There is no shame in period, but we do understand why asking some questions may leave you feeling awkward. On episode 10 of Sisters Without Shame, Dr Neelan Pillay comes to the aid of a young friend in crisis who says that her period experiences have been anything but normal.
The Knysna teen sent an SOS to the Sisters Without Shame and fears that she might have irregular monthly cycles. Sandton specialist gynaecologist Dr Neelan Pillay talks through several possible reasons – and pregnancy isn’t one of them.
Bigger than pregnancy
“There are several reasons why women might not get their cycle and they need to consult a doctor to figure out what the problem is. But if you’re not getting a regular cycle, it is your body telling you something is not working well.”
It is always best to approach your gynae immediately should you be concerned by irregularities. “Many times we find things like polycystic ovarian syndrome and if we diagnose it early, we can institute measures to prevent the negative sequelae of the disease later in life.”
Pillay has been an obstetrician gynaecologist for 11 years and is registered with the Health Professional Council and the College of Medicine of South Africa as a reproductive medicine sub-specialist.
Why don’t I have a happy period?
Believe it or not, a “happy period” is not a pipe dream. And if you are experiencing discomfort and pain, your body is trying to tell you something.
“It is not normal for women to have discomfort or pain or take pain medication. If that [pain is causing discomfort in your life,] there’s something going on and most likely there’s a condition called endometriosis.”
Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus (the endometrium) grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis.
“The symptoms of endometriosis are discomfort or pain when you get your period, discomfort or pain when you have intercourse – even if it’s only in certain positions – and subfertility or infertility or difficulty in getting your period.
“Now, if you have those symptoms, there’s about a 60% chance that you [have] endometriosis and the only way of confirming it is by doing a little procedure, or sometimes a big procedure, called a laparoscopy where we put a little camera through the navel, and we have a look to see if there’s endometriosis and then we can also remove the endometriosis.”
Looking to alleviate PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of symptoms that many women get about a week or two before their period. Most women, over 90%, say they get some premenstrual symptoms, such as bloating, headaches and moodiness.
To alleviate symptoms, Pillay suggests you decrease the amount of coffee and chocolate in your diet. “Exercise and vitamin B6 have also been shown to improve the symptoms of PMS. And saffron. If you have a little bit of saffron every day, studies have shown that that can improve your premenstrual symptoms.”
It is best to consult your doctor before trying home remedies.
Pillay’s full chat is available on this week’s podcast.
How to listen to Sisters Without Shame
Option 3: Click here to listen on Google Podcast.
Option 4: Just click “play” to listen right here on this browser.