From the outset, you could probably draw a few similarities between some people on Facebook and your period (frustrating, painful and at times traumatising) though, unlike social media, a woman’s menstrual cycle is highly tactful and actually, pretty amazing.
“The actual physiological changes that take place during a woman’s period are extremely complicated. It really is scientifically a very complex process that’s happening in the body. It’s extraordinary, to be honest,” Dr Elizabeth Farrell, gynaecologist and medical director of Jean Hailes for Women’s Health told HuffPost Australia.
Not only is your period a subtle reminder that a pregnancy hasn’t occurred, it’s the beginning of a month-long cycle that sees your body change in a myriad of ways.
So while it’s easy to discount this rhythmic shift in hormones as only bringing with it pounding cramps, migraines and MAJOR laundry issues, your period is really more representative of some kind of metaphoric warrior.
It’s true that women poop more on their period, though they may actually experience difficulty going a few days before it comes.
“The body makes natural substances called prostaglandins, especially just before your period which have an interesting side effect ― constipation,” Farrell said.
These prostaglandins cause muscle contractions in your organs. However, once your period comes, your bowel motions begin to loosen, causing some women to experience diarrhea.
2. Body temperature
Ever woken up roasting hot around the time your period is due? This is because of the big swings in hormone levels that are taking place.
“Progesterone goes down, estrogen plummets and then starts to rise again, which can cause the hypothalamus to malfunction. This thermostat in your brain registers a false rise in body temperature, making you sweat and feel hot,” fertility specialist Dr Devora Lieberman, told HuffPost Australia.
Interestingly, a true rise in body temperature happens even before your period comes and is just one of the many premenstrual changes women experience.
“Once ovulation occurs the body temperature rises, though only slightly, but enough to be able to detect it’s happening,” Farrell said.
Before women had access to contraception, this would be a marker of ovulation.
“This rise in temperature is a result of the production of progesterone which increases body temperature,” Farrell said.
The hormone progesterone triggers a whole range of responses that are experienced in varying degrees between women ― from sore breasts, bloating ― and whether your flow is light or heavy.
“Studies show around two thirds of women experience some breast pain during their cycle, which is usually fairly normal,” Farrell said.
Progesterone can also cause fluid retention and slow down the large intestine, leading to a feeling of fullness.
Other premenstrual symptoms include acne, mood changes, and fatigue.
“In some women, the big drop in estrogen that occurs at the start of the period can trigger migraines and sleeplessness,” Lieberman said.