How much Blood Loss is Normal?

You may, at times, have wondered whether your periods are ‘normal’. You may have worried about the length of your cycle, the colour of your menstrual blood, and your menstrual cramps. One common question that women have, is ‘How much blood loss is normal?’

Television adverts show the effectiveness of menstrual pads by pouring a light blue liquid from a chemistry tube, so it’s little wonder that many women are left wondering what a ‘normal’ period should look like. In fact, many women simply go off what is normal for them, because they have little else to compare it to.

How much blood loss is normal?
The amount of blood loss varies from woman to woman, and may even vary from month to month. It may be hard to believe, but only four tablespoons of blood are lost during the course of the average period. Menstrual fluid also contains tissue and mucus from the lining of the uterus, and so the total amount of menstrual fluid lost in the average period is between six and nine tablespoons.

This might not sound much, but remember it usually looks more than it is. A normal sized tampon or menstrual pad usually holds around 7ml, and it is considered normal to soak around seven of these during one period. Normal periods can last anywhere between two and seven days, though the average is usually between three and five days long.

Many women report that bleeding is heaviest during the first two days of their period, and that blood loss slows towards the end.

Though these are the averages, the amount of blood lost can vary dramatically between different women. There are many factors that can determine how much menstrual fluid you lose during your period. Taller women, those who have given birth and pre-menopausal women are likely to have more blood loss. Stress, diet, and contraceptive choices can also impact on the amount of blood lost during your period.

What counts as heavy bleeding?
Heavy bleeding is characterised by the following:
● it leaks through to your clothes or bedding
● you have to change your tampon or menstrual pads at least every two every hours
● you need to use both tampons and menstrual pads at the same time to prevent leaks

Menorrhagia is the official name for recurrent heavy periods. This is characterised by a loss of more than 80ml during each period, this equates to 16 soaked normal-sized tampons or menstrual pads. Menorrhagia is most common amongst teens and perimenopausal women. If you think you are suffering from menorrhagia, contact your healthcare provider for advice.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is an uncommon form of cancer that affects the entrance to a woman’s uterus (the cervix). Cervical cancer accounts for around 2% of all cancers diagnosed in women. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged under 35, but is most common in women in their thirties and forties.

Causes of Cervical Cancer
Around 70% of all cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus spread during sex. There are many different types of HPV, but only two strains are considered likely to cause cervical cancer. Vaccination is now available to protect young boys and girls from contracting the HPV strains most likely to cause cervical cancer.

Other lifestyle factors may increase your risk of developing cervical cancer, such as:
● smoking
● other sexually transmitted infections
● a weakened immune system
● the contraceptive pill

Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
In many cases, there are no symptoms during the early stages of cervical cancer. For those who do experience symptoms, the most common is vaginal bleeding when you are not on your period, for example:
● after or during sex
● between periods
● after the menopause

Other possible symptoms include:
● a foul smelling vaginal discharge
● painful intercourse

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider for advice. These symptoms are common to a number of conditions, and it’s unlikely that you will have cancer. Vaginal bleeding is a symptom that should always be investigated by your healthcare provider.

Screening for Cervical Cancer
The number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer each year is decreasing, and this is thanks to regular screening that encourages prevention as well as early detection of this condition. Pap smear tests are recommended for all women aged between 21 and 65, and should be performed every three years.

Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented because abnormal cells can be identified before they develop into cancer. During a pap smear, a speculum is inserted into the vagina, and the cervix is scraped with a small brush to collect a small sample of cells. These cells are then sent off to a lab and examined under a microscope.

If abnormal cells are discovered, you will be asked to return for treatment. Abnormal cells are not cancerous, but they have the potential to develop into cancer in the future, so your healthcare provider will recommend removing these cells. A few months after the removal of these cells you will be asked to return for another pap smear to check all of the abnormal cells have gone.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.

Alternative Feminine Products

Tampons and disposable menstrual pads may hog the market when it comes to feminine care, but they aren’t the only products at your disposal. When Aunt Flo pays a visit, many women rely on whatever their local store has to offer in the way of feminine care.

Disposable feminine care products are, of course, disposed of after a single use, and this means they’re not particularly kind to the environment. It also means they’re not kind on your purse, because you have to keep buying new. If you’re looking for an affordable, eco alternative to tampons and disposable menstrual pads, check out the following Alternative Feminine Products:

Cloth Sanitary Pads
These washable cloth pads can be used time and time again. They are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and designs, and can be bought relatively cheaply. They contain less chemicals than disposable pads, are less likely to cause skin irritations, and produce less landfill waste than disposable pads. They are convenient to use and can simply be washed in your washing machine at home.

The downside to cloth sanitary pads is that you can’t just throw them away, so if you’re out and about, you’ll need to take used towels home with you for washing. It’s not a huge deal, all you need is a small wash bag, but it’s certainly less convenient that leaving your used pad in the cubicle bin.

Menstrual Cups
Reusable menstrual cups are inserted internally to catch the menstrual flow. You simply need to remove the cup, and empty it out every so often. Depending on your flow, you may be able to empty it just every 12 hours. If you’re able to, you can rinse it under a tap, but there’s no harm in simply emptying it out in a public restroom and re-inserting it without a rinse, meaning it’s convenient when out and about. There are a number of brands to choose from, and the cups are available in different sizes.

Fans of the menstrual cup rave about the lack of odour, because blood only smells when exposed to oxygen, leaving menstrual cup users odour free during their periods. Cotton feminine products absorb natural fluids other than menstrual fluid which can lead to discomfort during your period. Menstrual cups don’t do this, and some switchers report experiencing a noticeable reduction in discomfort once using a cup.

One thing that puts women off the idea of menstrual cups is the price, which, though it will save you money in the long run, can seem like a big investment for a product you’ve never tried. It can also take a while to get your insertion skills just right, meaning they may seem like a hassle for the first cycle or so while you figure out what you’re doing.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.

7 Tried and Tested Period Pain Remedies

For some women, periods pass without so much as a niggle, but for others, periods are five long days of cramps, nausea and and backache. It’s not uncommon for women to call in sick from work, or for girls to miss school, because of bad period pains. If you’re suffering each month, here are seven tried and tested period pain remedies you could try to reduce your discomfort:

1. Get off the sofa
You probably feel like vegging out on the sofa and watching a movie, but this could be part of the problem. Light exercise could help to alleviate cramps, and help you to feel a little better. When your cramps start, try going for a brisk walk to see if this helps reduce your discomfort. Yoga, pilates, jogging and swimming are also great exercises for helping to reduce menstrual cramps.

2. Watch what you eat
When you’re feeling sorry for yourself, junk food may seem like the answer, but it could actually be making you feel worse. Sugary, refined and processed foods can leave you feeling worse. Choose foods that can reduce inflammation, such as lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and stay away from unhealthy foods that can leave you feeling sluggish and bloated.

3. Dose up on vitamins
Zinc, calcium and B vitamins may help to reduce period pains, so make sure you are getting plenty of these. Foods rich in these essential nutrients include fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans. Make sure you include a variety of these in your diet to increase your intake of these cramp-fighting foods. It’s also worth taking a multivitamin to give yourself added protection from deficiencies which could leave you feeling worse.

4. Get toasty
Heat is a great way to battle cramps and muscle pains, so snuggle up with our hot water bottle. Whether you are experiencing period pains in your abdomen or lower back, a warm compress, such as a hot water bottle or heat pad, could help to ease the pain.

5. Have a soak
A long soak in a warm bath could help to soothe menstrual cramps, it acts as an all-body heat pad, with the added benefit of providing relaxation. Draw a nice, warm bath, choose a good book, and spend some time relaxing in the bath.

6. Mmmassage
Massage can help to reduce discomfort, try massaging in a light, circular motion on the affected area. Heated massage oils may help to relax you whilst also providing the soothing benefit of applying heat to ease muscle ache.

7. Cut the caffeine
Caffeine may be constricting your blood levels and increasing tension, leaving you feeling worse during your period. Skipping caffeine even just for a few days may help you to handle your cramps better. Replacing your usual coffee or soda with water or chamomile tea could also help to relieve bloating.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.

9 Reasons Your Period Might Be Late

Many people assume that a missed period is down to pregnancy, but in fact that ‘missed’ period could simply be late. If you have a regular cycle, it can be worrying if your period doesn’t arrive on time. You may find that your period is simply a couple of days, or even a week or so delayed. There are plenty of reasons why your period might be late, including:

1. Stress
Stress can delay ovulation, which may in turn delay the arrival of your period. Moving house, relationship problems, exam stress and financial worries could all be playing a part in your late period. Stress can even cause you to skip a period, or several periods, altogether. If you think stress is delaying your periods, you may want to find ways to reduce stress and learn to relax. Breathing techniques, regular exercise and having realistic expectations about what you can achieve may all help you to feel a little more in control and reduce your feelings of stress.

2. Illness
Even short illnesses can impact on your periods. If you’ve been feeling under the weather, you may notice that your next period is slightly delayed. Some medications can affect your menstrual cycle, so check the side effects listed on the packaging of any of your prescription drugs. Delayed menstruation caused by illness usually rectifies itself with no need for medical help.

3. Your weight
Menstruation can be impacted by weight. If you are medically classed as severely underweight or obese, you may find that your periods are affected. The organs of people who are severely underweight or obese are under great stress, and this can lead to delayed or ceased menstruation. To help your periods return to normal, you will need to gradually work towards a healthier weight. Gaining or losing weight fast could put your organs under more stress, so it is something you need to do gradually. Speak to your healthcare provider for advice.

4. A change of pace
A drastic change in work patterns can impact upon your periods. For example, some women find that switching to night shifts leaves their menstrual cycle in a bit of confusion, at least for a short while. Travel can also caused delayed or missed periods, especially long distance travel that causes jet lag.

5. Over Exercising
Exercise is important and helps to keep you healthy. You should aim for at least half an hour of moderate exercise each day, but should be wary of excessive exercising. Excessive doesn’t mean an extra 20 minute walk at the end of the day, or an impromptu game of football with friends after work, it means putting your body under excessive physical stress. Delaying periods can be the body’s way of protecting itself during times of stress, and this includes physical stress.

6. Perimenopause
Menopause means you will no longer menstruate, and there is a transitional phase (perimenopause) as you enter menopause which can cause delayed, irregular or abnormal (for example, lighter or heavier than is normal for you) periods. Perimenopause can last a few years, and most commonly begins when women are in their 40s, though it can happen earlier.

7. Miscalculation
28 day cycles may be considered the norm, but in actual fact, they are not as common as you might think. Slightly longer, or even shorter, cycles are well within the ‘normal’ range. Many women mistakenly assume they should have a period every 28 days, leaving them feeling worried when their period is ‘late’, when in fact, their period will start on time in just a matter of days. Using a period app, or noting down when your periods start and stop each month, may help you to work out the length of your cycle. This information will better able you to estimate when your next period is due.

8. Pregnancy
Most women find that their periods stop during pregnancy, though a small number of women continue to experience regular bleeding throughout. If you think you may be pregnant, take a pregnancy test anytime from the first day of your missed period.

9. Medical conditions
There are a number of medical conditions that could cause delayed or skipped periods. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, pituitary disease, thyroid disease, sexually transmitted diseases, diabetes and liver conditions can all caused delayed periods. The chances of an underlying medical condition causing your delayed periods is slim, but if you are feeling worried, it’s always worth talking to your healthcare provider for advice.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.

Help! My Cycle Isn’t Exactly 28 Days

Menstrual cycles are often discussed as being 28 days long, this is because the average cycle length is 28 days. This doesn’t mean, however, that your cycle needs to be 28 days long. In fact, many women do not have cycles that are 28 days in length. Most women find that their cycle is between 22 and 35 days long, though they can be even longer or shorter and still be considered normal.

Does it mean there’s something wrong?
Some women have menstrual cycles as regular as clockwork, but for others, there is always an air of unpredictability. After puberty, most women find that their periods settle into a regular pattern, though this is not true for everyone. Your cycle length can seemingly change from month to month. Menstrual cycles can be affected by stress, travel, illness, weight and contraception. You may find that there is a broad range of normal for your periods.

If you are worried about your cycle, you can contact your healthcare provider for advice. You should contact your healthcare provider if:
● you haven’t had a period for 90 days (and are not pregnant)
● your periods suddenly become irregular
● your period lasts longer than seven days
● your periods are less than 21 days apart
● your periods are more than 35 days apart
● you bleed between periods
● your period is much heavier than usual

Does it matter if my periods aren’t 28 days apart?
As long as your periods are within the normal range of 22-35 day cycles, then it’s usually nothing to worry about. The only downside is that you may have to do slightly more complicated mathematics to calculate when your next period is due. It’s important to keep track of your cycle, to make sure you are having regular periods, and this can be slightly more complicated with an irregular cycle.

How to keep track of it
As long as your cycle is within the normal range, it doesn’t really matter how long it is. What matters is that you know when to expect it. Some women end up feeling scared or anxious when their period hasn’t arrived four weeks after their last one, and this undoubtedly leads to a great number of pregnancy test sales.

Instead of simply adding 28 days to the first day or your last period, try to calculate the length of your actual cycle by recording information. You can use a period app that will analyse data about your periods, and provide you with an estimate for when your next period is due, as well as tell you what your current menstrual cycle pattern is.

You don’t need a fancy phone app to calculate this for you, you can do it with yourself with old fashioned pen and paper. Simply take note of the start and end date of your period for a few months, and then work out your mean cycle length. You can add this information to your daily diary so that you can easily look back and check when your last period was.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2014. All rights reserved.

What is TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome)?

Toxic shock syndrome is a rare, life-threatening complication of bacterial infection. It has been historically associated with the use of tampons and occasionally with the use of contraceptive sponges

In the early 1980s, it was determined that TSS was due to the higher absorbency tampons introduced in the late 1970s. The recommendations on tampon packages were suggesting that they were suitable for overnight use. It’s important to change your tampon every four to six hours to avoid upsetting your vagina’s natural balance and risking TSS. Menstrual pads are highly recommended for night time use.

To decrease your chances of contracting TSS, be sure to follow package instructions for insertion and use, choose the right absorbency level, choose cotton or cloth – not rayon, and change your tampon at least every 4 to 6 hours. Try alternating between menstrual pads and tampons whenever possible, and don’t use them overnight.

Although TSS is rare today, improper tampon use can still occur, not only dangerous but potentially fatal in extreme cases.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2012. All rights reserved.