*WARNING: This article contains information that may be sensitive, and might not be suitable for some readers. MuslimGirl believes it is important not to shy away from such topics, and discusses them openly in hopes of providing knowledge and inciting further research.
Zaynab’s* period is 5 days long and comes every 28 days. She gets light sensitivity migraines 2 days before. Her flow starts out light, is heaviest on the second and third days, and then slowly dwindles until that last day, when she finally gets to make ghusl and rid her hair of the monthly grease that visits with her period. Her face is oily enough to power a car for all five days.
Sarah’s* is 9 days long and comes every 35 days… Her flow is more dark brown than red, and doesn’t bleed at night. Sometimes she gets extra cysts, but most mature and pass with her period. She has special period jeans that are a size bigger than her everyday jeans, but most times she just wears leggings.
Dalia’s* period likes to come and go of its own accord. Last time she got it was 43 days ago, and it lasted 6 days. The time before that was only three weeks before and it lasted 12 days. Sometimes her flow is a little chunky. She’s just glad she was able to make it through Ramadan without getting her period, unlike last year where she had to make up 17 days, 8 from the beginning and 9 from the end.
You probably read these girls’ stories and picked out the most normal period in your head already.
Trick question! There is no such thing. Each period is normal for their bodies. For the most part, you feel you can’t control your period — Instead, it seems like your period controls you. This is not actually true. Your reproductive system, as many other systems of your body like the digestive system, is heavily influenced by your hormones. Everybody has a different balance of hormones, which in turn can be influenced by 4 main things: Nutrition, Exercise, Water Intake, and Hormones.
Nutrition mainly involves cutting out processed and refined carbohydrates and sugars in favor of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. At the same time, exercise and maintain a fit and active lifestyle, as it helps keep insulin levels steady and reduces bloating.
I know this sounds TMI, but why is Dalia’s period sometimes chunky?
…Dehydration is the main cause. Drinking the daily recommended water intake is crucial for maintaining a balanced body. Most drinks that aren’t water actually dehydrate you — soda, juice, coffee and even tea, to an extent. Keep that water intake balanced. If your urine is mostly yellow, you’re dehydrated. If it’s clear, you’re trying too hard to hydrate. Keeping it a balanced very light yellow is the best way to measure your body’s hydration levels.
The fourth and most crucial point is actually supplementing or reducing hormone intake. Estrogen is the main female hormone and can be found in foods such as soy or chicken, and in prescription-only pills. No one is naturally perfectly balanced, but their balance works for them.
In certain cases, some women will have an excess or deficiency of estrogen-causing problems. For example, Sarah has an excess of estrogen, and doesn’t drink soy milk or eat chicken. That was the cause of her cysts. An ovarian cyst is very normal to have for everyone, most people don’t even know they have them. In short, cysts are little pockets of fluid which protect your eggs, and if they’re not used, they go out every few periods with the egg. A problematic cyst would be one that’s swollen, and you can normally identify it by a dull pain in your lower back and upper thighs.
On the other hand, Zaynab has an estrogen deficiency and takes an estrogen supplement daily. Estrogen supplements, more commonly marketed as oral contraceptives, help treat her acne and control her period flow. Even though she had always had a very regular period before the pills, her flow had been heavy and long, and the pills helped to balance her hormone levels.
I could go into the philosophies of how normality is the most subjective concept known to us, but I would rather urge all of you reading this to establish open communication with your general practitioner, your nutritionist, and your OBGYN. All of your bodily systems are linked and dependent on one another; if you implement a change in your diet, it will affect the rest of your body — from the nervous system, to your immune system, to your reproductive system. Take the time to find the balance that is right for your body, and maintain it for better health, more manageable menstrual cycles, and peace of mind.
*Names changed for privacy
This is our monthly health column. Leave a comment to let us know any health problems you’d like us to discuss!