Kailua, Hawaii (GREED) – NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can be harmful to your health, but many women rely on them to reduce the discomfort associated with menstrual cramps and other period symptoms. Last year, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) strengthened a health warning to users of these popular over-the-counter medications, marketed under trade names such as Advil and Motrin.
The use of NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke even after just a few weeks of use. Longer, more frequent use is more likely to cause heart-related side effects, especially for women over the age of 40, when the risk of heart disease rises. A common misconception is that if a medication is sold over-the-counter, it must be safe. Since the FDA approves all sorts of nasty drugs, consumers should take this warning rather seriously. Rather than endangering heart health with NSAIDs to relieve monthly menstrual symptoms, women should consider the root of what causes cramps and take a holistic approach.
According to Nahid Ameen of Conscious Health, PMS symptoms like cramps, anxiety, headaches, and mood swings can be a sign of hormonal problems. Excess estrogen, thyroid function, or even cortisol (our stress hormone) can be to blame for period-related issues. A poor diet, high levels of stress, excess weight, or exposure to environmental toxins may all be to blame. A simple solution may be to clean up your diet – eliminate white flours, sugars, artificial food color and other additives. Also be sure to consume plenty of good fats – coconut oil, avocados, and hempseeds are offered as a few suggestions. Avoid soy, which can disrupt hormones. Some people may want to avoid grains altogether – things such as corn, rice, and wheat. Commercial milk and other dairy products often are loaded with added hormones and should be avoided. Other suggestions include eliminating refined table salt and caffeine. But not all toxic exposure comes from our food; some experts believe that the chemicals in feminine hygiene products could be a factor in PMS symptoms.
Our skin is like a huge, porous sponge that covers our body. The skin of the mucous membranes, such as inside the vagina, is a direct path to the bloodstream. Anything that goes in is quickly absorbed and stays in our bodies. According to Andrea Donsky of Naturally Savvy, manufacturers of tampons and pads are not required to disclose their ingredients. From her research, Donsky has found that most conventional hygiene products are made from a blend of cotton and synthetic rayon, bleached with chlorine dioxide, contain pesticides, artificial fragrances, plastic, latex, and propylene glycol, among other nasty ingredients you surely shouldn’t want to put in, up, or anywhere near your most delicate and permeable mucous membrane. The average woman could use up to 17,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime. While the makers of these products would likely deny it, it seems a no-brainer that shoving products containing these harmful ingredients up there would affect our overall health. Luckily, today there are more options for wellness-minded women, such as reusable silicone menstrual cups and organic cotton pads and tampons.
If you are experiencing uncomfortable period symptoms monthly, put down that bottle of Motrin. It merely masks the symptoms of underlying hormonal problems that may be related to environmental exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins. Instead of relying on handfuls of over-the-counter NSAIDs, try some simple changes to your diet and the products you use to relieve your symptoms. While traditional advice to exercise or use a heating pad may help, getting to the root of the hormonal imbalances that cause cramping and other PMS symptoms is important if you want lasting relief. Have you tried any of these methods with success or have other suggestions? Please share your experience below.