Menstrual pain and symptoms are so much more than period cramps.

The symptoms will impact all areas of your life if they are bad enough.

I’ve been following #periodpositive on Instagram for a few years now, and I am saddened by the posts using this hashtag. 

A lot of the posts I see are related to how bad periods are, how they impact the poster’s day-to-day life, and how much pain and suffering they bestow onto every person that has one.

It is about more than the average period cramps.

The symptoms are awful and really draw me in.

But then I remember: 

Just because these terrible symptoms are common, doesn’t mean they are normal.

I see in the world a resistance for others to acknowledge the pains that can come with menstruation.

From significant others, parents, and even healthcare providers, the idea that someone can be in ‘that much’ pain from a natural bodily function is shut down.

I think that we are shut down so often that we have collectively begun to think that it is just something we need to constantly suffer through, cycle after cycle.

Going to the doctor and hearing that you’re just dehydrated or it’s all in your head or to just go on birth control is what we have dealt with for so long we are all internalizing it. We believe it.

We are told to deal with the period cramps with pills and that it will never be different.

Obviously there are many layers here I am not going to delve into, but suffice it to say, menstruators have been held down in many societies for a damn long time.

Where Do We Go From Here?

We can crawl under a rock and give up – something I can say I have done before in a few areas of my life.

Or we can learn a new way, a better way, a more truthful and loving way!

First it would be helpful to have a list of some common and maybe some not-so-common symptoms people who menstruate may encounter. 

This way you will know what is ‘normal’ and what you can finally say goodbye to once and for all.

I want to note before I list some of these out that even if everything in your cycle is normal, if you notice a change, like longer cycles, and this lasts over a few months, this would be something to look into as well.

If you suddenly notice you are bleeding a lot heavier or lighter than normal, note this over a few months and if it stays that way, look into it. 

Or if you notice your cramping is getting more painful, look into this.

Ask questions and make sure there isn’t something bigger going on in your body.

The more aware of your overall menstrual cycle and what is normal for you, the more you can pinpoint issues as they come up, maybe even before they get too out of hand.

The Fifth Vital Sign

I have heard this term a lot over the last few years, and I love it – the Fifth Vital Sign.

The four vital signs (body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure) are used by healthcare providers to detect or monitor medical problems.

Saying that the menstrual cycle is the Fifth Vital Sign is such a helpful jump for those who suffer.

This means that your menstrual cycle shows you if there is something off in your body. Even if it is unrelated to your reproductive system.

Your menstrual cycle is an indicator of your overall health and wellness.

Charting your menstrual cycles is a powerful way to monitor your health and any changes that may occur.

You will see consistencies and you will be the first to notice changes that you may want to then take to a professional so you can get a plan to get back to your baseline.

I highly recommend charting your own cycles for the above plus many other reasons.

There is more to menstrual symptoms than period cramps. 

It will show you when you get cramps, how often, how long, how painful…

That is just an example. Charting will show you so much more!

If you’re interested in starting to chart, check out the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler. It has a ton of information to get you started.

Common Menstrual Cycle Symptoms

The following is a list of menstrual symptoms that can be categorized as something you will want to address in some way.

  • Heavy bleeding
  • Irregular periods
  • Long periods
  • Short periods
  • Painful days before or during bleeding
  • Cramps
  • Mood swings
  • Bloating
  • Water retention
  • Tender breasts
  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Anovulation – no ovulation
  • Excessive pain at ovulation

You may be experiencing only one or any combination of the above symptoms.

This is not an exhaustive list. These seem to be the most common.

You do not need to wait and watch these symptoms get worse.

You can take action!

Possible Reasons For These Symptoms

  • Endometriosis
  • PCOS – polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Stress
  • Nutrition – over or under eating, malnourished, nutrient deficiencies…
  • Travel
  • Over or under exercising…

As you can see, some of the reasons can be benign while others are more serious and will need a medical professional to diagnose.

One of these may be the cause of your symptoms, but most likely it will be a few of these reasons. 

It is so important to know all of this information when looking at your own cycles.

This will give you a place to start and then you can dive deeper into the areas you think you need support. 

It is never a bad idea to be a little knowledgeable in the area you are experiencing issues.

You will find it very helpful to talk with your doctor about your menstrual symptoms when you know more about them, the possible causes, and even how your body regularly functions throughout each cycle.

Final Thoughts

Menstrual symptoms are so much more than period cramps. They can impact every area of your life.

Knowledge is power.

In this case the knowledge of your body and its cycles will help you talk to your doctor and get the proper care and diagnosis if needed.

The power is your own. 

It is how you show up in the world and make people listen. Make doctors hear you when you say ‘something is off.’

If they cannot hear you, move on and find someone that will hear your pain.

Over the next few posts, I will discuss each symptom in more detail and ways to lessen each through diet, lifestyle, and spiritual means.

The great thing about what I do (holistic nutrition and symptomatology) is that I take your symptoms and find out what body systems are most out of balance and then create a specific plan just for your unique range of symptoms.

I am always amazed at the transformations people get after even a month of working with me and taking the recommended actions.

You are in control of your menstrual health.

You may just need a road map to help get you there!

If you feel like you want personalized guidance from Carly…

Book a FREE Hormone Clarity Assessment by clicking on the button below!

Yours in plant love,


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