Tag Archives: cramps

Finding Normal

Everyone knows what normal is…right?

Normal is…normal.

It’s behavior and activity that is common.  It’s what we assume is experienced by most, if not all.  It’s what’s expected. It’s what we’re accustomed to.

Did you know that what you consider normal might not be “normal” at all?

Did you know that your normal menstrual experience is unique to you? Why? Because YOU are unique and all that goes into making you who you are affects you – uniquely.

While the words you use to describe your experience are words commonly used by most women to describe the normal ins and outs, ups and downs of menstruation, these words are unique because of the meanings we attach to them individually.

After all, it’s normal for some women to experience heavy flow, right?  And, we all know what “heavy” means.

No.  We don’t.

YOU know what you mean when you give your flow a designation of light or heavy to signify amount and duration.  But, I don’t know unless you elaborate.  What I know is what I mean when I say “heavy period” and I naturally assume you mean the same thing.

If you tell me, “I’m having cramps” I”m going to filter your comment through what I’ve experienced myself and suggest what’s worked for me.  And, if my experience has been to have very little pain period wise, I’m going to make an assumption that may be wrong.

While it’s common for women to experience flow that is heavier on some days than it is on others, and it’s somewhat expected to experience some discomfort at some point during your cycle, considering either “normal” is not period wise.

However, knowing what is normal for YOU is period wise.

Finding normal is important.  And, understanding what your normal is and how it differs from what other women experience helps us see how unique we truly are.  And, it can also reveal to us a need to take a closer look at what we assume to be normal but may, in reality, be quite abnormal.

The only way to find normal is to give voice to what we are experiencing and do so using unique words that avoid general / normal terms like “heavy” or “light” or “crampy.”

Break the pattern of over-generalization and let’s get specific.

Find your normal and compare it with the normal experiences of others. I guarantee you, it will be an awakening long overdue.

If what you discover creates questions or causes alarm – talk with your doctor using specific terms and accurate counts.

Menstruation is not a time for generalization.

We are uniquely ourselves during that brief time in our cycle. Find your normal and you will find yourself. Share your normal and you share yourself with others. Embrace the normal of another and you gain a depth of appreciation for and understanding of another woman and her experience of normal that will enrich your own experience.

Finding normal is period wise.

Menstruation Vacation

How is it that you and I don’t truly appreciate something until it’s gone?

And, why is it we have difficulties seeing the whole of a thing while we are in the midst of it?

I have been on the outside of menstruation looking in for a while now.  No longer caught up in my own flow, I am free to observe others and to engage others about their flow.

But, in the past few months, I’ve found myself NOT taking opportunities to do so. In fact, I found myself distancing myself from menstruation.



Before I knew it, I was on a menstruation vacation.



Unsure what was going on and why, I assumed at first, that I had backed away because I was still grieving my own loss of flow and, perhaps, in some way found it “painful” to talk of periods or participate in some way in the menstrual experience of another.

But, no…that wasn’t it.

Then, I wondered if I had pulled away from things period wise because I was questioning myself and my direction. Why am I’m doing what I’m doing, what’s the purpose of it all, and am I making a difference are all valid questions.

But, no…that wasn’t quite it either.

And, then, I knew.

I was simply enjoying a break from menstruation just like many other women do from time to time.  Without my own flow to distract me, I was free to focus on things other than menstruation and all the crampy things it can bring to mind and to body.

Yeah…I did say “crampy things.”

I had developed a  “so what?” attitude about all the good things menstruation brings to bear in a woman’s life and assured myself that there were many online who could/would step in and step up in my absence.  A menstrual vacation called to me and I answered…gladly.

I felt I needed a break – maybe even deserved one.

The only menstrual breaks (physically and mentally) that I had ever taken since beginning to menstruate at age 15 were during the 24 months I was pregnant – and that had been many years ago. (Three pregnancies, not one!)  Even after my hysterectomy, I immediately began tracking my cycles again and was very active in the menstrual experiences of others as a menstrual advocate and activist.

But…without my own flow to guide me and with my cycles at times erratic, I found it difficult to keep my direction true. I faltered, grew weary, and pulled back from that which I had embraced wholeheartedly, and desired above all else.

  • to encourage and support others in their menstrual experiences
  • be an advocate for change and the end of menstrual taboos
  • to be a resource
  • to provide not only information, but connection as well

I can look back on the past months and realize it was time for a vacation.  Mentally and physically I needed one. And, so without receiving my permission, body and mind took one from menstruation.

Oh, I tweeted a little.  And, I blogged off and on.  But, my mind and heart were not on things period wise. And, I’ll admit that at times I did sit looking at a blank page here in my blog editor and wondered what Period Wise was all about and why – and if it was making a difference – and why I seemed to have nothing to say, period wise.

We all need a break from time to time.  My break came of necessity. Change within and without forced me to take a step back and reevaluate things period wise.

And, not only reevaluate things period wise, but reevaluate myself and where I wish to go from this point forward.

During my vacation from menstruation, I found myself continually confronted with things…period wise.

  • A friend had menstrual issues and needed to share with someone.
  • Another had a hysterectomy which prompted many questions about things she was experiencing and concerns she had.
  • My daughter freely shared of her own experiences – so freely that for the first time ever she removed her panty with pad attached and left it lying on the bathroom floor in clear view of all…panty blood stains, her unique sleep blood/flow pattern on her Infinity Overnight pad….
  • Daily, I received emails from people I didn’t know, who requested information and advice (period wise) and I found myself answering them…all of them.
  • Every time I went somewhere I detected menstruation (smell, sight, sound) and women at various points in their cycle.
  • Women I knew well and saw often? I automatically tracked them cycle wise and watched for signs period wise.

Just because I had taken a menstruation vacation didn’t mean others could or did, or that their needs and concerns stopped period wise.  And…as I found out, concerns, habits and desires of my own don’t stop when vacation starts.

When I was pregnant those 24 months and took a vacation from menstruation, I can’t say that I never thought about periods or wondered when my next would start and what it would be like.  I did. Though I did not cycle during those pregnant months, my mind looked ahead to when I would.

This menstruation vacation has been similar – with each hormonal change my body and mind have gone through in the past few months, I’ve felt drawn to think of menstruation.  Each time I’ve walked into a store, I’ve felt drawn to walk by the feminine hygiene aisle. With each login on my computer, I’ve felt drawn to check my email for things period wise. Each time I’ve seen someone I would tag as possibly cycling, I wondered…where is she in her cycle, and is she menstruating, and if so, is all well with her…is she happy and satisfied with her experience?

The thoughts I shared Friday appear to indicate that it’s nearing time for my menstruation vacation to end.  And, now, with this entry following so closely on the heels of the other…yes…

…it’s time for me to get back into the flow of things.

Perhaps it’s time for Period Wise to see a change in flow that reflects where I am in my own cycle of life…more relaxed, more open, more focused, more sure of “what next” and more ready than ever to take on life…period wise.

Will you join me?

I’d love to hear your period wise thoughts and questions period wise. Feel free to email me or post comments here, on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest.  I look forward to hearing from you about all things period wise!

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month

What is Endometriosis (Endo)?

The Mayo Clinic defines Endo as:

…an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, bowel or the tissue lining your pelvis. Rarely, endometrial tissue may spread beyond your pelvic region.

In endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would: It thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. And because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal tissue that binds organs together.

This process can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during your period. Fertility problems also may develop. Fortunately, effective treatments are available.

Suspect you may have Endo?

The Endometriosis Research Center provides a self test on its site.


(Developed in 1999 by the Endometriosis Research Center.)

Not sure if you have endometriosis?  Pelvic surgery is the only current way to definitively diagnose the disease, but symptoms can lead you and your doctor to suspect it.  Review the following and consider if any of these common symptoms apply to you.  Review your answers with your gynecologist for further discussion.

  • Do you experience so much pain during or around your period that you find yourself unable to work, attend school or social functions, or go about your normal routine?  YES  /  NO
  • Do you have any relatives diagnosed with endometriosis?  YES  /  NO
  • Do you find yourself with painful abdominal bloating, swelling or tenderness at any time in your cycle? YES  /  NO
  • Do you have a history of painful ovarian endometriomas (“chocolate cysts”)? YES  /  NO
  • Do you have a history of miscarriage, infertility or ectopic pregnancy? YES  /  NO
  • Do you experience gastrointestinal symptoms during your cycle, such as nausea or vomiting and/or painful abdominal cramping accompanied by diarrhea and/or constipation?  YES  /  NO
  • Do you have a history of fatigue or feeling “sick and tired” all the time?  YES  /  NO
  • Do you have a history of allergies, which tend to worsen around your periods? YES  /  NO
  • If sexually active, do you experience pain during sexual activity?  YES  /  NO
  • Do you suffer from autoimmune diseases or other conditions e.g. thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, chronic migraines? YES  /  NO
  • Have you ever undergone pelvic surgery like a laparoscopy, in which endometriosis was suspected but not definitively diagnosed? YES  /  NO

If you have answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, you may have endometriosis.  Talk to your trusted nurse or doctor about getting an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment today.  Dull aching and cramping can occur during menstruation in many women and teens, due to uterine contractions and the release of various hormones, including those known as prostaglandins.  However, period pain that becomes so debilitating it renders you unable to go about your normal routine is not ordinary or typical!  Pain is your body’s way of signaling that something is WRONG.  If you are suffering from pelvic pain at any point in your cycle, an endometriosis diagnosis should be considered.

To learn more about endometriosis, please visit these links:

Aching to Start

I crave chocolate.

Yes, I do. I could eat it by the pound right now, slowly savoring the taste, the texture…the feel of it on my tongue….

My breasts ache…no, make that HURT…my breasts hurt.  They passed “aching” hours ago.

And, my bottom feels heavy.

Fingers are so puffy that I can hardly type and my legs, well…they look like over-stuffed sausages.

My appetite?  Ha! Ravenous! Not only do I crave chocolate, I crave corn as well – cut or cobbed, creamed or chopped, Doritos or Fritos – I crave corn.  And, tomato.  Oh my…. You know…tomato as in pizza, spaghetti, ketchup….

I’ve eaten 4 Hershey Kisses since I began writing this post.  My corn allergy prohibits me from indulging in any corn products, so I’ll head back to my Kiss stash and partake of a few more….

A nap would feel so good right now. To just curl up and snooze for 15 minutes, or 30 or an hour…or two.

Hang on while I throw away my small pile of silver Kiss wrappers…get more…brb….


Ah…where was I?  Oh, yeah…hang on again while I open and pop another kiss into my mouth.

M-m-m-m-m-m…so-o-o-o-o g-o-o-o-od….

I have not yet begun the runs to the bathroom – they will come in waves as my bladder becomes sensitive and urination picks up as all this excess fluid leaves my body. And, of course, there will be the “check” trips because my vagina feels “leaky.”  Oh, and at some point, diarrhea will result…just too much fluid for my kidneys to deal with at one time, I guess.

Ouch my boobs hurt!

Perhaps removing my bra will help.  Ah…it helps somewhat.  Good thing I’m small breasted.  😉

My “seat” is aching like it’s been spanked.  Labia hurt, vagina hurts, everybody down there is cranky.

My mind is crazy today, for lack of a better word.  I type things I don’t intend to type.  Mispell simple words.  Change that to: Misspell simple words. My mind can’t get herself together no matter what I do.  5 cups of coffee by noon and still I’m fuzzy around the edges.

And, my bottom feels like it’s going to fall off of me.  ARGH.  This is getting on my nerves.  First the boobs and then the bottom.  It’s like they take turns calling my attention to them – boobs then bottom, boobs then bottom.

And, no…orgasm did not help. One did not.  Two did not. I’m certain three would not either.  If anything orgasm made matters worse.

What I would really like is to…ah…what time was it Hubby said he would get home?

I feel like my vagina is expanding within me…like everything is swollen…lush…ripe.

Usually, I’m able to control my cravings, but this weekend really did me in.  The family ate Kentucky Fried Chicken – a NO NO for me but I ate it anyway (sans skin and coating).  Saying “no” was just too difficult for some reason.  I wish now I had.  The swelling would be far less than it is if I’d stuck to my natural foods diet and the other issues would be nearly non existent as well.

Ah, well, it is what it is.  I gave her what she wanted and she’s doing a number on me now.  Ha ha!

You go, girl.  Enjoy every sensation.  Enjoy the cravings, the aches and pains, the fullness and bloating. One day all this will be a faint memory, if that.

Oh, I forgot about the bloating.  I’m in sweatpants today.  For the first time in ages my abdomen is bloated.

I’m miserable.

And, having light cramps, too.  They originate near my ovaries and extend down into my vagina.  Not really painful…but not all that comfortable either.  They end with a profound ache/tug at the top of my vagina.

My lower back aches.  A heating pad would feel nice against it but I’m too lazy and sluggish today to get up and get one.

Boo me.

I just want to go to bed and sleep…or eat.  Eating is good, but I’m tired of chocolate.  What else is there that I can nibble on?

No, no, no…I don’t want an apple….  I might make some fries….  Oh, or a chocolate shake…or fries AND a chocolate shake…OH!! I know…fries dipped in the chocolate shake….

And, a spoon of spaghetti sauce…I wonder if I have any in the cabinet….

I wish my period would start.  That would make my body so happy.

The chips…I found them hiding on the microwave.  Forget the fries…forget the shake.  I’ll go with greasy, salty crunchiness.

Several times I’ve headed to the bathroom to check and see – stopped myself because I knew flow had not started.  But, it felt like it had…such an odd sensation.

Crampiness is increasing.  CD 1 can’t be far off.

My breasts ache, upward into my armpits – I find myself with my hands cupping them, lifting and cradling them…attempting to ease their pain and find that I only add to it.

I’ve not checked my stash of menstrual products or cleaned my cup for use.  I’ll not place a pad, tampon or cup “just in case” I start. I won’t worry about bleeding on or staining anything I wear. And, I won’t insert my finger to check my cervix’ progress toward menstruation.


Because I no longer menstruate.  But, I do still cycle.

My cycles have become irregular in the past year and I thought I had reached menopause a couple of months ago as I experienced a cessation of symptoms associated with the various phases of my cycle.

It’s odd to experience everything up to the moment that flow should arrive – and for there to be no flow.  And, to experience everything during the period of time in which I should be flowing except for flow itself.

I lost my ability to menstruate when fibroid tumors enlarged my uterus to the size of a 26 week pregnancy and filled my abdomen and pelvis with softball sized tumors. Shortness of breath, intestinal worries and difficulty emptying my bladder signaled it was time to put my health ahead of menstruation. It was a sad day.

A very sad day.

My ovaries were uninvolved so I begged to keep them.  They have functioned well since surgery – at least up until late last year when I noticed changes in myself and in my cycle.

Each and every cycle, since the hysterectomy, has been a blessing. No, I don’t flow, and, yes – I miss it greatly.

It’s one thing to cycle through all the various frustrations and changes and arghs associated with the menstrual cycle and be rewarded by flow – and quite another to go through it all and not experience flow.

One day I will no longer cycle.  I’ll admit – I’ve wondered who I will be and what I’ll be like when I stop.  I can’t imagine living without the changes…without waiting for certain days in my cycle when I KNOW certain tasks will be easier to accomplish.

After all, I’ve cycled for 40 years.  That’s a long time.

But, that day has not arrived yet.  I am awaiting the start of my “period.”

No, I won’t bleed.  No, I won’t become menstrual in the truest sense of the word.  No, I don’t have a uterus to get grumpy and irritable – and crampy – as she goes about her business of expelling the old as she renews herself.  No, I won’t flow red.  But, I will flow.

Yes, I will flow. With all that’s in me, I will flow.

(This is the second in an occasional series that began with “Finding Normal.”)

Signs Your Period is About to Start

No one likes to be caught unaware or unprepared, especially period wise.

Knowing the signs your body displays when your period is about to start can mean the difference between ending the school/work day with confidence or with your sweater/jacket tied around your waist.

Read through the list below and think of your own pre-menstrual symptoms.  Knowing your cycle AND the signs your body gives – obvious as well as subtle – is period wise.

  • bloating
  • food cravings
  • nausea
  • increased appetite
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • light crampiness
  • nausea
  • headache
  • teary
  • easily irritated
  • hyper sensitive (to light, sound, smell, touch, etc)
  • acne
  • breasts swollen, painful
  • fatigue
  • general achiness
  • worsening of allergies or asthma
  • tooth pain
  • angry
  • moody
  • puffy face
  • dark circles under your eyes
  • hot flashes
  • changes in vision
  • increase in type and color of vaginal discharge
  • increased urination
  • lower back pain
  • prominent/visible blood veins
  • changes in cervix (lowers, feels larger, relaxes and opens)

By paying attention to the signs, you can learn to accurately predict the arrival of your period to within hours of her start.

What would you add to the list above?

This hurts! I Feel Like I’m in Labor, Ow!

Menstrual cramps are a monthly reality for many and for some they are disabling.

What advice would you give a young woman who expresses her menstrual pain as “I’m trying to walk, this really hurts. I feel like I’m in labor. This hurts! Contraction!”

If you think of the uterus as a muscle (which it is) and menstrual cramps as a “charlie horse” of the uterus (muscle contracts strongly/cramps up, cutting off blood flow to the muscle, causing pain, soreness, etc) then it makes sense to treat menstrual cramps as uterine charlie horses. Period cramps are just that – cramps.  And, cramps are exaggerated/strong contractions. One of the functions of the uterus is to expel by contracting (that’s how babies are born and it also aids in expulsion of menstrual fluid).

Take 47 seconds and view Alexis Chaffin’s “Cramp vlog” below. Then join me afterward and let’s provide a list of known helps for menstrual cramps.


Tips for relieving menstrual cramps/uterine charlie horses:

  1. Massage (more information)
  2. Ibuprofen (take as soon as your period begins, or just prior to its start)
  3. Heat to lower abdomen or lower back
  4. Rest
  5. Gentle exercise (many find activity helps)
  6. Calcium/potassium (chocolate milk and a banana – which many crave during their period)
  7. (Please continue the list with your suggestion(s) in the comment section.)