During the first half of my twenties I had the worst periods ever. I’m talking laying on the floor of the bathroom bad. At that time I could barely cope with my depression and anxiety on a normal day. Throwing in hormonal mood swings and crippling physical pain was a total nightmare scenario. In grad school, I switched to a birth control that suppressed my periods (!) and it’s been smooth sailing ever since. Due to a change in medication, this week I got my period for the first time in three years and spent the night doubled over on the couch. While I was going through this ridiculously unpleasant experience I thought of the idea for this blog post (silver lining?). Here is the guide to making your period suck less, inspired by my menstrual cramps.
Go to the Doctor
I spent years of my life dealing with the worst periods ever, I couldn’t go to work or school for almost five days every month. Going on continuous birth control totally changed my life for the better. Did you know that women don’t have a medical need to have a period when they’re taking contraception? I was able to do things I never would have been able to do before like go on backpacking trips and work as a wilderness counselor. This method isn’t for everyone and you need to talk to your doctor. I had to try a few different brands of birth control before I found one that made me feel normal and suppressed my period. This option is definitely worth looking into though and I think it is overlooked by a lot of people.
I didn’t have a heating pad for years and when I got one I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. If you get cramps get one ASAP. Right now. Do not wait. I also use these ThermaCare patches when I have to go to work to try and keep the cramps away.
Get your hands on the fanciest freaking chocolate bar you can find. High quality dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao) is rich in magnesium and can help relieve cramps.
Drink More Water
It seems counter intuitive but drinking a ton of water will make you feel less bloated. You need to be drinking water all day so if you’re on the go you need to bring a water bottle along with you. The more water you drink the less bloated you will be and less bloating means less cramps.
Some vitamins recommended to make your period suck less are vitamin E and B12. Vitamin E can help alleviate some of the evil PMS symptoms like fatigue and bloating. B12 can help fend off anemia and depression. If you don’t take vitamins I would definitely try this out. I notice a huge difference in my symptoms when I’m taking them.
Period Tracking App
There’s literally an app for everything. Download a period tracking app to help you keep track of when you had your period and when you will be ovulating. I used to use the Clue App to track my cycle. Tracking your period can help you be prepared because you’ll be able to look at a calendar and tell when your period will start and when it will end. The more you use the app the more accurate it will get.
Cut Caffeine and Salt
Salt and caffeine will aggravate all the symptoms you are trying to avoid. It’ll make you bloated, crampy and irritable. Skip the caffeine and try to chug a bunch of water instead. Try eating a salad with lots of leafy greens. I know it’s tempting to eat a whole bag of chips (guilty) but it will only make your symptoms worse.
Take Care of Your Skin
I always get hormonal acne (fun!), in fact I have big freaking zit on my face while I’m writing this (cute!). Find a good spot treatment to keep on hand. This one from Clean and Clear does the trick for me. I also usually squeeze some fresh lemon juice into my water which is supposed to help your skin.
Rub three to five drops of Clary Sage oil can help balance hormones and relieve cramps. Rub three to five drops on your abdomen and apply a heating pad. You can use Peppermint Oil if you have a headache, Rose Oil if you want to pick up your mood and Lavender Oil if you want to relax.
I can’t bring myself to exercise when I have my period even though I know it will make me feel better. When I can I make myself do a light and easy stretching routine. Here is a fifteen minute menstrual yoga routine. If I’m feeling lousy I skip the full workout and just do an easy yoga routine or take my dog for a walk around the block.
I hope you feel better and found some of these tips helpful. I had blocked out how much having a period sucks but I am remembering now.
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