You're sad, worried, and weeping for no reason a week before your period. Then the cramps start that have you doubling over in pain, then blood-soaked pads or panties, and uncomfortable sleep for days on days. And the cycle repeats again the next month!
All the while, you have to act to everyone like everything is a-okay! Almost 80% of women experience pain during their period, but there are very few innovations and remedies designed for such a painful part of a woman's life.
We came up with some ways to help you better manage your periods so they're a beautiful experience instead of a nightmarish one.
Tracking your cycle can be a lifesaver!
Cravings, an increased sex drive, motivational ups and downs, unexplained sadness, frequency changes in urination, constipation, or diarrhea...these are just a few of the health effects you might experience as a menstruating woman.
Your body gives away a wealth of information. If you understand it properly, you'll know exactly why you're craving a chocolate donut in the middle of the night or why you haven't left your bed for days.
There are several amazing apps like Flo and Clue that allow you to get an intimate understanding of the highs, lows, and in-betweens of your cycle. These apps can help you keep track of your symptoms so you can bring them up with your doctor if you need to.
Download them if you have a phone. If you don't have a phone, mark the symptoms you experience during your cycle on your calendar or write it in a notebook.
A better diet can do wonders!
If you'd like to experience periods that don't leave you feeling paralyzed, it's best to eat and drink healthily, and in moderation.
Eating foods high in salt and consuming caffeinated drinks can play a role in heavier periods or extreme menstrual cramps. Drinking plenty of water and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine is also a good idea to help reduce bloating symptoms.
Before and during the menstrual period, the reduced levels of female sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) lead to a lower level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. A low level of serotonin causes depression, while its normal level helps regulate your mood, making you calmer and helping you feel emotionally stable.
Instead of consuming drinks or other foods high in sugar, eat foods that can increase serotonin levels like eggs, cheese, turkey, nuts, salmon, tofu, and pineapple.
Some other foods that can help with period symptoms:
high in calcium — low-fat milk (dairy or soy) and yogurt
fruits and vegetables
low in salt
Vitamin D and Vitamin E supplements
Manage stress, meditate, and be mindful
Whether it's through listening to soft instrumental music, going through a guided meditation with a coach, or repeating chants or affirmations, easing the mind can have a large impact on your health and well-being.
In fact, there's an audio app called Moonai, which has been known to reduce period cramps. If you're looking for a non-chemical solution, this might be worth trying out.
Exercise & practice an active lifestyle
When all you want to do is stay in bed and weep uncontrollably during your period, the most difficult, yet the most important thing to do is to go for a walk or a run, or go to the gym and work out.
Exercise releases endorphins, which are the body's natural pain killers. They play a role in stopping the pain signals your contracting uterus might be sending to your brain. At the same time, don't over-exert yourself by lifting extremely heavy weights. You can still swim on your period if you use tampons or menstrual cups.
Take a warm bath or use a hot water bottle
Whether it's a headache, muscle pain, or abdominal cramps, baths are your go-to solution when your period is causing you discomfort.
While there are several myths around not showering or bathing during your period, there's no science to support that this is bad for your health. Heat dilates your blood vessels, which makes menstrual blood pass easily. This is why many women will use a hot water bottle to ease their cramps.
How many women experience menstrual pain in their lives
Get a massage
A massage might seem like an indulgence for a vacation but if you're experiencing regular period cramps, then you might want to schedule a massage every month right around your period. Massages aid in fighting off menstrual pain by increasing blood flow and relaxing muscles.
Get some sunshine
In colder countries where there are fewer hours of sunshine every day during the winter, women experience worse cramps there. In 2012, a clinical trial found that vitamin D supplements could be used for treating intense menstrual pain. Vitamin D reduces molecules like cytokines and hormones like prostaglandins which are known to cause inflammation in the body.
Get ready for your next menstrual cycle!