The menstrual cycle is quite sensitive to changes, whether these changes are external or internal. Anything that displeases Aunt Flo will cause drastic changes in her flow. Any disruption in the normal cycle is alarming for a woman, whether it is a missed period, prolonged period, heavy flow, or reduced flow. 

But before panicking and assuming the worst about the changes in your menstrual flow, it is imperative to know about the normal menstrual cycle. 

Normal blood loss during periods ranges from 5mL to 80mL. This may seem a lot but this is less than 10 tablespoons of blood loss. A normal cycle lasts between 21 to 35 days. Abnormal Uterine Bleeding (AUB) occurs when the cycle and blood loss is out of range. 

Amenorrhea​ is the complete absence of menstruation.

This can be due to pregnancy, hormonal disturbances, drug intake, or chronic diseases. 

Oligomenorrhea is when the cycles are infrequent and more than 36 days apart.

The most frequent cause of it is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (​PCOS​).

Menorrhagia​ is when menstrual blood loss exceeds 80 mL. The cycles may be regular or irregular. Several etiologies have been implicated in menorrhagia. Non-structural causes include ovarian dysfunction, bleeding disorders, or drug-induced (antipsychotics, antidepressants, steroids, etc). 

Structural causes include endometrial polyp, endometriosis, adenomyosis, endometrial hyperplasia, leiomyomas (fibroids), and malignancy. 

When Abnormal Uterine Bleeding lasts for a longer duration and impacts the quality of your life, it is important to seek a doctor’s help. Prolonged bleeding can lead to iron deficiency with or without anemia and also cause fatigue. 

Foods that contribute to heavy flow and can be avoided during periods: 

● Pineapples: Pineapple contains an enzyme known as ​Bromelain​. Bromelain prevents the formation of clots and platelet aggregation. This can lead to excessive bleeding. This fruit also has ​uterotonic​ properties (causes uterine contractions), which explains by it is typically avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy.

● Beetroot: is a dietary source of inorganic nitrate. Nitrate causes the dilation of blood vessels. This explains why the consumption of this vegetable or its juice increases menstrual blood flow. This mechanism also contributes to the ​blood pressure-lowering​ property of beetroot. 

● Papaya: raw unripe ​papaya​ contains a proteolytic enzyme known as chymopapain. It also prevents the formation of clots. 

Periods are known to ​reduce​ exercise performance. However, a sedentary lifestyle should not be adopted as it increases period pain and contributes to heavy flow. Exercise​ is known to alleviate PMS symptoms and improve strength. A light jog, low-intensity cardiovascular exercises, ​yoga​, stretching, and pilates can be done during your periods. 

Some exercises that should be avoided are high-intensity cardiovascular exercises and inverted yoga poses. There are varying opinions about inverted yoga poses. But it has been theorized that these poses increase vascular congestion within the uterus thus contributing to a painful heavy flow. 

If you are feeling particularly exhausted and fatigued, do not feel compelled to exercise. Take a break from it and relax your body for a few days. 

Monitoring menstrual flow is essential to maintaining menstrual health. Any change from the regular pattern of flow may be an indication of an underlying medical condition. Or maybe it is the stressors of life that lead to a change in menstrual flow. So take a deep breath and relax. Take care of your mind and body during your menstrual cycle. Nurture yourself, hopefully, this time Aunt Flo’s visit may be a pleasant one.


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