • Exercise regularly: While it may be the last thing you feel like doing, light exercise like walking or yoga can help relieve cramps and boost your mood by releasing endorphins.
  • Stay prepared: Always have a stash of period products on hand. Whether you prefer tampons, pads, or menstrual cups, being prepared ensures you can handle any surprises with confidence.
  • Track your cycle: Use a period-tracking app or calendar to monitor your menstrual cycle. This can help you predict when your period is due and prepare for it both mentally and physically.
  • Prioritise sleep: Don't underestimate the power of a good night's sleep. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night to keep your energy levels up and help regulate your mood.
  • Listen to your body: Each person's period is unique. Pay attention to your body's signals and adjust your routine accordingly. If you need extra rest or self-care, don't hesitate to indulge.
  • Seek medical advice if needed: If your period symptoms are severe, such as extremely heavy bleeding or intense pain, consult a healthcare professional. They can offer guidance and potential treatments to manage your symptoms effectively.

Remember, your period is a natural part of life, and it doesn't have to be a source of stress or discomfort. With these tips and a little self-care, you can navigate your menstrual cycle

The menstrual cycle is a complex and dynamic process that affects various aspects of your body and well-being. While it can bring challenges such as breast tenderness, acne, and emotional fluctuations, it's essential to remember that these changes are entirely normal and manageable.

By understanding how your menstrual cycle influences your body, you can better prepare for its effects and take steps to alleviate any discomfort or inconvenience it may bring.

Remember, if you have severe or persistent symptoms that significantly disrupt your daily life, it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and potential treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

ALSO READ: What is your menstrual cycle telling you?

This article was first published in theAsianparent.

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