By Dr. Michelle Lim, D.C.
Do you find yourself eating a pint of Yogurtland with a hot pack over your belly, popping Midol, and watching re-runs of The Kardashians once a month? For some of us, this scene is just part of the routine every couple of weeks. Like clockwork, we are confined to stay in due to cramps, bloating, headaches, and fatigue. We’ve come to accept pain as part of the normal protocol during our periods. Some women even plan around their cycles, claiming they can’t do things on a particular week because it’s “that time of the month.” But, c’mon, ladies… Periods shouldn’t be THAT debilitating! After all, menstruating isn’t an illness, yet we’re conditioned to believe that our periods are associated with these symptoms. Women have become immune to what’s really going on inside their bodies and it’s time to change that. What women need to know is that a healthy cycle starts with a healthy body. And when we have a highly functioning nervous system, periods should be nothing more than a slight discomfort.
According to the NWHIC, about 30-40% of women suffer some impairment of daily activity before their menstrual cycle begins, while 75% of menstruating women experience some kind of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Symptoms can include bloating, headaches, fatigue, breast tenderness, constipation, nausea, irritability, mood swings and cramps. These symptoms can occur before, during, or even after a cycle. Conventional methods of treatment include prescription birth control and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as NSAIDs) in attempt to ease menstrual discomfort. These medicines provide temporary relief, but long-term use of them can have some dire consequences. Prolonged use of NSAIDs can result in gastrointestinal problems such as bleeding, ulcerations or perforation of the stomach and intestines, which can be fatal. Not to mention the risk of serious side effects oral contraceptives present that may lead to blood clots, heart attack and immune system suppression, just to name a few.
So what can Chiropractic do for you?
Chiropractic is a drugless, non-surgical, natural and holistic approach to relieve pain and restore health. A Chiropractor makes sure your body functions at its maximal potential by aligning the spine. Like every other organ, the female sexual organs need nerve supply from the spine. So when your spine is structurally mal-positioned from a fall, poor posture or past accidents, it can cause a neuro-chemical imbalance through irritation of the sympathetic nervous system. Therefore, correcting segments of the spine not only alleviates pain, but also allows the body to properly function, both inside and out. A spine in alignment maintains maximum range of motion, proper biomechanics, healthy circulation, and relaxation of muscles for a stress free nervous system. Having a stress free nervous system means that the female reproductive system doesn’t have to work so hard because its been brought back to a state of homeostasis. This means less pain overall, regardless of what time of the month it is.
Chiropractors view the overall health of the body (not just the area where the symptom is felt) and take a proactive approach to wellness, so he or she may counsel you in nutrition and provide exercise education-two important factors in controlling menstrual pain. We know that inflammation equals pain, so it’s important to stay away from pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar, dairy and anything processed. Instead, reach for omega-3 rich foods such as salmon, walnuts, and flax seeds; not only will they help fight inflammation, but are brain and skin healthy too. Another thing worth noting is the power of physical activity. Contrary to the trend of being sedentary when you’re on your menses, you actually need to move! Movement creates healthy blood flow and stimulates endorphins so you can feel better naturally. Being on your period shouldn't be disabling. Besides getting an adjustment, these are just a few things you can do for an optimal menstrual cycle.So visit your Chiropractor and see what he or she can do for you. Women with painful periods usually experience other episodes of pain not necessarily related to their period, but related to how well their body is functioning overall. Chiropractic doesn’t “cure” anything, but because the central nervous system plays an essential role in terms of regulating and healing the body, an adjustment returns the body to a state of homeostasis, thus many people with various types of conditions experience relief. Just like in elementary science, we learned that homeostasis is the ideal state in which all living organisms seek to attain. Chiropractic can help you get there so you can have a healthy, happier you and a healthier, happier period too. Remember, that menstrual discomfort isn’t from a Midol deficiency or a lack of chocolate. Choose a treatment that respects your body and can give you the tools to heal your body from within. See how Chiropractic can benefit you and help you achieve your health goals today.
*If your period interferes with your school or work and causes you to become bedridden, you should consult your gynecologist to rule out any underlying medical condition that can include uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease or endometriosis.