Period Talk with Dr Joseph Sgroi
Our menstrual cycle is a direct indicator of our health, and periods are our bodies’ way of communicating whether things are working as they should. Menstrual cycles are driven by hormones. Due to this, our cycles can be influenced by many contributing elements, from common factors such as stress, extreme weight loss, excessive exercise, aging, pregnancy, breastfeeding, to health complications including premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
On any given day, roughly 800 million women and girls in the world menstruate. Changes in periods happen more often than not - this is why normalising the conversations around menstrual health is extremely pertinent. At Lovekins, we believe that understanding the details of your cycle can help you better manage your overall health, emotions and holistic wellbeing. It is time for us to talk about periods!
Today on the blog, we invited Lovekins’ brand ambassador, Dr. Joseph Sgroi, to answer some questions about periods.
WHAT DOES DIFFERENT PERIOD COLOURS MEAN?
Periods can be preceded by some vaginal spotting or light bleeding, but it usually starts as bright red bleeding. Generally speaking, the bleeding tends to lighten in colour and amount as your cycle proceeds. The last day or two of your period will often transition to a brown colour as the flow lightens even further.
However, the colours of periods can also reflect your health condition. If the change of colour is associated with other discomforts or cycle abnormalities, we recommend speaking with your GP or gynaecologist.
WHAT ARE COMMON PERIOD SYMPTOMS OF ENDOMETRIOSIS?
A common symptom of endometriosis is menorrhagia, also known as heavy periods. Most people with endometriosis also report significant or debilitating pain during menstruation, though in rare cases some people experience no pain at all. Any concerns regarding pain or heaviness of flow during your period should be discussed with your doctor and may require further investigation before a diagnosis is reached.
WHAT ARE COMMON PERIOD SYMPTOMS OF PCOS?
A common symptom of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) is the absence of a period, also known as amenorrhea. This occurs due to the hormonal imbalance associated with the condition. Women with PCOS tend to have elevated androgen (male hormone) levels which interfere with the hormonal balance required to experience a normal menstrual cycle. Other symptoms of PCOS can include excess hair growth, acne, infertility and obesity.
HOW DO PERIODS AFFECT FERTILITY AND HOW SHOULD SOMEONE MONITOR PERIODS WHEN TRYING TO CONCEIVE?
The menstrual cycle consists of four distinct phases: the menstrual phase, which is when the bleed occurs, the follicular phase, which is when the follicles mature, the ovulation phase, which is when an egg (or eggs) is released, and the luteal phase, which is when the uterine lining thickens.
In order to achieve pregnancy, sperm needs to be present when ovulation occurs, and successful fertilisation and implantation must follow. During ovulation, discharge tends to become thinner and mucous-like. This enables the sperm to travel through the cervix more easily and into the uterus and fallopian tubes to meet an egg.
When trying to conceive, women can monitor their cervical mucus as a helpful indication of when ovulation is likely to occur. For women under 35 years old, pregnancy can take up to 12 months to achieve. For women over 35 years old, it can take up to six months. Beyond these time frames it is recommended that women seek advice from a fertility specialist to arrange relevant investigations.
Regardless of the intention to conceive, we encourage you to monitor your menstrual health and practice self-care. Take a rest when you need to, because you deserve a kind retreat. Step back when you’re overwhelmed. Look after yourself using toxic-free products such as sanitary pads made with natural Australian cotton. Listen to your body - more importantly, don’t hesitate to talk about periods and seek help!