Periods can be rough for some women. The female body prepares for the chance to have a baby each month, and when that doesn’t happen, the body sheds the lining of the uterus it prepared, and sends it out of the body. That can be a hormonally turbulent situation–especially the first few times as you’re still trying to figure out everything else going on during puberty. Beyond that, there are some women who have worse and harder periods than others. This can come in the form of heavier blood flow, largely irregular cycles, or more painful cramps. This is not normal, however common it may be. It’s not healthy.

When you have a heavier, irregular, painful period, it can be tempting to look for a quick fix. The good news is that the “quick fix” isn’t the only solution out there. There’s hope to restore health and proper function so that your period doesn’t have to be unbearable, and you don’t have to look for a way to turn it off.

What causes heavy and painful periods?

Puberty starts in the tween years, but it’s affected by all the years leading up to them. What the body is fed and nurtured with when it’s young has an impact on how the body’s growth and health will show itself down the road. There are several things that can knock the body out of homeostasis throughout the years enough to impact what happens during puberty. Things you might not think much about, such as soy-based baby formulas or eating out of plastics–especially plastics that have gone through a microwave, have a large impact. This is especially true if you’ve been using them for a while. Other substances like glyphosate, fertilizers, and other agricultural chemicals either in the environment or food eaten also influence how the body operates and can impact periods in particular.

Yeast or bacterial overgrowth in the gut also cause harder periods. Yeast is linked to the estrogens and leads to more estrogen-dominance. Estrogens thicken the endometrial lining, so an overgrowth makes it thick, leading to a heavy and painful period as the body has to break down more tissues. This is also why you need to be careful with antibiotics, as they can cause yeast to grow. A sign this might be the case, then, is if the teen had frequent ear infections as a child, leading to multiple antibiotics.

How is a heavy, painful period fixed?

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to things that happen within the human body. Each body processes things like food and the surrounding environment differently, meaning there isn’t one blanket answer to anything. A heavy, irregular, or painful period is no exception. The way to address the problem is dependent on what else is going on in the body. Is the body estrogen-dominant, meaning work should be done with the liver? Is the body progesterone-dominant, leading to a need to work on mental stress? Are there allergies or a gut infection that needs to be addressed? Are there other toxins from your environment you’re regularly taking in? Is there something else going on in the body?

Don’t exacerbate the problem you’re trying to fix.

Finding out what’s going on within the body that needs to be addressed is the first step to finding the answer. That doesn’t mean there aren’t lifestyle changes to be made to help ease heavy, irregular, and painful periods.

  • Get rid of the plastic in your life. Use glass storage containers instead and address these hidden sources of plastic.
  • Detox from sugar. Sugar impacts your hormones, feeds infections and bacteria, and exacerbates inflammation. Detoxing from sugar helps your body as a whole, and your gut in particular.
  • Stop eating soy. Soy impacts your thyroid and your hormones. Read more about reasons to pass on soy here.
  • Keep the lines of communication open and clear. Puberty can be a hard time for both parents and teens, and stress can affect your overall health, including your hormones. Be honest with each other and remember you’re on the same team journeying toward adulthood–not fighting each other. If you need help keeping conversation honest but civil, read our tips on round table discussions around the family table.
  • Remember that it’s not just about taking an herb or a pill. Healing your body is a process that can be hard and take time, but the lifestyle changes to heal the body will reap far more rewards than just an easier period.

Periods and Time Commitment

Women have periods for decades. If the period is hard, irregular, and painful, the symptoms are pointing to a larger underlying issue. What is the time commitment to healing the body? Much like the question “how do you fix it,” this answer depends heavily on the state of a person’s health and function. A hard period is a sign that something isn’t right within the body–usually having to do with toxins. If the woman has been in contact with fewer toxins, things will likely clear up faster than they will for a woman who has come into contact with more toxins.

How is the woman’s gut health? Your gut impacts more areas of your body than you likely think it does–the immune system, the nervous system, even your brain. If the woman looking to clear up her period has good gut health, doing so will be a lot easier.

Does the woman want to get better? This may seem like a silly question at face value, but if you don’t want to get better, you won’t do the work that is needed to get better. If the woman is told to eat one thing and stay away from another, but isn’t serious about getting healthy, it’ll take a lot longer for her to heal than someone who puts the work in. There’s a large difference in the results between a teen who comes into The Wellness Way to get help “because my mom made me come here,” and someone who comes in because they recognize that there’s a problem that needs to be fixed, and they’re willing to do what it takes. You can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do.

How long is it in the long run?

Painful cramps and heavy periods are a sign something is wrong inside the body. While the painful cramps may not have long-term side effects, what is causing the cramps very well could. If your body can’t clear the hormones well, that can lead to endometriosis and infertility. If your body can’t metabolize certain things, that can lead to cancer. Hormone imbalances lead to disease.

The hard periods and painful cramps aren’t the problem–they are the symptom of something wrong at a deeper level. The quick fix of birth control–popping a pill and having your period go away entirely–is only masking the symptoms, not fixing the problem. Letting the hard periods and painful cramps continue is only letting the real problem continue longer than it needs to. Hard or irregular periods and painful cramps aren’t normal, they aren’t healthy, and what your body is trying to tell you through them can lead to long-term health problems if they aren’t addressed.

The good news is, there are ways to help heal the body and address the underlying problem–you don’t have to be in pain for decades. To get started with testing or schedule a consult, reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today.