Women’s bodies go through several changes in a short space of time, which can affect general physiological health as well as psychological wellbeing. There are a number of conditions and illnesses which affect more women than men and a considerable number that affect only women. The articles below will outline some of the most common conditions amongst women, as well as exploring the different health concerns raised during different stages of a woman’s life and offering practical advice and information about common health concerns amongst women.
Puberty and Menstruation
Puberty is a time of considerable change for girls, as the physical appearance of their bodies change and they start their menstrual cycle. Usually, puberty starts between the ages of ten to fifteen and during this time the menstrual cycle will begin; on average, this happens at the age of 12 but everyone is different. During puberty, girls also undergo a number of hormonal changes which may affect their mood, as well as their physical appearance. Teenage girls are notorious for being a bit stroppy and unpredictable but it’s no surprise when you consider the significant changes that are taking place.
The menstrual cycle
Each cycle lasts around 28 days and during this time the body will prepare for pregnancy; if the egg is not fertilised the body will shed its protective lining surrounding the egg; this is known as having a period. Periods happen once a month from puberty until the menopause occurs at the age of around 50 (again, everyone is different so this may vary). Periods last between 2 and 7 days, depending on the individual. During this time, hormonal changes can alter a woman’s mood and they may feel more irritable, restless, tired and emotional than usual. Periods also commonly cause muscular pain and discomfort but in some cases may cause much more severe symptoms; these include extreme fatigue, severe abdominal pain, headaches and migraines, diarrhoea and sweating.
Coping with period pain
Most women suffer at least mild symptoms during their period; below are some tips for managing pain and maintaining wellbeing:
- Keep the abdomen warm – using a hot water bottle helps to relax the muscles and release tension
- Try to avoid sources of stress; this may not be possible if you work in a stressful environment or have a hectic family life but making small changes such as taking time out to have a hot bath, for example, can reduce pain and make you feel much less stressed.
- Take pain relief; taking over the counter pain relief, such as ibuprofen eases pain quickly.
- Try to exercise: exercising releases endorphins (commonly known as ‘happy hormones’), which have been proven to increase energy levels and make people feel more positive. Exercise should not be too vigorous during this time.
- Try to avoid a high intake of caffeine.