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The 411 on your outta-control flow

My period is out of whack! It's so heavy on the first two days that I'm always changing my tampons every few hours. Then, I get cramps so painful and sharp that I can't concentrate in class. That's not even the worst part. At times it's like I have a stomach flu. I throw up, have diarrhea and even get the sweats and chills. Sometimes even when my cramps aren't that extreme, I feel weak and faint like I'm about to pass out. This can’t be normal!

Oh sweetie, I'm sorry to hear this laundry list of painful symptoms is just from your monthly cycle. Periods are hardly ever fun and yours sounds downright vicious. Luckily, we've got these tried 'n' true remedies for relief for whatever Aunt Flo brings your way.


Figuring out the facts

The fact that your cramps are disrupting your attention in class is a sign you might have dysmenorrhea, which is just medical lingo for über excruciating cramps. As for your outta-control flow, menorrhagia is the technical term for ridic periods that last longer than 7 days or are so heavy that you need to switch your tampons or pads like crazy. Med school jargon aside, these symptoms aren't terribly uncommon. In truth, it's likely that these problems are genetic, so your mom could give a li'l insight on what to expect from the hormone department.


Prepping for your period

Let's face it: You're going to need to do more than stock up on pads and tampons for your cycle. That unsteady feeling you have is from a temporary case of anemia, thanks to your heavy blood loss. A couple weeks before your period begins, nosh on iron-rich foods, like beef or turkey. Strictly veggie? Go for lentils or spinach, but keep in mind the iron won't absorb quite as well as those meaty options, so keep vitamin supplements handy. As for period pains, exercising is key. No, I'm not saying run a sub 7-minute mile or do 100 crunches when you're seconds away from hurling or fainting, but working out the weeks before your monthly visitor will help reduce the intensity of those gut-wrenching cramps.


Combating the coming-out-of-both-ends ordeal

While it's not 100-percent certain why it feels like you have the stomach flu when Aunt Flo visits, there is a possible explanation for your simultaneous diarrhea and vomiting. When your period begins, a chemical is released to start contractions that shed the uterine lining of your soon-to-be menstrual fluid. These contractions also disrupt your uterus's neighbors, the intestines and stomach, causing – you guessed it – loose stools and nausea. The best solution to prevent these problems is taking anti-diarrhea and anti-nausea medicine (think: Kaopectate or Pepto Bismal) the instant you start feeling those horrific cramps.  Speaking of which...


Calming those cramps

The second you notice a twinge in your lower abdomen during that time of the month, take some OTC pain reliever, like ibuprofen or Midol, pronto!  If that's not enough – and it sounds like it won't be – then discreet heating pads are your saving grace. Since they take up to a half hour to activate, slap ‘em on ASAP. For a quick fix at home, microwave water in a cup for 30-60 seconds, and pour into a plastic baggie (I suggested double bagging it to prevent spillage). Make sure to insulate it in a napkin or towel before putting it on the problem area. A piping cup of herbal tea is your best bet for on-the-go relief. The hands-down best way to alleviate period pains is a hot bath. Sounds weird, but completely submerging yourself in warm water soothes all the muscles causing those agonizing cramps.


Monitor your cycle

Keeping tabs on your monthly flow hardly seems as much fun as scribbling in your diary, but it's helpful when it comes time to your doctor's appointment (should it come to that). The more info you have, the more he or she can pinpoint the problem. Odds are your doc will suggest birth control to keep those hormones in check. If you don't feel comfortable taking “the pill” and you're tired of the overly dramatic menstrual pain, ask if there are other options to regulate your hormones.


Remember, babes, if you’re feeling down-right awful during your period, give your doc a call. He or she should be able to suggest some meds to help keep Mother Nature under control.

BY KARMEN FOX ON 8/29/2013 12:00:00 AM

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