Here’s how to ride the crimson tide. By Dawn Chen
Yoga can put you in a better mood, but experts advise avoiding inverted poses. (Photo: Dmitry Rukhlenko / www.123rf.com)
That time of the month again? That sticky, icky feeling, cramps, mood swings… the list goes on. But it’s not all bad – the hormonal cycle has its ups, too. Research shows that different phases offer benefits such as a creativity boost and even an increase in your metabolism, which is the rate at which your body burns calories.
Besides triggering ovulation (the release of one or more matured eggs by the ovaries), and the thickening and breaking down of the lining of the womb, the various hormones that regulate your period can also have effects on your mood as well as mental function.
This is the first of a four-part series on how to enjoy your menstrual cycle.
Days 1 to 5: Seeing red
Phew, the worst of the crankiness is over and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) should subside. “During the early part of your menstrual cycle, the three main hormones that control it – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone – are all at a low,” says Dr Christopher Chong, consultant obstetrician, gynaecologist and urogynaecologist from Chris Chong Women & Urogynae Clinic.
The drop in hormone levels may explain your tiredness and low sex drive (sorry, honey, not tonight). Many women also get cramps, no thanks to naturally-occurring chemicals known as prostaglandins, which trigger contractions in the uterus to facilitate the shedding of the menstrual lining.
How to enjoy your menstrual cycle: Do relaxing activities
Dr Chong recommends relaxing activities like taking a walk to break out of your mood rut or yoga. However, you might want to avoid inverted poses, like the Headstand or the Plow, when your flow is heavy. While not enough research has been done to confirm the link, some experts think inversions could lead to endometriosis that causes tissue that usually lines the uterus to grow outside it.
How to enjoy your menstrual cycle: Apply heat
Studies have shown that heat can help to relax uterine muscles and ease cramps. For those still using a hot water bottle, upgrade to a handy heating pad like Menstruheat by homegrown company Pslove. Designed to last up to 12 hours (unlike winter heat pads which provide only short bursts of heat), Menstruheat can be used on the go: just peel and paste to apply heat around your abdomen.