Sickle Cell & Your Period
I was wondering if anyone else has pain right before their period starts or during. I never was a woman to get cramps or migraines but i do get pains in my left knee right before my period starts. Lately I’ve been also feeling drowsy and drained.
I have said on here several times that ones menstrual cycle can trigger a crises. What I also forgot to mention was everything that goes into that combination.
You all know that sickle cell warriors are naturally anemic. This means that we already have a low blood count, less oxygen carrying ability to our cells and are at risk for fatigue, exhaustion and tiredness.
Now, when you throw in a period, your are losing blood on top of your low hemoglobin count. If you were to check your Heme counts then, it would be lower than your normal ‘healthy’ ranges. So being tired, sleepy and exhausted are natural states that can be exacerbated by one’s menstruation cycle.
Some warriors have pain in their lower back (like me), or other joints before, during or after their period. Remember that during your period, there are alot of hormones floating around doing Mother Nature’s bidding: Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), Luteinizing hormone (LH), Estrogen, Progesterone and of course, Testosterone.
Research has supported that these hormones contribute to ligament and muscle laxity, swelling in the joints, and collection of fluid throughout the body. All of these have the potential to cause additional pain, that one might attribute to sickle cell pain, but is actually period pain.
Of course, having a low heme count can trigger pain or a mini-crises, since your cells are not getting enough oxygen. Remember, pain is the natural body’s response to stressors, a warning signal telling you that something is wrong.
During my period, things that help most are a heating pad (heat is very good!), taking naps, Motrin every 6-8 hours and sometimes when it’s really bad, a glass of wine. Wine relaxes the muscles in the body (including the cramping uterus), and makes me relaxed enough to fall asleep.
There was a time that I used to dread my periods, because I could almost attribute them to triggering a crises. However, over the years, I have learned to stay hydrated, take Folic acid during that whole week and avoid other triggers of a crises.
As with everything else, one’s menstrual cycle is another facet that we must balance as sickle cell warriors.