Aching bums & other weird period symptoms
Over the years, my period symptoms have most definitely evolved! I think childbirth was a big milestone as previous to this I don't ever remember ever having an issues with my periods at all. They were pretty regular and pretty light. Ah, how nice that must've been!
For the past 6 months I have been noting down any symptoms that crop up throughout my cycle and tracking any patterns taking place around specific times. I also decided to ask a few other ladies if they experienced any repetitive symptoms that were unusual or unexplained. I then did a little bit of research into why certain things might be happening at certain times in the cycle. Hopefully this could shed a bit of light for you if you are experiencing similar things....
Aching bottom cheeks
Three or four days before my period is due to start. It almost feels like I am tensing my glutes constantly, or like a heightened version of the feeling when you are just about to go to the toilet! It's not a horrendous symptom, but it is quite strange! I originally thought that perhaps I was getting piles or something, but then I saw from my notes that this was only happening right before my period.
I found an article on HealthSite.com that helped to shed some light on this one, explaining that the sensations could be down to spasms in the pelvic muscles when a period is about to begin. These spasms put pressure on the gluteal muscles (the muscles in your bottom), so when this pressure builds up, it causes the pain and tension. Apparently, bum pain during periods is common in women whose uterus tilts towards the back. How bizarre!
I find that stretches such as Downward Facing Dog and Child's Pose help me to ease the aching, and also a nice warm bath with magnesium flakes, too.
ARM PIT PAIN
"I get a sharp pain under my left arm put that aches for about 4 days before my period" says Lisa, aged 39. This is also combined with really heavy boobs that feel like they have doubled in size.
Breast tenderness seems to be a very common menstrual symptom, caused by changes in your Estrogen and Progesterone levels. Estrogen can cause the breast ducts to enlarge, where as Progesterone production causes the milk glands to swell. Both of these events can cause your breasts to feel sore and enlarged.
As well as the direct breast pain (which in itself can manifest in a whole range of ways), some pain can also radiate into the armpit. Some women have experienced discomfort only in the armpit, and nothing in the breast at all, and others both together. My friend Natalia doesn't get the arm pit pain, but instead gets a sharp, shooting pain that fires inwards from her nipple.
A supportive, yet comfy bra can really help to ease some of this discomfort - for example a sports bar. And, it may help to sleep in it during the night as well for extra support. Again, warm baths and ibuprofen have been noted to reduce symptoms, as well as self-massage.
diarrhoea & DIGESTIVE ISSUES
One of the most frustrating symptoms I experience around period time is an awful upset stomach. This often comes around 2 days before my period is due to start and lasts for the duration of the period (around 3 days for me). I feel totally sick and completely lose my appetite - and can regularly lose around 2kg in this 5 or 6 day window each month.
One of my sons' friends' mums, Ange, also experiences an annoying upset tummy each month, but only the few days before her period and it stops when the period starts. Another friend, Natalia* experiences diarrhoea as well as excessive wind. Poor love.
Most medical researchers believe that these symptoms are closely related to an increase in hormones called prostaglandins, which are released before your period. These Prostaglandins cause contractions internally, which help your uterus to shed its lining (this makes me feel even more sick when I start to think about it!) Sometimes, this simultaneously causes contractions in your intestines, which can cause a range of GI symptoms, such as the sickness and diarrhoea.
I find that keeping to a very simple diet around this time, helps to lessen the blow. I totally avoid caffeine, alcohol and dairy products, as well as wheat, spicy foods or anything with lots of sugar in. Porridge is good, with a dollop of natural honey, plus bananas, rice and ginger ale. I also try to drink loads more water than usual, which I often infuse with freshly grated ginger.
Let's face it - periods suck! If you have any strange symptoms or advice you would like to share, then I would love to hear from you!