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Aunt Flow and Nutrition

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

Building from the previous article that discussed the intersection of calcium, Vitamin D, absorption rates and it's impact on bone health, this leaves me with one important consideration that every woman needs to know about - menstuation.

Day 6: How does your nutrition affect your menses?

Every month Aunt Flow pays a visit, and every month the mood swings lets us AND our significant other know she's here in all her glory. Some of us women know this all too well, and therefore may take measures to prevent normal menses from happening. Here's what you need to know from a health and wellness perspective and why you should know your own cycle inside and out.

Normal cycles range from every 24 - 38 days and last from 3 - 10 days. Anything outside of this should warrant a check-up with your primary care physician or OB/GYN to determine if there are any underlying causes.

There are many reasons why irregular periods, painful periods, or amenorrhea (absent period) may be happening for you such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), endometriosis, stress, low body fat, and undernutrition. All of these conditions can lead to infertility or certain cancers. But, the one that I want to talk about today is the connection between bone health and hormones.

It's really important that estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are all able to do their thing. The surge in estrogen, combined with the overlap in progesterone surge, turns out is really important for bone health. Estrogen is needed to help form strong bones, along with the progesterone that binds to receptors in the bone matrix, helping to prevent bone loss. Adequate calcium intake from food sources is an equal partner in this task and, therefore, is why there really needs to be a holistic approach to health and wellness. One player on the soccer field won't score goals; but, if all players work in tandem, now you have an opportunity to score many goals.

During menopause, estrogen of course declines significantly and this is why women are the most at risk for developing osteoporosis. Estrogen therapy may be recommended, along with nutrition therapy to make sure the decrease in bone mass is minimal. Please note! It is impossible to completely stop bone mineral loss altogether. The end goal is to prevent it from happening at too fast a rate.

If you have not had a normal menses in greater than 6 months or are menopausal, talking to your primary care physician or OB/GYN about a DEXA scan and a dietitian regarding overall calorie, calcium, and Vitamin D intake would be a great thing to add to your to-do list. Or, click on the link below and we'll help get you started.

Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD

Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director

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