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Period Brain Is Actually Real

“Period Brain” Is Actually Real

Muscle cramps and bleeding aren’t the only signs of a period. The brain is also involved in many fascinating ways during your period.

“This is a complex topic and it varies from woman to woman,” says Dr. Richard Honaker, Chief Medical Officer of Your Doctors Online.

Three hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) affect areas of the brain such as the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus, as Dr. Honaker further explains. This means everything from your memory to your stress level can be affected by the menstrual cycle in some very real ways. Again, it’s a complicated interaction that will effect everyone in a little differently.

For many women, it may be reassuring to know that there are definite reasons your brain feels foggy whenever it’s that time of the month. You aren’t imagining things. It’s just that there’s a delicate interaction of hormones going on, and sometimes those changes go on in your brain as well.

Here’s some specific symptoms you might be able to blame on “period brain” now, because it’s a real thing.

Decision Making

The way you make decisions may be affected by your cycle. “Estrogen can reduce impulsive decision making,” says Dr. Honaker. And during your period, your levels of estrogen are typically low. With that in mind, some people may be more prone to impulsive decision making during times of menstruation.

Emotional Well-Being

Emotional Control Can Disappear

There’s a complicated balance between hormones and emotions. “The hormone oestrogen in particular is known to increase synaptic connectivity in the part of the brain which controls emotion,” says Dr. Kim Langdon, medical advisor at Medzino. When the estrogen drops off during menstruation, however, that sense of emotional control may be compromised a bit.

Short Term Memory

Even your short term memory may be affected by hormones during menstruation. Anecdotes support this idea. “I’ve definitely had patients who feel that the period or the time right before the period can change the way they think, not only in terms of PMS or feeling moody/irritable, but issues with memory,” said gynecologist Dr. Jason Kanos in The Cut. Feeling like your brain is foggy during this time is far from unusual.

Stress Chemicals

Some hormones get repressed during this time. “Estrogen can reduce the secretion of stress chemicals like adrenalin and cortisol in the body,” says Dr. Honaker. Adrenaline is the fight or flight hormone, according to the Hormone Health Network. Meanwhile, cortisol is released during times of stress, as further explained by the Hormone Health Network. So when that estrogen drops during the time of menstruation, you might feel more stressed out or on edge than usual.

Cognative Functions

Intense pain can make it difficult to think, as anyone who’s tried to work through a migraine or toothache can tell you. Periods are no different. “The pain of periods can sometimes reduce some cognitive functions,” says Dr. Honaker. So if you feel mentally “out of it” during your period, it isn’t just your imagination. Whether it’s caused by hormones or physical pain, periods can affect your brain in so many ways.

Article by Lindsay E. Mack from Romper.

Period Pain Explained

Once you have started your periods you quickly realise that although they are a great sign that you are looking after your body, they also can be pretty uncomfortable.

Most women experience period pain at some point in their lives. For some, that ‘time of the month’ causes little or no discomfort, while for others it can be excruciating.

So what causes the pain inside your body?

The lining in your uterus builds up every month to be ready to receive a fertilised egg to implant, if you have unprotected sex,  and create a baby. If you don’t want to get pregnant and have taken precautions to stop a pregnancy, when that egg does not show up, the uterine lining (endometrial tissue) sheds itself, along with some blood.

During this time, chemicals called prostaglandins are released and trigger an inflammatory response, this triggers muscle contractions (cramps), in the uterus.

Pain is difficult to judge as you are the only one who knows how it feels for YOU but it is definitely different from woman to woman.

Some people believe that your monthly periods and the pain they can bring is our bodies way of preparing a woman to give birth to a baby in the future. ‘The initial stages of labour are very similar to periods,’ explains Dr Dasha Fielder, an Australia GP who specialises in women’s health.

‘Except with periods the pain stays about the same, whereas with labour it continues to increase and get worse until the baby is born.’

OK, so what kind of pain is normal? 

We describe normal pain as a level that is able to be controlled with acceptable home methods, such as a sticky heat pad or hot water bottle and anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen.

 

Cramping usually happens anywhere from 24 hours before your monthly period starts to two or three days into it.

If you’ve had bad period pain ever since you first started your periods, it could just be your body’s normal.

If a woman has had years of cramping, she probably has more of a sensitivity to prostaglandin. This is called primary dysmenorrhea, or pain with menstruation, and though it’s painful and should be discussed with your GP, it’s not usually a medical problem. The pain can also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

What if the pain is worse than that?

You should not have to put your life on hold during your period. If your level of pain, significantly stops you from normal activities (education, work, social activities) then you should go to see your GP.

If taking anti-inflammatory medication doesn’t make it bearable or you experience cramping regularly outside of your period, then that is not normal either. Also if your period is much, much worse than it used to be, that is also a red flag to go see your GP.

Secondary dysmenorrhea, or pain that is “new, getting worse or changing over time,” can be a sign of an underlying condition. Often, it’s paired with heavy bleeding, but not always.

While your period can sometimes get more uncomfortable as you get older, a rapid or significant shift in the level of pain you’re in is definitely something you want to talk to your doctor about.

What are the common causes of painful periods?

Fibroids

Usually when we think of heavy periods and prolonged bleeding and severe cramping, we think of a fibroid. These benign tumors that grow in the walls of the uterus are common—over 70 percent of women will experience them at some point. Black women, and women with a family history of fibroids, have an even higher risk.

Endometriosis

This condition happens when endometrial tissue grows where it’s not supposed to, anywhere outside of the uterus. The tissue builds up, sheds, and bleeds, just like it does in your uterus, but without the vaginal escape route period blood is supposed to have. Endometriosis can also cause blood-filled cysts on the ovaries or lead to the development of scar tissue (which can cause fertility problems). These things often cause pelvic pain and excruciating cramping during menstruation.

Adenomyosis

This condition, which is more common for women in their 30s and 40s, is when the lining of the uterus starts to invade into the muscle of the uterus. Similar to endometriosis, this tissue still sloughs every month, causing the lining to shed and bleed in the pockets of the muscle. Your uterus contracts and cramps more in response to get rid of the buildup.

Miscarriage

If you’re miscarrying and don’t know it, it can present as a really painful period.

It is known that over 25% of women miscarry, but that number may be as high as 40% because many women don’t realize they’re having a miscarriage or that they were pregnant to begin with.

If your pain is due to a miscarriage, it would only happen one cycle, not regularly every month.

 No matter the cause of your pain, it can be managed.

Fibroids can be removed. Endometriosis and Adenomyosis can be managed with things like hormonal medications, pain medication, and minimally invasive surgery. For primary dysmenorrhea, your doctor may suggest starting hormonal birth control, or can prescribe stronger pain meds to use when your cramps are worst.

When you’re self-treating, the key is to do it before it gets too painful. “Don’t wait until bleeding starts and it ramps up” to take an anti-inflammatory medication.You want to pre-medicate so you can decrease inflammation and pain. Try taking your go-to over-the-counter pain meds before the prostaglandins get your uterus kicking.

Heat can usually reduce the pain so a heat pad, hot water bottle or warm bath might also help. Rubbing Geranium Essential oil on your tummy can also regulate the pain by calming your hormones naturally.

Some doctors recommend taking calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D supplements as there is a lot of research about that and PMS symptoms.

Talk with your doctor before supplementing to make sure it’s OK for you and won’t interfere with any other medications you take.

And although most often moving is the last thing you want to do, gentle exercise is one of the best pain relief options you’ve got.

When exercising your body releases endorphins and increased oxygenation to the uterus will help with relieving the pain. Again, doing this before the pain hits works best. Yoga, which stretches and strengthens the pelvis, can work wonders, too.

A lot of women think they are supposed to be in a lot of pain during their periods and never speak up.

Women can suffer to the point they don’t go to work or school or miss out on social opportunities. Even if it’s not due to an underlying condition, simply having horrible pain can be addressed.

Article by By Amy Marturana from YourTango.

Most Common STI In UK

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK.

It is passed on through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) and is particularly common in sexually active teenagers and young adults.

If you live in England, are under 25 and are sexually active, it’s recommended that you get tested for chlamydia every year or when you change sexual partner.

Symptoms of chlamydia

Most people with chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms and don’t know they have it.

If you do develop symptoms, you may experience:

  • pain when peeing
  • unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or rectum (back passage)
  • in women, pain in the tummy, bleeding after sex and bleeding between periods
  • in men, pain and swelling in the testicles

If you think you’re at risk of having an STI or have any symptoms of chlamydia, visit your GP, community contraceptive service or local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic to get tested.

Read more about chlamydia symptoms.

How do you get chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection. The bacteria are usually spread through sex or contact with infected genital fluids (semen or vaginal fluid).

You can get chlamydia through:

  • unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex
  • sharing sex toys that aren’t washed or covered with a new condom each time they’re used
  • your genitals coming into contact with your partner’s genitals – this means you can get chlamydia from someone even if there is no penetration, orgasm or ejaculation
  • infected semen or vaginal fluid getting into your eye

It can also be passed by a pregnant woman to her baby – read about the complications of chlamydia for more information about this.

Chlamydia can’t be passed on through casual contact, such as kissing and hugging, or from sharing baths, towels, swimming pools, toilet seats or cutlery.

Is chlamydia serious?

Although chlamydia doesn’t usually cause any symptoms and can normally be treated with a short course of antibiotics, it can be serious if it’s not treated early on.

If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body and lead to long-term health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), epididymo-orchitis (inflammation of the testicles) and infertility. It can also sometimes cause reactive arthritis.

This is why it’s important to get tested and treated as soon as possible if you think you might have chlamydia.

Read more about the complications of chlamydia.

Getting tested for chlamydia

Testing for chlamydia is done with a urine test or a swab test. You don’t always need a physical examination by a nurse or doctor.

Anyone can get a free and confidential chlamydia test at a sexual health clinic, a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or a GP surgery.

People under 25 years old can also get tested by the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP). This is often in places such as pharmacies, contraception clinics or colleges.

If you live in England, you’re under 25 and you’re sexually active, you should get tested for chlamydia every year or when you change sexual partner, as you’re more likely to catch it.

You can also buy chlamydia testing kits to do at home.

Read more about getting a chlamydia test.

How chlamydia is treated

Chlamydia can usually be treated easily with antibiotics. You may be given some tablets to take all on 1 day, or a longer course of capsules to take for a week.

You shouldn’t have sex until you and your current sexual partner have finished treatment. If you had the 1-day course of treatment, you should avoid having sex for a week afterwards.

It’s important that your current sexual partner and any other recent sexual partners you’ve had are also tested and treated to help stop the spread of the infection.

The NCSP recommends that under-25s who have chlamydia should be offered another test around 3 months after being treated. This is because young adults who test positive for chlamydia are at increased risk of catching it again.

Sexual health or GUM clinics can help you contact your sexual partners. Either you or the clinic can speak to them, or they can be sent a note advising them to get tested. The note won’t have your name on it, so your confidentiality will be protected.

Read more about treating chlamydia.

Preventing chlamydia

Anyone who is sexually active can catch chlamydia. You’re most at risk if you have a new sexual partner or don’t use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom, when having sex.

You can help to prevent the spread of chlamydia by:

  • using a condom every time you have vaginal or anal sex
  • using a condom to cover the penis during oral sex
  • using a dam (a piece of thin, soft plastic or latex) to cover the female genitals during oral sex or when rubbing female genitals together
  • not sharing sex toys

If you do share sex toys, wash them or cover them with a new condom between each person who uses them.

Article by The Team from NHS

Lies About Sexually Transmitted Infections

You can tell someone has an STI by looking at them. 

People especially think this is true when it comes to HIV and there is this a misguided idea that someone with HIV will always look frail and sick as opposed to being at a healthy weight and well-kept. You can’t tell if someone has an STI by their looks and thanks to new and improved medication, people with HIV can live long, healthy lives without it ever progressing to AIDS, a syndrome that leaves people open to life-threatening infections.

This myth also applies more specifically to people’s genitals. Some people have a “quick check” of a new partner’s genitals to make sure everything looks “normal” before having sex. Outside of an active outbreak of herpes or genital warts, the majority of the time you wont see any visual evidence of an STI. But if someone has it, they can still transmit it.

Worth knowing: There are lots of causes of genital bumps, so if someone has one, it doesn’t automatically mean they have an STI.

STIs always cause symptoms which you can see.
Contrary to popular opinion, many STIs aren’t likely to cause symptoms. If they do, they’re often symptoms like itching that can be chalked up to some other kind of infection, like a yeast infection.
A lot of STIs are asymptomatic or the symptoms are so mild, you wouldn’t necessarily know they’re STIs. For example, most people with vaginas who get chlamydia or gonorrhea won’t experience any symptoms.

As long as you’re using a condom, you can’t get an STI.

Yes, when used properly, condoms can offer excellent protection against many sexually transmitted infections. But they’re not a sure thing. If you’re using animal-skin condoms, the pores on those are large enough for small STI-causing particles to get through.

Even if you use latex or polyurethane condoms, which do offer STI protection, herpes and HPV can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, so condoms don’t fully protect against them.

If your partner tells you they’ve been checked for STIs, you can immediately leave the condoms.

Most people don’t wear condoms for more than a month with a new partner and hearing that your partner has been checked for STIs can feel like the permission you wanted to forget the condoms.

But there are a few problems in this plan…

First of all, sometimes people lie, call us cynical.

The other issue is that if you’re having sex with a person with a penis, unless they have visible genital warts, there’s no way to know if they have HPV, because people with penises don’t get tested for it. That means even if they do get tested for all other STIs and don’t have them, they could still pass HPV along to you. HPV can cause cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and other cancers in women, as well as common and genital warts.

So please wear a condom – no matter how much he moans he would rather have protected sex than no sex! – or use protection. If you’re not going to do that, stay on top of your health in other ways which means getting the HPV vaccine (no matter your age) and getting regular STI testing, especially between partners.

STIs are only a concern during penis-in-vagina intercourse.

Anywhere there’s a moist environment, an STI can be transmitted, conditions like anal chlamydia and HPV-related oral cancers as examples.

You can absolutely get an STI from oral and anal sex and should protect yourself with condoms and dental dams accordingly.

A condom is only necessary when a person is about to ejaculate.

This misconception is rooted in the idea that pregnancy prevention is the only issue. Sure if you don’t want to have a baby take advantage of condoms’ pregnancy preventing ways. But using them throughout the entire act is the only way to get maximum STI protection, too.

Of course, same-sex couples who don’t have to worry about pregnancy are still vulnerable to STIs, meaning protection is a good thing to have all around.

Having your period offers extra protection against STIs.

Many people think you can’t get pregnant while you’re on your period, this is a lie and also having sex while you bleed also offers protection against STIs. You can, in fact, contract one while menstruating.

Also getting an STI during your period could actually make it more harmful.

If you contract an STI during your period, the cervix is open a bit, which increases the risk for pelvic inflammatory disease – a condition that happens when bacteria from an STI travels from the vagina to reproductive organs -which can lead to infertility if left untreated.

Showering or douching after sex will prevent STIs.

While showering is great and very necessary, it can’t get rid of an STI if you have one. Neither can douching—and this practice can throw off the bacterial balance in the vagina, leading to annoying infections like bacterial vaginosis. Plus, if you douche while you have an STI, the pressure can push bacteria up higher into areas like your uterus and fallopian tubes, increasing your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease.

If you get an STI, it means you’re “dirty.”

This is a commonly thought lie which steams from the negative attitude of Men judging women who enjoy and have sex. If you are sexually active as a woman this can frequently be looked upon as negative. STIs cross every sexual, socioeconomic, educational, racial, religious, and ethnic barrier—getting one doesn’t say anything bad about you.

Luckily, many STIs are treatable. But even if you end up contracting one that isn’t, remember that other people in your shoes continue to live full, happy lives.

Article by By Zahra Barnes from SELF

Is Your Discharge Happy?

Everyone with a vagina knows that, by the end of the day,  there will be a moist patch or a sticky patch or both in their underwear.

How much vaginal discharge there is and what it looks like can vary, but it’s unlikely that your undies are always going to be completely spotless before you take them off at bedtime.

Since you’re probably not chatting about discharge with your friends you might not be sure whether this is normal.

The team here at Bloody Marvellous are passionate about your education in the Feminine Hygiene Department and wanted to explain what exactly it is your vagina is telling you.

The majority of women (all ages) will have discharge in their underwear at the end of day. In fact it would be unusual if you don’t regularly have some vaginal secretions making their mark in your panties.

Discharge is most often a sign that your vagina is staying healthy. A bit like the saliva in your mouth—it should be there.

“Your discharge is a clue that your vagina is cleaning itself properly”

Your vagina is a delicate environment. It’s constantly working to stay lubricated, maintain its pH balance, and keep good vs. bad bacteria in check. Self-cleansing through discharge is one of the things your vagina does to achieve these goals. That discharge usually comes from the vagina itself and mucus made by your cervix, the low, narrow portion of your uterus.

Since discharge does such a great job of cleaning your vagina, you don’t need to do anything to help it out. That means no “special” products marketed towards making your vagina cleaner—things like douches can just upset your natural pH balance and promote irritation and infection.

Your discharge will usually fluctuate throughout the month—except if you’re on hormonal birth control containing estrogen.

Normal vaginal discharge can change in consistency and color throughout your cycle. Here is why it can look wildly different at seemingly random times.

Let’s start with your period, which is when the shedding of your endometrial lining completely overtakes any normal discharge changes you’ll see. After that, you may experience a few “dry” days when you’re producing very little cervical mucus, but since your vagina is still lubricating and cleaning itself, you might still see some discharge—just less since there’s not as much cervical mucus in the mix.

Then, when one of your eggs starts preparing for ovulation, your estrogen levels rise, and you may see an uptick in cervical mucus in your underwear. This can look white, yellow, or cloudy, and if you touch it, it’ll probably feel sticky. The closer you get to ovulation, the more your estrogen levels rise, and the thinner and slipperier this discharge will typically become. This is to allow sperm to travel more easily through your vagina and into your uterus.

Your body is getting ready to get pregnant. It may look like you spilled egg whites into your underwear, and that’s completely normal.

After ovulation, if you don’t get pregnant, your estrogen levels drop. Your discharge can get thicker and cloudier, and you may even have a few more “dry days.” If you notice a pinkish discharge right before your period, it’s nothing to panic about: It just means that your endometrial lining is starting to shed slowly and is a sign that your period is coming soon.

Then, you get your period, and the cycle begins again.

Taking hormonal birth control may impact your natural discharge rhythm, especially if you’re using a method with estrogen this is because estrogen in birth control suppresses ovulation, it’s unlikely you’ll see any major discharge changes during the month.

However, if you’re taking a progesterone-only BC, like the minipill or a hormonal IUD, your discharge may still change because these methods don’t impact your ovulation as much.

There are various types of discharge changes that signal your vagina is not happy.

You know what’s normal for you, and any major, lasting changes in your discharge should be discussed with your doctor, even if they don’t worry you.

Here is a guide to the types of discharge that you should be looking out for, as they probably mean your vaginal is feeling poorly.

Yellow or green smelly discharge:

This indicates that your body is trying to fight an infection. Possible culprits include sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, chlamdydia, and trichomoniasis, a lesser-known STI caused by a parasite. Bacterial vaginosis, which happens when “bad” bacteria in your vagina (anaerobes) outnumber “good” bacteria there (lactobacilli), may also be the cause.

These infections typically also cause a foul-smelling vaginal odor, another sign you should ask your doctor for evaluation.

An uptick in gray or white discharge:

While yellow or green discharge is a sure sign something’s up, that doesn’t mean lighter discharge is always A-OK. All of the above infections can cause an uptick in gray or white discharge as well. This is why it’s important to tell your doctor if you’re seeing a lot more of the stuff, even if the color doesn’t immediately seem off.

Cottage cheese-like discharge:

Having itchiness or burning with discharge that resembles cottage cheese can mean you have a yeast infection. But if you keep self-treating what seems like a yeast infection and it always comes back, see your doctor. You may have recurrent yeast infections (meaning you get four or more a year) that require longer treatment, or your “yeast infection” may be something else entirely, like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Bloody discharge not related to your period:

If you’re seeing pink, red, or brown discharge at any point in your cycle other than during your period or just before it, you should call your doctor.

You could just be spotting unexpectedly due to something like a change in your birth control or cervical polyps (non-cancerous growths on your cervix). However, in rare cases, bloody discharge can be a sign of cervical cancer.

Bottom line: Discharge collecting in your underwear throughout the day is completely healthy, but if yours looks different in a way that worries you, talk to your doctor.

BM says: When there’s a change in your normal, go get it checked.

Article by Karin Miller from SELF 

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